How do I care for my scarf?
If you were lucky enough to receive a Laslett England luxury silk or a wool scarf for
Christmas, then you could be wondering how to care for it. Legally, I must advise you to dry-
clean your scarf but there are occasions when you want to deal with a stain quickly so here
is some helpful advice. Dry-cleaning can be necessary and if time and money allows this may
be the safest way especially if you are worried to tackle this yourself. If you have some
understanding of fabrics and the stain is not too problematic, then you can wash a silk or a
wool scarf by hand. It is always best to treat a stain as soon as you can.
How do I hand-wash my scarf?
Wool is a natural protein and is naturally antibacterial and odour-resistant so it does not
require frequent washing and can be spot cleaned with the correct detergent. Silk is a
natural fibre cultivated from the cocoon of mulberry silkworm larvae and is known for its
lustre, shine, strength, and durability. It is a little more particular when it comes to care but
if you have a casualty then this is what you can do.
Before you start, make sure your sink or basin is clean, might sound obvious but you don’t
want to pick up any other dirty marks in the process. For silk or wool make sure the water is
lukewarm, it helps to have a little warmth to remove dirt particles. Use a detergent that is
specifically formulated for silk & wool. Just add a small amount of detergent, you don’t want
the water to be over soapy. Move the scarf around gently in the water for a few minutes, 5 –
10 minutes depending on the stain. Before you start washing the entire scarf you can put a
dab of detergent on the stain, gently rub the fabric against itself but don’t over do it.
Sometimes I put the merest amount of detergent on a dampened cotton bud to spot the
stain once the fabric is in the water. Just notice where the stain is before you immerse it in
the water, so you know where to gently rub. Don’t leave silk in water for too long. Wool can
be left to soak safely for about 30 minutes.
Once you think the stain may be dealt with remove from the water. You may notice a small
amount of colour dispersal in the water, this is normal and nothing to worry about.
Rinse well in cold water, at least twice or even three times to make sure the detergent has
disappeared. Again, gently does it. When removing from the water give it the lightest
squeeze to remove any excess water, do not wring or twist the fabric. To maintain the
scarf’s shape, lay out flat on a bath towel. Silk dries quickly due to its breathability; wool is
naturally absorbent so will take longer.
Let it dry naturally and while it almost dry, slightly damp to the touch, turn on the iron to a
medium setting and use the steam to iron on the reverse side of the scarf taking care not to
press any hand rolled edges as these are meant to retain a tubular profile. When ironing you
will notice the scarf returns to its silky soft appearance and hand feel. I often leave the scarf
to air following ironing by placing over the back of a soft upholstered chair or bed, towel rail
with a towel underneath.
TIP: to get rid of creases after wear, shake out your scarf and hang open and evenly in a
steamy bathroom whilst you are having a shower, or lightly steam iron. A steamer is ideal
for removing creases from silk. These methods work for silk or wool scarves. Wool absorbs
more water so let it air well once the creases have fallen out. Laslett England wool scarves
are made from a superfine 100% merino wool or a blend of 70% wool/30% silk and do not
crease easily which is a great bonus.
DO NOT MACHINE WASH, BLEACH OR TUMBLE DRY your silk scarf. Even if you have a
washing machine that has a special wool cycle, I wouldn’t be too hasty to machine wash a
wool scarf, it’s just a quick and safer to handwash.
Air dry – It’s always a good idea to air dry your scarf after wear, a padded hanger is always
useful to have at hand or over a towel rail. Never use a wooden or metal hanger, which can
stain or leave rust on the fabric. Keep away from bright sunlight or direct heat without
something underneath to add protection.
How do I store my scarf?
Your scarf is best stored folded once it has been aired. Don’t leave it hanging for long
periods of time. Store in a dry place and be careful of clothes moths. You can use a moth
repellent but do not replace this directly on the scarf. Moths like dark places that are not
disturbed so don’t push your scarf unprotected to the back of a wardrobe or drawer.
If you intend to put your scarf away for a few months, make sure it is clean and place in an
airtight bag or a plastic storage box or crate, the latter I find is a very good option. Wrapping
between sheets of acid-free tissue to prevent folds forming deep creases in storage is good
Steaming – an alternative method
Steaming is a good way to look after many textiles and has become a much more common
way to care for luxury fabrics. It works very well to remove creases from silk. The steam will
gently remove any visible creases and wrinkles plus it restores lustre to the fabric. The hot
steam from a steamer also removes odours and kills bacteria, while nourishing the textile
fibres and allowing them to regain their natural shape. Hand-held steamers are readily
available, I have found a Scandinavian brand called the ‘Steamery’ which sell, in my opinion,
better quality steamers and other accessories to look after your textiles. Since you do not
have to wash your clothes as often when using a steamer, the lifespan of your garments
gets extended. Steaming is ideal for delicate textiles like silk, velvet, and cashmere. A
handheld steamer is also a smart tool to use when traveling to quickly freshen up your
clothes on the go.
A final note
The best thing to do is to wear your scarf regularly, natural fabrics are inherently beautiful
and if looked after your accessory will last for years and can even become a family heirloom.
Neither silk nor wool need frequent washing, air often, wash less. Make a habit of airing
your scarves after use. This will make them feel and smell fresh again. With any stains, treat
these as soon as possible.
After all, a luxury scarf is not just for Christmas!