For most people, a quick spot-check of your average Americans wardrobe will reveal a considerable amount of rayon.
But what is rayon?
We like to think of it as the chameleon of the fabric world as it can emulate the properties of many other fabrics.
This is super useful for manufacturers but can make it confusing to look after rayon garments properly as the feel of rayon doesn’t give you a clue as to what it’s made from.
So, What Is Rayon?
Rayon is made from cellulose fibers that is, it’s made from wood pulp.
That doesn’t mean that rayon is a natural fiber as you need to add chemicals to process the wood pulp.
So, rayon is a semi-synthetic fiber.
You will encounter quite a few different types of rayon such as viscose rayon (a cotton substitute which is used in sportswear), modal rayon (which is made only from cellulose in beech trees) and lyocell (an increasingly popular form of rayon found in anything from jeans to shirts).
Properties Of Rayon Fibers
Rayon can be used to imitate silk, wool, cotton, linen, etc. but it’s worth noting that the fibers still share common properties.
They tend to offer a high degree of absorbency, they’re soft and comfortable to the touch but they are a poor insulator of heat.
This means rayon is ideally suited to hot and humid weather as it stays cooler longer than other fabrics do.
However, wet rayon can easily lose its shape and it’s important not to stretch it when it’s wet.
How Do You Care For Rayon?
There are no standard care instructions for rayon.
This is because it is often blended with other textiles.
So your garment might contain a rayon-polyester blend or a rayon-cotton one.
These require very different care and thus, the best way to know how to care for a rayon garment is to check the washing label.
If there are no instructions, then gentle dry cleaning might be your best option.
Final Thoughts On Rayon
Simply put, rayon is a semi-synthetic fabric which can be used in a very wide-variety of garments.
If you’d like to known more about sustainable fabrics then why not check out our guide to sustainable fabrics?