Washing a 100% silk duvet

bigdogloverAugust 24, 2010

I love my new 100% silk duvet (silk cover, silk threads as the filler.) Now it's time to clean it. It says dry clean only. Something about the filling, which is the more natural form of the silkworm's threads), not drying properly. I don't see why this would be, since I've washed and dried down duvets, and have washed and dried 100% silk fabric.

I don't think drycleaning is a very sanitary way to clean things (from "things" I've heard.)

Has anybody successfully broken the dryclean only rule on one of these? Thanks!

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I have washed dry clean items before, in your case the filling my clump when washed and be lumpy after it does dry. Its a gamble only you can decide on what to do. THats why I switched to all machine washable bed linens. I dont care for dry cleaning at all

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 4:11PM
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Thanks, gates. I hear you, but I got silk because while I love down comforters all year round, they always leak and I can't stand the little down dust all over. The silk one works great, feels a lot like down, breathes, feels luxurious, is just the right weight all the time, but there's this cleaning problem...

I checked the seller's website (Soft Surroundings)and found several people commenting that they'd had it drycleaned and the stuffing bunched up. Soft Surroundings has a cleaner they recommemend, I called and it's $75 to clean it plus S&H! Apparently the problem is that even with dry cleaning too much moisture (yes, dry cleaning has moisture) causes it to lump up. I think the $75 cleaner must hand clean the surface without getting the cleaning fluid into the stuffing.

All I can think of now is that I should hand clean it my own way, with some kind of gentle soap that I can just wipe on with a cloth, and then wipe off with a clean wet cloth. The thing is not that dirty. Any suggestions what kind of soap I might use to do this?

Otherwise I could get a duvet cover, but I don't like those because then the thing gets too heavy, which defeats the whole purpose.

Thanks anyone for suggestions.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 8:19PM
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NO vinegar with silk

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 9:42PM
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Do you sew? I wonder if maybe you could remove the outer cover and just wash that. Then re-install the filling.

You could probably find a local seamstress who would do the work for far less than $75.

Just a thought. That's what I'd do.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 9:39AM
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Sorry cryptandrus - but as a seamstress, I wouldn't touch that job for any amount of money! Silk ravels like crazy, and the seams are probably serged, which cuts off excess seam allowance.

And she can't be ripping apart a duvet every time it needs cleaning.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 1:04PM
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I thought cryptandrus had a great idea until I realized that the duvet has channels sewn all up and down in order to hold the silk thread batting in place, so that won't work, plus what mary c said makes sense. I really appreciate all these ideas though!

I wonder if there is a natural breathable filling for a duvet that can be washed without clumping, and yet is not down (which always leaks.) Polyester and the like won't do for me, as it is basically spun plastic, and you might as well put a plastic blanket on yourself (IMO). (If you take a piece of fabric that contains polyester and burn it with a match, it will melt and you'll end up with a little hard piece of plastic -- also a good test to see if something contains polyester.)

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 1:17PM
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I'm pretty happy with a "down alternative" polyester comforter. It's much lighter and fluffier than our other polyester-filled comforters. Only problem is that the cover is very tightly woven, so that water is slow to seep out of it. As a result, the cycle usually finishes before enough water drains out to let it spin (in a front-loader). It can take several "drain/spin" cycles to finally get it to spin.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 5:24PM
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Why not make, or have made, a duvet cover of lightweight, but washable silk. Then you would a have launder-able cover to prolong the interval between cleaning?

As for cleaning the comforter now, I would opt for home washing, in the bath tub, with only one or two intervals in a washer, like this:

Examine for any tiny abrasions, tears or pulls and mend or securely overstitch.

Identify and pretreat any especially dirty areas using warm water and a silk-safe soap (perwoll powder is what I use on silk, but many other delicate products might work).

Rinse pretreated spots and fill tub with large amount of warm water and small amount of soap/detergent and gently hand squish and massage the solution thoroughly through the item. Avoid wringing or twisting much while wet.

Scootch the item up in far corner of the tub and let the water drain out.

Refill and squish and massage in clear water a couple more times, allowing the water to drain again between.

Then, carefully fold the item up so it covers 3/4 of the tub floor and then step on it from far to close to the drain to smoosh more water out.

Refill tub again with clean water, squish amd massage, then step "dry" again.

Now carefully lift the item out (in a bundle) and carry to machine (either F/L or TL) and arrange around sides or bottom of machine and do a spin only at stepped to the highest speeds you can achieve. This will put little to no pulling on the fabric or filling.

Then hang outside to dry in as flat a confiuration as you can rig up: over several lines, draped over an assemblage of lawn chairs, picnic tables, etc. Towards then end of the drying, if it seems particularly flattened, then 30 minutes in a very cool dryer (without any tennis shoe or ball for static as silk is too fragile for that) may be in order. Check frequently.

You can add a few more rinse, drain, or rinse step or even rinse, step and machine-spin cycles, if you really feel it's necessary, but it probably isn't. You can always do more next time, rather than just repeating it immediately.

You may find that a low-temp pass with a light hand iron, smooths the outer fabric beautifully when the item is fully dry.

Unless you're putting the item directly back on the bed, I would also allow at least a week of loose indoor air-drying before storing a freshly-washed comforter. This is to insure that no small traces of moisture remain which could cause probems in storage. Better safe than sorry.

The keys are superior pretreatment (meaning the whole is not subjected to the treatment necessary to clean the worst); avoiding any washing machine-style "agitation" during the water-bath phases; and never pulling the water- laden item directly out of the water where the full weight of the saturated item strains the fabric (drain and smoosh, first). If you had to lift the saturated item out for some reason without possibility of gentle draining and hand smooshing, then lift it out in a sling made of sturdy fabric like a muslin sheet to take the strain.

If you're wary (and in your shoes, I might be as well) about how the filling will fare when wet, take a corner and try it in a modified routine as above, clear through to fully dry. I think it may be possible that the filling is made of silk waste, meaning short, unspinnable silk fibers. These may be "teased" or fluffed in some way that would allow the loft or "fluffiness" be permanently altered or destroyed when saturated by any fluid (solvent or water), hence the complaints of mattedness even with dry cleaning. If the test wash shows significant, comparative, degradation of loft, then I wouldn't go ahead with a full saturation, just gentle spot cleaning and subsequent use of a duvet cover.

BTW, I find that higher quality down items are less likely to shed filling. Better quality shell fabrics, smaller stitching, meticulously crafted edge treatments, and internal lining and baffling make a big difference. Also duvet covers help contain any stray filling. They don't add unnecessary weight unless they are basically just a pair of sheets stitched together.


    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 8:42PM
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I washed a silk filled comforter (cotton casing) at the laundromat and hung it on the line to dry. I had to use Woolite as I didn't have anything else to use. Came out just fine. Not quite as soft on the outside as new, but no fabric softener was used and the outside temp was about 80+.

In addition, I work for a lady who has a 100% silk quilt from the Target Fieldcrest Luxury line. She washed it with no problems in her TL washer! I was not present. I asked her where she had it cleaned and got her answer.

Hope this helps you with your washing decision.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 9:00PM
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liriodendron, my goodness! thank you so much. That is very well explained and I can just see each step -- the how and the why. Thanks so much for sharing that.

bookert, hmmmm... that's interesting and I might just throw caution to the wind and try it. I note that no one on the seller's website said they washed it and it clumped, but that they drycleaned it and had a problem. If only I had one of those "wringer" washers pictured at the top of this forum, I could do a modified liriodendron wash.

I will post what I end up doing and how it works out. Meanwhile, I am using it just a little bit longer. It is really not that dirty, we just took it on vacation and so I felt like I should clean it upon return. I have time to mull all this over, and am so appreciative of all the good help I've gotten here. Thanks to everyone!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 12:04AM
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I also hang my silk filled comforters on the line to air out periodically. It seems to freshen them up nicely!
I will personally not hesitate to wash mine at a laundromat in the mega machine Wascomat that I chose. I used the perma press cycle and it used lots of water in both the wash and rinses.

Again, hope this helps.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 3:08PM
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bookert, thank you again and yes it is helpful, and good idea to air it out, I'm thinking I can even "beat" it somewhat while hanging to get dust out, and wiping it with a damp cloth would be easy as well.. I haven't been to a laundromat for some time. I googled Wascomat and just so I understand, the Wascomat mega machine you used is one of those big front-loading ones with the round door. And you can find them at regular laundromats... Have I understood correctly?

Thank you again, I really appreciate it and am feeling very hopeful about washing it.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 4:49PM
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Yes, the Wascomat is a big front load machine at the laundromat. The one I choose is the largest available. I put one king sized silk filled comforter in it and there is still lots of room for more. This way, I feel, it has plenty of room to wash and is gentle on the item. I watch the entire wash cycle, and am very happy with the results. The perma press cycle doesn't spin as fast IMO so it's easier on the silk fiber IMO.

Even though mine don't get dirt spots on them, I still feel they get dirty from night after night of being in contact with my skin and dust mites etc... Know what I mean??
Maybe I'm different, but I like to wash pillows for that reason too and quite often to be honest.

The lady who washed her silk coverlet used a traditional TL! It's still soft and silky which surprised me, not bunched up one bit! I will ask her again about how she cared for it, in case she had more to add! =)

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 9:50PM
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Thanks again, bookert. I do know what you mean about washing it even though it doesn't look dirty, and pillows too (which I do in my TL, though you have to dry them forever so the down gets dry.)

If you get to ask the person about washing the silk coverlet in the traditional TL, I really would appreciate hearing about it.

Thank you again for all you've shared.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 11:55PM
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What were the results ???

One thing that I have started doing to prolong the intervals between washings is by putting a flat sheet on top of the bed. I have cats that sleep with us at night so it has saved the duvet several times. I puchase an extra flat sheet (when available - otherwise another set - works out great because the fitted sheet usually goes bad first and I keep four pillows on the bed)
When company is coming - just pull it off.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2010 at 11:26AM
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datura, to be honest I haven't gotten up the nerve to wash it yet, I am just shaking it out and wiping it off with a damp cloth. No animals involved in the house right now so I guess it's OK to let it go this long (I hope!) I've started using a different blanket anyway, because the silk duvet is so slippery it slides off the bed -- especially when added sheets are involved.

The thing really works best as a nap blanket when you just put it over yourself without a sheet. It also looks just plain gorgeous and luxurious folded up at the bottom of the bed.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 12:06PM
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Sorry for not providing a follow up earlier.
I asked my client again about her washing her silk quilt and she said she was pretty certain she washed it, BUT wasn't 100% positive. Yikes, that doesn't help! I no longer work for her, so won't know for future washings.

My recent post asks about cleaning a silk filled comforter (made in China or Japan)
I wash a silk filled comforter I bought for my son, but it's not the quality of my recent purchase. I HAD to wash his and had good results at the laundromat. Hung dry on the line in the fresh air.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 12:41PM
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