When you wash silk, does it shrink? (How to Easily Shrink Silk) Update 05/2022

The silkworm cocoon produces silk, a natural material. Silk fabric is made into many different types of textiles, including rugs, painting cloth, clothing, linen, and so on. Sericulture is the technique of rearing silkworms to produce silk.
Most of the time, one wishes to avoid shrinking one’s garments, but there are situations when one may need to downsize a size; perhaps a garment has lost its shape, or a person has lost weight after a successful diet.
Whatever the cause (which isn’t the point of this essay), the main goal of this post is to show how to shrink silk. It will serve as an educational resource for people seeking answers to questions such as “How much does silk shrink?” and “Is it safe to dry silk?”
Silk has its own thoughts. Let’s check whether silk shrinks in any way.

Does Silk Shrink When Washed?

Yes, it shrinks, but there’s a difference in the way it shrinks. Silk does not shrink as much as other fabrics; the amount of shrinkage depends on the type of silk material.
Washing silk tightens the fiber if it isn’t woven firmly, therefore lighter weaves of silk material, such as crepe de chine, shrink. Silk cloth with a tighter weave will shrink slightly less than lighter woven fabric. If the fabric hasn’t been washed before the garment manufacturing process, silk will most likely shrink.

Why Does Silk Shrink?

Silk is similar to human hair in appearance. It does not shrink as much as other fabrics. When a silkworm produces silk, it also produces sericin, which is a glue. Only a little amount of sericin is lost throughout the processing and production of silk fabric.
The fabric may shrink when washing, depending on the fabric (loosely or tightly woven) and how it is treated. This is owing to the fact that water activates the glue.

Do Different Weaves of Silk Fiber Shrink Differently When Washed?

They certainly do. Silk chiffon, for example, can shrink up to 8% in an unclean state due to the fibres. As it is fashioned into a gauze-like textured fabric, tissue silk cloth shrinks even further. Silk has a silky texture, but it is exceedingly stiff.
When exposed to sunlight or a dusty environment, it can become weak. Silk, according to some experts, does not “shrink,” but rather “shifts,” with the material strands moving about and producing a tighter lock.
Silk is regarded to be the most shrink-resistant of all natural fibers from a technological standpoint. Pre-washed cotton and linen are the only other materials that come close.
Now for some more aspects of silk…
Now that we know that washing silk causes the fibers to “tighten,” causing the garment to shrink, let’s look at other aspects of the fabric’s handling, such as those that will assist us regulate how we wash silk garments and other silk products. In addition to learning about silk preservation, one will be exposed to the factors that cause silk shrinking.
Now for some responses. Here are some answers to some often asked questions about silk shrinkage.

Does Silk Shrink in Hot or Cold Water?

Silk is a protein fiber-based natural substance. Any heat applied to it, especially after soaking it for an extended period of time, can cause it to shrink. When silk is dipped in hot water, particularly near-boiling water, it takes less time for the fiber to compress.
Place the garment in a hot water tub, remove it after a few moments, let it to cool, and then hang it to dry. Silk will not shrink when hand washed in cold water with a light detergent. Alternatively, use a delicate cycle in the washing machine and hang the clothing to dry.

Does Silk Shrink When Hand Washed?


Yes, silk can shrink when hand washed, depending on the kind of silk and the temperature of the water. It always shrinks when washed in hot water, especially boiling water, irrespective of the type of silk.

When hand washed in cold water with a mild detergent, silk will not shrink. Silk garments can be soaked in cool water for up to 30 minutes and then rinsed in cold water; this won’t shrink them.

Can Silk Shrink in Dry Cleaning?

Before deciding how to clean a garment, it’s usually a good idea to check the care label. Many silk clothing are labeled as dry clean only, although many can also be hand cleaned. Unless the garment’s label specifies dry cleaning, hand washing is recommended; dry cleaning shrinks many types of silk.
You’d think this couldn’t be done because “dry cleaning” means just that: dry.
Regardless, it occurs. Clothing is placed in a machine with a liquid cleaning chemical when it is dry-cleaned. The fabric is then dried with heat (this may cause the silk to shrink).
Despite the fact that the cleaning method does not use any water, the equipment is connected to a water supply. Water may seep out during the heat cycle and shrink the silk if there is a leak). However, only dry washing is recommended for silk dupioni; otherwise, the texture’s crispness is drastically affected, and the garment frequently loses its luster.

Some More About the Shrinking of Silk

What Happens If You Put Silk in The Washing Machine?

If a silk garment is not cleaned in cool water, it may be damaged or shrink. Because silk bleeds, it should be washed with like colors (unless you want a rainbow of clothes when they come out of the dryer!).
When washing silk items in the washing machine, a light detergent such as Woolite is typically used. If washed on a mild cycle, the silk clothing will be safeguarded.

Is It OK to Put Silk in The Dryer?

Tumble drying silk garments is not recommended unless you want them to be destroyed. Overheating the fabric dulls it and may cause it to shrink. The dryer may snag the fabric and leave white streaks within the drum. It is preferable to hang silk garments to dry. It’s also not a good idea to wring them out. It’s preferable to iron silk on slightly damp silk rather than letting it dry completely before ironing.

Does Silk Shrink Over Time or Only Once?

Silk can shrink by up to 10%. Silk fabric, according to some sources, can shrink up to 15%. Silk clothes may shrink for up to two or three washes after shrinking in the initial wash.
Shrinkage is mostly determined by the type of silk used and how it is washed, or both in some circumstances. Some experts advise dry cleaning silk items for the first two washes, assuming the garment’s label specifies this. Unless dry cleaned, crepe silk, raw silk, and silk dupioni will continue to shrink.

How Much Does Silk Shrink?

When silk is pre-washed for more than five minutes, it shrinks. Most of the time, soaking silk in hot or boiling water will do the trick.
The fibers in the silk cloth’s weave will tighten and twist, causing it to compress. When silk comes into contact with water, it tightens up just like denim. So it contracts.
After the first wash, garments made of good quality silk will shrink just 2% to 5%. This occurs when the fabric is pre-washed and pre-steamed before to the manufacturing process. Without these methods, shrinkage may be much greater.

What to do if silk shrinks?

Damage caused by washing silk poorly (using too much hot water) or drying it incorrectly can be reversed (in the tumble dryer). There are numerous suggestions for restoring one’s cherished clothing to its original form and size. Many of the same cures that work for wool, jersey, and other fabrics also work for silk.

Can You Unshrink Silk?

Before you donate your silk items to a local charity or worse, throw them away, try relaxing the threads of the cloth. What do you have to lose? The first thought was to just throw it out! So here’s what you’ll need: a sink, water, light hair conditioner, many huge bath towels, and a stack of heavy books. The steps below should assist you:
  • Fill the sink with lukewarm water and clog it up. Pour in the mild hair conditioner in the ratio of 1 tbsp conditioner per quart of water. Baby shampoo can be used instead of the light hair conditioner. These compounds have the same soothing impact on fiber as they do on hair!
  • Soak the clothing entirely in the water for 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Remove the garment without rinsing or wringing it out.
  • Place the clothing on a large bath towel and lay it flat. Roll up the towel now (like an egg roll). The roll’s stuffing is the garment. Allow 10-15 minutes for this roll to rest. The garment should be somewhat damp but not completely saturated.
  • Remove the garment from the roll and place it on a large bath towel to dry. Choose one part of the clothing and gently grab it from both sides (for example, one may grip both sides of the hem area, or grasp at the shoulders and wrist area). Hold the “unshrunked” parts in your hands and gently pull them into place. Stretch for a few seconds until the fabric is securely in place. It’s important to work in a systematic, coordinated manner to ensure that the stretching is proportionate.
  • Place that portion flat on the towel and weight it with a heavy book or paperweight after you’ve obtained the desired size (shape). This will help to keep the stretched section in place. Regardless of the weight, the garment should be held in the same position until completely air-dried.
  • Although the texture may alter during the procedure, it can still be washed before usage.
How to slim down:
One might question why one is about to write about genuinely shrinking clothes after the whole “unshrinking” process. Let’s look at how to shrink clothing because this article is about different aspects.

How Do You Shrink Silk Clothes Easily?

This is a simple question that was addressed in a previous section. The procedure entails immersing a clothing in extremely hot water.

Shrinking a Silk Shirt or Blouse

The garment can be washed in hot water or in a washing machine on the “hot water” cycle. If you dry a silk shirt in a hot dryer, it will shrink.

Can You Shrink a Silk Shirt or Dress?

Yes. This can be accomplished by following the steps indicated above.

Some Words of Caution

When it comes to “shrinking” or “unshrinking” a garment, especially one made of a delicate (and expensive) fabric like silk, caution should be exercised. After it shrinks, the garment may still not fit (you may have to gain a few pounds or throw it away! ); or it may not fit after you spend an entire afternoon “unshrinking” it (you may have to go on that dreadful diet!). It’s worth a shot, if you think positively.

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