Making Yellowed Silk White Again

by Julia Woodbury
(last updated November 3, 2014)


The problem with silk, especially old silk, is that it is too delicate to withstand machine washing or harsh chemical treatments. You're afraid that bleach will be too harsh, and your fears are probably correct. So what do you do instead?

One option that departs from the norm is to soak the silk article overnight with denture tablets. Just fill a sink, bathtub, or bowl with warm water, plop in two denture tablets, allow them to dissolve, and then add the silk. If you are planning to use this on an especially important or sentimental piece of silk, you will probably want to test the method on a less loved silk article, just to be sure that the tablets you chose and the water type that you have in your area will not create problems for the silk.

Another method for whitening yellowed silk is to mix together the following ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of water softener
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 pint of warm water

Wet your silk article and then dip it into the solution or gently sponge the mixture onto the silk. Gently work the solution into the fabric, repeatedly dipping or sponging on the solution as needed. Rinse the silk with warm water and then allow the article to air dry.

If you are working with a large piece (an entire wedding dress, for example) you may wish to get it professionally cleaned, otherwise you will have to multiply the amount of denture tables or vinegar, water softener, salt, and water that you use. Consider allowing larger pieces to soak in the solution for a longer period of time depending on the severity of the yellowing.

Happy silk whitening!

Author Bio

Julia Woodbury

Julia Woodbury is a recent graduate of Brigham Young University. She delights in the written word and has interests in magazine writing and editing. ...


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What is four less than 8?

2017-08-27 10:06:27


I was under the impression that air drying white silk also makes it yellow and that the piece should be rung dry w a towel, then dried w a clean iron. Is this not the case?

2017-03-07 13:32:49

Lois M Winstead

I have 3 minute polident. Is that OK to use for whitening a silk blouse?

2016-08-13 13:51:16


What is water softener?

2015-07-20 12:43:14


I hear that someone tried the Vinegar treatment only to have turned a white silk shirt only more yellow. Wonder if this person tried the dental tabs. I'm going to try the tabs see if it helps. I love white silk will to try whatever to get them white again.

2015-04-07 10:07:25

Kathleen Pearson

I did my white silk shirt aged and yellow in places in [1 tbsp vinegar, 3 tbsp of water softener,3 tbsp salt and pint of warm water]times 3 to have the amount to cover. The shirt came out totally all yellowed?????

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