How to Wash and Care for Viscose Fabric

Someone checking the label on a viscose garment

The Spruce / Daria Groza

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 day
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

Viscose or viscose rayon is a semi-synthetic form of rayon made from wood pulp, often used as a silk substitute. Like most silk fabrics, it is not safe to wash in a washing machine. Viscose clothing is usually designated as dry-clean-only because when the material twists in a washing machine, it can get damaged. Also, viscose fabric soaked in water for long periods or exposed to heat can shrink. However, simple viscose clothing like unlined dresses, tops, and scarves can usually be hand-washed (which will be indicated on the fabric label).

To clean expensive or structured viscose clothing with interfacings, like a blazer or formal gown, take the garment to be dry-cleaned. Fitted viscose tops, dresses, and shorts require washing after every wear, but skirts may need less frequent cleanings. Never use hot water, only use cold water.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Sink or large basin


  • Gentle detergent
  • Thick cotton towel
  • Padded hanger (optional)


How to Wash Viscose Fabric

A bowl, a container of liquid, and a cloth
The Spruce / Daria Groza
How to Wash Viscose Fabric
 Detergent  Mild
 Water Temperature  Cold
 Cycle Type  Hand-wash only
 Drying Cycle Type  Air-dry only
 Special Treatments  Never wring or twist
 Iron Settings  Medium heat/silk setting
  1. Fill Sink and Wash

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

    person submerging a viscose garment into a basin
    The Spruce
  2. Rinse

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

    Someone rinsing a viscose garment in a basin of cold water
    The Spruce / Daria Groza
  3. Remove Water

    After hand-washing, gently squeeze out excess water.

    Someone ringing out a viscose garment
    The Spruce / Daria Groza
  4. Roll

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

    Someone rolling up a wet viscose garment in a towel
    The Spruce / Daria Groza
  5. Air-Dry

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

    viscose garment laying flat to dry on a towel
    The Spruce / Daria Groza
  6. Reshape

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

    reshaping a wet viscose garment
    The Spruce / Daria Groza

What Is Viscose Fabric?

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

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 examples of bio-based fabrics made from plant or tree pulps are modal and lyocell.

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

Treating Stains on Viscose Fabric

To remove stains on viscose clothes, follow suggested 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.

You can use a diluted white vinegar solution or an oxygen bleach-based stain remover for most stains. First, scrape off any solid pieces of food, grease, or dirt. Then dab on a little bit of the cleaning agent. Using a dampened, clean cloth, blot away the soap and wash as you usually would.

Viscose Fabric Care and 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 to 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.

Viscose fabric can fade if exposed to alcohol, perfume, hair treatments, or urine. To keep it from shrinking, do not clean it in the washing machine, do not use a dryer, and wash it using cold water. Avoid using any spot-cleaning treatments that have bleach or alcohol.

Storing Viscose Fabric

Because viscose is a plant-based fabric, it tends to attract mildew that will, in turn, eat away and damage the 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; delicate pieces can remain on hangers inside a cotton garment bag.

How Often to Wash Viscose Fabric

Though viscose fabric is delicate, washing it after every wear is safe if it's hand-washed. Handwashing is gentle enough to prevent damage, but it's essential never to wring or twist wet viscose. 

If you decide to chance using a washing machine, place your garment inside a mesh bag, wash in cold water, choose the gentle cycle, and select the slowest spin speed.


To remove wrinkles from viscose fabrics, use a medium heat temperature (silk setting) on your iron with a pressing cloth to protect the material. However, steam from the iron is usually the best way to remove the creases on viscose. A clothes steamer can work well to relax wrinkling, as well.

Tips for Washing Viscose Fabric

  • Turn a viscose garment inside out before washing to retain the color and texture.
  • When viscose is wet, it's stiff and rigid because it's a highly absorbent fabric. Once the water leaves the material, it becomes soft again.
  • Viscose doesn't have static buildup, so using an anti-static spray on the garment is unnecessary.
  • Is viscose dry-clean-only?

    Some viscose clothing is dry-clean-only, especially viscose clothing with interfacing or lining. If the fabric label mentions it is dry-clean-only, adhere to this advice. However, if the label states it can be hand washed, follow the temperature guidance.

  • Can you machine wash viscose fabric?

    Viscose can get ruined in the washing machine, so to keep your fabric in great shape longer, only dry clean or hand-wash this fabric (if hand washing is indicated on the label).

  • Does viscose rayon shrink?

    Viscose rayon can shrink when washed in a washing machine, if it soaks too long in the water, or is exposed to hotter temperatures.