Learn the Basics

What Is Viscose? 6 Facts About This Misunderstood Fabric

what is viscose

Fabric comes in all shapes, sizes, weights, and constructions. It can be natural, synthetic, or manufactured. Some fabrics have more stigma than others. In this blog post, we will be asking the question; what is viscose? A textile, which might be a little misunderstood. 

1. What is viscose and where did it come from?

Perhaps you have heard of viscose, or maybe you know it better as Rayon. This is the term for viscose in the United States. But what actually is it?

viscose yarn
What is viscose?

Viscose is a type of rayon. Originally known as artificial silk, in the late 19th century, the term “rayon” came into effect in 1924. The name “viscose” derived from the way this fibre is manufactured; a viscous organic liquid used to make both rayon and cellophane. What this means in English? Viscose is the generalised term for a regenerated manufactured fibre, made from cellulose, obtained by the viscose process.

As a manufactured regenerated cellulose fibre, it is neither truly natural (like cotton, wool or silk) nor truly synthetic (like nylon or polyester) – it falls somewhere in between.

Viscose is a low-cost fabric, which is popular thanks to its myriad of qualities. It can be found in cotton end uses, as well as luxurious velvet’s and taffeta’s. Viscose can also be found in feminine hygiene products, as well as tire cords.

Chemically, viscose resembles cotton, but it can also take on many different qualities depending on how it is manufactured.

So, what is this fibre of many faces? To really understand what viscose is, we need to understand how it is made and what it is made from.

2. What is cellulose?

cellulose fibre made into viscose
Cellulose fibre which is turned into viscose fabric

If a fibre is manufactured, then it is made from cellulose or protein. Cellulose is a carbohydrate and the chief component in the walls of plants. There is a difference between synthetic and manufactured fibres, which makes a difference in their sustainability. Viscose is made from wood pulp, making it a cellulosic fibre, like cotton or linen. It is often regarded as only partially manmade.

Manufactured fibres derive from naturally occurring cellulose, or protein, while synthetic fibres do not – they are completely manmade. So, if they come from a natural source, then why don’t they fall under the “natural fibre” category? Because they require extensive processing to get to the finished result. Therefore, the category of manufactured fibres is often referred to as “regenerated cellulose.”

3. Is viscose a sustainable fabric?

Because viscose is made from renewable plants, it is frequently cited as being environmentally friendly, and sustainable. But is this actually the case?

Viscose is the oldest manufactured fibre, first being produced in 1883 as a cheap alternative to silk. Viscose production generally begins with wood pulp, and there are several chemical and manufacturing techniques to make it.

This is where some controversy comes into play.

To create viscose, and make it stand up to regular wearing and washing, it must be chemically treated. The recycled wood pulp is treated with chemicals such as caustic soda, ammonia, acetone, and sulphuric acid. We therefore have a fabric, which comes from a natural and sustainable source, but that is made with chemicals.

Because viscose is made from cellulose, there is an argument to say that it is a more sustainable fibre then other synthetic fibres, such as polyester. Viscose is increasingly being manufactured using the Lyocell process. This uses N-Methlymorpholine N-oxide as the solvent. This method produces little waste product, making it far more eco-friendly.

4. What are some characteristics of viscose?

what is viscose fabric
Viscose fabric, also known as Rayon

Viscose has a myriad of brilliant qualities, which makes it a popular fibre to work with. Thanks to its characteristics, several industries use it, to create a wide range of products. Some of the most beneficial characteristics of viscose include:

  • Versatile – it blends very well with other fibres
  • Breathable
  • Drapes well
  • Excellent colour retention
  • Highly absorbent
  • Very smooth
  • Does not trap body heat
  • Relatively light
  • Strong and robust
  • Soft and comfortable
  • Inexpensive
  • No static build up

These all sound great, but there are some slightly less positive traits to viscose. However, none of these are particularly negative. A little care during wearing and washing, will make these traits obsolete. 

  • It can shrink when washed
  • Can wrinkle easily
  • Deteriorates with exposure to light
  • Susceptible to mildew
  • Fibres can weaken when wet

5. Viscose: a misunderstood fabric?

When a fabric is not labelled as “natural” then consumers can judge it harshly, without any true understanding of the fabric. Viscose is probably the most misunderstood of all fibres, manmade or natural. It is not a natural fibre, but nor is it synthetic.

In regards to the use of chemicals in the production of viscose, as fabric technology advances, many manufacturers are making considerable and positive efforts to ensure clean production. As we continue to strive for a green-friendly world, increasing work is being put into the sustainability of fibres such as viscose.

Viscose has many desirable qualities, which makes it a wonderful fibre to work with in many ways. Because of its unique versatility, many industries use viscose, from fashion, to the medical profession, to everyday items in the home.

6. Printing on Viscose

You can print your designs on viscose in just a few simple steps. First, upload your design, photos or pattern to Contrado’s design interface. Then make sure it’s the right size and in the right position. Once you’ve done that you can choose whether to repeat your pattern using one if our repeat effects, and then all that’s left is to choose your dimensions and place your order. You can get your hands on a discount voucher for viscose printing if you order a test print first, plus it means you get to see for yourself just how easy it is.

What do you think?

We would love to know your thoughts on viscose. Do you love it, or are you wary of it? Let us know in the comments below.


  • I love viscose, both to wear and to sew with. It is comfortable, cool, drapes well and looks great. It is my “go to ” fabric every time.

    • Hi Catherine, thanks so much for your comment. Hope you’re enjoying the blog!

      • Claire, thank you for this article. It is very informative. I grew up in a town with a Viscose factory, but only today I was curious enough to find out what it is made off. The smell in town was sometimes horrible, I guess from all the chemicals that were used. And pulp does not smell good either.

    • Viscose Rayon is obtained from WOODPULP sheet , It is just like cotton ,Regarding absorbility , it is equivalent to cotton bust less abrasion power, In 8 to 10% NaOH Solution , damaged ,While cotton get strenght , lusture, Tear strenght.

  • Clare thank you for this blog. Increasingly buying clothing that will be breathable comfortable non static and not likely to cause rashes, cotton was my go to fabric, but clearly designers see the benefits of viscoses other qualities as its increasingly used often with cotton.
    Thankfully this combination on the comfort front, means that even the closest fitting underwear is problem free. So yes some heavy chemicals used in manufacture but if I see it on a fabric label along with cotton and wool, it will be tried. Not so for acryllic, nylon and other synthetic fabrics.
    It’s not about being fussy, I really can’t wear the synthetics, static isn’t the word for it I get electric shocks when I touch metal!

  • This blog was incredibly informative. I own a wool shop and have always been somewhat confused about rayon/viscose……..I always thought they were two different entities. Thank you so much for clarifying in plain English.
    Linda’s Craftique

    • Our pleasure Linda, and glad we could be of assistance 🙂

  • Do you know if viscose is biodegradable?

    • Hi Rob, thanks for your question. Generally speaking, because viscose is not a synthetic fibre, but rather a “regenerated cellulosic fiber” made from cellulose, it is biodegradable.

      • Unless the viscose process is a closed loop process, and insane amount of chemicals is released in the environment during the degration process.

  • Funnily enough I have just written a short letter to White Stuff, (clothing company) who are appearing to make more use of viscose! I hate viscose, mainly because it does not like me! I know it is regenerated, and ostensibly “natural” but something in it’s manufacture does not like my skin and makes me perspire and sore under the armpits!
    As for dressmaking, I have yet to find a good viscose fabric with any “body” to it that is of good quality. If I want cheap fabric, viscose would be a choice, but I’ve reached the stage in life where I realise that quality is more important. After years of teaching textiles, I feel qualified enough to understand where manufacturers are coming from( cheaper fabric production costs etc) but I will always really, really value true natural fibres for their multifaceted, sustainability and quality.
    I won’t even go into discussing synthetics!!

    • Thanks so much for your comment and sharing your views on viscose Janet. It’s fantastic hearing from such a qualified reader. It is interesting how a fabric can cause so much divide in opinions, where the pros and cons can stack in either way depending on the person. Which natural fibre do you find you wear and use the most? Is there a fibre or fabric that you would like to see discussed on the Contrado blog? Thanks again very much for your comment 🙂

    • I completely agree, although not synthetic, the chemicals used to process this fabric are environmentally harmful! As to what links some may take, to make this fabric more environmentally friendly is a play on words. Wonderful blog!

    • I hate viscose too.

    • Glad there is someone like me I can only wear cotton, silk and wool, all other fibres make me sweat and nothing keeps you as warm as wool.in the winter.

  • I love viscose to wear just bought a new dress and now I know better how it’s made . Thanks

  • Today I bought a pyjama 60% cotton, 40% viscose. Telling my partner about it he said: “ I wonder that you were viscose it is man made and not natural!” I was in shock. I thought viscose is natural. Thanks to your blog this is clarified now. Still not sure if I do not harm to my skin sleeping in the pyjama. But as it is breathable it should be ok, or?
    Since sometime I am not wearing anything synthetic direct on my skin and I do not miss it…

    • Hi there! I am contemplating buying a sweater that is 65% acrylic 25% Viscose 10% spandex. After reading about the chemicals used in making viscose I was wondering how well the chemicals are washed out of it before using it to make clothing? Is it dangerous to wear? I would hope it’s washed well, but how does one know? I have Fibromyalgia and it makes my Skin extremely sensitive to rough materials which makes me have to buy rayon, modal, and soft polyester cotton blends.

      • Hi Kathy, I have the same condition. I read the information about the manufacture of viscose & it mentioned viscose is called rayon in America. So when you say you have a sensitivity to viscose, do you realise it’s actually one in the same with rayon?
        I myself have no problem wearing viscose. It doesn’t irritate my skin, in fact I find it very soft & comfortable to wear in any season & causes no perspiration problems unlike truly synthetic fibres. I never wear nylon or acrylics, & choose polyester fabrics carefully. Synthetics just don’t “breath” holding in the heat & are high static.
        I hope this helps your decision in choosing materials you wear.

      • So sorry to hear you have this condition. Have you looked out for Tencel, it is made like Model. . uses a closed lop system to capture water and reuse it. It does not require harsh chemicals to make it. It is breathable warm in winter and cool in summer. Holds colours well. Very much like Modal – you often seen it called lyocell but if you can Find Tencel this is the Trademark lyocell. and it is owned by a company called Lenzing who manage sustainable forests and do not need to use harsh chemicals to produce the cellose.

  • I have returned to dressmaking as I have to wear natural fabrics. I long to wear the draping and more fashionable fabrics than many cottons. Some patterns need to have draping fabric. I am surprised that you say viscose is breathable and takes body heat away from the body as I have not found this. Is there a great variety of qualities of viscose out there please. What should I look for and avoid when buying viscose Please?

    • I get seriously pissed off whennpurchading a garment that I appear to be paying top dollar for only to find bout it’s made from viscose/rayon.I hadn’t seen this cheap fabric since the 1970’s!! It’s impossible to look smart in this easily wrinkled material and I resent that clothing manufacturers are once again using it.

    • I find the Viscose knits (jersey, tee shirts etc) are extremely hot but the woven Viscose fabrics are very breathable. I wear 95-97% Viscose + 3-5% Elastin in hot and humid conditions and it is far cooler and more comfortable than Cotton (which I find tends to hold any moisture/perspiration).

    • I agree, viscose is NOT breathable nor does it take heat away from the body, it is absorbent so it absorbs perspiration and holds it against the body causing you to feel damp & sweaty.

      • I always wear 100% cotton but it’s so difficult looking at labels on every garment I like. I have hyperhydrosis which causes me to perspire profusely if I wear anything other than cotton. I love the feel of viscose & when I realised it was natural I thought I’d try it but having read other comments I think I’ll stick to cotton.

  • I have just used Eucalyptus leaves to dye print on viscose shirt ,wonderful result

    • What a fab idea! We’d love to see a picture!

    • I have been looking for a comfortable yoga bottom that has a bit of ‘give for our hot Indian summers. And ‘am delighted with my lightweight viscose leggings!

  • You don’t address cleaning. What is the best way to remove stains?

    • Hi Ann,
      Thanks for your comment. In regards to cleaning, it is normally quite easy to keep viscose looking its best. A cool wash or handwash in cool water works best, but you should always refer to the garment’s individual care label to ensure it is kept at its best 🙂 I hope that helps!

  • a very informative blog
    . i always thought viscose was a synthetic fabric. In peak summers i still can’t wear rayon as it isn’t as comfortable as cotton. thnks for the info

    • You are very welcome – we’re glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  • I wanted to learn more about this fabric because I just wore a blouse made from this fabric. I love the softness but was disappointed when I became too warm while wearing it. Didn’t realize it was rayon which isn’t as comfortable to wear as cotton or silk. Sort of surprised since it’s a designer blouse and not inexpensive.
    Good information provided. Thanks.

  • The most comfortable form of viscose is in a fabric you may wear or have heard of…’Micro MODAL’, it is a registered name, therefore if the fabric wasn’t purchased from Lenzig (who reg. the name), the garment label will read viscose and elastane. I wear garments made from this both summer and winter. To make their particular fabric, Lenzig use white beechwood.

  • I bought a 85% viscose 15% nylon shirt & wore it once because the wrinkles are hard to get out. So, it’s currently in the dryer & will then be ironed & I’m hoping that removes the wrinkles.

    • Use a cool iron when the garment is still damp, and do it inside out😉

    • Shari, I’ve been wearing rayon/viscose tops for a long time and find it is best not to put them in the dryer. If you hang them while wet and stretch to shape, they dry needing little or no ironing.

  • Dear Claire,
    In our region (South of the Netherlands) we are looking for more sustainable cloth production here. We have quite many poplar trees. Do you know companies in Western Europe that make rayon/viscose? If the use op chemicals is in a closed circuit the production might become more sustainable. Are special trees and/or plants used for viscose?
    Last crucial question: are the ecological footprints measured of cotton, nylon, silk, bamboo, wool and viscose?
    Kind wishes, Jan

    • Hemp is a very good eco option, grows well without pesticides etc, strong etc, but apparently because it is the opium plant it has been restricted.. a blog about this would be fab please Claire.. really appreciate the viscose info (& what a pity about the chemicals required, that is a big downside of it for me, otherwise I like the feel of it.

    • Anyone know if bamboo fabrics make you perspire?

  • I bought a top that is 97% viscose and it stinks like chemicals. Any way to get the smell out without ruining the colors?

  • Kindly allow me to be “that guy”: *velvets and *taffetas (apostrophes are never used for plurals). 🙂

  • Thank you for the informative information. I have a question please to answer. Does it show the shape of the body? does it stick? if the person has some fat, flabby areas on her body that doesn’t; want to show, does the dress made of viscose cover this and doesn’t show. thanks

  • I use viscose a lot as I am a WW11 civilian re-enactor and this was used extensively for civilian clothing then as it was cheap to produce. As with all fabrics the way they handle doesn’t only depend on the fibre used but also on the weave or knit employed. Viscose can resemble silk, cotton or linen in it’s handle dependant on the way the fibre is spun and woven. As for chemicals, new methods of production are improving the eco-friendliness all the time, and cotton, unless it is organic, uses even more in the intensive farming of the crop to both fertilise and to combat pests and diseases. Silk too has a carbon footprint as it cannot be produced in many countries so there are airmiles to consider. I live in the UK and would love to see more use made of homegrown wool and the re-introduction of flax and hemp, both of which were extensively grown for textile production in past centuries, and because they are native plants don’t suffer too much from pests and diseases so don’t need high use of chemicals for commercial success. There is so much to consider if the environment is important to you.

    • Sue Pritchard Thank you for your informative reply and environmental dedication.

  • This is the first time I’ve bought clothing made of viscose, had to Google it and found this page, I bought my daughter a pair of shorts made from it.
    The washing instructions say to wash in cold and line dry, what will happen if they are dried in dryer?

    • When my viscose garments accidentally land in the dyer most have shrunk and some shrink drastically. if you rewet them sometimes you can stretch back to shape. Since the garments dry so quickly it is not necessary to put them in the dryer. When they are almost dry and very slightly damp you can fluff in the dryer with other garments. Putting viscose garments in the dryer can also, in some cases, cause them to become excessively wrinkled. It’s really best to follow washing instructions. If you do the garment will have a long happy life.

  • I have a sofa made by Duresta with 82% viscose, 14% cotton and 4% polyester. How can I have this fabric cleaned?

  • wearing shorts made from viscose/linen blend, love them, light weight and breathable. Was wondering if I should risk drying them, tossed one pair in on low for a short fluff and they seam fine. Great info, only thing missing was laundering info in more detail. Thanks

    • When my viscose garments accidentally land in the dyer most have shrunk and some shrink drastically. if you rewet them sometimes you can stretch back to shape. Since the garments dry so quickly it is not necessary to put them in the dryer. When they are almost dry and very slightly damp you can fluff in the dryer with other garments. Putting viscose garments in the dryer can also, in some cases, cause them to become excessively wrinkled. It’s really best to follow washing instructions. If you do the garment will have a long happy life.

  • Great article! I’ve changed from clueless to savvy in 5 minute. (-:

  • One of the best fabrics around for coolness and flow

  • We make drapes/curtains, if there is a high percentage of viscose in the composition of the fabric then there is a likely chance that the curtains will shrink and drop at different times of the year due to the humidity. The worst cases happen when the client has underfloor heating. Then we can see movement of 3-4”. We try to avoid fabrics with high levels of viscose however manufacturers use it to keep the cost lower.

  • Hi, Claire, I love your blog on Vicose and learned alot about it, I’m actually wearing a 100% vicose fabric dress, and i like the semi hard texture but flowly feel of it, I’ve washed it many times and the color and texture is still the same. I will buy more of this fabric in the future.

  • I bought a king size blanket made in Italy and its viscose. I washed it in cold water and layed it out to dry. Just made my bed and it has shrunk considerably 😯 Im upset because it was just perfect before. Would dry cleaning prevent any shrinkage? Shrinking after cold water wash was surprising!

  • Thanks for the really informative post. I’m trying to work out which fabrics are the best to use from the point of view of environmental sustainability. I love sewing with cotton, but organic cotton is very expensive and conventionally grown cotton is an environmental disaster – grown on 4% of the world’s cultivated land but uses 25% of the global consumption of pesticides!! It looks as if viscose might be a reasonable alternative.

  • Dear Claire,
    Really a nice article.
    I am working for a viscose trend studio,
    We cooperate with many Brands and Fashion Designers to create viscose fabric trend every season,
    I am impressed you know viscose products so well.
    Hope we can discuss more about all the thing in viscose!


  • Thank you for the very informative post. I agree that viscose/rayon should not be touted as ‘breathable”. I become very warm when wearing it. I think this stems from the fact that it is so absorbent. Therefore it does not wick moisture away from the body when perspiration begins, but absorbs it and holds it close to the skin (e.g., under arms, middle of the back under bra closure, near the derriere & between thighs…) I got my first rayon item in the mid 1980s, a gorgeous “silky” blouse from Espirt. Most recently I purchased a few dresses from Marimekko (by accident, I didn’t realize they’d started using Viscose.) For the price, you’re better off with with cotton, linen and silk for hot & humid days.

  • Does anyone know the construction weave of viscose?

  • I refuse to buy viscose rayon as it is toxic to humans and the environment. Factory workers are getting sick and dying at an alarming rate, and people that live near the factories are getting sick as well. It is an inferior product, does not wash well, wrinkles badly and smells of chemicals. The process used to make viscose rayon is highly toxic! I cannot believe that it is still being manufactured, when it is toxic to humans and country.

  • I recently saw a clothing label that stated 45% viscose and 36% rayon (with a few other fibers). Aren’t viscose and rayon the same thing?

  • Very informative post. I rejected the idea of buying viscose shirts in SE Asia thinking they were just as plastic as polyester

  • All treated fabrics leach into the body. When the fabric is made from chemicals (polyester), or chemicals use to transform the wood pulp, the body absorbs and eventually breaks down until the immune system cannot handle it and disability sets in somewhere. Hormones are disrupted as well causing a mirade of things most doctors think it’s just a weakness of the patient. For example, weight gain, multiple chemical sensitivity disorders, etc.
    Please protest wearing clothing, no matter how soft or how they drape over a body, to wearing all natural fibric: cotton, linen, wool, real silk, jute or rami. A blend of natural fabrics are goog as well. Please keep in mind most of these chemicals go into water ways as well. Any person interested can read about these issues on the Internet. Most all women wear bras made from chemicals that is the major issues for breast cancer. Remember gals to get organic cotton and don’t wear bras to sleep in!

  • I recently bought an expensive item with a proportion of viscose in as well as cotton and it seems to me to look very shiny and sadly therefore rather cheap, unstylish. Maybe some day it could be developed in a less shiny form?

  • Viscose is great until you try to clean it, then it is AWFUL !! This fiber should come with a warning lable.

  • I am not sure if you guys have experienced the way I washed my cloth made of viscose. After many times of wash, you still found bits bits of fibres in your wash basin. You felt like you would never clean all this off. Since kids at home, I had to throw the dress away as they might get off fthe clothes into the air if you could not clean the fibre bits off, which would not be good for kids’ health.

  • This explanation is enlightening! I wasn’t aware that viscose is the same as rayon, nor did I know that modal and lyocell etc are forms of viscose as well. My go to fabrics are the natural ones: wool, cotton, silk and linen. One of the reasons is trying to avoid chemicals in my life. I have also become aware what flammable fabrics do to a body when accidentally set on fire. It’s horrific. They get glued to the body, which is not the case with natural fabrics. Aside from that it’s the response from my body to the fabrics in the form of sweat and smell. Not so with natural fabrics

  • I have a favourite Mississippi blue check shirt. 70% polyester 30% Viscous. Worn regularly for 30 years, cool in the summer but warm also, it’s weird. I call it my alien shirt because it just hasn’t wornout anywhere…No frayes or fading or rips. It just doesn’t crease ever even if I sleep in it which over 30 years I have many times!!! Indestructible and never to hot or cold…

  • Hi can you blend Viscoe with natural fabrics ie silk
    I see materials say viscose silk. So have the 2 x materials been blended

  • I just ran on to this blog googling viscose. Your explanation was excellent and the responses echo my own concerns. The next time I check in it will be intentionally. I suppose if I can guarantee the viscose is Lyocell I won’t mind wearing, knitting with, or sewing with it.

  • Hello,
    Throughout informative and helpful, thank you. And thanks to the bloggers.

    Yesterday, while I browsed sweaters in a store, and read the manufacturer label for VISCOSE. A sales person told me that Viscose was a natural fibre, and an other one had no idea. I looked up information about fibers used for clothing, and voilà. Besides natural fibres, Viscose as Contrado mentioned is difficult to define, so I learned the lesson. I’ll bring my Viscose high neck sweater, comfy though, for recycling in a clothing store. I like the cellulose primary use for it, but then when i comes to the manufacturing process with chemicals which have been for sure tested for skin safety and comfort, I ‘m somehow reluctant to buy it again because I have some epidermic issues.

  • Thank you for the article, very informative. I first discovered viscose when, at the age of 16 (long time ago now), I bought a shirt and I loved the way it felt, looked and draped. Viscose, when tailored properly, is probably the most comfortable material to wear next to skin. I now check shirt and jacket labels for high viscous content before purchase. Used in shirts there is a no more comfortable fabric (with, maybe, the possible exception of very high quality linen and very high quality cotton). Jackets with high viscous content can lose some structure and that’s why it’s best suited to soft jackets, and trousers with a linen/cotton mix. And I, like many others, first believed viscous was a man-made fabric, until I did did some reading. Not everyone can be convinced it comes from tree bark and wood pulp. Undeservedly, a much maligned and misunderstood fabric.

  • Interesting blog! I, like some other contributors, have not got on with viscose as I find it feels unpleasant. I asked a buyer at my daughter’s school why it was that the major retailer she works for, and so many others, have so few garments for women on sale that are manufactured from natural materials. She mentioned the rise in the price of cotton as a factor. I asked a male friend that evening whether he was finding it harder to find shirts made from cotton and he said “you must be joking if you think I would buy a shirt that was not made from cotton!”. So, seemingly the relative scarcity of natural-fibre clothing is affecting women more than men in the UK at least. A few friends I have discussed this with say they are turning more to vintage clothes in desperation as they are more likely to be made from cottton or silk and I also baulk at the idea of paying top dollar for designer fashion made from viscose or materials that are wholly synthetic.

    • Hi Maureen,

      It’s the nature of consumer fashion: Fast fashion for women, which favours the “look of the moment” delivered as cheaply as possible. That’s why most of what you buy is synthetic or heavy chemical processes to produce. Fast fashion is designed to be thrown away in a few months, and not made to last, which is why it’s not made from natural fibers, which tend to last longer if cared for properly. People are becoming accustomed to cheap materials, so even brand name designers are turning to them because of a larger profit margin. It’s sad, really. I am with you….I have always loved vintage clothing, and I am currently learning to sew, so I can just make my own clothes out of fabrics I value. It’s sad, how people accept the race to the bottom of clothing quality/fit only so they can keep up with the Jones’ or the Kardashians’ or whoever people deem the trend setters. It’s all about nihilistic consumption.

  • Thank you so much for your highly-informative site! I have difficulty with most fabrics (I get over-heated wearing anything other than 100% natural, breathable fabric. It’s a thyroid thing.) Not only are so many fabrics uncomfortable to wear, but so often a small percentage of an uncomfortable fabric is almost always added to cotton or silk, which, for me, renders it unwearable! Maybe you could inform manufacturers that adding a bit of elastic can make a perfect cotton dress unbearable! Knowledge is everything!

  • I just treated myself to a rather expensive caftan being advised that it was silk but on the tag I found it said viscose silk – I’ve look on google and can’t find any special information — can anyone help please – it feels like silk and looks like silk but what is it as it was rather expensive and is highly decorated with sequins etc. I’m just wondering if I really have been had and should I return it????? – I was definitely told that it was silk

  • I bought a 100% viscose blouse that says to :” Dry Clean” … Could this be due to concern with shrinkage- as in rayon?? Everything I’m reading here days 100% viscose is washable….??

  • Do you know how viscose compares to other fabrics re: pilling?

  • I’ve been in the cleaning industry now for 10 years dealing with high end textiles this fabric has caused a lot of problems for every one. It has been rushed onto the market without research because its 1/10th the cost of silk. It’s weak bends 70 times and the fibre breaks as silk is 3000-5000 wool even more. Also designers are labelling it as silk and selling it for the same money or more! It cost them nothing, it’s criminal it has to many cons right now to be considered helpful to anyone. It may work in clothes blended well to hide it but in others textile like rugs upholstery it has failed I see it every day. Be wary of this product and how it is used

  • Thank you for the information about viscose. Was concern about it specially where I leave in a hot and humid country. But after reading your article I am happy to know that it is breathable. Sometime I notice though it gets quite warm when I am wearing it unlike cotton or linen. Nevertheless, the article is quite informative.

  • Wow, this is very good info for a quick understanding of the fabric.

  • I have always thought that viscose was synthetic so have avoided it as much as possible.I do like look and the way it drapes.I am still a bit concerned though about the chemicals used and is the pulp from sustainable sources?

  • I sell bed mattresses. People are getting concerned about non-recyclable fibres, and assumed that list included Viscose. I knew that Viscose was made from cellulose, but now I understand about the fibre in greater detail, and I can advise my customers not to be frightened of it, or dismiss it immediately as a ‘bad’ fibre.

  • My two concerns are shrinkage and wrinkles.
    Just purchased a top and pants with this fabric. Hope I am satisfied.

  • I really enjoyed your lesson on viscose. You gave a good explanation of the manufacturing process, but it doesn’t make me like the fabric. It is sleazy, wrinkles easily, is hot, and is difficult to sew.

  • Saw a rug made from viscose and wondered about the wearing qualities – not buying it really for that but more for the look. Any idea about wear would be appreciated.

  • Would you please discuss some dyeing techniques of viscose fabrics and how the color can be stripped from dyed fabrics.

  • I bought viscose material and made a pair of shorts for me and after washing the shorts would not fit — please wash the material before making the garment ,,I now wash all my material made from viscose….love the viscose,……regards Lola

  • I have a men’s shirt I want to sell made from 55 viscose and 45% polyester, how will it perform? Will it be too hot? It feels quite silky and is made by Cacharel so should be quality.

  • The information you provided has led to other questions. It appears that the blend of fabrics with viscose is the key to the quality of material that can be made. I have noticed that the blend that I found to be the ‘best’ blend of viscose with 2 other fibers is no longer being used.

    Your article mentions the Lycocell process to manufacture the fiber. Are there other processes that have been patented that have a set blend of specific fibers? The blend I am referring to requires 77% viscose.

    Due to the fiber being made from trees/plant cellulose is there a higher tariff or cost of using it?

    Yours truly,
    Christine Hogan

  • I was dismayed to find the robe I just bought was viscose when I found out that is the same things as rayon. I hate rayon. There is nothing so wastefully time-consuming as items I cannot just wash and dry with my regular laundry. I shrunk a favorite dress into a mini-dress (and I am way beyond the age to wear minis, believe me) because I forgot to take it out of the laundered clothes when I loaded the dryer. I do not have the space to DRY flat. I will never buy viscose again, just as I always put rayon items back on the rack.

  • Just love-love viscose/rayon especially suitable for South African weather conditions, with changing weather during a day. Interestingly, watched a Sappi South Africa programme this morning and the wood supplied are for viscose material…I believe the Eucalyptus tree is also used in the manufacture of viscose/rayon.

  • I absolutely hate viscose. I do not find it breathable in the least. Being menopausal, I avoid it at all costs.
    Only certain types stand up to gentle washing and hanging to dry. Usually it changes shape and almost always shrinks.
    It has become a cheap, throwaway clothing that, in my opinion is horrible for the environmen, as people just buy more and more since it’s cheap and doesn’t last.
    On top of that, if you are paying that little for something, please take into consideration how little the person making it is being paid! As a sewer, I never purchase viscose, and I find it disheartening that it’s so difficult to find good quality natural fabrics nowadays, especially cottons.

  • What are the pilling., shrinkage & spirality of viscose fabric??

  • I’ve got instructions for making a washable protective face mask (I thought it might be a good idea at the moment). I need some non woven cloth and I wondered, is viscose a non woven cloth? Thanks.

  • While this article provides some insights on the performance of viscose and it’s position and “neither natural nor synthetic” due to its intense chemical processing which is indeed the case, I am surprised to find no information about deforestation that tends to happen when sourcing wood for viscose. Perhaps this is because the article is a couple of years old, but there are many examples of wood being sourced often even from ancient or endangered forests that negatively impact biodiversity significantly, not to mention chases local communities away from their habitat (such as the Guarani people in Brazil).

    Viscose is indeed often misunderstood – it’s natural source yet chemical processing is confusing. But just because it comes from a natural source does not mean it is necessarily more sustainable than other synthetic fabrics – all fabrics have their pros and cons, but viscose is truly damaging to the planet right now – an insight this article sadly missed despite mentioning the importance of a “green-friendly” world.

  • Really elaborative and informative information and the comments as well.

  • I really enjoyed your article. For two reasons. I was doing research on linen blends and found that with rayon instead of cotton it makes for a more flowy garment. The other is that I live in Hawaii and I would say that rayon is a fabric you can’t get away from, most notably Aloha wear. I have worn a lot of it, but will be trying out the linen/rayon blend very soon. Thanks for the information.

  • Good to know how viscose is produced and read the different opinions on its use. There is little mentioned about the care of say a viscose dress. I have read it does not wash well! Nice to hear your comments

  • Can anyone who knows about the applications of viscous fiber?

  • Hello, my partner is considering a lovely dress by Tom Ford (I have not seen it!) for her wedding dress. It is made of viscous and she is concerned about creasing etc. This is extra relevant for her as she is a wheelchair user and shall be seated for the entire day and doesn’t want the gown to be obviously creased and wrinkled after 5 minutes. Thank you for any help you can give.

  • Hi,
    I also cannot wear viscose comfortably. The other thing I hate is that it does not wear or wash well – it bobbles a lot and discolours slightly. If a cotton garment and a viscose garment are compared after they have been worn and washed the same number of times the cotton garment looks to be in much better condition.
    Has anyone else found this to be the case?

  • I am about to buy a quite expensive cream sweater with content of 40% wool, 30% Viscose, 23% polyamide and 7% cashmere. The label says Dry Clean. Would I be able to wash this garment as I always wash all my sweaters very carefully by hand and hate to have them dry cleaned or using a washing machine. Thank you in anticipation of your help.

  • I am looking at rugs for my house and am finding that in shopping online, many use Vicose, either combined with another (cotton, wool) or are 100%. How does viscose handle when in a living situation where it will be walked on regularly? It won’t shrink but will it wear out/show wear and tear unevenly? Anyone have any idea?

  • I just purchased a beautiful ice blue shirt 100% viscose. It says not to wash in water or when dry cleaned not to use water.
    Does this mean it will shrink or the color will run? I usually wash all my clothing myself with a hand-washed program I have on
    my washing machine, in cold water. Would you recommend the dry cleaning or should I tempt washing it in cool water?
    Thanks for your advice.

  • Viscose used in rug manufacturing is a nightmare. Wet Stains worse than other natural fibres such as Sisal / Hemp or silk. Does not clean well – not even with a dry powder clean – tips become discolored. Strongly advise against purchasing rugs made with viscose. They are very expensive to buy and look nice when new

  • hey ! can anyone guide me how to find blend ration of cotton viscose in fabric/yarn?

  • I often buy clothes which are made from viscose and elastane (95% divide and 5% elastane is the usual mix). They let their shape, rarely need ironing and I don,t find them too hot. They keep their colour too. I am wary of 100% viscose I’m case it needs ironing. I am disabled and can no longer manage to iron.

  • Thank you for this informative blog post. I fell in love with a viscose blend when I realised clothes made from it were all softer, more comfortable and didn’t need ironing: even if a garment fell off the hanger onto the floor the creases would drop out very quickly simply from body heat and moisture.
    Now I am hoping to use a 50% cotton/viscose blend for a crochet project but the pattern says that substitute yarns should be a bit elastic. So I’m wondering whether viscose can do anything to improve the inelasticity of cotton?

  • It seems that some viscose looks and feels very synthetic and clingy whereas other viscose looks like twill and a third type is soft and breathable but does crease quite badly. I love the one that creases but hate the clingy one. Is there no way that the description of the fabruc could indicate the finish of the fabric? It’s confusing when you buy online and can’t see or feel the fabric. Why are some viscose fabrics so different from others, does it depend on the concentrations of the different chemicals?
    Also, is bamboo considered natural or synthetic when used for fabrics?

  • Great article! A little late to the party but better late than never! Just got a shirt that is 100% viscose and was curious exactly what I was dealing with. It really does act a lot like silk. Thanks for the information!

  • My biggest concern about viscose is:
    Is it safe or potentially harmful to your health as it is treated with so many harsh chemicals? I have read that it can cause headaches, nausea, muscle pain etc.
    What can you tell me about this?

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