7 Things You Need to Know about Viscose

LISTICLE | 08/16/2021
Stoff aus Viskose

Viscose is one of the most popular raw materials in the textile industry. It is soft like silk, but much cheaper and less complicated, particularly skin-friendly and also climate-regulating. A fibre made for sportswear and outdoor textiles. On ISPO.com you can learn all about the properties of the so-called artificial silk and why it is wrong to declare conventional viscose as sustainable, although it is biodegradable.

What is viscose?

Viscose is a chemically produced fiber made from the natural substance cellulose. Viscose is also known as "rayon" and is used in the fashion industry as artificial silk. The fiber provides comfort when worn and provides a visual shine to clothing.


Viscose is a semi-synthetic raw material

Viscose is made from cellulose, a natural raw material found in wood. It is extracted from beech or spruce wood, eucalyptus or bamboo in a chemical process and then pressed into fibre form under high pressure. This process is the reason why we speak of a semi-synthetic raw material: viscose is neither a pure natural fibre such as cotton or silk, nor a synthetic fibre such as polyester.


That is why the artificial silk viscose is so easy to care for and versatile

The viscose process allows cellulose fibers to be modified in length, strength and stability. This adaptability not only makes viscose super versatile and the ideal partner in blended fabrics, but also ensures that it is much easier to care for than pure natural fibres: it is easier to wash, hardly needs ironing and does not rub off as quickly.


Viscose absorbs moisture

Because viscose is based on the natural raw material cellulose, it has similarly good climate regulating properties as the natural fibres cotton or wool. It is very absorbent and can absorb up to 400 percent of its own weight in moisture. At the same time, the fabric does not appear wet, but has a cooling effect. An advantage over pure natural fibers: Viscose dries super fast and is therefore often used for travel towels, vegan sneakers or outdoor textiles.


The cellulose fibres are more skin-friendly than synthetic fibres

No petroleum is used in the production of viscose and the cultivation of cellulose mostly does without pesticides. This has a positive effect on the skin compatibility of the fibres: pure viscose contains hardly any harmful substances and is ideal for allergy sufferers.


Viscose is biodegradable

The renewable raw material cellulose is used for the production of viscose. It is contained in various woods and is biodegradable even after the viscose process. This means that viscose performs better in environmental terms than fully synthetic materials.


Nevertheless, conventional viscose is not sustainable

The viscose process is extremely energy consuming. In addition, enormous chemical conversion processes are needed to extract the cellulose. In liquid form or as toxic fumes, the chemicals cause significant pollution in the manufacturing regions. The consequences are not only harmful to the environment, but also demonstrably endanger the health of people in and around the factories.


How to recognise more sustainable viscose

When buying viscose, there are several factors to consider: The starting raw material, the manufacturing, and the processing. With the viscose type "Modal" the cellulose is mainly obtained from sustainable forestry. The designations "Lyocell" or "Tencel" indicate a more environmentally friendly production from eucalyptus, in which no waste water containing harmful substances is released into the environment. Also produced without chemical additives is "Lenpur" viscose. The special feature: Not a single tree is felled for this material, because the cellulose is obtained exclusively from the pruning of trees.

Conclusion: Is viscose good?

Although viscose fiber is not as sustainable as it seems, it has advantages over other chemical fibers such as polyester when it comes to environmental friendliness. So the advantages of viscose are:

  • More sustainable than most chemical fabrics
  • Provides comfort when wearing clothes made with viscose
  • Provides shine to clothing (visual effect)
  • Breathable and cooling
  • Moisture regulating

With regard to these advantages, the question of whether viscose is good can definitely be answered with a "yes".


Finally, we have summarized the most frequently asked questions about viscose.

Washing viscose: What to consider?

Viscose tends to shrink and should therefore not be washed at more than 40 degrees. If you don't want to take any risks, wash your viscose clothes at no more than 30 degrees.

What is viscose made of?

Viscose is obtained from wood and spun into fibres in a subsequent manufacturing process. In the first step, cellulose is extracted from the wood.

Is viscose stretchy?

No, viscose is one of the non-stretch fabrics.

Can viscose be used as a knitting fabric?

Yes, there are vendors who sell rayon as a knit fabric.

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