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Understanding Viscose Rugs

Many rugs which are marketed as silk are in fact artificial silk rugs made of viscose fibres. Rugs made of viscose present several unique problems for those who own, and clean them.

Why choose Viscose?

It’s important to understand the advantages and drawbacks of this type of fibre. Viscose is made of wood pulp and cotton by-products and can also be called faux silk, art silk, man-made silk, fake silk, rayon, banana silk, bamboo silk, lyocell and ramie. Nowadays, some designer rugs labelled as man-made silks are often viscose artificial silk, these are sometimes sold at high prices that make consumers believe they have bought the real thing. Sometimes viscose is used as a filler, or silk substitute to make lesser quality rugs which are often still labelled as real silk.

The advantage of this type of rug is that the fibres can made into materials that are incredibly soft. No other fibre feels like viscose and for this reason it’s popular with many designers and rug manufacturers. However, this softness is achieved through chemical processing that makes the fibres very weak. Despite its great look, it is one of the most fragile fibres on the market today.

It’s important to know about the major drawbacks that made viscose a bad choice for everyday use. 

Four disadvantages of viscose

1. Shedding

Since viscose fibres are so weak, normal everyday traffic can break the fibres and leave the rug looking as though it’s been shedding or become clogged. These fibre poles can be trimmed or shaved by an experienced rug care professional, but the problem will likely reoccur. If these rugs are vacuumed with a strong vacuum or a vacuum cleaner with a beater bar that will make the problem worse.

2. Fibres don’t hold dye well

Dyed viscose fibres tend to bleed if you get them wet and this can be from improper cleaning or from spills. Because of this, it’s important that these types of rugs are thoroughly tested prior to washing. This testing will identify when a rug may need to be surface cleaned instead of immersion washed. It’s important that you use an experienced rug cleaner, cleaning this type of rug is considered an advanced cleaning procedure.

3. Viscose rugs become yellow with moisture

This can happen from spills or from cleaning. It’s important that your rug cleaner uses proper chemistry and gets the rug dry as quickly as possible to minimise this. It’s common for viscose rugs to yellow over time, and in high humidity areas this yellowing happens even faster.

4. Fibres can become matted and stiff

After viscose rugs have gotten wet, they can become matted and stiff. This can be from an improper cleaning process or from spills in the home. An experienced rug cleaner will use special brushes and hand grooming techniques to soften and raise the pile after cleaning.

How common are viscose rugs?

There are two common scenarios where you’re likely to find viscose used in rugs. No other fibre is as soft as viscose so sometimes in spite of the disadvantages of this type of fibre, it is very deliberately chosen to achieve a certain look or effect. Another common use of viscose is as a filler or substitute for real silk. It’s often blended with silk and many times these rugs are still sold, and often priced as though they’re real silk. This can lead to disappointment if rug owners find out their silk rugs aren’t the real thing.

The takeaway from all of this is that viscose rugs are manufactured to achieve a certain look, but viscose is a tricky fibre to own and to clean. These are not rugs that will stand up to regular daily use so, a regularly used area is not the place for a viscose rug. Cleaning viscose should only be attempted by an experienced rug cleaner that is familiar with the unique challenges, and even with an experienced cleaner no viscose rug will ever look as good as it did when it was new.


If you have a viscose rug and have any questions about cleaning it; Give us a call on 01269 842497 or send us an email to

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