With its soft, silky feel and attractive drape, viscose, or rayon is an ideal fabric for everything from dresses to shirts to jackets. Viscose clothing looks attractive, but does require special care if you want to maintain its appearance. The chemicals used in the process of manufacturing man-made viscose leave the fabric fairly delicate, so you can't just toss it in the washer with a regular load of laundry. If you care for your viscose pieces properly, they can stay looking like new for quite a while.
Read the Label
Not all viscose materials are created equal. Some can be washed in the washing machine without problem, while others require hand washing. More delicate types of viscose must be dry cleaned only, and are subject to shrinking, fading, bleeding and other damage if you wash them in your washer. Read the care labels on your rayon clothes, and follow the instructions carefully. Keep in mind that dry cleaning may be the best option -- even if an item's label says you can hand or machine wash -- if you are particularly fond of it and want to maintain its appearance.
Wash with Care
If your viscose item is machine washable, turning it inside out before washing can help prevent fading and bleeding. You should still wash dark or bright colors and printed items in a separate load to be safe. To protect the fabric, don’t wash your viscose items in a full load. Leave the tub only half to two-thirds full instead. Use a detergent designed for delicate fabrics, and don't use formulas that contain bleach. Choose the gentle cycle on your washer, and wash with cold water to prevent shrinkage and other damage. When hand washing, use cold water and a gentle detergent. Be sure to rinse items with cold water to completely remove dirt and detergent residue.
Tumble drying viscose clothing can weaken the fabric’s fibers and wear it out sooner. To avoid shrinkage and other damage, it’s best to air dry viscose items. Shake out freshly washed pieces to remove excess water, and place them on plastic hangers. You may need to pull on the clothing slightly to get it back into proper shape. If you hang your items outside to dry, find a shady spot -- prolonged exposure to sunlight can weaken and yellow viscose fibers.
Smooth Away Wrinkles
Viscose materials are prone to wrinkles, and air drying them doesn’t help smooth the fabric out. You can iron rayon, but use a low setting. Iron your viscose items while they're still damp. If you need to iron pieces that aren’t freshly washed, moisten them with a spray bottle. Turn the clothing inside out and set your iron to the lowest heat setting. The iron should be dry unless the care label indicates otherwise. To protect the viscose material, place a cloth between the iron and the clothing. It will keep the fibers from getting too hot so the viscose doesn’t get shiny.