So, without further ado, let’s get started.
Table of Contents
What is viscose?
Viscose is commonly identified as rayon. It is semi-synthetic in texture, and it is widely used as a substitute for the more expensive option, silk. It has the same lustrous look and the same soft and light feel. It is also identified as artificial silk. Viscose is derived from a natural substance like wood pulp, which is subsequently converted into fabrics following an extensive manufacturing process. Most commonly, the wood pulp of trees like eucalyptus, soy, pine, spruce, sugarcane, beech and bamboo are used in the process.
This fabric can neither be considered as natural as silk, wool or cotton nor as synthetic as polyester or nylon. It is something in between. However, viscose fabric is durable when compared to natural fabrics. It has gained popularity as a budget-friendly alternative and is available in wide variations. Viscose is used in apparel, home furnishings, disposable wipes, tires, etc.
Is Viscose a good material?
Yes, viscose is a good material as it is lightweight, non-elastic and doesn’t stick with the body. Viscose is free-flowing and so it drapes well. When worn, body heat is not trapped inside. Moreover, it is comfortable, airy and highly absorbent and is suitable enough for hot weather conditions. It doesn’t fade even after several washes as it is capable of holding the dye. Viscose comes in vibrant colors as it can be dyed easily. All these properties make it apt for T-shirts, fashion clothes and athletic wear. It is affordably priced, but its silk-like look conveys luxury. Viscose is said to be a versatile fabric because it can be blended with other materials like cotton, spandex and polyester.
Does viscose shrink on washing?
Yes, viscose shrinks on washing as it is very delicate. One reason why viscose shrinks is that it is cheap and often, the fiber quality is not up to the mark. Since the fiber strength is low, it becomes weak once it gets wet. It is better to avoid the washing machine. Hand washing in cold water with mild detergent may do. Hot water should not be used unless instructed by the manufacturer. However, the best way to keep this fabric dirt-free is to dry clean it.
Is viscose bad for the environment?
Yes, to some extent, viscose is bad for the environment. Though it is a plant-based or cellulosic fabric, it doesn’t just contain cellulose. Some hazardous chemicals are used while processing the wood pulp and turning it into yarns. In fact, using toxic chemicals is an integral part of viscose production. On top of that, manufacturers find it difficult to dispose of these chemicals and dump wastewater without proper treatment, which in turn contaminates water bodies. This has been an ongoing problem since viscose production began for the first time.
Carbon disulfide and sodium hydroxide are examples of such chemicals that harm the environment and without sodium hydroxide, it is not possible to produce viscose fabric. It may also give rise to serious health issues if inhaled, ingested or if it comes in contact with the skin. It can cause eye damage, skin conditions, heart disease, cancer, congenital disabilities and even corrosion. It also involves a serious environmental concern like deforestation because the wood pulp, the primary ingredient, is obtained by cutting down trees. Besides, viscose production requires a lot of water, which is another important natural resource.
Types of viscose fabric
- 100% natural viscose: It is soft, lightweight and drapes well. It is lustrous like silk and lasts longer in dry conditions.
- Bamboo: It is sun-proof and bacterial-proof.
- Modal/Polynostic: It is extremely soft and retains its strength even when it is wet.
- Micromodal: It is lightweight and has good color retention capabilities.
- Lyocell/Tencel: Remains strong when dry or wet, has resistance to wrinkles and can absorb and release moisture. It is resistant to wrinkles and abrasion, dyes excellently and has antibacterial properties.
- Viscose jersey: Stretchable
- Viscose with elastane: Has elasticity and hence it doesn’t limit movements.
- Slinky viscose: It’s a flowy material.
- Cupro: It is breathable, drapable and curve-hugging.
- Cotton and viscose: It is durable when kept dry.
- Viscose staple: It is well-drapable, non-wrinkling and resilient.
- Lining viscose: Has a slippery feel and may contain polyester and cotton.
- Quilted viscose: Feels warm and comfortable.
Viscose Vs. Cotton
- Both varicose and cotton are derived from cellulose, but the manufacturing process of cotton is more natural compared to how viscose is made.
- Viscose is neither purely synthetic nor purely natural, whereas cotton is 100% natural.
- Cotton is sourced from cotton flowers, whereas viscose is a type of rayon made by processing wood pulp with powerful alkaline chemicals.
- Viscose fibers are weak, cannot withstand wet conditions, and be dry cleaned, whereas cotton fiber remains strong when washed.
- Viscose is more absorbent when compared to cotton.
- Viscose is non-insulating, whereas cotton is an insulating material.
- Viscose is inexpensive when compared to cotton.
- At present, viscose is used as an alternative to cotton and silk because some of its qualities are the same.
- Viscose production pollutes the environment, whereas cotton is eco-friendly.
- Viscose doesn’t fade easily, whereas cotton does.
- Viscose lasts longer when compared to cotton.
- Production of viscose involves large-scale deforestation, whereas producing cotton involves growing cotton plants and harvesting the same as crop.
Is viscose better than cotton?
Viscose is better than cotton if you are looking for something that has a luxurious look and a smooth feel, and comes for a lower price. It is a breathable, comfortable and highly absorbent fabric and is suitable for summer days. However, viscose production is not an eco-friendly process. The fabric becomes weak when washed, and only dry cleaning is recommended.
What is rayon fabric?
Today, there are wide choices when it comes to fashion fabrics. Fabrics can be broadly categorized as natural like cotton, silk, linen or synthetic like spandex and neoprene. However, there are a small number of fabrics that fall between the two categories, namely, natural and synthetic and rayon fabric is one of them.
Rayon is one of the most popular man-made fabrics, but it is not purely synthetic. It is a fabric made from cellulose fiber that has been purified. Its texture is similar to other natural fabrics like silk, linen and cotton. It is used to make clothes and home furnishing products.
What is rayon made of?
Rayon is made of cellulose that is present in wood pulp after converting it into a soluble compound. The cellulose is then treated with chemicals and transformed into rayon fabric as the finished product.
The three processes by which rayon is made are Lyocell process, viscose method and Cuprammonium method. Rayon has several grades and Viscose, Lyocell, Tencel and Modal are some variants of rayon.
Is Viscose the same as rayon?
Viscose is a kind of rayon, but it is not exactly same as rayon. The manufacturing process of viscose and rayon are same but there is a difference when it comes to material. Viscose is produced from wood cellulose, whereas rayon is made from bamboo cellulose and wood cellulose. However, the terms viscose and rayon are often used interchangeably as both are synonymous with each other. Know more about the differences here.
Uses of rayon
Rayon has a wide range of applications.
- Clothing: Rayon drapes nicely. It is breathable and looks flowy. That is why it is widely used to make tops, dresses, and loose-fitting bottoms. Since rayon is smooth and shines like silk, it is used as a replacement for silk to make a variety of clothes.
- Athletic wear: Rayon is a popular choice for sportswear or athletic wear as it has high absorbency. It keeps one cool and dry even when exercising.
- Furnishings: Rayon is used in household textiles like curtains, carpets, blankets, bedsheets, bedspread, etc.
- Industrial application: Rayon is used to make surgical dressing, bandages and tire cords. It is also used to make feminine hygiene products, diapers and towels.
Bamboo from rayon
Rayon, which is derived from bamboo fibers, is referred to as bamboo from rayon. Clothes labeled as made out of bamboo are actually viscose rayon. Bamboo rayon is usually made with the help of viscose process. Viscose rayon is formed when cellulose is dissolved in bamboo and then it is made to pass through a spinneret. This process takes out the natural properties of bamboo fiber and makes it like rayon obtained from other sources of cellulose. Almost all bamboo fabrics available today are rayon.
At present, rayon from bamboo is being used in various applications like household products, bedsheets, and clothing. The hand of bamboo from rayon is one of its best features, making it soft to touch and aesthetically pleasing. Its ability to absorb moisture is relatively high. It has been found that rayon from bamboo can absorb 13% moisture, whereas that of cotton is somewhere between 7-8% although these figures may vary. Thermal analysis has confirmed that it has the ability to retain water. Rayon from bamboo is colorfast as it exhibits excellent dyeability. Since it is partly synthetic, it is versatile compared to other natural fibers, and its performance characteristics can be altered as desired. It is marketable as it can be blended with fibers of other categories. Finally, the production of this fiber does not involve high cost.
Rayon was discovered back in 1924. It is the first human-made fabric which is derived from cellulose. Rayon cloth is super soft and has a luscious fall. Its absorption qualities are better when compared to cotton. Rayon cloth is versatile, and it is as comfortable as other natural fabrics. Its drape and slipperiness is like nylon. It can imitate the look and feel of cotton, silk, wool and linen. Rayon cloth is available in a wide range of colors as it can be dyed easily. It is popular as a fashion fabric and rayon cloth was first used to make apparel, lingerie and socks. Today rayon cloth is used in household products and fashion industry as well.
The three types of rayon cloth are:
- Viscose or Regular Rayon
- HWM/High Wet Modulus Rayon or Modal Rayon
- High Tenacity Rayon
- Cupramonium Rayon
Is viscose/rayon breathable?
Yes, viscose/rayon is breathable. Since this fabric is thin, it allows air to pass through, which prevents the cloth from sticking to the body even when it’s hot. It is also ideal for dry heat and humid climates. Its moisture-absorbing quality is higher than natural fabrics like linen and cotton and synthetic fabrics like acrylic and polyester. When viscose/rayon is worn, body heat is not insulated. It absorbs sweat and keeps you dry for an extended period of time. Even if you sweat, it will dry up quickly. It is popular as an easy-breezy fabric. It is lightweight and cooling and that makes it good for summer season and sportswear.
Is viscose/rayon stretchy or tight?
Whether viscose/rayon is stretchy or tight depends on the type of rayon you choose to wear. For instance, viscose/rayon fabrics that are of high tenacity are stronger than standard rayon and have two-thirds stretchability. Viscose/rayon fabrics of medium tenacity are also stretchable, but they are not as much as regular viscose/rayon. However, if desired, it can be made in such a manner that it is not stretchy. Talking about the yarn, viscose/rayon is not stretchable. It cannot be like nylon, and it will just break if stretched beyond its tensile strength. However, viscose/rayon is exceptionally stretchable, particularly in wet conditions.
So viscose or rayon is naturally not stretchable. It needs to be woven with an extra amount of spandex to make it stretchable. If one decides to knit the rayon yarns, then based on the knit stitch used, the resultant fabric may be extremely stretchable. Viscose/rayon clings to the body, and its texture is tight-fitting unless there is a change in your body shape.
Hopefully, by this time, you have come to know all about viscose fabric!