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Tip of the Week

Special Considerations With Silk

w/e 25/11/19
Week 3

In the third in the series on silk we look at finishing and storing silk garments.

Here's a list of some common problems with cleaning silk and their causes:

Finishing Silk

When ironing silk it's important to think about the job before starting. For example, if you don't want to iron a crease into a sleeve then you need something to put into the arms to help you iron correctly. You may have a sleeve board or you can improvise, as shown in the ironing section of the site.

Colour Loss

Vivid coloured silks are often not colour fast. They readily run into both themselves and other garments if cleaned together. This means you must test vivid coloured silk for colour run using the same material you're using to clean it in. Put some of the fluid on a white lint free cloth (water, dry cleaning solvent or stain treatment) and hold it against the garment in an unseen area for around 20 seconds. If the colour isn't fast you should see some evidence of the colour on the cloth when you remove it.

Knitted silk and woven silk need to be treated differently. With a knit you need to lay the garment flat and steam through the fabric, leaving it to cool and dry before you move it, otherwise you may cause distortion (stretching or shrinkage). Place a damp cloth over the fabric and gently apply an iron. This will force steam through to the fabric. Remove the cloth and allow the garment to cool and dry before you move it.

If you're dealing with a woven fabric then ironing on the right side is preferred, unless it's a stone washed silk and then iron on the reverse side. Ironing on the right side ensures you give attention to the detail that's actually going to be seen and leads to less mistakes being made. Use continuous steam if possible with a vacuum underneath as this will dry the fabric quickly, and keep it in position while drying. Otherwise use steam and then iron with no steam so you get rid of as much moisture as possible, leaving the garment on the board to dry and cool for a minute or two.

Leave any garment to hang and dry fully before putting away otherwise the silk will look limp and lifeless.

Storing Silk

In the long term silk suffers from oxidisation, which causes yellowing of the fabric that's similar to bleaching and can be impossible to remove. For that reason you should not keep silk in a dry cleaning plastic wrapper or in sunlight.

If possible wrap the garment in acid free tissue paper (available from dry cleaning suppliers) and place in the dark. If the garment has puffed sleeved then place the tissue paper inside the sleeves to puff them out. This is also a good way to keep bows in the correct shape.

It's important that the garment isn't distorted, so hangers should correctly fill the shoulders and if possible fill the body to simulate your own body (body formers are available) and sleeves, bows and features, such as silk flowers, should be in their correct position before storing. Then place the garment in a purpose made cover in a dark wardrobe where there's no damp.

Wedding dresses should either be placed in a special box made for the purpose or hung in a special bag with a gusset so they are not crushed. Then, once again, keep them away from sun light in a dark wardrobe or cupboard.

We hope that these hints and tips will keep your silk garments luxurious for years of happy wearing.

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We're often asked by visitors to the site to find certain products used by professionals and to supply them through DrClean. Perhaps the most requested is anything that might clean an iron easily - and now we've found the perfect answer. Ez-Off is made in the USA and is designed for professionals to clean their commercial irons.

Here's how it's used;

  • To clean equipment squeeze a liberal amount of Ez-Off onto a heavy cotton cloth (an old terry towel works best).
  • While the equipment is HOT rub the soiled metal pressing or ironing surface with circular motions. After removing all the soil simply wipe with the clean end of the cloth.
  • If you want to keep equipment clean, slick and operating smoothly, clean with Ez-Off daily. This will ensure maximum speed with minimum interuptions.