Can You Machine Wash Rayon?

Rayon is a fabric commonly used to make linens, sportswear, blouses, suits, and dresses. This versatile fabric is favored due to its smooth texture, moisture wicking properties, and ease of drying. However, it is a delicate fabric that cannot typically be machine washed. Instead, dry cleaning is ideal to maintain the fabric. You can also do a couple other things to clean Rayon at home, which I will go over.

What is Rayon?

Rayon is a synthetic fiber made from plants – usually wood or bamboo. The cellulose is separated out and woven into fabric using a chemical process. The resulting fabric is smooth and soft. Originally, Rayon was sold as a cheap Silk. In the modern era, Rayon is popular in its’ own right. Rayon is also sometimes called Viscose because of the method used to create it.

What is Rayon Polyester Blend?

Rayon Polyester Blend is this same plant fiber-based fabric, with additional polyester fibers woven in. This allows the fabric to have the texture of Rayon while benefitting from the elasticity and durability of Polyester.

Can You Machine Wash Rayon?

Can You Machine Wash Rayon

Despite Rayon being synthetic, you cannot treat it like Polyester or Acrylic. On the contrary, Rayon is prone to fading or warping, so you should avoid machine washing it if possible. If machine washing is impossible to avoid, then the Rayon should be washed with extreme caution. I will cover the best settings below.

Will Machine Washing Damage Rayon?

While it may not catastrophically damage the Rayon, machine washing will shorten the lifespan of your garment drastically. This is because the tugging caused by the spinning of the machine stretches the Rayon, and Rayon does not recover well from being stretched. It is also a very porous fabric, and prone to fading when exposed to the hot water used in many laundry cycles. Over time, machine washing Rayon will result in a dull, mishappen garment.

How Can You Clean Rayon?

There are several ways to clean your Rayon clothes without tossing them in the washing machine. The best is professional dry cleaning, but you can also home dry clean Rayon. If all else fails, handwashing is also always an option, and is gentler than machine washing.

Professional Dry Cleaning

Professional dry cleaning is going to be by far the best option to clean your Rayon. The risk of damage is tiny when cleaning is left to the professionals. Additionally, dry cleaning techniques are very gentle on Rayon. You can have Rayon professionally dry cleaned frequently without ruining the garment.

Home Dry Cleaning

Cleaning the Rayon, yourself carries slightly more risk than a professional job, since you are not as experienced. However, the gentleness of dry-cleaning techniques still applies, and you should be able to clean the Rayon frequently without damaging it (provided you follow the directions).

How to Dry Clean at Home

Dry cleaners use solvent cleaners and steam cleaning to remove stains from clothing, before pressing and ironing the garments when possible. Three techniques to achieve the same gentle cleaning power at home include:

  • A dry-cleaning kit (which is available at many home goods retailers)
  • A steam cleaner (big upfront cost, but very versatile)
  • White vinegar and a microfiber cloth

My personal favorite is the steam cleaner because it is the gentlest. Make sure that if you choose a dry-cleaning kit, you check to see if it is approved for use on Rayon. The white vinegar and microfiber cloth can get stains out in a pinch, but I do not suggest it for long term use, since it rubs away at the fabric and will eventually cause stretching.

Hand Washing

Hand Washing

Hand washing is the perfect standby for when you do not want to pay for a professional dry cleaning, but you also do not feel confident dry cleaning the fabric yourself. Over time, frequent handwashing will fade the fabric, but because your hands move slower and more carefully than a washing machine it will not ruin the fabric as quickly.

How to Hand Wash Rayon

1. Fill a sink or other container with chilly water.

2. Add a teaspoon of laundry detergent to the water.

3. Agitate the water until some bubbles form.

4. Turn the Rayon garment inside out before submerging it in the tub.

5. Gently swirl the garment through the water for 10 to 30 seconds.

6. Drain the sink, then refill with fresh water.

7. Use the fresh water to rinse the soap from the garment.

8. Hang the garment to dry.

Machine Washing

If all these other options cannot dissuade you from machine washing your Rayon, you use the following procedure to limit the damage done.

1. Turn the garment inside out and place into a protective mesh bag. These bags are sold for machine washing delicate clothing in most stores.

2. Place the bag into the washing machine.

3. Select the gentlest cycle your washing machine has, usually labeled as “Delicate,” “Wool/Knits,” or “Handwash.”

4. Turn the water temperature to cold.

5. Turn on the machine and let it do its thing.

Final Thoughts

Despite not being very machine wash friendly, Rayon remains popular for its’ ability to absorb moisture and dry quickly. To maintain your Rayon garments, they should be dry cleaned, or gently washed in chilly water with minimal agitation. This can be achieved by paying for dry cleaning services, preforming at-home dry cleaning, or handwashing the garment. Some washing machines have a delicate cycle which might be okay for Rayon if you are careful, but I would not suggest it for regular cleaning.

Read my related articles: