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Care & Cleaning of your silks

Whether your silk print is now a scarf, a sewn item, or a wall hanging, there will be a certain amount of atmospheric elements that affect it. The major one is light, specifically ultraviolet (UV) light which we know will harm us over time, and will as well harm silk and fade the inks.

Say you have protected the print either by placing the wall hanging under glass or by applying a protective coating, or you don’t wear your scarf in daylight any more than necessary. You have done all you can. But other atmospheric effects are also present. Even in the cleanest home and business environments the air is filled with tiny dust particles. Over time these are collected by, and built up on, whatever is in that environment. The car gets dusty. You know furniture must be dusted. The floors must be vacuumed.A hair dryer with no heat can blow the dust away – probably the best method for wall hangings. Sure, all you have done is move the dust, but it is a gentle way to get it off the silk. If you prefer, you could simply shake it gently to eliminate most dust.

The archival life of the print has been tested to be up to 200 years if out of the light. Or for well over 75 years under glass.

Steam ironing

Your scarf can safely be ironed with a steam iron at 'silk' setting to remove any wrinkles or after hemming the edges. It will love steam.

 

Cleaning silk

In the event your print has been used as a fashion accessory, it could in time become necessary to clean it. The printing 'ink' is actually archival pigment and is hand-washable with care. See picture here of a print that has been washed.

The print on the left has been washed. No details were lost in the print. You can see a bit of 'fray' on the edges of the left image. When your silk print has been hemmed, as for a scarf, this will not happen.

It is a common conception that one must dry clean silk. This is not necessarily so. There are different dry cleaning processes and not all are gentle enough for silk. The manufacturer of the silk sold on this site states never to dry clean the product. It is not in the ink, nor in the raw silk, but in the process of making the silk printable they have a disclaimer, as well as the process of dry cleaning in which the agitation of the cleaning liquid can be too harsh.

I tested dry cleaning scarves I have printed and they came out OK. Two people I have spoken with had the prints fade remarkably at the cleaners. I don't know the difference in the chemicals of the dry cleaning, so just a strong warning. Hand washing is the acceptable method to clean.

Always handle wet silk very gently. Don't rub the fibers or wring the scarf. Silk is very strong but the fibers are weak when wet. Use a hand soap or shampoo. Lay flat to dry.

IMPORTANT

When rinsing or washing the silk, use a solution of SEA SALT in water not plain water. Use 3 or 4 Tablespoons of sea salt per gallon. It must be sea salt, not common table salt.

 

Most fabrics will shrink a bit when washed. This is why dressmakers will 'pre-shrink' the fabric prior to cutting out the pattern. If your print is a scarf, you likely will not notice any change in proportion at all if it is washed. However, be aware that chiffon shrinks considerably expecially in one direction, and becomes a tighter weave. This means it will no longer be completely in proportion as it was in the beginning and will not be as transparent as it was due to compacting the threads of the weave due to the water.

If you get a stain on the silk, as soon as possible get the silk wet - the entire piece not just the spot or it might leave a ring - then apply some dishwashing detergent such as Ajax or Dawn that has a grease removing agent. Don't rub the stain, just let it soak in the detergent a few minutes and the spot should disappear. If it doesn't, then gently rub the spot. Take extra care if the silk is white or pale plain color.

For further information on the cleaning of silk, follow this link.

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