Can I Keep Re-Dyeing?

Jennifer: My wedding sari was white and is embroidered with sequins. It is now yellow (I’ve been married 25 years!). I washed it in cold water with a mild detergent but of course that did not help. Can I dye it white again? How do I go about doing this? Please help!
Thanks a million.

Dear Miriam,
Your wedding sari sounds lovely. Unfortunately dyeing is for putting in color, not removing it. Yellowing of silk is an oxidation process which is difficult to reverse – sort of like rusting.
I checked with the Big Boss of Fabrics.net, Judith, about using various bleaching agents and here’s what she replied:
“Biz might help but it requires very hot water for the enzymes to work which may not be good for the silk. I would suggest that she call a local museum to see if their experts would have other suggestions. OxiClean® is not recommended for fine woolens or silks.”
I would also add that I definitely would NOT use chlorine bleach, as this will break down the delicate silk fibers. Unfortunately silk is not a very long-lasting fabric. After a while it yellows, discolors, and shreds or shatters.
Look for someone at your local museum who is into fiber preservation and restoration.
good luck,

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