Does Viscose Shrink?

Viscose is an interesting synthetic material that has great appeal on first impressions. This version of rayon is a great alternative to silk and can feel great against the skin. However, you may have seen people venting online after disastrous laundry experiences. So, does viscose shrink and, if so, can you do anything about it?

Does viscose shrink?

Yes. If you have clothing made from viscose there is a good chance that it will shrink because of its make-up and the properties of the fibers. Therefore, it is important to be as careful as possible when handling this material, especially when it comes to cleaning it. Thankfully, there are things that you can do to avoid shrinkage and you may also be able to correct the problem if your viscose clothes shrink in the wash.

Why is viscose so prone to shrinking?

Viscose is a very delicate material that doesn’t hold up well to much at all. It is not a great material to work with or to use for garments designed for regular wear. The material doesn’t have much in the way of elasticity and is also very absorbent. So, there is the risk that your clothes will end up damaged when wet and when in the washing machine. The risk decreases when you have a fabric that is a blend of viscose and something like cotton. Cotton has a much more minimal risk of shrinking unless you are particularly careless with it on the wrong cycle. People with 100% viscose clothes, on the other hand, have experienced extreme shrinkage up to around 25%, making garments unfit for further use.

What can you do to minimize the risk of viscose clothing shrinking?

It all comes down to how you wash these clothes. Obviously, you can’t avoid getting them wet forever as they will need to be cleaned when dirty or smelly. So, you need to be careful not to overdo things and to make sure that the water isn’t too hot. The best way to do this is to handwash the clothes in cold water with a little bit of gentle detergent. There may be a hand-washing mode on your machine. However, doing this by hand in a basin gives you greater control over the temperature, the way that the fabric is agitated in the water, and the duration of the wash.

You might find that you have a blended material with care instructions that allow for machine washing. Here it is up to you which method you use. You can go with the instructions on the label and hope that there is no sign of shrinkage afterward. Or, you can continue to play it safe and handwash these items.

Then you need to hang the clothes up to dry somewhere that isn’t too hot. It can be tempting to put them out in the sun to speed up the process but the high heat on the wet material could lead to some shrinkage. Instead, put them somewhere airy but cool enough to avoid this issue. Don’t put the clothes in the dryer as even the lowest setting could prove to be damaging.

Can you reverse viscose shrinking?

Just in case the worst happens here and you have a garment that shrinks in the wash, it helps to be able to correct the problem. There are no guarantees here, but it might be possible to stretch the material back out a little bit with some cold water and conditioner. This process works well on other materials so you might regain some shape here too. Soak the fibers in the solution, stretch them as best you can while wet, and then leave the clothing to dry. Unfortunately, if you are unlucky enough to experience extreme shrinkage then you are unlikely to get the garment back to a shape that fits.

Is viscose worth it?

There are plenty of concerns when it comes to handling viscose clothing and the risk of it shrinking considerably. There are even warnings not to go out in wet weather because the rain may damage the fibers and the sun could shrink it when it dries back out. Only go for a 100% viscose piece of clothing if you are confident in caring for it. Otherwise, look for more suitable blends.