Does Viscose Shrink When You Wash It

Does Viscose Shrink When You Wash It?

With so many different fabrics available in fashion today it’s important to understand how to care for them.

Throwing everything together in the washing machine sometimes isn’t the way to do it… especially when it comes to Viscose a.k.a Rayon. So always check the care label and make sure you’re treating your clothes the right way. 

When it comes to looking after this wood-pulp-based fabric we’ve got one question – does viscose shrink when you wash it?

Sadly, I found out the hard way…

I recently bought myself a beautiful purple summer dress, which just so happened to be made from viscose. It fitted very well and it felt great on. Then I washed it, and when I came to wear it again, it had shrunk – and not in a flattering way either.

I looked at the label and did some poking around online and I realised I’d washed the dress in the wrong way.

So, my advice to anyone looking at washing their viscose clothing is:

Viscose clothing will shrink if you wash it in the washing machine (with a typical setting) or in boiling hot water. However, there are correct ways of washing viscose clothing, so that they don’t shrink as readily.

I learnt this lesson too late and ruined my gorgeous viscose dress. But you’re in the right place now, so I can help stop this from happening to you.

The best way to wash anything viscose is by hand, in cold water and with a small amount of mild detergent.

So, now you know if you bung your new viscose top in with your usual wash load it’s going to come out a few sizes smaller, how do you actually wash it properly and stop this from happening?

Keep on reading and you’ll find out how you can wash your viscose garments without shrinking them as I did.


How to Clean Viscose Clothes Properly

You shouldn’t really put items made from this material in the washing machine because it agitates the fibres, encouraging the fabric to shrink. But, if you really want to use a washing machine check out my guide a little further down the page. If you’re happy to take the time to ensure the longevity of your garment, take a look at the best ways to clean viscose items below:

Cleaning with cold water and mild detergent

The easiest, and preferred, way to clean viscose items is to wash them by hand in cold water and mild detergent mix.

Ideally, you should use a delicate detergent for this, and lukewarm water is okay if you don’t fancy plunging your hands into cold water.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Pour a large amount of cold water into a washing up bowl or your bath.
  2. Pop a few drops of mild detergent into the water.
  3. Mix the water and detergent around together.
  4. Put your item in the water and leave for 30 minutes.
  5. You can move the item around in the water a little bit if you like.
  6. There is no need to scrub hard at the material, or to act fast here, just take your time – remember viscose is delicate, so treat it nicely.
  7. Rinse the item with cold water after 30 minutes to remove any detergent.
  8. Check out my advice on drying later in the post.


Dry cleaning viscose garments

One way to get viscose clothes clean is to dry clean them. This would mean either taking them to the dry-cleaners or you could try their methods at home.


Using a washing machine – Be careful!

For those of you who have your hearts set on using your washing machine to clean your viscose clothes, you should always do the following things… (not following these tips could lead to major shrinking problems).

  1. Check clothing labels to see if you can machine wash the clothes. If they say you shouldn’t machine wash them, don’t!
  2. Pull your tops/dresses inside out before washing.
  3. Put your items in a mesh bag as added protection.
  4. Set your washing machine up to complete a ‘delicate cycle’. A cold cycle would also do the job, just on a low spin speed.
  5. Pop in some delicate detergent.
  6. Let the washing machine do its job.
  7. Move on to my drying tips.


Drying Viscose Items

Ideally, you don’t want to tumble dry your viscose clothes. Why? A tumble dryer can get very hot and heat doesn’t exactly agree with viscose, so it’s better to avoid this.

Further to this, you should never, ever ring out your viscose clothing. This will damage the fibres and your clothes will end up warped and ruined.

Try these drying solutions…

  • Hang your clothing up to dry – a well-ventilated location would be great.
  • Drying outside is an option, but be careful that it doesn’t rain or get too warm – this won’t do your viscose clothes any good.
  • You can lay your clothes out on a dry towel to dry them. Just lay your top out, for example, on a towel, roll up the towel and top to soak up the moisture, then unroll the towel and top, and leave them alone to dry for a while. This could help to keep the shape of the top too.
  • You can also pop your viscose clothing on a clothes airer to dry in the house. Again, make sure the clothes don’t get too warm.


Tips for the Future…

  • Check the tags on your viscose clothes/items to see what they say – sometimes the tag says that the material has to be washed in a particular way. So, don’t just jump into cleaning your viscose clothes/items, read about cleaning them first. If you’re not sure what all of the different laundry symbols mean, check out our video:

  • If you’re going out and it’s a rainy day don’t wear viscose tops because the material won’t react well with the rain. Further to this, if you’re likely to spill food down the front of your top when eating out, don’t wear a pretty viscose top out – you’ll avoid staining it and having to wash it then.
  • If you’re not sure if your viscose clothing can be washed in a machine, dab some water on a concealed area and watch what happens. The clothing will either react or nothing will happen, you can then choose the correct cleaning method.
  • Don’t mistake your viscose clothing for cotton clothing. Check the label if you’re not sure what your clothing is made of.
  • Even if your clothing isn’t 100% viscose and it’s mixed with something else, it could still shrink in the wash. It would be better if you washed these clothes by hand.
  • You might find that you have to tease your clothes back into their original shape. Do this gently, and there is no need to drag the material into place.


Viscose FAQs

Can I iron a viscose top?

Yes, you can. You need to pop a towel over the clothing item, (to stop the heat transferring into it) and make sure to put the iron on a low heat setting. Then you’re all set to get those creases out.


I think my top has mildew, is that right?

Sadly, yes this could happen. Basically, you need to store your viscose clothing in a cotton bag to stop this from happening.

Viscose Fabric


What is viscose?

Viscose is a manufactured fibre that comes from wood pulp. It’s a very popular material that is widely used in the fashion industry because it’s lightweight, and it can easily be coloured. It’s almost like artificial silk so it drapes beautifully. 



Viscose clothing is going to shrink if you don’t wash it properly. You should really hand wash your viscose garments to ensure their longevity, but if you want to use a washing machine you should think about following my steps above. But if you wing it, you’re doing this at your own risk.