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Silk Yellows when Air Dried??

almost | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

I read on another sewing site a comment made about drying silk after it is washed, that I had never heard so I thought I’d put it out here to find your comments.

I’ve been hand and machine washing silk rather than dry cleaning and I’m much happier using silk since I’ve made this change :).  But I’ve noticed that the silk turns rather yellow but I really didn’t know why since I’ve been air drying it :(.

Then I saw on another sewing site that you are not suppose to aire dry silk because it turns yellow…..so I can’t figure out how to dry washed silk if you are not suppose to air dry it???

Anyone else hear about this?  Any suggestions?



  1. starzoe | | #1

    Are you drying it in the sunshine?

    1. almost | | #2

      No, I first towel out the excess water then I dry on a flat surface inside.  We do have hard water in our area, if that has anything to do with it.  It's a mystery, that I'm hoping someone can solve.

      Thyank you!


      1. FirecrackerKTM | | #3

        I don't know anything about silk, but I would guess it's the water. I grew up with hard water, and it stains everything.

        1. lorisews | | #4

          I've heard a little vinegar in the rinse water is good for silk. I would guess that hard water might be a little on the basic side instead of alkaline, so maybe the vinegar might be especially needed for hard water? I think Sandra Betzina's Fabric Savvy is one of the sources that mentions a little vinegar in the rinse water for silk. Also I often read that you are supposed to use shampoo to wash silk (as it is made for protein fibers like hair, and silk is a protein fiber) rather than laundry detergent or Woolite.

          1. almost | | #5

            Yes, I've heard about the hair shampoo, so have used that instead of the normal options, and since silk is often dyed even go so far as to use a shampoo designed for hair that is dyed.  I haven't tried the vinegar, but will give that a try. 

            Thank you!


  2. Teaf5 | | #6

    I've had the same problem with air-drying other fabrics;a chemistry teacher told me that the air reacts with the molecules and minerals in the water during the slow process of drying, and when the water tends to pool at the bottom, it drags those solubles with it. Color chromatography is a good way to find the different kinds of molecules in a solution, but it is not something we want to happen to our fabric!

    For silks and delicates, I hand wash, use the spin dry part of the wash cycle, then tumble dry on low or air fluff with a couple of clean, dry towels. The water doesn't have a chance to pool, and the fabric dries quickly and safely with far fewer wrinkles.

    1. almost | | #7

      Great input!  I will try your suggestion about alternative drying methods and see if that solves the yellowing problem. 

      Thank you for your comments and suggestion.

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