How to Clean and Care for Viscose Fabric

Viscose Fabric
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Viscose is a form of rayon—often, both terms are used together on fiber content labels as viscose rayon. Viscose clothing is usually designated as dry clean only because the twisting that occurs in a washing machine can damage the fibers. Machine drying will also disfigure viscose garments.

To clean expensive or structured viscose clothing with interfacings like a blazer or formal gown, stick with dry cleaning. However, simple viscose clothing like unlined dresses, tops, and scarves can be hand-washed. Fitted viscose tops and dresses will require washing after every wear, but items like shorts and skirts need less frequent cleanings.

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Hand-washing is gentle enough to prevent damage, but it's essential never to wring or twist wet viscose fabric. If you opt to use a washing machine, place your garment inside a mesh bag, wash in cold water, choose the gentle cycle, and select the slowest spin speed.

Work time: 30 minutes

Total time: 24 hours, including drying time

Skill level: Intermediate

What You'll Need

Supplies

Tools

  • Sink or a large basin
  • Washing machine

Instructions

  1. Hand-wash

    Fill a sink or basin with cold water and add a mild detergent. Gently submerge the viscose item and swish around. Allow the clothing to soak up to 30 minutes.

  2. Rinse

    Drain the tub and then fill again with more cold water, or run the garment underneath the faucet. Continue until suds are gone and the water runs clear.

  3. Remove Water

    After hand washing, gently squeeze out excess water.

  4. Roll

    Place the wet garment on a thick cotton towel and roll it up to absorb most of the water.

  5. Air Dry

    Allow the garment to air dry flat or hang on a padded hanger to drip dry.

  6. Reshape

Gently pull and shape the garment back to its original form as it begins to dry. Do not leave it crumpled as that will create set-in wrinkles that can be difficult to remove.

Storing Viscose Fabric

Cotton bags that allow airflow are ideal for packing away your viscose clothing. Avoid storing in plastic bins as they can trap residual water that may cause mildew growth. Fold knit items before storing, and delicate pieces can remain on hangers inside a cotton garment bag.

Treating Stains on Viscose Fabric

To remove stains on viscose clothes, follow suggested stain removal tips depending upon the type of stain. It's important to avoid scrubbing the stained area too much as it can cause the viscose yarns to weaken and break, leaving the fabric looking worn.

Repairs

Due to its delicate nature, patching or sewing viscose can be tricky. If your clothing has a tiny hole or slit, you can use a matching thread and hand-stitch it back together from the underside of the garment. If you'd rather leave the task to a professional, bring your torn clothing to a tailor shop for mending.

Ironing

To remove wrinkles from viscose fabrics, use a medium heat temperature (silk setting) on your iron. Steam from the iron can be used to remove the toughest creases, or a clothes steamer can work well to relax gentle wrinkling.

Characteristics of Viscose Fabric

Viscose fibers or yarns are usually woven or knitted into soft, smooth, almost silk-like fabrics. Textured viscose textiles are made by twisting the fibers during manufacturing. The weight of the yarns can vary from lightweight for linings to heavy for creating drapery and upholstery fabrics. Viscose is often combined with other types of fibers like Lycra, spandex, silk, and cotton. Viscose fabrics are very breathable and perfect for hot, humid climates. They are not ideal for insulating from cold. The fibers are easily dyed, and the finished material retains color.

What is Viscose Fabric?

Both viscose and rayon are made from wood pulp or cellulose. Viscose is made by treating the cellulose with sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide. The solution is then spun into fibers or yarns that eventually create the fabric. The term "viscose" is used throughout Europe and Asia and is an alternative term for the rayon name in the United States.

While cotton, linen, and wool are considered natural fibers, viscose is regarded as a bio-based textile. It begins with cellulose (a natural element), but it must be treated extensively with chemicals to become a fiber. Other types of bio-based fabrics made from bamboo, plant, or tree pulps are modal and lyocell.