Did you recently sleep on silk for the first time and decide it was the perfect fabric for you? Maybe you purchased silk sheets in the past and loved them, but can’t seem to find new ones that are as nice? Whether you are a first time buyer or a longtime fan of sleeping on silk this guide is for you!
- Why Should You Buy Silk Bedding Over Other Fabrics?
- Types of Silk and How They Compare for Quality.
- Summer vs. Winter Silk Bedding.
- Choosing a Silk Duvet.
- Choosing Your Bedding Colors.
- Buying Silk Bedding for Your Guest Bedroom.
- Caring for Your Silk Bedding.
Why Should You Buy Silk Bedding Over Other Fabrics?
This is a question we are frequently asked by new customers. They have heard that silks sheets are superior, perhaps from their mother or grandmother, and they are interested in giving silk a try. So why is silk considered the most luxurious fabric for bedding?
- Silk is incredibly smooth and feels great on skin.
- Silk is a naturally hypoallergenic fabric and resists dust, fungus, mold and many other allergens.
- Silk is great for all climates, from cold winter nights to broiling summers, you can sleep in silk and be incredibly comfortable (more on this below)
- Silk is the longest lasting natural fabric.
- Silk is great for your skin and hair, it helps you retain moisture and reduce damage caused by higher friction fabrics.
Choosing to buy silk is like choosing to buy Amish furniture – it lasts much, much longer than anything else you could purchase. When you get tired of purchasing new sheets each season, then it’s time to purchase silk. Silk outlasts every other natural fabric and has a lifespan on par with polyester. Unlike polyester, silk is wonderful feeling and good for you. That’s why it’s the best fabric.
However, be careful not to buy poor quality silk, as you’ll learn in the next section, the quality of silk sheets matters just as much as the thread count with cotton sheets.
Types of Silk and How They Compare for Quality.
When you begin shopping for silk you should first educate yourself on the varieties of silk available and the way in which silk is measured for quality. In general, it is helpful to know the following types of silk:
Charmeuse Silk is the most commonly recognized type of silk, it is used in everything from bedding to dresses to shirts. This type of silk is lightweight and has a natural elasticity, which makes it the ideal fabric for use in sheets, pillow cases and other kinds of bedding. The front of the fabric has a satin sheen to it while the back has a dull finish. Charmeuse is a cultivated silk, meaning that the silk worms which produce it are farmed for their silk.
Mulberry Silk is the highest quality of silk and the most sought after for bedding. Most mulberry silk is actually charmeuse silk that was cultivated from a special type of silkworm which is fed a very strict diet. The Bombyx mori is the silkworm which produces mulberry silk and it prefers to eat the leaves of the mulberry tree. This particular type of silkworm has been bred in captivity for over 5,000 years! The careful breeding for quality and the strict diet of mulberry leaves are what make the end product, mulberry silk, the very finest silk available today.
Tussah Silk is actually silk made from wild silkworms which have not been bred. As the worms are not fed a strict diet or protected in the same way that cultivated silkworms are, this type of silk is not as soft or durable as cultivated silk. Most wild silk comes from India and not China.
Habotai Silk is another great silk that is commonly used for making sheets and bedding. Habotai is less expensive but also less durable than charmeuse. Often this type of silk is “washed” with sand to make it feel as soft as charmeuse. However this washing process also destroys the fibers in the silk, which means it doesn’t last as long.
Duppoini Silk is strong, lustrous but coarse and not ideal for sheets and most bedding. Sometimes it can be used in duvets, but because of its quality it does not work as well to maintain temperatures. The lower quality is due to the fact that this silk is made from irregular cocoons that are not of the same quality you would find in charmeuse silk.
Now that you know that mulberry silk is the very best silk you also need to learn a little about something called “Momme Weight”. Pronounced “mummy”, the momme weight is basically a measurement of the weight of the silk. This measurement was actually developed by the Japanese and is also used to measure things like pearls.
To calculate the momme weight you need to measure a piece of fabric that is 100 yards long and 45 inches wide. If this piece of fabric weighs 12 lbs then the momme weight of the fabric is 12. Obviously this isn’t something you can do for yourself while out shopping, so be sure to check labels for the manufacturer’s listing.
The type of silk also helps determine the momme weight of the silk. For instance habotai silk is usually only found with a momme weight of 5-15, while charmeuse silk can be anywhere from 12 to 30.
Ideally you want to look for a momme weight of greater than 14 for bedding. Here at ElleSilk all of our bedding is made with a momme weight of 22. You will almost never see bedding at a higher momme.
Summer vs. Winter Silk Bedding.
You might not believe this, but silk is actually perfect for all seasons! Your silk pillowcases and sheets do not need to be switched out from summer to winter. If you get particularly hot or cold nights then we do recommend you purchase a different silk duvet for summer and winter. You can also try purchasing a silk blanket for winter, for a little extra warmth.
Why is silk so flexible? To start silk doesn’t bunch up, which means it provides you entire body even heat. So your feet are just as insulated as your upper body, and your own body can better regulate temperate.
Ever wake up in the middle of the night sweating buckets from the heat of your bedding? That’s because most synthetic fibers and other traditional bedding materials like down trap air. Over the course of the night your body heat slowly builds up until it becomes unbearable. Your sweat is also trapped inside the bedding and unable to evaporate, so you end up with disgusting wet sheets that are impossible to fall back to sleep in. This is especially problematic for women who are going through menopause, as their body cycles from hot to cool to hot again the typical cotton sheets can’t accommodate the changes in heat and they wake up continuously from discomfort.
The beautiful structure of silk at a microscopic level is what allows a small, but effective, amount of air to naturally help your body regulate its temperature. As you overheat your body perspires and silk’s breathable nature allows that moisture to escape thus cooling your body, this is known as a wicking effect. As you cool off less moisture is produced and silk helps your body retain the natural heat it produces. Not only that but silk gives an even amount of cooling throughout the night so your body doesn’t need to be constantly readjusting.
You could buy expensive synthetic bedding which also has the same effect, but why? You are only introducing more chemicals into your environment and silk is a completely natural fabric that provides the same wicking effect.
Choosing a Silk Duvet.
The first thing you must do when choosing a silk duvet is consider the season you’ll be using it for. As we mentioned above, having a different duvet for winter and summer is recommended. Thicker silk duvets are ideal for winter as they trap more of your body’s natural heat, while thinner ones are ideal for summer as they allow more air to cool your body.
When shopping for silk duvets you should look at the tog to identify how warm or cool the duvet is. The tog is a rating of how insulating a particular duvet or other kind of fabric is.
The ideal summer duvet is usually between 2-4 tog and has no additional fabrics added to it. Making sure that this duvet is pure silk is very important if you want to stay cool all summer long. Take a look at our very own summer silk duvet
for more information.
Some individuals also like to use a spring and fall duvet, these typically have a tog of around 8-11. If you live in more moderate climate you might also opt to use this kind of duvet for most of the year. A fall or spring duvet can also be helpful if you are looking to save money and only want to purchase a single duvet.
During winter you’ll want many layers of silk to keep you warm, we recommend at least 12 tog and our winter duvet has 13 tog. For especially cool climates you might want to consider a cotton covered silk duvet
. For the most part, you will find that even our pure silk duvet is extremely warm throughout the winter.
Choosing Your Colors.
Finally! The fun part of shopping for silk bedding. Choosing a color combination that works for you and your decor is very important. Not only will the colors you choose enhance your mood but they can also help you fall asleep easier.
Blue – is a beautiful color but did you know that it’s been proven over and over again to have an impact on sleep? A study in 2013 show that individuals sleeping in a blue room had the most sleep. When you think of blue thoughts of peace and calm enter your mind. Blue is a naturally calming color and if you are not using blue in your room already then consider buying a blue duvet or a blue bedding set to really make an impact on your sleep.
If blue is the best color for your bedroom then what are the worst? You might automatically think red or yellow would have the opposite effect, but actually purple, brown and grey were ranked the worst! If possible avoid these colors for your wall paint, bedding and anything more than just accents.
If you are looking to enhance your love life then colors like gold, yellow and orange have been shown to increase libido. While in the same 2013 study it was found that red decor did not lead to increased romance in the bedroom.
Want a great night’s rest but not sure if blue is the color for you? Green and orange decor also have a positive effect. Mix and match these colors for a restful and rejuvenating night’s sleep!
Buying Silk Bedding for your Guest Bedroom
If you want to enhance the stay of your guests and impress them at the same time then silk bedding is definitely the way to go. Not only is it a real treat for those that have never slept in silk before, but with all of silk’s health and sleep benefits it will help cut down on crankiness from jet lag.
The perfect guest bedroom should look elegant, which is why we recommend purchasing one of our luxurious silk bedding sets. Our 8 piece sets include a duvet, flat sheet, oxford and housewife pillowcases and silk mattress covers. The incredible designs will enhance any room and make them appear incredibly elegant!
If you really want to make your guest’s stay special then purchase a silk eye mask for them to take home with them. These eye masks are ideal for helping your guests get to sleep and are an affordable thank you gift for their stay.
Beyond purchasing a silk bedding set you should also purchase a silk blanket or throw for them. These blankets are warm, soft and perfect for the guest who is fickle about how much or how little coverage they want at night.
Caring for Your Silk Bedding
Now that you’ve been sleeping in silk you’re probably wondering – how often do I need to clean my sheets? Can I wash them? Do they need to be dry cleaned?
The wonderful thing about high quality silk is that it naturally repels dirt, dust, oils and other grime that your bedding will accumulate. Silk bedding can thus be washed less often than traditional cotton or synthetic fibers.
Most silk can be machine washed and air dried, although you should always see the specific instructions for that product. In general we recommend the following:
Basic rules for washing silk:
- Never use bleach or any bleaching agents! These damage the fibers and shorten the lifespan of your silk.
- Never machine dry! High heat and the tumbling motion can damage the fibers as well.
- DO machine or hand wash your silk with cold water.
- DO air dry your silk.
- DO lightly iron your silk on the cool setting on the inside of the fabric.
Some items like silk blankets, duvets and pillows require special care. Please see our full care guide for more information on each product.