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Does rayon shrink? How to wash and dry rayon

Ever wonder why your favorite shirt seems a little snug after laundry day? The cause could come down to how delicately you’re washing your clothes—one fabric that needs a little extra TLC is rayon. It might feel soft and comfortable now, but high temperatures, wetness and tumble drying during the washing and drying process may cause shrinkage and damage to the fabric.

But don't worry—by sorting your laundry based on fabric type and following some simple tips, you can learn how to wash rayon to help keep your family's clothes from shrinking.

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What is rayon?

Rayon is a unique fabric blend. Derived from wood pulp and bamboo, it feels soft and natural like cotton, but it's actually manufactured using special chemicals, similar to nylon and polyester. This makes it a soft, comfortable choice for summer wear or any other time of year.

Types of rayon 

While rayon might seem like a single fabric, it's actually a family of materials with different strengths and textures. These types include:

  • Viscose: This is the most common type, known for its silky feel but prone to shrinkage. It's crafted from treated wood pulp.

  • Modal: Blended with beechwood and sometimes cotton or spandex, this type of rayon offers increased strength and durability compared to viscose.

  • Lyocell: Made from beechwood and other fibers, lyocell is known for its excellent absorbency, making it a popular choice for moisture-wicking clothing.

Does rayon shrink?

Rayon can shrink, especially while you’re washing and drying your clothes. To help minimize shrinking, always check the care label for specific care instructions. Remember, the care label provides the most accurate guidance for your specific rayon garment.

You can wash rayon by using a cool, delicate cycle and low heat drying setting in your machine to help reduce the chances of shrinkage. There’s still a chance rayon could shrink in the washer and dryer, so if you want to take extra precautions, opt for handwashing and air or flat drying for a more gentle approach.

NOTE: Consult a dry cleaner as another option if recommended by the care label.

Does rayon wrinkle? 

Rayon is prone to wrinkling after washing. To help remove wrinkles, a steam treatment is recommended over ironing due to the high heat it produces. If you need to use an iron, do so on a medium heat setting on the reverse side, use a pressing cloth and avoid direct contact with the iron.

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A guide to washing & drying rayon

Rayon and other delicate fabrics need a little more extra care than others. From deciphering care labels to choosing wash cycles and temperatures, you can help minimize shrinkage and care for your laundry by following a few simple steps to learn how to wash rayon.

  • Cold water

  • Mild detergent

  • Stain remover

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Step 1: Check the garment tag

Before washing rayon and other delicate fabrics, always check the care label for specific instructions. Look for symbols indicating if machine washing is suitable for the garment.

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Step 2: Pre-treat

Spot any stains? Before tossing in the washing machine, try to treat them using guidelines specific to the stain type and do a patch test. Remember, chlorine bleach can be too harsh for these fabrics so opt for an oxygen-based bleach instead.

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Step 3: Wash

Use cold water to wash—steer away from hot water. Be sure to select the delicate cycle on your washing machine. This combination helps minimize shrinking and stretching. Placing the item in a mesh bag may also help reduce damage. If you want to be more cautious, hand washing or dry cleaning can be safer alternatives.

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Step 4: Dry

Air drying your rayon clothes is the preferred method. Lay them flat on a clean surface or use a drying rack.

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Should you hand wash rayon?

While machine-washing is possible, hand washing rayon is the recommended method. Pre-treat stains, then use cool water, mild detergent and gentle agitation. Soak for 15 minutes, rinse thoroughly and carefully remove excess water. Be sure to double-check the care tag before cleaning.

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Rayon care tips

Rayon requires a little extra care in the laundry room to help prevent damaging the fabric. Here's how to help keep your clothes looking as good as they possibly can:

  • Check the care tag.

  • Treat stains before washing. 

  • Cool or cold water is ideal—don’t wash in hot water.

  • Air dry clothes

  • Take it to the dry cleaner if recommended by the care tag.

  • Baking soda or dishwashing liquid may help get rid of oil stains

  • After pre-treating, be sure to rinse off any soap before you place your clothes in the machine.

Explore Whirlpool® Washing Machines

Trying to keep your family’s clothes looking the best they can starts with your top or front load washing machine. With features on select models like the Pretreat Station that lets you soak, scrub and wash your laundry all in one spot, Whirlpool® Washing Machines are designed to help tackle everyday messes and care for your family’s diverse fabrics.

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