Viscose is an easily-dyed, non-static fiber made from wood cellulose. Viscose is often referred to as “faux silk” and goes by the everyday name of rayon. Viscose’s high moisture absorbency (13%, as opposed to 8% for cotton) and shade depth allow it to be dyed with deep and brilliant colors, but also can make it a delicate delicate to wash. See Step 1 below to start learning how!
Washing Viscose (Rayon) Clothing
- Always defer to the garment’s care label. Generally, rayon clothes are fairly fragile, but can still be machine-washed with care. However, some rayon clothes are un-washable. To avoid tearing your clothing, bleeding colors, or otherwise ruining your favorite clothes, always follow the instructions on the care label.
- Though this section contains instructions on both machine-washing and hand-washing viscose (rayon) clothing, these instructions should be taken as generalities and not as hard and fast rules. In other words, always prioritize your garment’s unique care instructions over the ones provided in this section.
- Hand wash in cool water. If your rayon clothing’s care instructions specify that it can be washed, it’s almost always better to hand-wash it than to machine wash it. Rayon clothing is extra-fragile when it’s wet and, thus, is less likely to be damaged by your own careful hands than by the agitation of a washing machine. Place your rayon clothing in cool or temperate water and add hand-washing detergent. Gently work and massage the soap suds into the clothing, taking care not to handle the clothing roughly.
- Never squeeze, bunch up, or wring out rayon clothing to remove water, as this can tear the delicate fibers. Instead, gently shake any excess moisture out.
- Machine wash with like clothing. If you’re confident that your rayon clothing won’t be damaged by machine washing, try to ensure that only similar types of rayon clothing are in the load. Rougher clothes, like denim jeans, can catch on the rayon during the wash cycle, pulling and tearing it.
- Use cool water and a gentle washer setting for added security.
- Alternatively, use a net washing bag to protect your clothing. Another way to protect your rayon clothing in the washing machine is to place all of the rayon clothing in your load into a net laundry bag. This ensures it doesn’t mix with the other clothing in your load, eliminating much of the risk of tearing.
- Line dry. When your rayon clothing is washed, remove each piece of clothing individually and gently shake it to remove moisture. Smooth out any wrinkles with your hands. Then, hang on a non-metal wire to dry (metal wires can leave rust spots).
- Alternatively, you can use a drying rack or simply dry your clothing on a clean, flat surface.
- Avoid using an electric dryer. In addition to having the problems associated with washing machines (harsh agitation, etc.), electric dryers are also known to shrink rayon clothing and drastically shorten the life of the garment. If you can avoid using an electric dryer for your clothing, do so. If you can’t, use a low temperature setting and dry only with other pieces of rayon clothing.
- Iron rayon clothing inside out. Never apply a hot iron to the outer face of a rayon garment – this can burn and melt the fibers in the fabric, creating an unattractive “shine” that can’t be removed. Always turn rayon clothing inside out before using an iron. To provide additional protection, you may also want to iron the clothing while it is slightly damp.
- If you must iron rayon clothing right side out, place a cloth between the hot surface of the iron and the garment to protect the fabric.
Washing Viscose (Rayon) Rugs
- Have the rug dry cleaned if it is very important to you. Viscose is a fairly fragile fiber and also one that is very vulnerable to bleeding dye. Because of this, it’s easy to damage viscose rugs or cause them to bleed by simply trying to clean them. If your viscose rug has sentimental value, it may be a better idea to have the rug professionally dry-cleaned than to risk irreversible damage or dye-bleeding by cleaning it yourself.
- Shake your rug outside. The goal of cleaning a viscose rug is essentially to get the rug as clean as possible while keeping it as dry as possible. Thus, before using any liquid detergents, it’s a wise idea to try to clean your rug with methods that don’t require getting it wet before trying to clean it with methods that do. Take your rug outside and shake it firmly to remove any loose dirt or dust. You may also try beating the rug against a railing or pole for added power.
- Vacuum the rug. Next, use a vacuum to remove any ground-in dirt or sediment. Run the vacuum head over the rug several times both with and against the grain, paying extra attention to any extra-dirty spots.
- If you can, use a head attachment that doesn’t have mechanical brushes. Viscose is fairly fragile and the rough action of mechanical brushes can easily cause it to tear.
- Ensure the rug won’t move while you’re scrubbing it. If your rug is still dirty, you may need to carefully wash it. Place the rug on a mounting board or secure it to a table you don’t mind getting dirty before cleaning. Washing viscose carpeting requires some scrubbing, so you won’t want the carpet to slip around on the floor while you scrub it and you definitely don’t want it to bleed dye into the floor or any nearby carpeting.
- Use a soft brush to gently scrub with soap and water. Heat water to a lukewarm temperature and combine with a few drops of soap or carpet detergent to create a cleaning solution. Use a soft-bristled brush (like a window-washing brush) to scrub this solution into problem areas of the rug. Avoid hard-bristled brushes or mechanical brushes, as these can easily tear the fragile viscose fibers. Be conservative with your cleaning fluid – the less moisture you use, the lower the chance of dye bleeding.
- It’s wise to test your cleaning solution on a small portion of the rug that won’t be seen before cleaning the whole thing. This way, you’ll know whether your solution immediately causes dye bleeding or other blemishes before proceeding.
- Wash with vinegar to minimize yellowing. Cellulose fibers (including viscose) turn yellow when wet. To help minimize this unsightly yellowing, lightly rinse the the wet portions of the rug with a mixture of vinegar and water. The acetic acid in the vinegar helps prevent yellowing as the rug dries, though it may not eliminate yellowing entirely.
- Vacuum again. To remove as much moisture as possible from your rug, vacuum a second time after you’ve finished using your liquid cleaners. Pay special attention to any wet areas.
- As directed above, you’ll want to avoid using head attachments that have mechanical brushes to prevent damage to the rug.
- Optionally, spritz the rug with dilute fabric softener. Viscose fibers can stiffen as they dry, creating clumped, splotchy sections on your rug. To help prevent this, you may want to mist the rug ever-so-delicately with a mixture of fabric softener and water using a spray bottle. This can prevent the fibers from stiffening, lessening or eliminating the dreaded “clumps”.
- You may still find that you need to break up clumps after the rug dries. Do so gently, by hand.
- Dry face-down. Allowing your rug to dry face-down lessens the yellowing effect that can occur as wet viscose dries. Place your viscose rug in a clean, dry place or hang it horizontally as it dries. However, note that this will conversely make the underside of the rug yellow more than it normally would.
- Don’t place the rug on or near any carpeting until it is completely dry. As mentioned above, viscose is notorious for bleeding dye when wet. Thus, you’ll want to keep your rug far away from any light-colored fabrics (especially expensive carpeting) while you’re waiting for it to dry. Dye stains can be very tricky to remove from carpeting and the bleeding of dye from the rug itself is virtually irreversible.
Things You’ll Need
Washing Viscose (Rayon) Clothing
- Sink (for hand washing)
- Washer/dryer (for machine washing)
- Clothes line
Washing Viscose Rugs
- Soap or anionic detergent
- Cleaning head without mechanical brushes
- Fabric softener (optional)
Sources and Citations
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