what is viscose

What Is Viscose? Everything About This Rayon Type

Posted By Vaibhavi K on Jul 22, 2021

Viscose is one of the most used fabrics in the world. If you have never heard of viscose, maybe you know it by another name, rayon. It’s soft and lightweight, making it a commonly used fabric in households. 

Continue reading to understand what is viscose fabric, what is viscose made of, and what kind of fabric is viscose?  

What Is Viscose Rayon?

There are three types of rayon material, and viscose is one of them. Viscose is a popular fabric made from trees. It’s not as eco-friendly as it sounds, as the production process uses high chemical concentrations. 

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What is viscose used for? It is cost-effective to produce viscose and hence it has wide-scale uses for clothing items such as blouses, jackets, dresses, and carpets. 

Viscose is derived from the following plants:

  • Beech
  • Pine
  • Spruce
  • Hemlock
  • Eucalyptus
  • Bamboo
  • Soy

Brief History of Viscose

Viscose is a product of European history. Hilaire de Chardonnet, a French scientist and industrialist, invented the viscose as a cheaper alternative to silk. The product was soon removed from the market due to its highly flammable quality. Later, a safer product was made by a German Bemberg Company. In 1892, British scientists Charles Frederick Cross, Edward John Bevan, and Clayton Beadle created the production process.

 Finally, in 1905 the world was gifted with the first commercial viscose. 

Viscose Production Process

Viscose is made from tree wood pulp, but it is semi-synthetic due to the involvement of chemicals in the process. 

The process of creating viscose is as below:

  • A plant is split into wood pulp and suspended chemicals like sodium hydroxide are added, forming a brown wood pulp solution.
  • This solution is then washed, cleaned, and bleached.
  • The pulp is mixed with carbon disulfide and then dissolved in sodium hydroxide to create a viscose solution.
  • This solution is pushed through a machine (spinneret) that creates filaments called regenerated cellulose.
  • This regenerated cellulose is spun into yarn, which can then be woven into viscose rayon fabric.

Characteristics of Viscose

You should go for viscose if you are looking for a soft, light-weighted, and lustrous fabric. You can get a luxurious feel at a much lower price.

  1. Absorbent: WIth viscose, there is no need to worry about sweat and water. Viscose absorbs sweat and water to make it a perfect fit for summer outfits.
  2. Lightweight: VIscose is airy; it’s great for summer dresses and blouses.
  3. Breathable: It does not stick to the skin. You can quickly wear it in a warm climate. 
  4. Soft: It looks like silk but feels like cotton. Viscose is a soft fabric and it gives a luxurious feel like silk at a much lower price. 
  5. Easy to dye: Dying on viscose does not fade away with washes and long-term uses. 

Pros and Cons of Viscose Fabric


  • Due to its breathable nature, it’s easy to wear viscose on hot days.
  • Viscose can easily absorb sweat, making it a convenient option as activewear. 
  • As it feels like silk, it’s easy to drape. 
  • It’s hypoallergenic.
  • Viscose is light and airy.
  • It’s an affordable alternative to silk.


  • Viscose can be harmed by mildew. 
  • Bright sunlight can deteriorate the quality of the fabric.
  • It’s difficult to remove stains from viscose. 

Uses of Viscose Rayon

There are various ways to use viscose rayon. It is often used for making clothes, window drapes, cooling sheets, mattress protectors, and cellophane.


As viscose feels like silk, it is an excellent alternative to costly silk outfits. It gives a luxurious feel at a much lower rate.

Viscose is lightweight and airy, which makes it a convenient option for summers. Viscose absorbs water and sweat quickly. Hence, people prefer to wear it as activewear.

Window Drapes

 The silk feel of viscose makes it an excellent option for window drapes. Viscose can add a luxurious feel to your bedroom.

Cooling Sheets

The lightweight, absorbent, airy properties of viscose help people with body heat buildup problems. 

Mattress Protector

Viscose is excellent at absorbing water. Viscose is blended with cotton and polyester to be used as a mattress protector.


The sheets used to package food are made using regenerated cellulose. Due to its low permeability to air, water, and bacteria, viscose is a prominent option for food packaging.

How to Care for Viscose Rayon?

We will advise you to dry clean your viscose material. Spot treatments can lead to permanent stains. 

The best option is to washing viscose with hands in cold water using a mild detergent. Squeezing and exposing the fabric to direct sunlight can deteriorate its quality. The material can stretch and become weak when wet. Wash it gently and lay it flat on a clean surface to dry. 

What Are Other Types of Rayons?

Rayon is a man-made super soft fabric. It was renamed ‘artificial silk’ in 1924. What is rayon made of? This substitute of silk is made up of regenerated and purified cellulose derived from plant sources.

There are three types of rayons; modal, lyocell, and viscose. Three of them originate from wood cellulose but are processed differently. 

Viscose Rayon vs. Silk

FeaturesViscose RayonSilk
Texture Smooth, soft, and silkySmooth and soft
AffordabilityLess expensiveMore expensive 
BreathabilityVery airy and breathableLess breathable than viscose-rayon
LusterHas a sheenShinier
Eco-FriendlinessLess eco-friendly than silkEco-friendly
Fabric CareHandwashing is best. Exposure to the sun is not recommendedDry cleaning is best. Exposure to the sun is not recommended for air drying.

Viscose Rayon vs. Cotton

FeaturesViscose RayonCotton
TextureSmooth, soft, and silkySmooth and crisp
OriginWood cellulose is treated with chemicalsAll-natural cotton fibers
BreathabilityCool and breathable but wicks moistureCool and breathable but does not wick moisture
AvailabilityNot as availableCommon
VersatilityVersatile fabric and efficiently blends with other fabricsEqually versatile material and efficiently blend with other fabrics
Fabric CareHandwashing is best. Exposure to the sun is not recommendedEasily machine washable

Viscose Rayon vs. Polyester

FeaturesViscose RayonPolyester
OriginWood cellulose is treated with chemicalsDerived from petroleum oil
WrinklingWrinkles more than polyesterWrinkles less than viscose-rayon
Resistance to PilingMore likely to pillLess likely to pill
Moisture WickingLess moisture-wicking than polyesterMore moisture-wicking than viscose-rayon

Viscose Rayon vs. Modal 

FeaturesViscose RayonModal 
BreathabilityLess breathableMore breathable
Eco-FriendlinessNot very eco-friendlyIt is eco-friendly


Viscose is a beautiful alternative for costly silk. From an excellent feel, look, and texture, Viscose has it all. It has so many advantages. But, we cannot ignore the environmental harm it is causing. The good news is, many producers are shifting to eco-friendly procedures. 


Is viscose environment-friendly?

No, Viscose is not eco-friendly. Viscose is derived from wood pulp, but it’s the production procedure that harms the environment. 

Is Viscose a synthetic or natural fabric?

Viscose is a semi-synthetic fabric derived from the plant, but extensive chemicals are used in the production process.

Is Viscose better than cotton?

Viscose is not as long-lasting as cotton, but it’s also lighter and smoother in feel, which some people prefer over cotton.

Can you machine wash viscose?

VIscose is very delicate when it is wet. It is recommended to hand wash Viscose in cold water using mild detergent rather than machine wash. 

Does Viscose make you sweat?

Viscose is a lightweight and airy fabric. It’s suitable for summer. It’s so breathable that it does not make you sweat.

Does viscose shrink in the wash?

Viscose is highly delicate when it is wet. The acceptable practice is to lay it flat on a clean surface to dry.

Can you iron Viscose?

You can iron your viscose fabric. To avoid ruining your material, try to iron it when it is still damp.