What Is Rayon? A Quick Guide

What Is Rayon?

Rayon is a synthetic, cellulosic fiber that is widely used in everything from bed sheets to clothing to tire cords. Since rayon is made of natural substances (like bamboo and beech trees) It is subjected to intense chemical processing, which makes it a man-made fiber.


Let’s first define our terms. When you look through fabric labels, you might be wondering, ” What material is viscose rayon?”

It’s as simple as that the formula is simple: viscose = rayon and viscose is the same as rayon.

While they’re both the same, and both are viscose fabric and rayon are employed interchangeably, you’re much more likely to notice “viscose” on the label of expensive clothing as well as when you shop in Europe.

Rayon (also known as viscose) fabric can be found in a variety of clothes including silk.

In actual fact it was initially referred to in the form of “artificial silk”.

Origin and the past?

In the 1850s during the 1860s, during the 1850s the French textile industry suffering due to a disease that affected the silkworm. Louis Pasteur and Count Hilaire de Chardonnet were studying the issue with the intention of helping save the industry. At this point that Chardonnet was interested in finding the method of making artificial silk . In 1885, he developed the first method that was successful to create fibre using cellulose.

Over the next 40 years the material was referred to as artificial silk or imitation silk. In 1925, it was developed into an industry of its own and was called rayon by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The term was used to describe any artificial fiber made of cellulose.

In 1952 in 1952, the FTC classified rayon into two types that comprised of cellulose pure (rayon) in addition to those comprised of a cellulose-based combination (acetate). In the 1950s, the majority of the rayon made was used in household and industrial products rather than for clothing. This was due to the fact that regular rayon (also known as viscose) fibers were thin compared to other fibers used in clothing.

In 1955, manufacturers began to produce a new type of rayon–high-wet-modulus (HWM) rayon–which was stronger and could be used to make sheets, towels, and apparel. The development of HWM rayon is regarded as the most significant development in the rayon industry since its inception during the 1880s. It is now one of the most popular fabric types and is manufactured globally.

Rayon Fabric Features

Rayon fabric is among the important fabric types that we encounter in different areas of use with its many different features. Its main features are:

1 – It has a durable structure.

2 – It is comfortable to use.

3 – It is a light fabric type.

4 – It adapts to the skin with its slippery structure.

5 – It is a soft fabric.

6 – It has a shiny appearance.

What is Rayon made of?

The main substance in rayon comes from the plant fiber, or cellulose. Every plant has cellulose and you can create rayon from a range of plant material. It is a most popular material made from a variety of trees. Spruce, hemlockand beechwood and bamboo are the most popular alternatives for rayon.

Wood chippings, bark of trees and various plant matter, are also a common supply of rayon-based cellulose. The availability of these by-products help keep the price of rayon low.

The cotton linter is a different rayon product. All of the parts of the plant that remain after the processing of cotton in order to make cotton products may be termed linter. These cellulose bits are a best source of rayon.

The chemical process that transforms this plant substance into fabric does not alter the content of fiber. At the cellular level rayon remains plant cellulose. The process changes how the substance and makes it more usable, but it’s still plant pulp.

What Does Rayon Feel Like?

Rayon is a soft fabric often silky, with a smooth texture that is similar like cotton as well as linen. The silky fabric is also characterized by a flowing drape that is, it stretches and hangs instead of being stiff and retaining its shape.

Types of Rayon Fabric

There are three kinds of rayon: viscose Lyocell, and Modal. The most significant differences among them is the source of the material they are made from and the chemicals that are used by the manufacturers for breaking down the cellulose and shape the cellulose.

Viscose was the first and most widely used method of production of rayon within the United States. It first came into England in 1894 and was widely used in America in 1910. In the end, the word viscose was changed to rayon within the U.S., but the manufacturing process remained the same.

Viscose is one of the weakest types of rayon, particularly when it’s wet. It loses its shape and elasticity more quickly than other rayon fabrics therefore it’s usually a dry-clean only fabric.

Lyocell results from a more recent production method for rayon. It was first introduced with the United States in 1972. It’s not as popular as viscose as it’s more expensive than viscose. It employs a similar method to dissolve cellulose before reshaping it into fiber. However, it doesn’t use carbon disulfide.

The lyocell method is more sustainable than the viscose method. But, since it’s more costly and more expensive, the viscose process is the most popular.

Modal is the third kind of rayon. Modal is by far the most costly type of rayon. Modal is produced using the viscose method, however, the filaments are less dense than other rayons, making the final fabric soft and expensive. The method was developed in the 1950s of Japan.

The other thing that makes Modal stand out is the fact that it is the only source of beech wood to produce cellulose. Beech trees do not require more water than other species, and so the use of beech trees for pulp is much more sustainable than other sources.

Does Rayon Shrink In the Dryer or When Washed?

Rayon is a lightweight and soft fabric that is extremely easy to put on. The fabric is a beautiful and luxurious fabric and is a preferred option for a variety of clothes. When a fabric is put to use it is essential to know what happens to the fabric after it has been cleaned and dried. Many people are unsure whether rayon shrinks when it is placed when it is washed or dried.

Rayon is semi-synthetic fabric that is, it is composed of natural fibers, but altered through manufacturing so that it has certain properties. Because of its natural fibers rayon can be prone to shrinking when exposed to certain conditions.

Prior to laundering rayon, it is important to be aware of the factors that cause rayon to shrink , so that you are able to avoid shrinking if you need to. We’ll talk about the factors that cause that rayon shrinks, the best way you can wash it in order to prevent shrinking, and what you should do when your rayon fabric is shrinking.

Does Rayon Shrink In Hot Water?

Because rayon is more delicate when wet, it’s important to be attentive to how hot the water is used to wash it. Rayon will shrink when you use hot water as it causes the fibers to expand which shrinks the fabric in the process.

Rayon is more likely be shrinking when temperature of the water is higher than 85 degrees. However, even water that is warm can make rayon fabric to shrink. Temperatures of hot water can be not a problem when washing by hand. If you opt to wash it using a machine, cold or cool water is recommended.

How To Wash Rayon So It Doesn’t Shrink?

The most recommended method of washing rayon is to wash it by hand it with a hand wash. But, there are times when hand washing is not practical or you have lots of fabric to wash. If that’s the situation, you are able to wash your rayon using a machine, provided that you are taking certain precautions to avoid shrinking.

If you are washing rayon in the machine Follow these steps when washing rayon:

  • Rinse it on its own or along with other products made from rayon
  • Use gentle detergent
  • The machine should be set to the most delicate setting.
  • Wash your hands with cold or cool water.

How to Hand Wash Rayon

Hand washing rayon is preferred because of its delicate fabric. If you wash it by hand rayon, you need be cautious when working with the fabric to avoid shrinking and damage. Here are the steps to follow to hand wash rayon:

  1. Then, fill your sink by putting in cool, clean water.
  2. Make sure to add a soap designed for delicate products into the water. Two capfuls of detergent is enough.
  3. Put the fabric within the water, but be careful not to roll it up.
  4. The soap should be evenly distributed by making use of your fingers to mix it with the water.
  5. Allow the fabric submerged for approximately 30 minutes.
  6. In the next 30 mins, wash the soap off of the fabric by allowing the water to flow through it. Do not attempt to squeeze the soap off or you risk damaging the fabric.
  7. After rinsing, lay your fabric in a flat, dry, clean towel and squeeze as the liquid as possible get out of it. Do not attempt to squeeze out any excess water.
  8. Lay it flat on the floor or hang it to dry it out.

Rayon Vs Cotton Comparison


Fabric rayon refers to a type of fiber composed of the cellulose fiber. It is regarded as semi-synthetic and comes in numerous grades that differentiate it from rayon vs. cotton. Rayon can be used to replicate the texture and feel of wool, silk, cotton and even linen. The grade is that is so fine it’s called artificial silk.

More About Rayon

Rayon has become a standard due to the fact that the cost of cotton has risen dramatically. While it’s a semi-synthetic material It is believed to possess all the characteristics that natural fibers have. It is able to be dyed in a variety of colors. It’s smooth, cool and able to absorb sweat and water. It is considered to be a non-insulating fabric as it doesn’t hold heat and is suitable for climates with high humidity.
The disadvantage of rayon is that a majority of garments must be dry-cleaned because washing it in hot water could damage the fibers. Certain items can be washed by hand in cold water, but be sure to refer to the label for specific instructions. Rayon can also melt easily and can ignite, and cannot be ironed unless using an iron that is cool.


Cotton is produced by the plant. In reality, it is can be described as a natural fabric constructed from seed pods. It is pure cellulose in its composition. The usage of cotton has been used since before the written record.

More About Cotton

If you look at the comparison between rayon and cotton and cotton, you’ll find that cotton is utilized in a variety of the same items as rayon. It is frequently blended with other fibers in order to gain the most benefit. It is true that cotton is by far the most utilized fiber and fabric utilized in clothes. Be aware that cotton is prone to stretch and shrink when washed if it is not treated in a proper manner. The strength that is wet of cotton is crucial because the fibers are stronger when they’re wet. This is the reason the reason cotton is utilized in the medical industry to make dressings for wounds and also for in the absorption process of liquids.
While cotton can be costly (especially the finest, hand-picked variety) however, they perform well in sheets for bed and bedding linens. It is very air-tight fabric and also has anti-microbial qualities as in addition to hypoallergenic and anti-viral properties.

Is Rayon Breathable Fabric?

There are likely times when you’re in the fabric shop, looking at aisles of tempting fabrics. When you’ve had the experience of having to select an fabric to make a sewing project, you’re conscious of how difficult it is to narrow down possible options and choose the appropriate fabric for the project you’re planning to sew. If you’re wondering whether the specific rayon fabric is suitable for your next sewing project this summer You might ask your self “is rayon breathable fabric?”

Rayon is a fiber that breathes. Rayon fabrics that are intended to be used in clothing are generally air-tight, however it is not guaranteed that each completed rayon fabric will exhibit this quality. This is due to different factors other than fibre content that impact the fabric’s breathability.

This article will look at some of the elements that transform rayon into an breathable final fabric. We’ll also go over certain aspects that may affect the fabric’s breathability. Once you’ve read this article, you’ll be equipped with an the knowledge to assess rayon fabric and clothing to determine if they meet your requirements in terms of breathability.

Is Rayon Good for Summer?

Rayon is a top choice in the list of fabrics that are breathable that remain cool during the scorching heat. Clothing fabric manufacturers usually make their rayon fabric to be breathable and comfortable in summer. The majority of the lightweight woven rayon fabrics that are sold in fabric stores can be used to sew summer clothes.

Does Rayon Make You Sweat?

Rayon fibers do not have excellent heat insulation properties. Since rayon isn’t able to insulate effectively it will not cause you to sweat while wearing it. If it’s designed with breathing in mind, it can be among the most breathable fabrics to wear in hot temperatures.

Can You Wear Rayon in the Winter?

When you need your clothes to help insulate your body’s heat, rayon clothes will not be the most suitable option. If the temperature is frigid, you’ll want to select a more warm fiber over rayon to keep warm. A majority of rayon clothing is not suitable to wear in cold weather during winter months. A good example of this is rayon sundresses that are not suitable for winter wear.

There are a few situations however, when it’s appropriate to wear rayon clothes in the winter months. Rayon T-shirts and turtlenecks with long sleeves are great pieces to layer to layer under winter jackets. It is possible to pick wool suits which has an earring made of rayon wear for work during winter. You can also find gorgeously warm and lovely sweaters made of rayon yarn. Particularly rayon chenille knit sweaters are ideal to wear during winter in all climates.

In addition, certain clothing makers use rayon to create winter clothing. It is possible to weave or knit luxurious, heavy winter scarves made of rayon yarn made of chenille. Rayon jackets, coats caps, and vests are also well-loved winter clothes. These are generally intended to be worn in areas where winter weather can be cold but temperatures don’t drop below the freezing point.

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