Does silk fabric shrink in a clothes dryer?

Silk is a delicate fabric and will shrink in the dryer if it is dried at a high temperature. The high heat combined with the tumbling action will cause the natural protein fibers of the silk to break down, leading to shrinkage.

Silk clothes should always be hung on a clothesline or laid out flat to dry naturally.

This will help prevent damage to its delicate fibers and keep the garment in shape.

If you put silk in the dryer and run a regular cycle using moderate to high heat settings, it may come out wrinkled or shrunken.

That being said, to avoid silk items from shrinking in the dryer, always run the dryer on a gentle cycle with low or no heat settings and place the silk items in a laundry bag.

Key Takeaways

  • Silk is a natural protein fiber, it’s renowned for its delicate feel and drapey texture that can be both lightweight and warm.
  • Drying silk in a dryer at medium to high temperatures will cause the silk to shrink.
  • When it comes to drying your silk garments, you should always air dry them or use the delicate cycle on your dryer.
  • Avoid using high heat when drying your silk garments, as this can also cause them to shrink.
  • It’s best to air-dry the silk fabric naturally in order to make them last for a long time.

Should you dry silk in a dryer?

Being a luxurious fabric, silk is delicate by nature and can shrink when washed and dried in hot temperatures.

Tumble drying a silk fabric is not recommended because it shrinks at high temperatures.

Whether or not you should use a dryer to dry your silk clothes is a matter of personal preference and, most importantly, the care label instructions.

So, the directions on the care label will tell you how to wash and dry the silk item correctly.

However, if you’re short on time, it’s probably okay to use the dryer at the lowest heat and gentle tumbling settings.

As a best practice, air-drying the fabric naturally is still considered to be the safest option.

To what extent does the silk shrink?

To be honest, there isn’t a fixed rule for shrinkage, as it can depend on the heat settings of the dryer or how much direct sunlight it is exposed to when air drying.

In general, you can expect a shrinkage percentage of 5–15% depending on the type of silk, the weave, and the temperature used to dry it.

However, the number can be extremely variable (high or low), as other factors such as the temperature and humidity of the environment can also influence shrinkage.

Some silk items shrink less, while others may shrink more.

For instance, certain types of silk, such as dupioni silk, are known to shrink more than other types of silk, so it is important to be aware of the potential shrinkage prior to washing (a care label will be your savior here).

How do you dry silk garments in a dryer?

Even though drying your silk garments in a dryer is a risky process, if you are doing it correctly, it shouldn’t be an issue.

Here are the steps for drying your silk garment in the dryer.

Step 1: Read the care label

It’s important that you confirm that the fabric is safe to dry in a dryer and follow all instructions on the care label before proceeding.

If the care label does not specifically talk about tumble drying, just stay away from using the dryer altogether. Instead, stick to conventional air-drying methods like hanging the fabric on a clothesline or drying it flat on a drying rack.

Once you confirm that the silk fabric qualifies for machine drying, you can wrap the wet silk garment up in a clean towel to remove excess water before putting it in the dryer.

Step 2: Laundry bag

Place your damp silk items into a laundry bag suitable for machine drying.

As an alternative, pillowcases can be used as laundry bags; simply make sure that the pillowcase itself is suitable for machine drying.

Note: Make sure that you don’t overload the dryer because silk is delicate and can wrinkle easily.

Step 3: Place a lint-free towel or dryer balls

Add a clean, lint-free towel to the load, as this will help protect the silk items from abrasion.

Additionally, you can also include a few dryer balls for extra cushioning.

Step 4: Select a delicate cycle and run it for a short duration

Select a delicate cycle and set it to run for a short period of time.

Running the dyer for the shortest duration, especially for delicate fabrics like silk, helps to reduce the amount of damage caused to the fabric.

Step 5: Use low heat setting

The most important step in the entire process of drying is to use the lowest heat setting possible.

If your dryer has a feature to run on no heat setting, simply use it, or else select the lowest possible heat settings.

Step 6: Run the drying cycle

Once all the settings are in place, simply set the dryer to run for the recommended time (according to the garment care label).

If the drying duration is not mentioned on the care label, select the shortest drying cycle available.

You may need to monitor the progress of the drying occasionally to determine if the drying time needs to be extended.

Step 7: Inspect the silk garment

Check your garments periodically and remove them when they’re just barely damp, and finally hang them up or lay them flat to air dry completely.

What are the benefits of drying silk fabric in a dryer?

Machine-drying silk fabrics in a dryer help reduce wrinkles and drying time.

For instance, if you don’t have much time but need to get your clothes ready to wear quickly, putting them in the dryer on low heat can help get rid of wrinkles and dry them quickly.

To be on the safe side, make sure to read the care label for any special drying instructions and use a laundry bag.

Other ways to dry silk fabric

With silk, you may not be able to use your dryer all the time, as not all fabrics are made the same.

You may be able to use a dryer only if the fabric qualifies for machine drying or when your dryer has no heat and gentle cycle settings.

Here are some alternate ways to dry your silk fabric.

  • Air-Dry: Simply, hang them up to air dry or you can also lay them flat on a towel to absorb any moisture. 
  • Use Padded Hanger: Hang the garment on a padded hanger and place it in a ventilated area.
  • Use a clothesline: Simply hang the fabric on a clothesline and let it dry in the open air naturally.
  • Use Hair Dryer on no heat settings: You can also use the hair on no heat settings to speed up the drying process.

How do you prevent the silk from shrinking?

Here are a few tips that will help prevent your silk fabric from shrinking.

Hand wash

Hand-washing is considered the safest method of washing silk fabric, as it gives you complete control over the entire washing process.

It lets you use gentle, non-abrasive cleaning products, put light pressure on the fabric while washing it, and control the water temperature.

Use cold water and a light detergent when washing silk by hand, and avoid twisting or wringing the fabric.

Dry cleaning

Dry cleaning may be better than hand washing in some cases. This is the best way to keep something from shrinking because it doesn’t involve direct contact with water.

Air Drying

When it comes to taking care of clothes, focusing only on washing might not be enough.

Drying is just as important and plays a key role in keeping your clothes in good shape.

As a best practice, you can simply hang your garments or lay them flat to air-dry naturally.

Air drying is gentler on the fabric and causes it to shrink less than machine drying.

Store in a cool and dry place

Silk clothes should be kept in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat.

Silk does not like heat, so it’s better you store your silk clothes away from windows and other sources of direct sunlight or heat.

Final Thoughts

As we wrap up, let’s be clear that it’s usually not a good idea to dry a silk item in a dryer.

Also, letting your delicate fabrics air dry indoors or in the shade is a better way to protect them and prolong their lifespan.

You should also avoid drying silk in areas exposed to direct sunlight.

That being said, if you must use a dryer, make sure to use the lowest heat setting and run on a gentle cycle.

And most importantly, never ignore the care label, as it is a goldmine of information when it comes to caring for fabrics.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does silk shrink when wet?

Silk is a natural protein fiber, and like many natural fibers, it can shrink when it gets wet. The extent to which silk shrinks when wet can vary depending on the specific type of silk and the way it was made. So, before you decide to wash your silk fabric, it is best to read the care label carefully.

Is it necessary to dry-clean silk dupioni clothes?

Items such as silk dupioni should be laundered by a dry cleaning professional in most cases. But it’s best to follow the instructions on the care label of the silk item you want to wash.

What is silk dupioni fabric?

Dupioni silk is a luxurious fabric made from the cocoons of two different silkworms. The fabric that comes out of this has a unique texture and shine. It is often used for formal events like weddings and other special occasions.

Does raw silk shrink when washed?

Yes, raw silk can shrink when it is washed. Not all types of silk fabrics are washable; some are dry-cleaned only, and some may be washed by following special precautions; read the care label for more clarity.

Does silk shrink in hot water?

Yes, silk will shrink in hot water as it tends to tighten when exposed to high heat. So, the best way to clean or wash them is with cold water and mild detergent that is suitable for delicate fabrics.

Manish Singh is an expert in electrical engineering with a Diploma in the field. With over 12 years of experience, he specializes in repairing music systems, washing machines, dryers, and other laundry-related appliances. His in-depth knowledge in electrical repairs and decent knowledge about garment care makes him a trusted authority in the field of appliance repair and laundry related topics. If you have any questions or need assistance with your appliances, you can reach out to Manish through email: manish.singh (at)