Tips on How to Care for Delicate Fabrics: Silk, Lace, and Satin

From the smooth touch of silk to the intricate delicacy of lace and the opulent allure of satin, this comprehensive guide unveils the secrets to delicate fabric care.

February 8, 2024
min read
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In the world of fashion, delicate fabrics like silk, lace, and satin are cherished for their luxurious feel and exquisite appearance. Caring for these materials requires a gentle touch and specialized knowledge to ensure their longevity and beauty.

Join us on a journey where we unravel the secrets to preserving the elegance of delicate fabrics, offering insights and techniques to maintain the allure of silk, the intricacy of lace, and the smoothness of satin.

Always Read The Label

The clothing label contains important care instructions that are specific to that garment. Follow these instructions closely when cleaning your delicates.

Look for symbols that indicate how the item should be washed, dried, and ironed. Common symbols include:

  • Hand wash only
  • Dry clean only
  • Do not wash
  • Do not bleach
  • Hang dry or line dry
  • Iron on low heat

Fabric content is also key. Pay attention to fabrics like silk, wool, spandex, linen, etc. These usually require more delicate care.

If there are no care labels or you are unsure on how to handle them, look up fabric washing recommendations online or take items to the dry cleaner. Do not machine wash until you know the right way to clean it.

Hand Washing is The Best

Delicate fabrics like silk, satin and lace should always be hand washed gently to preserve their shape and quality.

  • Fill a sink or tub with cool or lukewarm water and a small amount of mild detergent or soap made for delicates.
  • Allow the garments to soak for a few minutes to loosen dirt. Do not soak for more than 5-10 minutes.
  • Agitate the clothing gently to clean - do not twist, pull, scrub or wring. This can damage delicate fabrics.
  • Drain the dirty water and refill with clean water to rinse twice. Check for stains or soapy residue.
  • Roll items in a clean towel to remove excess moisture. Shape garments back to form.

Tips for Hand Washing Specific Fabrics


  • Use a mild silk detergent and cool water
  • Gently squeeze suds through material, do not twist or scrub
  • Rinse until water runs clear
  • Dry flat on a towel - iron while still slightly damp


  • Pre-treat any stains by dabbing with detergent and water
  • Use a basin or delicates bag to hand wash, change water often
  • Reshape lace gently after rinsing, roll in towel


  • Look for satin-specific detergents, or use mild soap
  • Move satin garments gently in wash water to avoid snags
  • Air dry and iron inside out while slightly damp

Air Drying is Preferrable

Heat from machine drying can damage delicate fabrics and cause shrinkage. It is best to let items air dry.

  • To air dry delicates, lay flat on top of a dry towel or mesh garment drying rack. This allows airflow all around the fabric while absorbing moisture.
  • Reshape knit areas gently to hold the form of the garment so they do not stretch out. Smooth out woven fabrics.
  • Check items periodically until completely dry. This may take several hours or overnight.
  • For quicker drying indoors, use a fan to circulate air around the garment. But do not aim it directly so moisture is blown into the fibers.
  • When air drying lingerie, use garment clips on shoulder straps so they hold the proper shape.

Outdoor Drying Tips

  • Hang delicates or lightweight lingerie on plastic hangers or a padded dress hangers before line drying. Do not use metal or wire hangers alone. The clips and padding help maintain the shape.
  • Keep silk and lace out of direct sunlight to avoid fading. Use an umbrella above clothing or dry in shade.

delicate fabrics

Can You Iron Them?

Ironing is often recommended for silks and satins to prolong their vibrancy and sheen. But iron delicately on an appropriate heat setting based on fabric and label instructions. If you don't feel comfortable handling the material, take it to a dry cleaner to avoid irreversible damage.

Ironing Do's & Don'ts


  • Read garment labels for heat settings - silk often says low, wool says medium. If no label, start cool.
  • Iron on the inside if uncertain about heat tolerance
  • Use the steam setting according to fiber content to avoid water spots
  • Place fabric on a terry towel for padding during delicate ironing


  • Ever iron clothing that is fully wet - damp is ideal
  • Use starch products on delicate fabrics
  • Iron with a dry iron on wool, linen, or silk items
  • Attempt to iron stubborn wrinkles over and over in the same spot

Specific Ironing Methods:


  • Iron silk while still damp from hand washing
  • Use lowest heat setting or cool iron function
  • Avoid letting iron sit in one spot, keep moving


  • Place lace between two light towels or tea towels while ironing to protect fine fibers
  • Iron using no steam function
  • Do not press down firmly or use starch


  • Put satin coverings down while ironing to prevent shine damage
  • Use low heat and hold iron 5 inches above fabric, do not press down
  • Iron along the grain slowly to catch light reflects best

How To Store Delicate Fabrics

Proper storage can help keep delicates in good condition between wears. Here are some storage tips:

General Guidelines

  • Allow items to fully air dry before storing to prevent moisture buildup
  • Use unscented laundry detergent and dryer sheets to store - fragrance residue can stain
  • Place fabrics loosely in storage containers, do not pack tightly

Folding Tips

  • Fold delicates loosely along the fabric grain and seams rather than sharply creasing
  • Use acid free tissue paper between folds to prevent creases embedded in the fabric
  • Do not store silk or satin compressed under heavy boxes or objects

Hanging Tips

  • Hang lingerie from padded or non-slip hangers to retain shape
  • Cover the hanger hooks with small pieces of rubber tubing so the delicate straps do not slip off and stretch out

Storage Containers

  • Clear plastic bins with lids allow visibility of contents while protecting from dust
  • Place items in breathable fabric garment bags, cotton pillowcases or acid free archival boxes for storage
  • Cedar accessories like cedar sleeves or chests help repel moths from wool and silk

Protecting Silk From Moths

Protein fibers like wool and silk are prone to damage from clothes moths. Here’s how to guard against infestations when storing silk:

Keep It Clean

  • Launder or dry clean silk before storage since moths are attracted to body soils on the fabric
  • Check storage containers periodically for signs of moth invasions like larvae or cocoons

Use Protective Covering

  • Line boxes with cedar panels or acid free tissue paper - cedar naturally repels moths
  • Place items in breathable fabric bags - tight plastic traps moths inside if already present

Use Natural Repellents

  • Place sachets with dried lavender, rosemary, mint or cedar wood shavings in storage bins
  • Hang cedar hangers or place cedar balls near silk in the closet

Control Humidity & Temp

  • Store containers in cool, dry spot with consistent temperatures around 68° F
  • Add moisture absorbing silica packs if area is damp

Freeze to Kill Moth Eggs

  • Place boxed silks in freezer for 4-7 days to kill any moth eggs before storage
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About Wood Blocks

Our mission is to empower you with the knowledge to curate a wardrobe that not only reflects your personal style but also aligns with environmentally friendly practices. From exploring the wonders of natural mothballs and sustainable garment storage to diving deep into DIY solutions and green living, we're here to guide you on a journey towards a more eco-conscious, stylish, and intentional lifestyle.

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