Will Viscose Shrink If I Wash It?

Viscose, also sometimes called rayon, is a popular choice for many due to its silk-like feel and its affordability. However, some people are hesitant to get viscose clothing, as there’s a rumour that they can be quite difficult to clean, and are prone to shrinkage. But is this rumour even true? 

To keep it short: Yes, viscose can shrink if not handled correctly during the washing and drying process. But this does not mean that you have to avoid it. As long as you use the right methods and avoid too much agitation, you can definitely clean and use your viscose clothing without worry. 

Why Does Viscose Shrink?

The reason why viscose is prone to shrinkage ultimately lies in its unique material. 

Viscose is a type of rayon made from natural fibres that are derived from wood pulp. This makes it breathable and lightweight, which is why it is often used for flowy dresses and blouses. Unfortunately, the traits that make it popular are what also make it delicate.

viscose dress

The natural fibres in viscose are highly absorbent. This means that once viscose comes in contact with water, the natural fibres soak up the excess moisture and expand during the washing process. 

When the fibres dry, they contract, often more than they originally were. This contraction is what leads to noticeable shrinkage, which is why proper care is crucial to maintaining the fabric’s shape and size.

Also, wet fibres are weak, which means they can easily be stretched, and may result in more than just shrinkage. When viscose is handled too roughly and is not dried the right way, it can lead to permanent damage to the fabric. 

How To Wash Viscose To Minimise Shrinkage

The most important thing for keeping your viscose garments looking good as new is gentle handling during the wash cycle. 

Here are some steps you can follow to minimise and even prevent shrinkage:

Read The Care Label

Always start by checking the care label on your viscose clothing. 

These are the little tags attached to your garment by manufacturers that contain specific instructions on how to clean, dry, and store your clothing properly. 

Use Cold Water And Mild Detergent

Viscose is particularly sensitive to temperature and harsh chemicals. 

To avoid causing the fibres to contract, which leads to shrinkage, always use cold water for washing your viscose clothing. 

Additionally, go for a mild detergent that is less likely to degrade the fabric’s delicate fibres.

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Hand Wash For Best Results

Hand washing is the gentlest way to clean viscose, as it significantly reduces the likelihood of shrinkage. After all, using a washing machine can cause too much agitation for the fabric. 

Gently swirl your garments in a solution of cold water and mild detergent, then rinse thoroughly to remove soap residue. This method ensures that the fabric is treated with care throughout the cleaning process.

Choose A Gentle Cycle

If you want to use your machine or if hand washing isn’t an option, choose a gentle cycle on your washer.

Delicate Wash Cycle

This setting uses a slower spin and less agitation, which helps protect the viscose fibres from excessive stretching and pulling that can cause shrinkage.

For added protection, place your viscose items in a mesh bag to lessen friction. 

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Avoid Underloading

Finally, it’s important not to underload your washing machine when cleaning viscose. 

A well-balanced load helps prevent excessive friction and ensures the garment is evenly cleaned and rinsed. Make sure to balance your load with similar fabrics to maintain a gentle wash environment.

SEE ALSO: Is It Bad To Underload Your Washing Machine?

How To Dry Viscose Without Damage

Aside from the washing process, how you dry your viscose is another factor in whether it will shrink or not. 

Here are some tips to maintain your clothing’s shape:

Ditch The Tumble Dryer

The high heat and tumbling action of a dryer is particularly damaging to viscose, often resulting in significant shrinkage. 

If you want to keep your delicate items in great shape, leave the tumble drying for your hardy cotton clothing. 

Dry It Flat

The best way to dry viscose is to lay it flat on a drying rack or clean towel. 

These methods prevent the fabric from stretching out of shape under its own weight, which is particularly risky when the fibres are wet and vulnerable.

Reshape While Damp

Is your viscose shaped weird after washing? If so, gently reshape your viscose garment while it is still damp. 

This method can help prevent shrinkage as it allows you to restore the garment to its original dimensions before the fibres contract as they dry.

Avoid Direct Sunlight

Direct sunlight can not only fade the colours of your viscose garment but can also heat the fabric unevenly during the drying process, potentially causing it to shrink. 

Always dry your viscose items in a cool, shaded area.

Bonus Tips For Caring For Viscose Fabrics

Now that you know the proper washing and drying methods, you can be worry-free when it’s finally laundry day. 

Before we end this article, here are some extra tips to keep your viscose in great shape!

  • Wrinkle Removal
    To remove wrinkles, use a steam iron on a low heat setting, or hang the garment in the bathroom while you take a hot shower to let the steam gently smooth out the creases.
  • Proper Storage
    Store viscose garments in a cool, dry place, and avoid hanging them on hangers, which can cause the fabric to stretch. Instead, fold them neatly and place them in a drawer.
  • Use Cotton Storage Bags
    Storing viscose in a plastic bag can cause it to grow mould or mildew due to its organic material. If you want to keep it safe, store it inside a cotton storage bag. 
  • Spot Cleaning
    For minor stains, spot cleaning with a mild detergent can be effective. Apply a small amount of detergent to the affected area, gently dab with a damp cloth, and rinse thoroughly to remove any soap.
  • Dealing With Shrinkage
    If your viscose garment has already shrunk, there is a chance you can restore it to its original size. Begin by soaking the item in a solution of warm water and baby shampoo or conditioner, which can relax the fibres. After about 30 minutes, gently stretch the garment back to its original size by hand, then lay it flat to air dry.
  • Handling Pilling
    Viscose can also be prone to pilling when rubbed against other materials. To manage pilling, use a fabric comb or a battery-operated pill remover to gently remove the pills. This will help maintain the smooth texture of the fabric.
  • Professional Cleaning
    For tough stains or overall maintenance, sometimes the safest option is to seek professional cleaning, especially for expensive viscose garments. 

And there you have it! Remember, the key to extending the lifespan of your viscose garment lies in gentle handling and proper washing and drying practices. 

With careful methods, your viscose clothing will be yours to use for many years to come. 

Do you have questions? Feel free to leave a comment below!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the pros of viscose fabric?

The pros of viscose fabric include its silk-like feel, breathability, and lightweight nature, making it ideal for flowy dresses and blouses. Additionally, its affordability makes it a popular choice for those seeking a luxurious feel without the high price tag.

How do you wash viscose without shrinking it?

To wash viscose without shrinking it, use cold water and a mild detergent, hand wash gently or select a gentle cycle on your washing machine, and place the garment in a mesh bag for added protection. Avoid overloading and underloading the machine to ensure a balanced wash.

How do you fix shrunken viscose clothing after washing?

To fix shrunken viscose clothing after washing, soak the garment in a solution of warm water and baby shampoo or conditioner for about 30 minutes. Then, gently stretch the garment back to its original size by hand and lay it flat to air dry.

Can you iron a viscose fabric?

Yes, you can iron a viscose fabric. Use a steam iron on a low heat setting, or hang the garment in the bathroom while you take a hot shower to let the steam help smooth out the creases.

What detergent should you use on viscose?

You should use a mild detergent on viscose to prevent damaging the delicate fibres. Look for detergents that are specifically designed for delicate fabrics to ensure gentle cleaning.

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