Aftercare silk – how to clean and care for silk suits

17th October 2017
Katie Kwok

Nothing will be more prized in a wardrobe than a silk suit. It will never lose its luster, staying soft and shiny for generations, allowing it to be passed from father to son as an heirloom. The silk in your suit is akin to spider silk and retains some of its legendary durability and strength, making it straight-forward to care for. Silk suits are best for luxurious events and dinner jackets and is blended in many ways to achieve various effects.

Silk Fabric Aftercare Suit Cloth Shiny 900x555

Characteristics of Silk
Silk is laboriously extracted from the silk worm. It takes 2500 worms to make enough silk for one suit, which lends to its expensive price tag. Silk has great absorbency, keeping you dry and cool in warm weather. Silk also does not conduct heat well, making it also a lightweight insulating layer that can be worn in the winter. This is due to the fibers being made from protein, different to that of other natural fibers like wool and cotton. The proteins lend it great strength and durability, able to stretch up to 30% of its original size with no lasting damage. However, this strength does make it difficult for colours to stay in the silk. Something as simple as exposure to light is enough to fade the colour in the fabric.

Silk Blends
Silk/Cotton and Silk/Wool blends should be treated as silk. These blends are usually done for cosmetic purposes, and do not add any physical strength. It could be argued that blends make the cloth less durable, since silk is far stronger than the fabrics blended with them. Some more intricate blends may also create points of weakness along the seams in which the cloth has been weaved together. When taking your silk blend garment to the silk cleaners, be sure to inform them exactly what blend it is.

Silk thankfully is resistant to the elements. It is unaffected by mildew, so humidity in low levels should not be a concern. Silk is also naturally resistant to creasing, but do keep it on a proper hangar with enough width to properly support the shoulders. Keep silk suits covered with a suit bag to keep insects at bay. Insect repellents will emit odors that could taint your clothing. When taking your silk suit out of storage, it should be ready to wear immediately. This versatility has made it the clothing of kings for centuries, but if you do need to iron out the smallest of creases, be sure the fabric is damp as it will deteriorate at heats over 160°C / 320°F. When in doubt, use a steamer.

Cleaning Silk
You probably won’t be wearing silk suits often, so thankfully cleaning can be kept to a minimum. After use, give your suit a gentle brush down to rid any small particles of dust. Dry cleaning uses harsh chemicals, on such a treasured garment, this should be avoided at all costs. Be sure to research your silk cleaners thoroughly and spare no expense if you really need a deep cleaning. Do not use just any commercial dry cleaner. Ask around or read some reviews online to find a trustworthy and skilled dry cleaner. When it comes to ironing be sure to use low heat on damp cloth. The protein that makes up strands of silk will deform with high heat (imagine cooking a steak). Steamers will not prove very effective as silk retains too much moisture leading to soggy clothing.

The reason for silk’s public image of fragility is its susceptibility to stains. Not that stains are impossible to remove, but spot treating on silk clothing will only make things worse. Silk is very poor at retaining its colour, any spot treating will fade the surrounding area, causing an unsightly patch in your clothing. Use a dry cloth to very softly soak up any remaining moisture. Do not press into the fabric. Once home, take your stained silk and gently bathe it in a cold bucket with a few drops of liquid detergent. Use only a product formulated for silk. Agitate the garment in the tub for a few minutes, be sure not to rub the fabric to vigorously in any one area. Hang your garment to dry until it is just damp enough to iron. If the stain persists, send it to your silk cleaners.

Daily Use
Silk is great at absorbing sweat in the summer, and as a thin insulating layer in winter. Using silk as an underlayer for these purposes are fine for everyday use. They won’t get stained if under your clothing. For Silk suits save them for special occasions. The sheen of silk is eye catching and exotic, best saved for limelight moments. You wouldn’t drive your classic sports car to dinner, nor would you wear a silk suit. When wearing your silk suit, be careful of stains. That being said, don’t let your silk suit hide in the closet out of fear of damaging it. Wear it and make sure people see it!

It is important to pack your silk suit correctly to avoid abrasive damage. Use a polyester suit bag with a smooth finish, and be sure to fit the suit inside properly. If you got your suit from Senszio, the suit bag that it came with is sufficient until you switch to a travel specific suit bag. Make sure that you do not fold the suit more than once and the hangar is uniform in width throughout. Thankfully Silk does not wrinkle easily, once you reach your destination, take it out and hang it properly.

At Senszio we craft suits that emit a timeless sheen, even when not made from silk. Our tailors honed their skills over 3 generations to offer top quality garments to you, the discerning gentleman. Come visit us and book an appointment for the next time we are in your city.