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What is Viscose?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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Viscose is a unique form of wood cellulose acetate used in the manufacture of a number of different products. This includes items for the medical industry, though it is perhaps most common as a major ingredient in the production of the fabric rayon. The process of creating this material is fairly complex, beginning with wood pulp that is treated with various chemical baths and procedures. Along with rayon, other products that contain viscose include cellophane and some types of adhesive tape.

How It Is Made

Making viscose begins with wood pulp, and manufacturers often use different sources such as bamboo. The wood cellulose is treated with caustic soda, then allowed to age, before being treated again with caustic soda and carbon disulphide. Manufacturers spin the resulting product through various mechanisms and wash it through water baths and similar methods. It is then extracted out of one or more slits to produce threads or other forms necessary in different applications. Since it begins with wood, it is not a synthetic material.

Use In Textiles

Rayon is one of the most common and popular uses of viscose, which is used for many types of clothing and other textile products. Such rayon has a silky appearance and feel, yet breathes in a manner similar to cotton weaves. In addition to being an inexpensive material to use in lightweight clothing, manufacturers use rayon for textiles such as tablecloths, furniture slipcovers, and bed sheets. Rayon also tends to drape very well, which makes it ideal for use in simple curtains as well as an ideal fabric to line more formal draperies.

Other Common Uses

Some companies use viscose to make cellophane. The initial manufacturing process for cellophane is similar to rayon, but different end procedures are used to make a stable, mostly clear, lightweight product. Common uses of such cellophane include kitchen wrap and clear sheets used to wrap plants, gift baskets, and other projects. Other companies also use it to make certain types of semi-clear adhesive tape.

Medical Applications

Certain forms of viscose, sometimes referred to as cellulose xanthe, are ideal for the creation of dialysis membranes. Medical equipment manufacturers also make other medical tools using this material. One major benefit of such products is that they are soft and supple to the touch, making them ideal for sensitive medical items.


The development of viscose has made it possible for many people to enjoy a wide array of quality textiles in their homes, without paying a lot of money for a luxurious look and feel. These garments often require less cleaning than some other types of cloth. Anyone cleaning this material should follow the manufacturer's instructions on the garment or product label. They can also be quite durable, though this depends a great deal on the manufacturer and how the garment or textile is made.


While viscose breathes like cotton and has a feel that is pleasing to the touch, there are some drawbacks. One disadvantage to textile products made with rayon is that the items can often wrinkle easily, and many garments made from this material cannot be machine-washed or dried. The process used to make this material can also create a great deal of pollution. While some manufacturers have made considerable efforts to ensure clean production, there may still be companies that create pollution and toxic chemical waste during production.

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.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including HomeQuestionsAnswered, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By anon973779 — On Oct 13, 2014

@anon248347: Nylon is made from petroleum products. Not healthy and eco-friendly at all (from Wisegeek: "Like most petroleum products, it has a very slow decay rate, which unfortunately results in the accumulation of unwanted products in landfills around the world.").

Lycra = spandex. Lycra is the trademark name.

By anon349888 — On Sep 30, 2013

I have a blouse I bought on vacation in Hawaii. I wore it only once--it was $98. I took it out the other day to proudly wear again and there were five little holes in it? Why?

By anon332680 — On Apr 30, 2013

How does it fit? Does it run big or small usually?

By anon313180 — On Jan 10, 2013

I never sweat or smell, but I have noticed that I can only wear viscose-based tops for a few hours and they smell sweaty and it's not a sports top. I have to return the item to the shop, but how to explain to them the problem. Vicose makes me smell!

By anon255459 — On Mar 17, 2012

I have a pair of dress pants I bought from Le Chateau that are 63 percent polyester, 34 percent viscose and 3 percent spandex. They are the most comfortable pants I own! The only drawback is that they are dry clean only. I was searching to see whether or not hand washing an option, however there seems to be a mixed opinion out there and I'm not willing to risk ruining them so I will continue with dry cleaning (clean every seven wears or so and alternate with the Dryel home kit and professional cleaning). I would highly recommend a pair of pants with this sort of material.

By anon248347 — On Feb 17, 2012

For fashion garments, don't use viscose to cut corners for a sheer, draped look. Use a sheer Nylon containing Lycra, not spandex or other crappy alternatives.

Being price focused is smart, although remember to take into play "you get what you pay for," whether that be in a positive or negative way.

By anon245009 — On Feb 03, 2012

How can we differentiate among viscose, polyester, silk and cotton just by looking and feeling the fabric? Any idea?

By anon204810 — On Aug 10, 2011

I bought trousers from branded stores worth £39 and wore them once. Then I machine washed them in a normal wash and they came out as a half trouser. I can't wear them and can't do this. I would recommend not to buy this fabric at all.

By anon197400 — On Jul 17, 2011

My cat likes to eat my viscose placemats - what should I do?

By anon196705 — On Jul 15, 2011

I hardly ever sweat or smell, but I have noticed that I can only wear viscose-based tops for a few hours and they smell sweaty, even though I am just sitting at a desk. I don't have this problem with any other product.

By anon182380 — On Jun 02, 2011

viscose doesn't need to be dry cleaned. Cold wash and line dry is OK, but it does shrink a bit so just reshape it after washing. the wrinkle is not that bad, just steam it. Also viscose in T-shirts is gorgeous to the touch but will pill over time and is prone to little holes.

By anon165445 — On Apr 05, 2011

Viscose is the cheaper alternative to cotton, especially long fiber cotton (a.k.a. Egyptian or Pima cottons) which has a nicer appearance than shorter staple length. Viscose/rayon has a nice drape and is soft, but it shrinks like crazy. If you don't want to hand wash, put it in on gentle with cold water and a mild detergent and then lay flat to dry. It loses strength when wet, so try not to hang when wet or your seams will be droopy. Beware though, your garment could shrink up a couple sizes if you don't dry delicate clothing labeled dry-clean only.

By anon157802 — On Mar 04, 2011

I have a scarf made of 100 percent Viscose, made in India and it has a strong chemical odor. I hand washed it in cold water and air dried in an effort to remove the chemical odor. However, that did not help.

By anon156567 — On Feb 28, 2011

I work for a designer label and we use a high quality viscose all the time.

Thus, many of my everyday work wear pieces are made of this fabric, and I have had no problem with them.

As with any delicate fabric, you need to take care of it.

You wouldn't chuck something silk or cashmere in the washing machine and hope for the best, so don't do it with viscose.

Using a delicate detergent and hand washing (or if you have a washing machine with a hand wash - not delicate - setting) and letting the item drip dry in the shade is easy and will ensure it does not fall apart.

Viscose isn't made to be durable, it's made to be a luxurious, beautiful fabric. Thus I would not suggest it for things like upholstery.

Combing viscose with polyester is simply done to make sure it creases less, hence why a lot of suiting combines the two fabrics.

By anon147864 — On Jan 30, 2011

I just washed a 100 percent viscose scarf in an automatic washing machine and most of the scarf was gone. I should have read the label. Hand wash only, but who hand washes? Can not recommend this fabric.

By anon143874 — On Jan 18, 2011

I want to buy a raincoat that says 100 percent viscose. Is this material either waterproof or water resistant? If it's not, will it stand up to the weather if it gets wet?

By anon141189 — On Jan 09, 2011

Viscose is a horrible choice for a rug with any foot traffic. It cannot stand up to any wear and tear. It fades, it loses color during cleaning, and it yellows over time.

If you truly want a strong fiber that "looks like silk" - don't take the short cut in clothing or in rugs - just buy silk instead of this knock-off.

Viscose rugs are considered disposable rugs by cleaning professionals. It's a shame consumers are being told to buy them.

By anon129665 — On Nov 24, 2010

I am evaluating a cushion for home work (does not have to be a huge paragraph) that is £18 and is 35 percent viscose and 65 percent polyester. is it going to be good quality and will it have shrinking and wearing problems? please answer quickly. thank you.

By anon125964 — On Nov 11, 2010

we have used fabric for draperies that contain 50% viscose and have experienced shrinking from the heat and sunlight. How can this be avoided?

By anon118840 — On Oct 15, 2010

Viscose shrinks badly when washed and/or dried, so I won't buy any clothing with labels that say viscose. Modal shrinks just as badly as viscose.

By anon116775 — On Oct 07, 2010

Is there such a material called Viscose wrinkle free - for making corporate uniforms shirts?

By anon111365 — On Sep 16, 2010

can viscose be present in spandex or is it only rayon?

By anon110713 — On Sep 13, 2010

Which material keeps the body warmer? Acrylic or viscose?

By anon109828 — On Sep 09, 2010

I purchased a scarf made of 100 percent viscose made in China. I broke out in a rash from it. Can I wash or dry clean it to remove the chemical so that I can use the scarf.

By anon108242 — On Sep 02, 2010

I have a 100 percent viscose skirt that was made in India. I've had it for five years and I wear it frequently. Some of the seams are starting to come apart from all the use, but it's still my favorite article of clothing. It's very comfortable.

By anon107031 — On Aug 28, 2010

I'm from India. I want to source 95 percent Viscose, 5 percent elasthane fabric from other countries. Can anyone tell me an exporter's address?

-- Ravi, India.

By anon103967 — On Aug 14, 2010

I purchased 100 percent viscose bamboo bed sheets three years ago and they are simply amazing.

Although I have eight sets of of great Egyptian cotton sheets, I haven't used any of them in three years. I just wash bamboo sheets and put them right back on the bed.

The do not stretch, and if removed from the dryer immediately, they are just perfect.

Never have I had sheets this soft -- like a cloud.

They are expensive, and there is a great bit of difference between the viscose bamboo, and the rayon bamboo.

The rayon bamboo is made with harsh and dangerous chemicals that can cause skin and breathing problems.

By anon98231 — On Jul 22, 2010

Does Viscose shrink if it gets wet? I want to have a shower curtain made of viscose. Is this wise?

By anon97780 — On Jul 21, 2010

Viscose is good and durable only when maintained well. Proper wash care methods need to be taken, even while drying the clothes as they stretch insanely. It is also susceptible to termites and silverfish.

By anon93474 — On Jul 04, 2010

I have a beautiful Egyptian print dress that I bought in Turkey, where it was made, and I love it. It is 100 percent viscose. I purchased this in August 2009. I have washed it, ironed it, worn it and it still looks brand new and feels wonderful. Matter of fact I am getting ready to wear it now.

By anon84081 — On May 13, 2010

I am considering the purchase of a wool/viscose blend rug (8x10) which is considerably pricey for me. The wool is hand-tufted New Zealand but no info on the viscose. (1)Is this a wise purchase, considering it has viscose in it (durable)? (2) Is wool not recommended for the humid weather in the southern U.S.?

By anon71824 — On Mar 20, 2010

Viscose fiber loses its strength, because, whereas cotton fiber gains strength when it is wet, the reason is crystalline regions in cotton increase.

By anon71801 — On Mar 20, 2010

Simply said, there is very good viscose and there is cheap viscose. The better ones come from europe, the not so good somewhere else although, for example, india makes the "Modal" quality too (i assume it's under the german Modal license). Confused now? i'll bet you are.

Advantage of viscose: almost like natural silk but half of it's price. disadvantage: in contrast to real silk it most of the time needs ironing after washing. this fabric is used lots in the clothing industry in europe, in the mid and higher end range.

By anon71747 — On Mar 19, 2010

Viscose can come in a variety of qualities-- it depends on the manufacturer. Thread count has a lot to do with the quality as well and the feel.

If you're looking for great viscose rayon fabrics and clothing check out Rayon Viscose Clothing.

They have an awesome collection of viscose rayon sarongs.

Viscose rayon comes form a variety of sources. The source at the above is the premium no 1 quality rayon viscose from Bali and Java Indonesia. They've been making it for decades and the fabric is very nice and breathable. Especially for the sarongs in the hot weather. They make great dresses too. It's awesome material.

By anon70315 — On Mar 13, 2010

I own a tuxedo shop and have been renting viscose 65 percent, poly 35 percent tuxedos. I find the material is extremely delicate! It is resistant to wrinkles so long as you do not wash it in a washing machine, you'll be fine! Dry clean viscose only or you will be sorry!

By anon69160 — On Mar 06, 2010

Don't waste your time or money on any clothing or rug product made with viscose. This unstable fiber is too delicate for use as a textile. Brittle and aqua phobic, the appearance of viscose will look new only a very short time with little chance that cleaning will restore it. Better to stick with natural cottons and wool or well developed polyesters and nylons.

By anon66956 — On Feb 22, 2010

Viscose wrinkles, and it has a *almost* silk like feeling...If not for the hardness.....It's not quite wool like, but certainly not comfortable.

By anon63238 — On Jan 31, 2010

I want to buy a dress that is 100 percent viscose. I have never heard of this material before. Can anyone tell me if this would be a comfy dress as I have very sensitive skin? Please let me know soon.

By anon54306 — On Nov 29, 2009

My wife has a beautiful viscose blouse. Imagine her horror when today she took it out to wear to a special occasion only to find that some insect had eaten holes in it. They look very like moth holes, but I thought that moths only attacked wool. Perhaps it was fishmoths that did the damage. Any ideas anyone?

By anon52800 — On Nov 17, 2009

i want to purchase a 100 percent viscose garment. what can i do?

By anon50106 — On Oct 26, 2009

I bought a beautiful blouse made of 100 percent viscose. After wearing it several times, I washed it in a washing machine with a gentle cycle, as it said "40" in a backet. It has lost the beautiful sheen and shrunk and got creasy! Have I lost the beautiful blouse for good?

By anon49599 — On Oct 21, 2009

I own many many pieces of garments, scarves and the works made of 100 percent viscose and they do not wrinkle and are luxurious and beautiful and do not smell. perhaps your garments are made in China at cheap factories where they use chemical sprays for God alone knows what reason. All my viscose is in the line of pants, tops, sweaters, scarves, gloves, hats, panties, slips, nighties and are all luxurious and beautiful and soft, breathes beautifully and are just lovely.

By anon41241 — On Aug 13, 2009

I am contemplating a purchase of a dress made of 100% viscose. Now I don't know what to do.

By anon39396 — On Aug 01, 2009

I purchased some sweater jackest made of 100 percent viscose. They have an odor of rubber or burnt plastic. I tried washing and soaking them and they still smell. What can I do?

By anon38126 — On Jul 23, 2009

What about corn viscose. Is it the same except made out of corn?

By subamimpex — On Jul 18, 2009

I would like to purchase non-woven fabrics made of 10% polyester and 90% cellulose. Is it similar to 10% polyester and 90% viscose.

By ats — On Jul 10, 2009

would a sofa made of 75% viscose and 25% polyester be an acceptable make up to provide a reasonably hard wearing unit.

By muthu — On Jul 07, 2009

if we make the viscose wet,its strength decreases.but in cotton,strength increases why?????

By muthu — On Jul 07, 2009

if we make the viscose wet,its strength decreases.but in cotton,strength increases

By anon35587 — On Jul 06, 2009

after reading the above i can conclude viscose is a synthetic material. is that true?

By anon35107 — On Jul 02, 2009

Can a blouse made of 100% viscose be hand washed? My label says dry clean only.

By anon30775 — On Apr 24, 2009

I just picked up a pair of dry-clean only pants that are 56% viscose. I love them - they are stretchy and comfortable. Hopefully, they withstand the test of time.

By matt101 — On Feb 24, 2009

what are the symptoms if you are allergic to viscose?

By anon20598 — On Nov 03, 2008

i would like to know if this material is really stretchable...i want to purchase a dress online, and i am a size large but they only have medium available... i was thinking of purchasing the dress it is made of 95% vicose and %5 spandex ??? Please Help !!!

By anon20021 — On Oct 23, 2008

Does viscose have properties of retaining heat like wool such as pashmina does? Is viscose considered an acrylic since it does not seem to be a natural fabric? Thanks!

By anon17731 — On Sep 05, 2008

Is viscose when used in underpants as breathable as cotton, safe for women who are sensitive?

By anon17011 — On Aug 20, 2008

I have some place mats that are 45% cotton and 55% viscose. What is the proper care of these. Can they be laundered in cold water? -Lillian

By anon16289 — On Aug 02, 2008

I am considering reupholstering a sofa & love seat with a fabric content of 62% viscose and 32% polyester, or a fabric of 100% polyester. Which would be more durable? I have a cat with back claws, who likes to lounge on the back cushions!

By mdt — On Jun 04, 2008

Probably not. There is a world of difference between towels that can be laundered with ease after each use and upholstery. Just be sure to follow the laundering instructions and see how they do. If you happen to think about it, let us know how well the towels hold up after a month of two of use.

By anon13706 — On Jun 03, 2008

I just purchased some towels that are labeled "80% Viscose (Bamboo) and 20% cotton". Did I make a mistake???

By anon11996 — On Apr 28, 2008

i am a professional upholstery cleaner, and if you are looking for something to look good and last do not use cotton, linen, or silk. they cannot be cleaned aggressively on a sofa, and discolor easily, with body oils and moisture can cause cellulosic browning and water stains. my 2 cents

By mdt — On Mar 25, 2008

Personally, I would be somewhat leery of an upholstered piece that contained that much viscose in the mix. My objection would be that sofas tend to see a lot of use over time and I tend to agree with your friend that it will not wear well over time.

Now, if you were talking about a slipcover for seasonal use on a sofa, that might be worth a try. But for permanent upholstery, I personally would go with olefin fiber as my choice for an artificial matrerial. But that is mainly because I use to work with the stuff and know how well it holds up under normal usage.

By anon10162 — On Mar 21, 2008

I am looking at a lovely sofa which I would like to buy, but the label on the cover reads 67% viscose, 16% cotton, 15% linen & 2% silk. My friend who is in the rag trade tells me that it will bobble with that high a percentage of viscose. I really don't like the feel of anything synthetic, and would like your advice on the suitability of this fabric covering a large area like a sofa. Thank you.

By mdt — On Mar 20, 2008

Some manufacturers indicate that hand washing or dry cleaning is the best approach. This is true with blends such as rayon and viscose. You may find that hand washing and dry cleaning is also more practical since textiles made with viscose tend to wrinkle more easily than some other fabrics.

As to use as upholstery - well, I would consider using it for the seat of a hard backed chair that saw only occasional use, but not for a chair or sofa that I would use often, even if it were combined with another durable material like polyester or rayon. I would be more comfortable with textiles like drapery panels, tablecloths, or napkins that were made with a viscose blend.

By anon10099 — On Mar 19, 2008

can clothes with viscose fabric be washed or must it be dry cleaned.

By anon10031 — On Mar 18, 2008

Is upholstery made out of viscose durable? Or combination of viscose and polyester, is it durable?

By mdt — On Mar 09, 2008

Like any material, the quality of products made from vicose will vary somewhat depending on the production process. But in general, vicose can turn out a good quality product. Cleaning is usually simple. As to rugs made with viscose, there may be some throw rugs made with this product. You can expect them to wear similar to a rug made with cotton or plain rayon blends.

By anon9010 — On Feb 26, 2008

Are floor rugs made from VISCOSE durable??? how about static and ease of cleaning?

By anon5125 — On Nov 13, 2007

Is viscose good quality, why or why not?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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