Does Viscose Shrink?

Power Digital Marketing October 22, 2021
bamboo bras on hangers

 By: Heather Bien

Viscose (the most common type of rayon) is a semi-synthetic fabric with a lot going for it. Affordable, breathable, with a beautiful drape and soft finish, this durable yet delicate fabric is a popular option for clothing, sustainable underwear, as well as home textiles. 

So is viscose a good material for clothing? Although viscose is a relatively strong and durable woven fabric in the right conditions, it can shrink when wet, especially at higher temperatures. If you think of viscose as a superhero, its kryptonite is hot water.

But when handled with care, does viscose fabric shrink? Let’s find out. 

How to prevent viscose from shrinking

Keeping your viscose fabrics in prime condition and at their original size means taking good care of the material. To help you do just that, here are some tips.

Tip #1: Read the tag

young man in bamboo sports clother sittion on the floor of the living room

Viscose fiber care instructions can vary based on the make-up of the fabric—both the weave and finish as well as whether it’s a blend or 100% viscose. Be sure to read the fabric care instructions to see what is unique to the item. 

Quick hint: If you have trouble interpreting care instruction symbols, bookmark or download a care label guide for reference, such as this one from the I Hate Ironing blog.1

Tip #2: Handle with care

The key to cleaning viscose clothes is being gentle. Care instructions will generally instruct you to use gentle washer and dryer settings or hand wash and air dry. Avoid high-spin and rigorous wringing out of the synthetic fabric material. Viscose fiber is at its weakest state when wet, so it needs to be treated lightly.

If you’re hand-washing viscose clothing

  • Mix a gentle detergent with cool water before adding the clothing
  • Squeeze suds through the synthetic  fabric softly, submerge and soak for up to 30 minutes
  • Rinse thoroughly under clean, cool water
  • Wrap in a dry towel and press down to remove excess water without wringing
  • Reshape flat on a separate clean towel or drying rack in a cool location

If you’re machine-washing viscose, help protect it by: 

  • Turning the clothing inside-out
  • Placing it inside a mesh laundry bag
  • Selecting cool and low-spin settings for delicates 
  • Using a gentle detergent
  • Reshaping it flat on a clean towel or drying rack in a cool location

Tip #3: Keep it cool

Viscose is not a fan of high heat, especially when wet. You can anticipate seeing either warm or cool settings for both washing and drying viscose. If you’re hand-washing, keep the water temperature cool to lukewarm water temp. If air-drying, viscose garments should be kept out of the sun and either dried indoors or in a shady area. 

If your clothing’s care instructions include machine laundering at medium settings, it’s probably made with a blend of viscose and other materials and able to endure more heat and manipulation while wet than 100% viscose.

Quick hint: Avoid machine drying unless your blended material has at least 30% of the non-viscose fabric.

shop sustainable clothing

Tip #4: Keep it dry

The feature that makes viscose clothing perfect for summer—i.e. that it absorbs water and sweat, keeping you dry—is also a potential weakness. Unless kept in a low-humidity environment, viscose can mildew because it absorbs water from the air. 

Quick hint: Never store viscose in plastic bags or containers. This will increase the risk of mildewing.

Tip #5: Pre-wash

Womans hand holing wireless bamboo bra in the air with blues skies background

Responsible clothing and textile makers will have pre-washed viscose fabrics prior to cutting and forming them into end products. 

If you’re using the material in a sewing project, opt for pre-washing to address shrinkage from the get-go, but do a spot test first to check colorfastness. You’ll still want to wash the viscose garment gently and avoid heat and agitation. Even if you’re planning on shrinkage, regular machine laundry settings and heat can agitate the fibers that make up viscose, changing its smooth and soft feel to a rougher texture.

How much will viscose shrink?

You may be wondering if viscose is biodegradable and how to avoid shrinking the fabric? When washed in hot water on normal settings and machine-dried, 100% viscose can shrink by up to 25% in a first wash, though 3–5% shrinkage is more typical.2 The amount of shrinkage depends on: 

  • The percentage of viscose in a blended material
  • Whether the material was pre-shrunk by the fabricator
  • The original quality of the viscose material

Whether it continues to shrink after multiple cleanings depends on continued care in using recommended gentle laundry practices. 

Viscose fabrics you can depend on—Boody Eco Wear 

So, is viscose sustainableKnowing where your clothing comes from and caring for it once it’s in your hands can make all the difference. Boody Eco Wear creates sustainable clothing made from bamboo and cotton viscose blends that are sustainable and designed to last. These are just a few of the many bamboo benefits! Most of our viscose blends are machine-safe for both washing and drying, and they’ll stay indulgently soft for years to come. 

View our collections for women, men, and babies, as well as learning more about our sustainability and design practices. 

If you’re looking for eco-conscious and luxuriously comfortable athleisure, underwear, and bras you’ve found it with Boody Eco Wear.

About the Author:

Heather Bien is a copywriter and writer based in Washington, DC. She works with retail, ecommerce, and creative brands on their website copy and digital presence, and her freelance writing has appeared on MyDomaine, Apartment Therapy, The Everygirl, and more. When she's not with laptop and coffee in hand, you'll find her planning her next weekend getaway, working on her budding green thumb, or scouting for her next great vintage find.


  1. I Hate Ironing Blog. Laundry Symbols Explained: Ultimate Guide to Care Labels.
  2. Sewing Is Cool Blog. Does Viscose Shrink When You Wash It? (Tips To Avoid It).

You may also like

The Best Father's Day 2023 Gifts...according to Boody


The Best Father's Day 2023 Gifts...according to Boody

Father’s Day takes place on the third Sunday in June; this year it’s June 18th, 2023. For many of us, buying both a thoughtful and useful gift for our father’s and fatherly figures can typically prove to be a dilemma.

What to Look for When Buying Activewear


What to Look for When Buying Activewear

When it comes to what you workout in, it's important to consider how they make you feel and look—but also their impact on the environment. That's where sustainable activewear by Boody comes in.

What is Organic Cotton?


What is Organic Cotton?

By: Heather Bien We’re all trying to be better stewards of Mother Earth. From recycling to upcycling and eating conscientiously to dressing mindfully, our choices affect the planet. So choosing organic cotton clothing seems like an easy decision, right? Not so fast! As with all sustainable choices, it’s important to take a moment to learn a bit more about why organic cotton might win over conventional cotton—and what makes these two materials different in the first place. Read on if you’re interested in learning about organic cotton and whether it’s the best choice for you and the environment. Conventional cotton Before we get into debating modern cotton farming techniques, let’s get familiar with the plant we’re talking about: cotton. It’s soft, durable, and probably on your body right now. But what else do you really know about cotton? Here are the basics: Cotton comes from the cotton plant – The cotton plant is a warm-season woody perennial shrub from the genus Gossypium and the family Malvaceae. Cotton fabric is made from the plant’s fibrous seed-hair (which is also called a cotton boll). Cotton is one of the top agricultural crops – Traditional cotton is the most widespread and profitable non-food crop in the world. Although the plant is capable of growing in any warm-weather climate, India and China are now the top producers of cotton globally. Cotton is thirsty – A normal cotton plant requires 10 gallons of water to reach peak potential. That doesn’t sound so bad, but multiplying it outward, that means it takes about 5,000 gallons of water to produce just 2.2 pounds of cotton fabric. Pests think it’s delicious – Not only is cotton thirsty, but it’s prone to pest infestations from bollworms, weevils, aphids, stink bugs, thrips, and spider mites. In order to combat these common pests, conventional cotton is routinely sprayed with a veritable salad-dressing of pesticides, many of which can remain in the soil and water supply for years afterward. Cotton harvesting requires defoliation – In order to quickly and efficiently harvest cotton, many commercial growers use chemical defoliants to strip the leaves from the cotton plant prior to harvesting the bolls. Like pesticides, these chemicals remain in the environment and on the cotton itself. Is organic cotton better? All of those cotton factoids point pretty compellingly to buying and wearing organic cotton fabric. But first, it’s important to understand what sets this organic alternative apart. Why exactly is “organic” cotton anyway? You might associate the word organic with your healthy fruits and veggies, but it’s not always clear what this term means when it comes to cotton. For many years, there was not a standard definition, but today, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) require that any cotton product labeled “organic” meet the following criteria: Made with fibers from USDA-certified organic crops Third-party certified (ie., through the Global Organic Textile Standard) under the National Organic Program standards Has a specific percentage of organic material (depending on the crop) But this definition is a little circular, so we need also to define USDA-certified organic crops. According to the USDA, organic crop standards are defined as follows: Land must have had no prohibited substances applied to it for at least three years before the harvest of an organic crop. Soil fertility and crop nutrients will be managed through tillage and cultivation practices, crop rotations, and cover crops. These can be supplemented with animal and crop waste materials and allowed synthetic materials. Crop pests, weeds, and diseases will be controlled primarily through management practices, including physical, mechanical, and biological controls. When these practices are not sufficient, a biological, botanical, or synthetic substance approved for use on the National List may be used. Operations must use organic seeds and other planting stock when available. The use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, and sewage sludge is prohibited. What is organic cotton? In short, it’s cotton that is farmed according to these practices and certified organic by the USDA. Why should you choose organic cotton? With fewer pesticides, fewer synthetic chemicals, and more thoughtful cultivation practices, organic cotton can certainly offer a more environmentally friendly choice when compared to regular cotton. Is organic cotton sustainable?  Here are a few other reasons why organic cotton can be a better alternative for you and the earth: It’s better for our water resources – According to an analysis by the Textile Exchange, producing an organic cotton T-shirt requires 1,982 fewer gallons of water compared to a regular cotton T-shirt. Because organic cotton uses less chemicals, its production also releases fewer toxins into our aquatic ecosystems. It’s good for the soil (and our carbon footprint) – According to the Soil Association, the more natural cultivation practices and fewer pesticides used by organic cotton farmers can support healthier soil. That soil, in turn, can absorb more carbon from our atmosphere and help keep the planet healthy. It encourages biodiversity – Multiple studies have shown that organic farming practices can encourage more diversity among the animal species of our planet. Sustainability is sometimes in the eye of the beholder. But when it comes to plant-derived textiles, the ones which help us create a healthier world are always a better alternative.  Explore the benefits of bamboo with Boody Whether you choose to purchase conventional or organic cotton clothing, the fact that you are shopping mindfully for yourself is a win for the environment. At Boody, we believe in bringing you quality, comfy, sustainable clothing basics that keep you feeling good about yourself and your personal impact on Mother Earth. From our sleepwear to our loungewear, women’s bamboo shirts to our underwear, sustainable and ethical are our touchstones. Our clothing is made of bamboo viscose, requiring less water than cotton while putting precious oxygen back into the environment. That just feels good, doesn’t it? Explore the bamboo benefits today, with Boody. Sources:  Britannica. Cotton. Cotton. The Story of Cotton - Where Cotton Grows. World Wildlife Federation. Cotton. Textile Exchange. Quick Guide to Organic Cotton. Soil Association. What is organic cotton?  USDA. Conservation and Biological Diversity in Organic Production. About the Author: Heather Bien is a copywriter and writer based in Washington, DC. She works with retail, ecommerce, and creative brands on their website copy and digital presence, and her freelance writing has appeared on MyDomaine, Apartment Therapy, The Everygirl, and more. When she's not with laptop and coffee in hand, you'll find her planning her next weekend getaway, working on her budding green thumb, or scouting for her next great vintage find.