How do you care for one of the most luxurious fabrics one can ask for in a DC summer?
Don't believe the hype: it's best NOT to dry clean silk garments, no matter what the care tag says. Let's review the steps to washing your awesome silk tap pants from the 1920s or gorgeous silk tank tops from Listopad (our obsession for the summer)--
1. Don't dry clean! Silk is a natural fiber, akin to human hair, that has been used in clothing for a long time. Dry cleaning is a relatively modern invention, so what did classy women used to do with their silk garments? HAND WASH.
2. Harsh detergents (cough, dry cleaning, cough) should be avoided. Woolite or dish washing soap (ideal for most vintage natural fibers) are gentle enough and will get the job done.
3. Don't soak. If the silk is getting kind of dingy, rinse it with some vinegar mixed in with the water. Best to keep the water cold/room temperature so as to not harm the fibers. No bleach either!
4. Don't wring out the garment. Roll it in a towel to absorb excess water and then let it air dry flat on a towel.
For great summaries on the differences between different silk incarnations (chiffon, crepe de chine, etc) check out this page.