To properly care for viscose, first understand that viscose is a type of rayon. Although many rayons CAN be washed, viscose has been known to shrink to extreme proportions. Viscose washing shrink happens. Unless the garment is specifically marked washable - DO NOT wash it. Viscose is not machine washable unless marked otherwise. We also find that rayon and viscose are often not labeled properly and do not recommend the risk as the shrinkage, elongation, distortion, or puckering is not reversible.
Viscose is a semi-synthetic fabric that is made from regenerated cellulose and is known for its smooth, silk-like texture. Viscose dyes well and has a lustrous finish. Wondering how to wash viscose? You’re not alone. Viscose clothing care isn’t always straightforward.
What is the proper viscose fabric care regimen? Can viscose be washed? Viscose has a very high shrinkage factor. Unless your viscose item is clearly labeled as washable, with viscose washing instructions you shouldn’t attempt machine or hand washing it. At The Laundress, we often get the question, “can I hand wash rayon that says dry clean only?” The answer is no. Dry clean only, in this case, means dry clean only.
Can you hand wash viscose? Yes, and no.
Often viscose items are mislabeled or partially labeled with care instructions. If you’re not sure about an item, it’s best to play it safe and dry clean - otherwise, you might risk irreversible fabric damage. While our philosophy is centered around washing your fabrics, and dry cleaning at home to help reduce your dry cleaning bills, in some cases, it’s best to leave your beloved little black dress or heirloom scarf in the hands of an experienced professional dry cleaner.
Washing viscose: Viscose can wrinkle, so if your viscose item is wrinkled, but not dirty, you should consider steaming. You can steam dry clean only clothes, and steaming is a great way to kill odor-causing bacteria and can help save money by skipping the dry cleaners. Does something smell off? Get that “clean laundry smell” between cleanings by spritzing your viscose items with Delicate Spray.
Example: Our often-cited “Why not to wash viscose” example is the classic black matte jersey wrap dress by Diane Von Furstenberg. It shrinks to half its size!
Polyamide is often blended with viscose or rayon. We don’t recommend washing items that contain polyamide since this fabric can expand when laundered. Gwen once washed her favorite pants that were made of a polyamide blend, and they grew to twice their size!
Example: Women’s blazers and suit pants (often from Italian brands)