Here I’m going to be telling you about the differences between silk and satin pillowcase.
I’m going to try and explain this in the easiest way possible because I know a lot of people get the two items confused.
I’m also going to make the disclaimer that all the information I’m going to be giving to you is based on my knowledge as a person who has looked into textiles themselves and studied them.
Table of Contents
Difference Between Satin and Silk
So what are the fundamental difference between silk and satin?
It is the fact that silk is a fiber and satin is a weave structure. Silk can be satin but satin can never be silk.
Silk is a fiber that comes from silk worms. They are the ones who create it. Silk is made in different ways. There are different variations of silk.
Silk doesn’t have to be a nice smooth fabric. There are actually textures of silk that are much more bumpy, depending on what kind of feel you’re going for. I’m not going to get too much into that.
Satin however is a weave structure. Satin can be a hundred percent polyester, it could be cotton, it could be silk, it could be wool, it could be any of that.
I have a satin pillowcase that is a hundred percent polyester. That is why you can machine wash this. If this was a real silk pillowcase, you would not want to machine wash it.
Silk, generally speaking, is not something I would ever suggest washing. Typically if I don’t want to get it dry cleaned or something, I will steam it. That at least will temporarily make it a little bit more clean. It also depends on the type of item that you’re wearing.
However, satin items that are made from 100% polyester or really any synthetic fiber, can be washed.
Synthetic fibers are fibers that are basically made by chemicals and, because of that, that is why they’re so
easy to wash. Most of them are made to withstand a lot as opposed to something that comes straight from nature, like silk.
Satin has a very silky texture to it. When I say silky, that just means it’s got a really nice, smooth texture. It’s got a sheen to it.
Satin weaves have a sheen to them because they’re a very fine, delicate weave. Typically with satin weaves, what you’re expecting is you’re going to have your warp yarn, which are the vertical yarns in the weave structure. And then you’re going to have your weft yarns, which are the horizontal yarns in the weave structure.
The satin weave structure can be three or more to one ratio. So if you’re skipping over three or more warp yarns, that is a satin weave.
This creates the finer line and is also why I suggest with the majority of satin items that you put them in a delicates bag because satin is prone to snagging,
Because it’s skipping over so many warp yarns, it’s super easy to snag. It’s not necessarily that the fiber is
going to get messed up or anything like that. It’s just if you are washing it with the wrong item, that item could effectively destroy the satin item, because of the weave structure.
I always recommend with any satin item to put in a delicates bag and wash it that way.
That way you know that it’s more than likely not going to snag, because when you snag a weave as opposed to a knit, you can’t fix it. Certain knits you can fix.
I highly suggest getting a snag nab-it. They’re not expensive. That can help you fix a lot of sweaters, if those get messed up.
The great thing with satin that’s 100% polyester is you don’t have to worry about paying for dry cleaning, you don’t have to worry about it getting messed up as easily.
So now let’s move on to the silk items.
Silk is a fiber, it’s very different from satin.
Silk is something that can be made into satin, but silk can also be made into a lot of different items.
There are a lot of different types of silk out there. There are some with more of a texture to them. They have a little bit more of a bumpy rigid thing.
Silk is a natural fiber that comes from the silk worm. They are the ones who produce it. They basically form a cocoon and we take the cocoon of the silk.
Silk items can be not quite as shiny as the satin. The reason for that could be because silk is not in a satin weave.
Silk could be in something like a plane weave, which is one to one, where the warp yarn and the weft yarn are just going to go one in one. Satin waves are three or more to one. That kind of silk could never be washed. It would absolutely destroy it.
I have steamed this. You have to do it very lightly and you have to also stand away from it a little bit. It’s a really delicate balance with silk. It’s best to get it dry cleaned if you absolutely need to get it cleaned.
But the biggest difference, like I said before, with the satin and the silk is that silk is a fiber. This can be made into satin. Satin cannot be made into silk. But satin can be made from different fibers.
The other reason the satin might look shinier than the silk is because it’s polyester.
Sometimes they will make the polyester fibers and threads a little bit shinier when they’re doing a satin weave to give it more of a silky look or more of a luxurious look.
Because we often think when we see something shinier that it must be nicer and that must be more luxurious, which is often why they will make polyester a little bit shinier when they’re gonna put it in something to make it look like it’s higher end than it actually is.
But silk is very delicate as a fiber. Polyester can withstand a lot more than silk can. Because polyester is made in a lab, silk is not.
If you were to light silk on fire, this would actually self extinguish, but it will also disintegrate. Polyester, if you were to light that on fire, would melt.
Polyester can be made to mimic anything. It can basically be made into any type of fabric that you want and that is why most things are made from polyester. You’re going to find it a lot of times. Unless you’re paying a very high premium price, you’re going to probably be getting polyester.
The benefits to having a true silk pillowcase would be that a true silk pillowcase is going to be a little bit better for your skin.
It is a natural fiber, it naturally breathes. Polyester does not breathe, so silk is going to be a little bit better for your skin.
It’s also going to be a little bit better for whatever pillows you’re putting it on, because the pillow itself will have a little bit more breathing room. Polyester is going to trap anything in and out.
The silk is just going to be a little bit nicer, probably feel a little bit better than a satin. At least i can tell the difference when I feel silk versus satin. There is a very big difference in the quality in my opinion.
However, with that said, with a silk pillowcase, you have a lot more work when it comes to cleaning it. You have more care instructions.
Those are the fundamental differences between silk and satin.
Like I said, the most fundamental difference is silk can be satin, but satin can never be silk.
Alex P. Davis has a BA in Interior Design from The New York School of Interior Design and 10 years of experience expertly designing sophisticated interiors.