Your Hermes silk scarves are investments, heirlooms, and hard-working fashion accessories all in one. When the occasional stain does happen, Hermes recommends having your scarves dry-cleaned. (Hermes boutiques will even ship your scarves an expert cleaner for you.) Some Hermes collectors report less-than-great results from dry cleaners, though, and have taken to hand-washing their scarves themselves. Here’s how they do it:
- Fill a bowl or sink with cool water and fully dissolve silk detergent (Woolite works well) in the water. Some Hermes collectors swear by using dish-washing detergent. Whatever you use, make sure it’s bleach free.
- Add a “color catcher” cloth as an extra precaution to keep colors from running.
- Submerge the scarf in the water and swish it around. Keep it moving gently, but constantly, for about five minutes. If you let the scarf sit, it increases the chances of color running in the water.
- Pull the scarf from the water and gently squeeze — DON’T WRING – out any excess water.
- Rinse the scarf under cool running water until you’re positive all the detergent is gone — you’ll be able to tell by feel and look. This may take a few minutes.
- Lay the scarf flat on a soft, clean white towel. Flip one end of the towel over the edge of the scarf then roll the towel up from that end, taking the scarf with it. Let the scarf sit until it’s almost dry.
- Once the scarf is only slightly damp, unroll the towel. Lay the scarf out on another clean, white towel and iron on the “silk” setting. You can lay a second thin towel over the scarf for extra protection, if you like. Make sure you iron up to the hems, but not across them, or you’ll have to re-”plump” them by rolling them between your fingers.
A Few More Thoughts
Hand-washing your Hermes scarves is a leap of faith and, although many collectors report great results, the process isn’t perfect. Vintage scarves with red, black, green and yellow dyes — or scarves with dark colors against white — are particularly prone to color runs. Get a feel for what you can handle by practicing on already-damaged scarves, or practicing on scarves that don’t have the most run-prone colors. Of course, you always have the option of sending the scarf out for dry cleaning if you have second thoughts.
If you do send your scarves out to the cleaner, here’s a trick: Ask the dry cleaner how they handle a scarf’s hems. If they say they iron the hems flat, stay away! But if they know to leave the hems rolled, there’s a good chance they really do know how to properly care for your Hermes scarf.