how do you wash viscose

How Do You Wash Viscose So It Doesn’t Shrink?

Viscose, a type of rayon, is a semi-synthetic fiber that in some cases can include wood pulp. It’s known for its silky feel and luxurious drape, making it a popular choice for dresses, blouses, and linens. This is because viscose materials can be good at mimmicking natural fibers such as wool, silk, linen or cotton. However, it is equally notorious for its tendency to shrink if not cared for properly. The absorbent nature of viscose makes it susceptible to water, and if not handled with care, can result in a garment that’s a size or two smaller than when you first bought it.

To maintain its size and shape, hand wash with cold water and mild detergent, use a machine’s delicate cycle with protective measures, or opt for professional dry cleaning. Always air dry and avoid direct heat or sunlight.

All these methods to wash viscose so it doesn’t shrink are now dealt with in full detail below.

Hand Washing Viscose (Rayon)

Hand washing is often seen as a gentle way to care for delicate fabrics such as viscose. This method ensures the fabric remains in good shape without risking shrinkage.

  1. Prepare the Basin: Fill a basin or tub with cold water. Hot water can cause the viscose to shrink.
  2. Choose a Mild Detergent: Add a small amount of gentle detergent to the water and mix until it’s dissolved.
  3. Submerge the Garment: Place your viscose item into the water, ensuring it’s fully covered.
  4. Gently Agitate: Use your hands to move the garment around in the water to help remove any dirt or stains.
  5. Soak for 10-15 Minutes: Let the garment sit in the soapy water to ensure any dirt is loosened.
  6. Rinse Thoroughly: Empty the basin and refill with clean, cold water. Rinse the garment multiple times until all detergent is removed.
  7. Press Out Excess Water: Without wringing, press the garment between your hands or against the side of the basin to remove excess water.
  8. Lay Flat to Dry: Spread out a clean towel and lay the garment flat on top. This helps maintain its shape while drying. Avoid direct sunlight, which can fade the fabric.
  9. Flip Occasionally: Turn the garment over every hour or so to ensure even drying.
  10. Store Properly: Once dried, store the garment in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight to maintain its color and shape.

Machine Washing Viscose (Rayon) on Delicate Cycle

Machine washing viscose can be a time-saving alternative to hand washing, especially for those with busy schedules. When washing viscose in a machine, selecting the right settings and precautions can make all the difference.

  1. Prepare the Garment: Check for any stains or spots and treat them with a gentle stain remover before washing.
  2. Use a Mesh Laundry Bag: This protective bag prevents the viscose from getting tangled or stretched during the wash.
  3. Set the Machine: Opt for the delicate or hand wash cycle and ensure the water temperature is set to cold.
  4. Measure Detergent: Use only the recommended amount of a mild detergent to avoid residue.
  5. Avoid Overloading: Load the washing machine only halfway to prevent excessive agitation which can harm the viscose.
  6. Start the Wash: Begin the washing cycle and let the machine work its magic.
  7. Skip the Spin: If possible, avoid the spin cycle or set it to the lowest spin setting to prevent excessive stretching.
  8. Remove Promptly: Once the cycle is complete, promptly take out the garment to reduce the chance of wrinkles setting in.
  9. Air Dry: Spread the garment on a flat surface away from direct heat or sunlight. A drying rack can also be used.
  10. Avoid Storing Damp: Ensure the viscose is completely dry before folding or hanging to prevent mildew or unwanted odors.

Dry Cleaning Viscose (Rayon)

Dry cleaning provides a professional touch when it comes to maintaining the quality and longevity of viscose garments. This method is especially beneficial for items with intricate designs, embellishments, or those that are labeled “dry clean only.”

  1. Inspect the Garment: Before taking it to the dry cleaners, check for any specific stains or areas of concern. Make a note to inform the cleaner.
  2. Choose a Trusted Cleaner: Opt for a cleaner known for handling delicate fabrics or one you’ve had positive experiences with in the past.
  3. Convey Fabric Details: Inform the cleaner about the material of your garment, emphasizing its viscose content.
  4. Ask About Chemicals: Ensure the cleaner uses chemicals that are gentle on viscose. Some chemicals can be too harsh and damage the fabric.
  5. Request a Gentle Cycle: Some dry cleaners offer various cleaning intensities. Opting for a gentle cycle can help maintain the fabric’s integrity.
  6. Inquire About Drying: Discuss the drying procedure with the cleaner. Air drying is often the best for viscose, but it’s good to know their process.
  7. Collect Promptly: Once you receive a notification that your garment is ready, pick it up as soon as possible to avoid any potential damage from prolonged storage.
  8. Examine Post-Cleaning: After collecting, inspect your garment for any missed stains or potential damage.
  9. Air Out the Garment: Before storing, let the garment breathe for a few hours to ensure any residual chemicals evaporate.
  10. Store with Care: Use padded hangers for tops or dresses and avoid cramming the garment in a packed closet. This ensures the fabric remains wrinkle-free and retains its shape.


Why does viscose shrink when washed?

Viscose’s composition makes it highly absorbent. When it soaks up water, the fibers tend to expand and then contract as they dry, leading to potential shrinkage. Since viscose isn’t as elastic as some other fabrics, it doesn’t always return to its original shape after this expansion and contraction. Proper care and gentle handling can mitigate these changes and help maintain the garment’s size and shape.

Can you wash viscose with other fabrics?

It’s recommended to separate viscose from heavier fabrics that might agitate it during the washing process. Mixing viscose with rough fabrics might cause it to pill, snag, or stretch out of shape. It’s always a good idea to wash it with other delicate items or even on its own to ensure it gets the gentle treatment it requires.

Should you use a special detergent for viscose?

Opting for a detergent specifically designed for delicates can be beneficial for viscose. These detergents are often gentler and free from harsh chemicals that might weaken the viscose fibers over time. It’s also wise to avoid bleach or any other strong cleaning agents that can deteriorate the fabric’s quality.

Can you iron viscose after washing it?

Ironing viscose is possible, but care should be taken. Using a steam setting or a damp cloth between the iron and the garment can help prevent direct heat exposure. Always test a small, inconspicuous area before ironing the entire garment. Remember to set the iron to a low heat setting and move quickly to avoid leaving marks or damaging the fabric.

Can viscose withstand dry cleaning?

While many viscose garments can be safely dry cleaned, it’s essential to read the care label on each specific item. Some viscose items might have embellishments or specific dyes that don’t react well to dry cleaning chemicals. When in doubt, consult with your dry cleaner about the best cleaning methods for your particular piece.


Viscose is a delicate fabric that requires specific care to prevent shrinking. Whether you choose to hand wash, machine wash on a delicate cycle, or opt for dry cleaning, always treat the garment with care. By following these methods, you can ensure your viscose garments remain in pristine condition for years to come.