How to Clean and Care for Viscose Fabric

Someone checking the label on a viscose garment

The Spruce / Daria Groza

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

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.

Viscose is a semi-synthetic form of rayon—often, both terms are used together on fiber content labels as "viscose rayon." It's made from wood pulp that is used as a silk substitute. Viscose clothing is usually designated as dry-clean-only because the twisting that occurs in a washing machine can damage the fibers.

How Often to Clean Viscose Fabric

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

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Sink or large basin

Materials

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

Instructions

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  Hand-wash only
 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 around. Allow the clothing to soak up to 30 minutes.

    person submerging a viscose garment into a basin
    The Spruce
  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.

    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?

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 "rayon," which is used often 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 plant or tree pulps are modal and lyocell.

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 yarn can vary from lightweight for linings to heavy for creating drapery and upholstery fabrics. Viscose is often combined with other types of fibers like spandex, silk, and cotton. Viscose fabric is very 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.

Ironing

To remove wrinkles from viscose fabrics, use a medium heat temperature (silk setting) on your iron with a pressing cloth to protect the fabric. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 fabric, it becomes soft again.
  • Viscose doesn't have static buildup, so it's unnecessary to use an anti-static spray on the garment.
  • Viscose garments tend to shrink, which is why it's important to stick with cold water and air-drying.