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What is Tencel®?

Tricia Christensen
Updated: May 16, 2024

Tencel® is the registered trade name for a type of lyocell, a biodegradable material made from wood pulp cellulose. Fabric sold under the this brand specifically is manufactured by Lenzing AG. This material started to grow in popularity in the late 1990s and is now used in a variety of ways. Though the exact characteristics of the material depend on how it's processed, it tends to be durable and soft. Often said to be environmentally friendly, it is fully biodegradable and made from trees managed for sustained harvest.


This material is very versatile, since it can be manipulated to have a variety of textures. Early Tencel® garments were often compared to rayon in look and feel, but it is now made in a variety of textures including a silky, peach skin, or moleskin feel. Blends with other fibers such as wool, cotton or linen can produce a variety of textures. Garments made with this fabric generally drape well, resist wrinkles, and are fairly durable. Additionally, the fabric is very breathable and moisture wicking, which can make it good for those with sensitive skin.


Most garments made with this material are machine washable. If washed in cold water, they shrink slightly with the first washing, but then won’t shrink in future washes. The cloth also dries quickly, so drip-drying is an alternative to using a dryer. If other fabrics are used in a garment it may require dry cleaning, even though the Tencel® itself does not.


Tencel® is used in a variety of applications, including men's wear, sheets, and blankets. Since it's absorbent and dries quickly, it is also suitable for towels. Clothes made from this material are often recommended for traveling because they are light and keep their shape well. Tencel® is also available as fabric for sewing, as yarn for knitting or crocheting, and as fiber for spinning. Besides it use as a cloth, it is also used in making bandages, baby wipes, oil filters and carpeting for cars, as well as conveyor belts and plastic parts. In powder or fiber form, this material is used in making specialized papers, as an additive for building materials, and in making foam mattresses.

Manufacturing Process

The fabric is considered a natural rather than synthetic product because it is made from plant material. To make Tencel® wood chips are mixed with a solvent to produce a wet mixture. This is then pushed through small holes to form threads. These are chemically treated, lubricated, and then combed and cut into usable lengths. The lengths of fiber are then spun into yarn and woven into cloth.

Environmental Impact

Manufacturers of the product say that the solvent used, amine oxide, is non-toxic and recycled during the production cycle. Though it is dyed with conventional dyes, which can harm the environment, less dye is needed than for a similar amount of cotton. Studies also show that processing of Tencel® requires less energy and water than that of cotton, and the trees used are usually grown without pesticides. Despite this, shipping the raw materials needed to make Tencel® throughout the world does require a lot of energy, as does the production process.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a HomeQuestionsAnswered contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon993003 — On Oct 17, 2015

For what it's worth, I bought sheets from Sleep Number made of "Lycocell." I hate them.

They have a "moleskin" texture, which I find unpleasant. I know everyone's different, so I'm not saying someone else wouldn't like them, but I absolutely hate them. I can't wait till they wear out so I can buy something else.

By anon334099 — On May 09, 2013

I'm doing a university project about sustainable fabrics. I was just wondering how much does tencel cost when producing garments in factories, do you know? And is it more expensive than cotton?

By zahasan — On Apr 24, 2012

Is the dyeing procedure the same for viscose as for knit fabric?

By anon230392 — On Nov 19, 2011

Excel is the substitute for tencel. I have excel denim and t-shirts and they it feel wonderful.

By anon210936 — On Sep 01, 2011

I would like to know is Tencel a poly or synth?

By anon159788 — On Mar 13, 2011

what is the rebuttal to be given to the client when they ask that why it is white in color?

By anon101412 — On Aug 03, 2010

Is Tencel eco friendly and can it be compared to a high quality bamboo? Thank you. --Barry

By anon91889 — On Jun 24, 2010

I have a ring sling made out of Tencel and it is awesome. It is cool in hot weather. Wicks moisture away.

By anon83435 — On May 11, 2010

Please advise if the word 'Tencel' can be used in composition description on the label or is it a copyright of someone?

By anon72460 — On Mar 23, 2010

What kind of characteristics does tencel have? what are the advantages of this fabric? What makes it very expansive? Which country is largest producer of these garments? please reply if possible. Thanks

By anon65533 — On Feb 14, 2010

Can Tencel be printed on using direct-to-garment printing and heat press transfers?

By anon60108 — On Jan 12, 2010

I have a shirt made of tencel. it is from Reverse by Nike. it is great! drapes very well, and the touch is very nice. :)

By anon59953 — On Jan 11, 2010

Please provide information regarding its applications and versatility as well as its unique features.

By anon39709 — On Aug 03, 2009

Hello. May i know some info about tencel, whether tencel is 100 percent made from wood pulp cellulose or some percentage chemical /other things added to manufacture it?

--Durai Murugan

By barb63 — On Jun 24, 2009

I have a Tencel shirt that I just bought for over a hundred dollars. If I need to clean it how should I do so if I don't want it to shrink? It will be too small then.

Any ideas?

By hoang6a — On Feb 24, 2009


I'm researching about Tencel, so i would like to know something about it. Could you send to me some information about it. Thanks!

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a HomeQuestionsAnswered contributor,...
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