Rugs are made from a variety of natural and synthetic fibers. Viscose, also known as rayon, has become an increasingly popular synthetic fiber, mainly due to its low cost and ability to mimic the appearance of expensive fibers, such as silk. However, this low cost comes at the price of durability.
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In comparison to wool and silk—traditional fibers used for rugs—rayon is considerably weaker. Wool fibers can bend up to 10,000 times before breaking, silk 2,000 times, and rayon a mere 70. While this is not a concern for items such as tablecloths and drapes, rugs undergo heavy stress daily, especially in entries, hallways and living rooms.
Rugs, especially those in heavy-traffic areas, require regular cleaning. Rayon’s tendency to break can leave the rug's appearance altered after washing. Spot treating may result in discolored patches, or patches that differ in texture. If washing or spot treating a rayon rug, pat dry—never scrub. Leaving the rug to dry in the sun will not alter the appearance. However, it is best to have a professional clean a rayon rug.
Though rayon is easy for manufacturers to dye, taking on bright colors and vivid prints, it is also known to run. This is a concern for rugs in entries, kitchens, bathrooms, or any other area exposed to water. This lack of colorfastness also makes non-professional cleaning a risky endeavor.