Silk is a fabric made from the animal fibre of insects such as silkworms that spin it to build cocoons. Silk is generally used for clothing such as blouses, dresses and ties, but it can also be used to make sheets and curtains. It has a fine, elegant and delicate appearance, but as a fabric, it has several disadvantages.
Silk is generally one of the most expensive fabrics on the market. Compared to cotton or nylon, silk is quite pricey. A silk tie or silk sheets can cost significantly more than cotton counterparts because of its elegant appearance and the difficulty in its manufacture. Silk is considered a luxury product, therefore, expect to pay more for it.
Silk is more difficult to care for than other fabrics. Dry cleaning is generally the preferred method for cleaning silk.
Test a small area first before washing a silk garment. Hand washing each garment separately using a silk-specific detergent or mild soap is advisable to keep silk looking fine. Silk cannot be bleached or soaked in prewash products. All silk items must be air dried and steam ironed on a low setting. Wringing or twisting silk garments can ruin and permanently damage the clothing.
Although silk is valued for its delicacy, it is also considered a disadvantage of the fabric. Silk fades easily in direct sunlight, so a new garment dried outside can look old and worn. It has a tendency to develop a yellow colour over time and is particularly prone to perspiration stains. Travelling with silk garments can be unpractical because silk wrinkles easily and requires a steam iron. Silk is also extremely water absorbent, so liquid stains are very obvious.
Non-organic silk is often unethically obtained. Silkworms or silk-producing moths are sometimes harmed or killed during the collection of their silk cocoons. Silk cocoons are collected before the worm reaches maturity and this interferes with its life cycle. Organic silk or wild silk is animal-friendly and is collected ethically.