How Can I Prevent Breaks When Wetcleaning Silk?

Alan Spielvogel |

Q: What’s the best way to prevent the white break lines that sometimes appear when wetcleaning silk? What’s the best way to repair the breaks that do appear?
A: When “breaks” or “spider webbing” occur after wetcleaning silk fabrics, it’s usually the result of:

  • Not using the proper detergents and conditioners.
  • Improper water temperatures.
  • Excessive mechanical action (including over-extraction).
  • Excessive drying or no drying.

Use wetcleaning cycles that reduce mechanical action and extraction, and use a mild wetcleaning detergent when processing silk. Aggressive detergents will damage dyes, sizing agents and optical brighteners.
Wetclean silk fabrics in cold water, and use a conditioner to soften the fabric. Since the conditioner is heat-activated, it will only work if the garment has dried. A humidity-controlled dryer should be used to prevent over-drying.
Silk garments can often be restored by rinsing them in a conditioner, drying them until they contain 20% relative humidity, and finishing them on a utility press, using plenty of bottom steam combined with a light mist of water. If the garment is still damp, it can be finished on a hot-head press.Have a processing problem? Click here to Ask The Expert!

About the author

Alan Spielvogel

National Cleaners Association (NCA)

Technical Director

Alan Spielvogel is technical director of the National Cleaners Association (NCA).


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