Viscose? Tencel? Silk? Why Viscose is Risky

Viscose is a material often used in the carpet and rug world. It gives the shiny, glamorous appearance and is less expensive than real silk. While it is a good option for area rugs and wall to wall carpeting, there are some important things to know about viscose prior to bringing it into your home.

viscose rug

Viscose can be considered the “sausage” of the fiber world. It is rayon (manufactured cellulose fiber) with viscose liquid chemical processing to add shine. It is a lot of by-products spun together and often isn’t clear exactly what is in it.

It’s important to know the issues with cleaning viscose as well as some tips for avoiding cleaning mishaps. Shedding, bleeding, yellowing, stiffening, and overall depletion of quality.


Since viscose fibers are weak and spun into strands, there is often a lot of breakage. Simply walking over your rug/carpeting and regular maintenance may affect the look of a rayon rug.

Avoiding scrubbing the rug with cleaning. Professional cleaners may also shave or clip down the broken strands.


Viscose is also not the best at retaining dye and often fades. Before cleaning, you should always do a dye test to see if cleaning will ruin the rug. If the dyes are not colorfast, an upholstery tool can often accomplish a good surface clean. Always start with a small area prior to cleaning the whole rug.


Cellulose fibers tend to turn yellow with moisture so this is an issue with rugs. Spills often become yellow areas and fibers tend to yellow after cleaning.

To lessen the yellowing during dry time, try an acetic acid or citric acid rinse. Speed drying or drying face down can also help.


As you can imagine with a delicate and synthetic fiber like viscose, stiffening is an issue after cleaning. It can make fibers look blotchy and feel rough. A very small mist of fabric softener (diluted and mixed thoroughly) can soften the fibers while they are still damp.

You can also hand groom the rug after it is dry. Use a spotting brush or similar short bristle brush slowly by hand and section by section. Start against the grain to help loosen the stiffness and then with the grain to lay back in place.

Customers often look to viscose when trying to achieve the expensive look of silk without the price tag. Because viscose rugs tend to look worse over time, tencel and 100% natural silk should be considered instead. They may carry slightly more out of pocket expenses, but the maintenance and quality are much higher.