There is a lot of discussion about whether or not you can safely hand wash a silk saree at home, given that they are both fragile and expensive. Because of its delicate nature, washing silk may feel like a Catch-22. Check the care label on the saree to see what the designer suggests. There are situations where dry cleaning is the sole method of cleaning that is suggested.
You can check the colourfastness of your silks if you plan on washing them at home. Easy fading testing can be done by rubbing a cotton swab dipped in a mild laundry detergent over a concealed silk seam. Do not wash the saree in the detergent if the dye from it rubs off on the swab. This is most common in elaborately embroidered sarees made of colourful silk, especially those with a lot of detailed work from Bahuji.
How to Clean a Saree: The Basics
After investing in a beautiful seven yards of fabric, careful handling is essential to prevent it from being damaged during storage or washing. When caring after your sarees at home, keep these considerations in mind.
How to Wash Cotton Sarees?
- Cotton sarees should be pre-soaked for 10-15 minutes in a pail of warm water containing rock salt before being washed for the first time. This will ensure that the colour sticks to the saree and that it won’t “bleed” into subsequent washes.
- If you wash your cotton saree, go easy on the detergent. Instead of wringing it out, hang it over the faucet and let the water drip.
- Starching cotton sarees (after washing) is a must if you want them to maintain their crispness and cleanliness.
- It would help if you only dried your saree in a covered area, as direct sunlight will degrade the colour.
- Keep the saree in a dark, cool, and dry place, away from any sources of moisture or direct sunshine.
How to Wash Silk Sarees?
- It would help if you never washed a silk saree by hand or in a washing machine, no matter how careful you are.
- Wipe any spills on the saree with cool water promptly.
- Silk sarees should only be cleaned in a dry cleaning solvent.
- A silk saree should never be dried in direct sunlight to prevent the colour from fading.
- If you wrap the saree up, the embroidery threads will get twisted.
- Keep the saree folded in a muslin fabric made of soft cotton. Allowing some space between sarees in a stack will keep them from getting sticky.
- The gold embroidery will fade and turn black if you preserve the saree in plastic.
Even though silk sarees can be hand washed, the stains will still be there afterwards. Antiperspirant and deodorant stains can be removed by wiping the affected area with a mixture of diluted vinegar and water or lime juice and water. Mild ammonia in lukewarm water can be used to remove more tenacious stains like chocolate and makeup.
Oil stains are more difficult to remove, although a little talcum powder can help by soaking up the oil. While cleaning, it’s important to respond quickly and use targeted spot treatments for the best results.
For washing silk, it’s best to stick to cool or lukewarm water. There is often a noticeable shrinking in silk sarees. Before throwing in your beloved silk saree for a wash, check the label for instructions.