There is no doubt that viscose is a beautiful substitute for silk. However, if you own a few of its garments, there is a chance you are also aware of its woes.
I happen to have had all sorts of experiences with this delicate fabric. I have bought clothes that served me substantially and others that shrunk significantly after the first wash. As an avid reader, I also come across many people that share similar experiences.
Accordingly, it is important to delve into this subject and understand the causes of shrinkage and how to care for the fabric safely to avoid the same.
Also read: How to shrink clothes
What is Viscose?
Viscose is a type of rayon that is generated from cellulose derived from wood, bamboo and cotton among other raw materials. Therefore, it is unlike synthetic manmade fibres such as polyester, nylon and spandex in many ways. It falls somewhere in between natural and synthetic compositions.
In terms of properties, it has a soft and lustrous texture that contributes to its wide use in summer clothes. In addition, it has good resistance to ironing temperatures.
White viscose can easily get stained but it is possible to treat the discoloration with mild bleach.
Other likeable qualities of the fibre include good color retention, moisture absorbent properties, lightness, breathability, drapability, and versatility.
On the downside, viscose swells after coming into contact with water and shrinks after drying up. Depending on the quality and some other factors, the fabric can continue to weaken and shrink after every wash.
Important note: Some high quality viscose garments may fail to shrink because of how the material is pre-made. Furthermore, the shrinkage might be barely noticeable if the fabric is mixed with some other shrinkage-resistant materials.
How to Wash Viscose Safely
Ideally, the most recommended method for washing viscose is dry cleaning. Unlike hand or machine washing, dry cleaners use solvents that are more-friendly to shrinkage-prone fabric compared to water.
The main limitation of this method is that it is not excellent at removing sweat stains from this material.
Washing Viscose at Home
If you choose to wash viscose garments at home, the safest method is hand washing. In most cases, machine washing does more harm than good even when the correct measures are followed. It is also important that you avoid the dryer. It will make your garment shrink unevenly.
Step 1: Read Instructions
Each garment comes with a tag that provides washing instructions. Read the tag before you embark on any of the steps that we recommend below.
Step 2: Pretreat Stains
Inspect your garment to identify stained areas. Rub a mild stain remover or detergent on the garment and wait for some few minutes so that the solution can be absorbed. If the stains are resistant, scrub gently with a toothbrush.
Step 3: Presoak
Combine cold water and a mild detergent in a wash basin or bathtub. Use your hands to cycle so that the detergent can form sudsy. Submerge your garment(s) and let soak for at least 15 minutes. Gently clean with your hands and drain the water.
Step 4: Rinse and Hang
Add clean cold water and rinse the garment to remove all the soap. Drain the water and hang on a clothesline or drying rack. If sun-drying, turn the garment(s) inside out to preserve the colors.
Step 5: Ironing
Once the garment(s) is completely dry, iron with the right temperature settings to restore it to the original shape.
Frequently asked Questions
Does viscose fabric shrink in the dryer?
Yes! For some reason the tumbling action of the dryer and the heat causes viscose to shrink. It is much safer to air-dry viscose on a clothesline or drying rack.
Does Viscose shrink or stretch?
Viscose garments will stay the same under ordinary conditions. However, when it comes into contact with water there is a likelihood of shrinking. The situation gets worse if the water is warm or hot. Wash viscose in cold water to prevent or minimize shrinkage.
Can you reverse viscose shrinkage?
Ironing should help with improving the condition of a viscose garment that has shrunk. However, sometimes it might be impossible to achieve complete reversal.
Can you wash 100% viscose?
You can wash 100% viscose in cold water but it is important to look at the label and follow the given instructions.
Does water stain Viscose?
Clean water does not stain viscose. However, it is important to avoid hot or warm water because it can cause color bleeding and shrinkage.