How to Clean a Viscose Rug: Unravelling the Trend

It’s easy to see why viscose rugs are popular – take one look at the beautiful finish and the array of stylish options, and we can understand why people are captivated. But there’s a whole lot of darkness hiding behind that pretty façade.

From cleaning viscose rugs to the unethical production process, we explain why viscose is not a good material for rugs. Read on for insight about how to clean and care for a viscose rug if you already happen to have one (hint: contact us before attempting any DIY cleaning), and reasons to think twice if you’re still mulling it over.

area rug cleaning san marin
What is viscose?

Viscose is the third most commonly used textile in the world – it’s probably hanging in your closet right now. Popular for its silk-like look and feel, it goes by a whole host of names including:

  • Rayon
  • Faux silk
  • Art silk
  • Man-made silk
  • Fake silk
  • Banana silk
  • Bamboo silk
  • Lyocell
  • Ramie

One of fast fashion’s favourite fabrics, it’s also an incredibly popular choice for rug manufacturers and home owners due to its shimmery appearance and ultra-soft feel. However, there are huge ramifications to these short-term benefits.

5 reasons to avoid viscose rugs

area rug cleaning san marinDon’t be charmed by the lovely look and feel of a viscose rug – there are plenty of disappointing and destructive factors associated with this fabric.

1. Viscose production is bad for the environment. Viscose isn’t even allowed to be produced in the United States – which is a big red flag right off the bat. Instead, production has been outsourced mainly to China, India, and Indonesia.

The process involves harvesting wood pulp derived from plants and trees and dissolving it in chemicals, to transform it into a product that can be turned into textile thread. The resources that go into this process result in extreme pollution of surrounding air and waterways, as well as mass deforestation and habitat destruction.

2. Viscose production is harmful for workers
The chemicals used to create viscose have been linked to diseases for factory workers and the local community – you can read more about this at good on you.

3. Viscose rugs shed
Viscose fibres are extremely delicate, which means they break and split off easily. Regular activity and vacuuming can quickly destroy a viscose rug, pulling out the threads and giving it a ‘clawed-by-the-cat’ look.

4. Viscose rugs become discolored easily
The delicate nature of the fibres also makes viscose extremely vulnerable to moisture, causing it to become discolored when it’s exposed to water or humidity and fade over time. For the same reason, colors in viscose rugs also tend to bleed into each other if the rug gets wet.

5. Viscose rugs can become stiff and matted
The artificial nature of the fibres means that they tend to become stiff and matted over time, especially in spots that have required cleaning or been exposed to liquid.

How to clean a viscose rug

area rug cleaning san marinAs you might expect, viscose rugs are extremely hard to clean. It’s important to have realistic expectations and accept that the rug will never look as good as it did when it was new, and the overall quality will deteriorate much faster compared to a wool or synthetic rug.

We always recommend contacting a professional cleaner to treat your viscose rug. DIY attempts can lead to extreme discolouration and damage.

Typically, we will:

  • Carefully test and use acid-based detergents
  • Trim loose or frayed threads
  • Wash it twice, to prevent yellowing and ensure color consistency (however, this does speed up fading)
  • Mist and hand groom repeatedly

As you can expect, this is a long (and often expensive) process. If you have a viscose rug, keep it in a low-activity area where it has the least chance of wear-and-tear or staining. If you’re thinking about buying a viscose rug, consider making a better choice for the environment and your own peace of mind!

To learn more about risky rug trends, check out our post on distressed wool rugs and carpet cleaning scams.

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