Does Viscose Shrink? Read Our Guide Before Doing Your Laundry

Does Viscose Shrink? Read Our Guide Before Doing Your Laundry

Are you a domestic god or goddess? Sadly, we aren't given a guide to household chores in school. So, you may have no clue when it comes to cleaning, tidying, and even how to do laundry. It’s a mystery. Never fear—we’ve got you covered.

Making sure that you don’t shrink your clothing is Laundry 101. So, how can you get it right? If you happen to own any viscose clothes, you need to take extra care. The fabric is delicate and easy to shrink. That’s a bad combination. Luckily, you can wash it easily with a few laundry tips. Check out our complete guide here, and you’ll have no problem.

What is viscose? 

First things first, what is viscose? This silk-like material has become increasingly popular in recent years, and it’s clear to see why. This fabric looks fabulous and floaty, whether you get a viscose shirt, dress, or skirt, but what on earth is it made from?

The fabric dates back to the 1880s when it was created as a cheaper alternative to silk. So, chances are, you’ve seen viscose clothes here, there, and everywhere. Believe it or not, this is the third most-used textile in the world. So yes, it’s pretty darn common.

Surprisingly, the synthetic material is made from wood pulp—usually from beech, pine, or eucalyptus, although some manufacturers may use others. You may also find that viscose is created using certain plant products, such as sugar cane and soy. That is because these types of plants tend to regrow quickly, so using them is generally economical.

How is viscose made?

Now that you know what viscose is, let’s delve into how it’s made so quickly. Most manufacturers use a four-step process to make this synthetic material. Understanding the ins and outs of the fabric will help you understand why it is so delicate. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about it:

  • Step 1: Obtaining the cellulose

Manufacturers gather the wood or plant products and dissolve them in a chemical solution. This process turns the wood pulp into cellulose xanthate. Next, the manufacturers gather this and use it to make viscose in the next step of the production.

  • Step 2: Spinning it into fibres

When the manufacturers have the cellulose xanthate, the next step is to spin it into the fibre to be made into thread. More chemicals are added during this stage of the process.

  • Step 3: Making spinneret

The next step in the process is about making ‘spinneret’. For this, the manufacturers use a specific machine. That is used to create filaments that are known as spinneret.

  • Step 4: Weaving the threads

By now, the viscose threads have been created. That means that the final step in the process is creating the fabric. Then, finally, the threads are woven together to make a silk-like material.

How to wash viscose 

Since viscose is a synthetic material, it is highly absorbent. That means that it takes in a lot of moisture when you wash it. Once viscose fabric gets wet, it becomes fragile. You can easily damage, shrink, or tear the material during the washing process. If that weren’t bad enough, the colours and dyes might also run.

Of course, unless you want to ruin your entire wardrobe, learning how to wash your clothes properly is a must. When you’re cleaning viscose clothing, you will need to hand-wash it. Unfortunately, most of these items include laundry symbols on the labels that say you can’t machine wash them. Let’s look at the basics of how to wash viscose clothing by hand.

How to hand-wash viscose clothing

Ready to wash your viscose clothing? Great. Give the washing machine a miss this time around and opt to hand-wash your clothes. The washing machine isn't redundant - check out these things you didn't know you can clean in the washing machine instead. Here’s what you need to know to hand wash viscose:

Step 1: Use cool water

Start by filling up a basin or bowl with some cool water. If you can’t handle it being too cold, you can use lukewarm water, but you don’t want it to be too hot.

Step 2: Use a mild detergent

While you want to use some cleaning product, you should choose carefully. Opt for a mild detergent. The fewer chemicals in the product you use, the better. Remember that viscose can be very sensitive, so you need to get it right.

Step 3: Hand-wash the item

Place the viscose clothing item into the water and knead it with your hands. You need to be careful with the material so that you don’t stretch or shrink it. If there is a stain somewhere on the clothing, you can rub detergent into that place specifically.

Step 4: Take the item out

When you’re done, take the viscose clothing item out of the water. You should avoid wringing the clothes out as this can damage them. Instead, you will need to allow your clothes to dry naturally. While this may take time, it’s worth it to protect them.

TOP TIP: Are you washing your clothes enough? Read our guide to see if you pass the test.

How to dry viscose clothing

Now that you’ve successfully washed your viscose clothing, drying is the next stage. As we’ve previously mentioned, you shouldn’t wring out the clothes, and you need to let them dry naturally. The worst thing you can do here is put viscose clothes in the dryer.

That’s a surefire way to shrink them. Unfortunately, the combination of moisture and heat is a recipe for disaster. Here’s how you can dry your viscose clothing without ruining it.

Step 1: Hang the item up

The quickest and easiest way to dry your clothes is to hang them up. Avoid using pegs as these can leave an indent. Instead, get a clothes hanger. You can hang your viscose clothes up outside (if the weather is warm!) for the best results. 

Step 2: Wait

When viscose is wet, it becomes relatively rigid. Don’t panic. The synthetic fabric will regain its soft, silk-like nature when dried. Wait a few hours, or even a day, for it to dry. You can then pop the clothing back into your wardrobe and wear it as you please. It’s easy!

If you want to iron viscose, it's best to do it on the reverse side of the fabric, while it is still damp. Use the silk setting or a low temperature. One of our favourite ironing tips is to place a damp cloth on top of the garment to help protect the fabric while you get creases out. 

So, there you have it! Washing your clothes doesn’t have to be hard. Now that you’re all clued up on how to wash viscose clothing, what are you waiting for? You can use our advice to keep your favourite silk-like items clean and beautiful.

For tips on how to save time doing the laundry, uses for vinegar in the laundry, and how to wash smelly gym clothes, take a look at our other blog posts. 

We're also answering the question does linen shrink, if you're looking for more garment care advice. 


How much will viscose shrink?

Since most viscose clothing items are made from a blended material, the amount it will shrink depends. Those with a high percentage of viscose in the fabric are likely to shrink more. Of course, if your clothes are made of 100% viscose, you might find that they shrink by up to 25% when you put them on a hot wash. Needless to say, you want to avoid that.

When dealing with blended materials, you may find that they shrink by around 5% on a hot wash. Before you decide to wash your viscose clothes, you need to make sure that you read the label and figure out what the best cycle setting is for you. Simple.

Does viscose shrink at 40 degrees?

Viscose is an absorbent and delicate fabric. For that reason, washing it at high temperatures, such as 40 degrees, can mean that it shrinks. To avoid this problem, you need to wash viscose clothes at lower temperatures. For example, you may try using lukewarm or cool water of around 20 degrees. You can hand-wash your viscose garment and allow it to dry naturally. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Can you machine wash viscose?

The short answer is no. Since the viscose-based material tends to be delicate, you may want to avoid chucking it in the washing machine with the rest of your garments. However, if you want to ensure that your dress or shirt doesn’t get damaged, you can hand-wash it.

Does viscose stretch?

When a garment is 100% viscose, chances are, it will not have any stretch in it. However, when you’re dealing with blended clothing (such as knits and the like!), you may find that there is some stretch. You can stretch this fabric by exposing it to steam or moisture.

However, you should keep in mind that stretching out any garment can be tricky. You may not get the result that you hope for. Often enough, when you try to stretch clothes at home, you will find that they end up misshapen, so you cannot wear them.

Can you iron viscose?

Yes—but you have to be careful! Turn the viscose item inside out before you begin. Some experts recommend ironing viscose while it is still damp. You should use the ‘silk’ setting on your iron. If your iron does not have this setting, opt for an ultra-low temperature. Ironing your viscose clothing will help it regain its original shape.

We hope you have found our guide to washing viscose helpful! Leave a comment below if you have any tips or questions. 

Joanne A


Expert in finding beautiful solutions for small and rented spaces. Would happily spend the rest of my life shopping for homewares and watching Disney movies - I only wish I had Cinderella's army of mice to help me clean!

  1. Author Mary Madis on March 12, 2023 at 1:26 am

    I bought a garment that is too big. It is 100% viscose. I want it to shrink. How should I do this?

    1. Author Joanne A on March 16, 2023 at 11:41 am

      To shrink a 100% viscose garment that is too big, wash it in hot water and dry it in the dryer on a low or delicate heat setting. If necessary, repeat the process until you achieve the desired result.

  2. Author Rob on January 4, 2024 at 1:16 pm

    What about 45% viscose and 55% cotton shirts, How can I launder them together?

    1. Author Joanne A on April 15, 2024 at 11:24 am

      To launder shirts of 45% viscose and 55% cotton together, sort by colour and wash on a gentle cycle with cold water and mild detergent. Air dry or use a low heat setting in the dryer, and iron on low heat if needed.


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