Rayon is a worldwide material commonly used in clothing. It is a fabric made of cellulose from natural resources like cotton and wood pulp. Commercially, it is a cheaper option for imitating fabrics like cotton, linen, and silk.
This fabric is a top choice of many clothing brands that offer summer collections because it is cool against the skin and soft to the touch. It also absorbs moisture well while being resistant to sweat. Despite hot and humid weather, it lets your body breathe. With a versatile fabric like rayon, it pays to know how to care for it and be aware of how to wash it. Does rayon shrink? Keep reading to find out.
Does Rayon Shrink?
Rayon is a sensitive fabric that will shrink if it encounters several conditions, especially when exposed to heat. If there’s one thing you always need to worry about rayon, it’s that it can and will shrink under the slightest circumstances.
If that weren’t bad enough, the same rayon clothing can shrink each time you wash it, especially when improper laundry tools and methods are used. It can also become smaller when it is being dried and ironed. For instance, using a washing machine dryer that is set too high can lead to shrinkage.
Surprisingly, it can also shrink while it’s being worn. This happens when you get wet accidentally since rayon is a fabric that is not liquid-resistant. On a humid day, you can expect your rayon outfit to be a little smaller after some time.
Overall, rayon can shrink by up to 20% when washed and dried.
You have to understand that the primary reason why rayon is so prone to shrinkage is because its cellulose fibers cannot withstand any exposure to heat and water. Additionally, as a semi-synthetic fabric, expect that the natural fibers of the cloth are modified to have specific characteristics. Still, the entirety of the fabric’s makeup cannot be 100% altered.
How To Prevent Rayon From Shrinking
Since rayon is an extremely delicate fabric, caring for it requires plenty of effort. You also need to be highly conscious when handling it — even while wearing it so you can maintain the fabric’s size for as long as possible before it inevitably shrinks.
#1. Read the care instructions and follow them religiously.
Each piece of clothing made of rayon (or any other material) has specific care instructions. It is essential that you follow them to the letter. An example of care instruction for rayon is to “dry clean only.” In this case, never wash it.
Remember that the fabric’s elastic recovery percentage is very poor compared to other materials, and the recommendation for dry cleaning has a purpose and reason.
#2. Hand-wash with care using the proper cleaning solutions and follow the correct method.
In the event that hand-washing is needed or acceptable, only use warm water for your rayon together with a heavy-duty detergent. This also involves a more conscious process of dissolving the soap in lukewarm water before finally soaking your rayon.
Gently squeeze the sudsy water through your rayon to prevent the strong cleaning chemicals from damaging the fabric. Don’t rub, twist, or wring the garment either. When you are ready to rinse your rayon, use lukewarm water. To get extra water out of the fabric, use a clean towel and roll your shirt inside it.
As you move to ironing your rayon garment, do it when it is almost dry. It is also a best practice to separate rayon from other fabrics and separate it from other colors. Rayon quickly picks up and absorbs different dyes.
#3. Observe the right machine wash-to-iron process.
Although not recommended, in dire cases where you need to wash your rayon at home with your washing machine, treat the material with utmost care.
Use cold water or water that doesn’t go beyond 86 degrees, and set your machine on a gentle cycle. It is highly recommended to place your rayon inside a mesh bag before placing it in the washing machine for additional protection.
Once done with washing, never use your dryer as this will completely shrink the fabric. Given that rayon can easily and quickly lose its shape, especially when it is wet, a centrifuge and manual spinning on your machine is a complete no-no.
Instead, dry your rayon outdoors or in a ventilated area, and set the fabric in a horizontal position. Air drying it against a flat surface is the best way to dry it. If you need to dry the material quickly, you can use the dryer with the rayon safely inside a mesh or net bag. But set the timer to only about half the usual time and let the air completely dry your rayon.
Ironing your rayon is also a different process because you need to put a damp cloth over it first before attempting to remove the wrinkles, folds, and creases. You need to ensure that the heat doesn’t go beyond 150°C.
#4. Skip the tennis balls when using a washing machine.
Some use special balls and throw them in the washing machine drum to help remove dirt faster and more efficiently. This is not applicable when washing rayon because, with its properties, it doesn’t accumulate and retain much dirt, so compared to other materials like cotton, rayon doesn’t require as much cleaning.
Also, these supposedly helpful washing balls can ultimately damage your rayon, causing it to stretch in different places.
#5. Skip the bleach.
Unless you are trying to change the color of your rayon and lighten it, bleach shouldn’t be used. Remember that rayon is not made from the strongest of fabrics. There is a tendency that too much bleach or frequent exposure to bleach will dissolve its fragile fibers.
A Few Parting Words
Does rayon shrink? Rayon is affordable, beautiful, and feels luxurious, however, it’s one of the most high-maintenance fabrics out there. It will easily shrink with moisture and under certain temperatures. If you own rayon clothes or are thinking of adding a few rayon pieces to your wardrobe, follow our recommendations to keep them looking good for as long as possible.