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Viscose and Rayon In Area Rugs Shiny & Soft, What About Durability?

Updated: Jan 19

Spools of Viscose Rayon yarn
Viscose Rayon Yarn

Considering a viscose rug brings up questions about its longevity, maintenance, and value compared to other rugs. Offering the soft feel of silk without the steep price, viscose rugs raise both interest and uncertainty. Our article takes a closer look at these elegant pieces, evaluates how they measure up to other materials, and discusses the nuances of their upkeep. Learn to navigate the world of viscose rugs confidently with insights and advice ahead.

What is Viscose?

Viscose, also known as Rayon, was first created in 1883 as a cost-effective alternative to silk and has since become the third most widely used textile worldwide. Its creation involves a meticulous process of treating wood pulp from certified suppliers with various chemicals, transforming it into the fabric we know and love. Viscose is just one type of rayon, with other types including modal and lyocell, each created using different chemicals and processes.

The fascinating history of this textile and the innovative processes that birth it are merely a glimpse. We’ll now delve into the benefits that make viscose rugs an excellent choice for home decoration.

History of Viscose Rayon

The origins of viscose rayon can be traced back to the late 19th century. In 1884, an English chemist named Charles Cross, along with his collaborators Edward Bevan and Clayton Beadle, made a groundbreaking discovery that laid the foundation for the creation of Viscose. They found plant cellulose could be dissolved in sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide to create a natural polymer derived from plant fibers' viscous liquid. This liquid could then be extruded through small holes and regenerated into fibers when it came into contact with an acid bath. This process led to the birth of "viscose" as a term, reflecting the viscous nature of the precursor solution. The first commercial production of viscose rayon occurred in the early 20th century.

Industrial Development of Viscose Rayon and it's se In Rugs

In the 1930's parachutes were made almost exclusively from imported silk. In the 1930s, Japan dominated the silk market producing over 80% of the world's supply of raw silk fiber.

At the start of WW2, supplies of Japanese silk halted; substitutes were needed, and a star was borne, Rayon, often called 'artificial silk' in this period. This newer, under, used fiber was hailed as an affordable alternative to expensive silk, possessing similar luster and drape. It gained popularity for its versatility, allowing it to mimic a much more costly silk fiber.

At the end of the war other uses were explored for synthetic silk. Viscose rayon provides some industrial and medical benefits. It's more absorbent than cotton; its production process makes it sterile, its fibers uniform, and it's hypoallergenic. It's found used in medical bandages and diapers, towels, and feminine hygiene products.

Women modeling Rayon clothing
Magazine add for rayon

Seeking more affordable rugs with the look and feel of silk luxurious but at a much more attractive price viscose made its way in to machine and hand woven rugs in the late 20th century.

Properties, performance and pitfall of Viscose Rayon

The properties that make Rayon useful for some applications also make it less than ideal for others such as floor covering use.

  • Rayon is soft, so it wears faster and shows traffic patterns sooner.

  • Rayon has a very lower elastic recovery, which easily distorts with foot traffic

  • Rayon absorbs dye easily and stains just as easily.

  • Rayon absorbs better than cotton it can harbor microbial growth, cause odors, stains

While Rayon it can mimic the luxurious appearance of natural silk, Viscose fibers don't mimic the performance and are inherently weaker and more susceptible to soils than wool or silk.

Viscose Area Rugs

pic of a viscose rayon rug
Viscose rayon rug

Rugs, especially those in high-traffic areas, are subjected to constant foot traffic, soilsing ,. spills, furniture movement, and other stresses. Viscose rayon fibers can easily break, mat, or flatten and untwist under such conditions, and these fibers more susceptible to staining leading to a rug that quickly loses its original texture and silk-like appearance.

Maintenance is another significant concern with viscose rayon rugs. They are notoriously difficult to clean and maintain compared to rugs made from more resilient materials such as wool.

Viscose fibers can be sensitive to minerals in water water and chemicals, color bleeding, shrinkage, or fiber deterioration. Viscose high absorbance doesn't work in reverse meaning it's difficult to remove spills.

Because of degradative effects from use it's unrealistic that cleaning will restore the rug to like new appearance to rayon

Moreover, the colorfastness of viscose rayon is questionable, especially when exposed to sunlight. Over time, prolonged exposure to UV rays can cause fading, dye instability, and discoloration resulting in an uneven and worn-out appearance. This can significantly diminish the rug's aesthetic appeal and reduce its value as a decorative element in a space.

A rug made from viscose and jute
Banana silk viscose and jute rug

Consideration of buying a Viscose floor coverings

Rugs are often viewed as investments that should withstand the test of time and retain their value. Viscose rayon's poor durability and maintenance issues become more problematic with ause and age

However, viscose rayon fiber, rugs are degrade and lose their appeal relatively quickly, compared to wool or silk rendering them a poor choice for those seeking a lasting and valuable addition to their home decor, particularly in traffic areas.

From a professional rug cleaners standpoint there are limits to cleaning and cleanability of viscose and and viscose. rayon fibers much poorer performance relative to fibers such as wool, silk or even synthetic fibers such as nylon in high traffic, high soiling environments.

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