What Is Rayon? How To Use It Right?

More Details About This Wonderful Fabric

Written by Camilla Moln. Updated on More Details About This Wonderful Fabric

Rayon can be called a true miracle – all because of its fascinating ability to shapeshift, both literally and in terms of imitation of the other fabrics’ characteristics.

And since this material can be rather challenging for a common user to maintain, below we will provide the basic information that will be 100% handy for everyone.

What Is Rayon? How It Is Manufactured

To begin with, rayon is not that simple thing even when it comes to defining its origin. Being produced from the purified fibers of cellulose that are originally derived from wood pulp, rayon, however, needs certain chemicals to receive the material from those fibers. 

Because of that, rayon eco-friendliness is often questioned even though some kinds of it are quite nature-safe and sustainable.

For this reason, it can not be called a completely natural material, and that is also why rayon is considered to be a semi-artificial fabric.

Being very versatile, this material includes several variations, for instance, viscose rayon that reminds cotton very much, then it’s modal rayon that is received from the beech trees, and finally, lyocell.

All of those materials are used for making clothing of all types and for any purpose, from daily use to sportswear.

Characteristics Area of Use
Viscose rayon soft and smooth, breathable, highly absorbent, lightweight, doesn’t keep the body heat dresses, linens, shirts, outerwear, upholstery, carpets, disposable wipes, etc.
Modal soft, creasing-resistant, smooth, absorbent and breathable, cool to the skin clothing and household items e.g. pajamas,  towels, bedsheets, etc.
Lyocell soft, absorbent, very strong both wet and dry, wrinkles-resistant. Ok with dry-cleaning and machine wash casual clothing, towels, underwear.
Cuprammonium rayon fine fibers, soft, lightweight, burns quickly lightweight clothing e.g. dresses or blouses
High tenacity rayon a very high tensile strength tire cords, reinforcing fabrics

Related: Does Rayon Shrink?

Material’s Specifics

Since rayon can mimic many other fabrics, it has universal characteristics. The material

 is soft and smooth, it doesn’t tend to trap the body heat which makes this fabric always cool on the skin. Moreover, rayon is easy to dye since its half-natural origin makes it the same color perceptive. Besides, it is breathable and not heavy at all which (in addition to the pleasant feeling it leaves on the skin and the fabric’s nice appearance) make rayon one of our favorites.

Nevertheless, certain specifics exist and they need to be remembered. For instance, rayon tends to shrink . The material is very predisposed to heat which makes it troublesome to launder rayon, besides, it is badly resistant to water and humidity, that is why on humid days rayon items can get a bit oversized.

However, dealing with these nuances is pretty simple and doesn’t take much effort.

To better understand what are the pros and cons of this fiber, check this chart out.

Pros Cons


Doesn’t trap body heat

Pleasant to the skin

Looks good and expensive

Easily blends with other fabrics

Easy to dye





Deforms when wet

Not that strong

Can be damaged by ironing

Needs to be dry-cleaned or manually laundered 

Tumble-drying is forbidden

Can’t stand the heat
What Is Rayon How It Is Manufactured
Photo by Aditya Wardhana

Maintenance Nuances

This material is rather sensitive to heat and moisture, that is why proper care is a must.

The best option is to dry-clean rayon items, but for the daily clothing, handwash can be ok, too. Only keep in mind that the water must be warm, and the optimal laundering product is soap or heavy-duty detergent.

  • Never wring or twist rayon to avoid deformation
  • Don’t rub when laundering. For deleting stains, better take the item to the dry cleaner’s
  • Iron when items are still a bit wet
  • Flat dry rayon apparel, but never tumble-dry

Like that, you will keep the garments longer.

So, like any synthetic material, rayon has its benefits and nuances. However, the number of positive features is way more than of negative ones, besides, rayon is only half-artificial, so this material can be quite a good substitute for the fully synthetic fibers.

What is Viscose Fabric?What is Viscose Fabric?

How to Launder Rayon?

When washing pieces of clothing made of rayon, you need to be very careful! See, this fabric is often made with the use of additional fibers, often cotton or polyester, which is why garments made of rayon may have quite distinct care instructions.

So always check the care tags prior to tossing your rayon clothes into the barrel of the washing machine. Yes, the texture and versatility of rayon make this material quite a good pick for most of the garments, but you need to keep in mind that rayon is not much durable material!

Even an ordinary machine wash may leave your rayon garments shrunk, stretched, or make them bleed. This is why the ideal option is to hand-wash rayon clothes and launder them with items of similar colors. But still, check the care tag anyway!

how to wash rayon

What Is Rayon’s Origin And History?

Like most inventions, rayon owes its “birth” to the problem. In the 1860s, the silk industry in France was about to collapse because of the disease that affected the silkworm. Two greatest scientists of that time, Louis Pasteur and Count Hilaire de Chardonnet, were trying to find a solution and save the situation.

This is when Chardonnet became interested in producing artificial silk, and in 1885 he patented the successful method of making fibers from cellulose. For the next decades, this fabric was known as artificial silk, and by 1925, it all grew into the rayon-making industry.

Later, rayon was divided into two types. One of them was the material that was made completely of pure cellulose and it was called rayon. Another one contained cellulose compounds. However, for quite a long time this fabric was mostly used for home and industrial furnishing since it was considered too weak as for the fabric that could be used for sewing garments.

But after high-wet-modulus rayon was invented in 1955, this material began to be used for making towels, shirts, and other clothes. And today it remains one of the most widespread materials that is manufactured worldwide.

What Is Rayon’s Origin And History
Credits: Dmitri Kalvan, via Canva.com

How Is Rayon Made?

So how is rayon manufactured? First of all, this type of fiber is made of cotton linters and cellulose that is received from wood pulp (mostly from spruce, pine, and hemlock trees). Viscose rayon is the most widespread type of this fabric. It can be blended with either man-made or natural fibers to be later made into fabrics that have distinct texture and weight.

Regardless of the type, a raw material for making rayon must always be processed so that the cellulose could be extracted and purified. Afterward, those pure white sheets of cellulose are treated with caustic soda and go through a spinneret to get regenerated filaments.

Those are spun into yarns and later made into the desired material. Also, once these fibers are successfully cured, they can be treated with post-procession chemicals and go through various weaving procedures to manufacture the fabric.

Another type of rayon known as high-wet-modulus (HWM) rayon is much stronger in comparison to a common sort of material. It is quite similar to cotton and it is quite easy to maintain. For instance, fabrics that contain such a material can be safely washed in laundry machines. On the contrary, pure rayon can only be dry-cleaned.

How Is Rayon Made
Credits: BigWest, via Canva.com

What Is Rayon Used For?

The most common area of use for this type of fabric is to make all sorts of clothing and home-ware, for instance, sheets, blankets, curtains, etc. Rayon can also be used for making tire cords and different surgical products.

What Are the Advantages Of Rayon?

Like any fabric, rayon has its benefits and weak points. As for the beneficial traits of this material, we can name such advantages as:

  • Low price
  • Expensive and luxurious appearance
  • Have a silk-like feel
  • Drapes very well
  • Breathable
  • Easy to blend with other fibers
  • It is easy to dye

Because of these reasons, rayon has become so popular nowadays in all the countries in the world.

What Are the Disadvantages Of Rayon?

However, there are also certain disadvantages that rayon has which you should be aware of.

  • It’s not a strong fabric
  • It gets weaker if exposed to moisture or light
  • Pure rayon must be dry-cleaned only to avoid shrinking
  • Prone to damage when being ironed

And even these weaknesses are not that severe, quite many people prefer using natural fabrics instead of rayon since those are easier to maintain.

What is rayon. pros and cons

How Do I Print On Rayon?

There is one more feature of rayon that quite few people know about. You can easily print on this fabric! This is an ideal solution in case you want to turn your rayon piece of clothing into a custom masterpiece that no one else has.

With Contrado, it is even simpler to achieve! All you need to do is to pick an image (it can be a photo, a piece of art, or anything else), and upload it to the user-friendly design interface. After that, you can create an ideal fabric for any creative project of yours!

How Do I Print On Rayon
Credits: schmez, via Canva.com


Rayon is quite a versatile type of material that can be used for many different purposes. It is easy to use and care for, and it is cheaper than many natural fabrics which makes it an affordable alternative to silk and even cotton.

However, even rayon has its weak sides. It requires quite a delicate care and treatment, and besides, this type of fiber can hardly be called strong or durable. So if you are looking for something that will stand rain and sun, better opt for natural fabrics.

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐ Is rayon a polyester?

No, these two are different fabrics since polyester is made of processed petroleum, and rayon is half-natural.

⭐ Does rayon make you sweat?

No, the fabric is very breathable, besides, it doesn’t trap our bodies’ heat.

⭐ Is rayon better than cotton?

It’s more absorbent than cotton, but it’s the only thing that makes rayon better since it is weaker than cotton and less resistant to moisture and heat.

⭐ Why is the use of rayon becoming popular?

The fabric mimics different fibers and it’s cheap which, for instance, allows producing silk-like clothing that costs less than the real ones. Besides, the fabric is more versatile.

⭐ Is 100% rayon stretchy?

The fibers themselves do not stretch, but they can deform under the impact of moisture.

⭐ How do you wash rayon?

It must be washed manually or dry-cleaned.

⭐ How long does it take Rayon to decompose?

Depending on whether it’s pure or blended, decomposition can take from 20 to 200 years.

Written by
Camilla is an experienced Consultant with more than 20 years of preparing professional articles for numerous online resources. She has done a tremendous job and has learned a lot during her career. Camilla will advise you on the latest trends and give amazing tips on how to decorate a house.
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