Difference Between Rayon and Viscose

Rayon vs Viscose

We see so many items of clothing and upholstery in the market that we get confused sometimes as to what is the fabric we are really purchasing. Even in readymade garments, there are so many different materials being used that it is hard to differentiate between them. Of course, we know what cotton, silk, and wool are as we have been experiencing these fabrics since ages. If cotton is considered the most comfortable and natural, silk is the most luxurious and soft fabric. Wool is of course for warmth as it comes from the hair of animals. But what about viscose and rayon two fabrics that have become so common for making garments. It becomes hard to tell the difference between the two especially when the label of a garment read viscose/rayon. This article attempts to differentiate between rayon and viscose.


There was a time when silk was extremely popular and people were desirous of wearing silk but it remained out of reach of the common people being very expensive. It was labeled the fabric of the royalties and ordinary people had to remain content with cotton. In fact, the first time Rayon was produced; it was referred to as artificial silk. Rayon is a fiber that is neither totally natural not totally synthetic. It is processed from natural cellulose through a number of chemical procedures. Regenerated from cellulose, rayon is a manufactured fabric. Developed as a cheap substitute for silk, the process was patented and bought by Dupont chemicals to reap the rewards as it churned this versatile fabric in the market in thousands of designs in both weaved, as well as knitted fabrics. As it drapes well, the fabric has been used in shirts as well as skirts, evening gowns and floral dresses of women.


There are many different types of rayon, and viscose rayon is one of them. Viscose is, in fact, the commonest type of rayon. So you could be looking at viscose when the label says rayon. Of course, there are acetate rayon and cuprammonium rayon but viscose is the most common type of rayon. Viscose has a silky feeling but can breathe like cotton fibers. It is not expensive like silk and is also lightweight to have multiple uses in garments. Textiles are only one of the many products that can be made from viscose, as dialysis membrane and several other medical products are ideally made with viscose, the wood cellulose acetate.


What is the difference between Rayon and Viscose?

• Rayon is a fabric that was produced as a cheap substitute of silk way back in 1880’s but was rejected as it was very flammable

• Viscose is a wool cellulose acetate that can be used to make many different products. It is used to make important medical tools but also a fabric called viscose rayon. In fact, the commonest form of rayon is viscose.

• Viscose rayon drapes well and breathes like cotton. It is lightweight and used to make many types of garments.