The fibers of silks and rayons are strong and dye to rich full colors; however, these fibers require special care and can be a source of disappointment if the manufacturer, user, or cleaner makes a mistake. The adhesion of dye to the fibers is often a source of problems. The problem is usually greater on deeply colored silks than on light shades. The bond of dye to fiber can be broken by friction, water, toiletries, alcohol, dry cleaning solvents, oxygen, strong lights and certain gasses.

Multi color garments can have dyes that bleed or transfer onto other parts of the garment when not properly cleaned. This may occur if the manufacturer intended the garment to be dry cleaned and it was washed. Fabric care professionals follow the care label directions or do sufficient testing before using an alternate method.

Spills on silk can cause the dyes to move. A toiletry or alcohol will often cause a light circle surrounded by a darker ring.

  • Lights and gasses, including oxygen, can cause gradual shading changes on exposed parts of the garment. This will be more noticeable after cleaning than before cleaning.
  • Protein fibers are weakened by chemical reaction with perspiration. Garments should be cleaned as soon as possible after exposure to perspiration.
  • Sizing is used in the manufacturing of some "dry clean only" silks and rayons. This sizing may cause a permanent discoloration if water based substances come in contact with it.
  • Hair spray on any fabric can attract dyes during the dry cleaning process and cause permanent stains.
  • Sanded silks tend to show premature wear and discoloration as the fuzzy ends rub off and change the light reflective properties of the fabric. Wear will also rub off some dyes.
  • Home stain removal on silks and rayons is not a good idea. Never use chlorine bleach on silks.
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