Most care labels for wool and silk suggest dry cleaning. Wool fabrics come from sheep and goats hair, and depending on which type of sheep hair is used will more than likely determine the quality of the wool fiber.The blending of different fibers will provide coziness and serviceability, as the wool contributes most significantly to the absorbency and warmth of the garment. Wools also absorb odors, and tend to hold dirt easily if the fibers are stretched. One suggested way to reduce this problem, is to let wool garment relax for over 24 hours after cleaning, allowing the fibers to properly rearrange themselves to their original shape or pattern. If the fibers are tight and in their original form, it is easy to rub off dust and dirt as it applies itself, and liquids will more easily run off the fabric or infiltrate it at a slower speed. Drycleaning is frequently suggested for cleaning because wools will shrink in water. Furthermore, it is strong and resistant to wrinkling, being an easy garment to steam press. In regards to taking out wrinkles, ironing should not be used. Doing so will make its fibers frail and harm the garment. (Mendelson 341-344).
Silk is a natural fiber created from strands secreted by a silkworm as it makes its cocoon. The strands are sorted and woven into cloth to be made into moderately warm garments. It is generally comfortable, absorbent, and is somewhat wrinkle resistant. Because of its smooth consistency, silk doesn’t invite or hold dirt easily. However, the fabric is more easily stained than all other fibers (Mendelson 346-347). Mendelson doesn’t state, however which stains silk is most prone to, or the reasons why. Aslett states that the fabric is reasonably stain-resistant, but when needed, stain removal is difficult because of the sensitive nature silk has to chemicals. He also notes that silk is very prone to water spots, and because of its delicate features it is worn down by friction quite easily (Aslett, Don 162, 164). Although some silks are chemically rendered to be machine washable, most care labels call for dry cleaning on silk. Mendelson leaves some advice that skill is needed when silks are treated at home, and to always test dyes for colorfastness and follow instructions on drying temperatures (Mendelson 347).
Aslett, Don. Don Aslett’s Stain Buster’s Bible. Pocatello: Marsh Creek Press, 2002.
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Mendelson, Cheryl. Laundry; the Home Comforts Book of Caring for Clothes and Linen.
New York: Scribner, 2005.