By: Daisy Hemmen
If you’re committed to lowering your environmental footprint, you’ve probably come across bamboo viscose as a recommended natural fabric for your clothing and home. But is viscose a good material in terms of comfort, care, and wear?
In short: absolutely, it can be.
That said, you may be wondering, is viscose sustainable? Viscose rayon fabric quality and eco-friendliness can vary depending on the practices of its creators and the source viscose material used. From responsible crafters, viscose rayon can be:
- Comfortable and easy to wear both in its pure form and in blended fabrics
- Simple to care for and long-lasting
- A sustainably created, earth-loving material
Let’s take a closer look at the properties of viscose fiber and when to choose it.
What is viscose?
Viscose fiber is a semi-synthetic material. It combines natural fibers with a careful chemical treatment that breaks down proteins into a new structure that can be spun and woven into viscose blend fabric. It’s also known as the most common type of rayon fiber.
There are a few environmental impact concerns with the creation of viscose fibers that make it a must to know you’re getting your clothing or synthetic fabric from a reputable source:
Tree and plant sustainability – The natural fibers used in the production process to create a viscose blend can be almost any plant or tree material, including those from protected forest regions.
- Chemical process – The chemicals used in the production process to transform wood pulp and plant pulp to viscose material need to be handled with care. Responsible creators ensure no solvents are leaving their system to impact water supplies.
A popular option today is bamboo viscose fabric. You may be wondering what is bamboo viscose, put simply, viscose clothing uses bamboo as the natural fiber. Boody Eco Wear sources viscose sustainably to ensure every item of clothing can be worn like an eco-badge of honor.
What is viscose used for?
You can find viscose in both fashion and home textiles at various weights. It’s a versatile viscose garment fabric in part because it combines well with others and can be used in blends with both natural and synthetic fabrics.
Viscose natural fabric is a great choice for:
- Sustainable Fashion that includes shirts, blouses, and dresses
- Intimates, sustainable underwear, and activewear (in viscose garment fabric blends)
- Drapery, sheets, and table linens
- Hygiene products like beauty masks, surgical dressings, baby wipes
Often you’ll find viscose used in products where softness on the skin is a high priority.
Features of viscose
Viscose natural fiber has a lot going for it, from texture to color to breathability. Its characteristics include:
- Texture and finish – Oh so soft, like a baby’s chubby cheeks! Viscose can come in a silky or matte finish, but it’s smooth and soft to the touch.
- Drape and lack of cling – Lightweight viscose is popular in sustainable clothing that depends on a beautiful drape. It falls smoothly and softly, and unlike many synthetics, it is very resistant to static cling.
- Shape and versatility – Viscose can be blended with both synthetic and natural fabrics, retaining its shape while being able to provide stretch with more elastic materials in the mix.
- Breathability and moisture-wicking – This airy fabric absorbs water and sweat without trapping moisture or body heat, helping the wearer remain comfortable and dry.
- Color – Viscose takes to dyes beautifully, resulting in rich, deep color options. It’s dye-fast, retaining color without fading even after a lot of wear and washing.
- Affordability – With an established fabrication process and flexibility in source materials, viscose is often significantly more affordable than silks or cottons.
How to care for viscose
Due to the variance of both the source fibers and the creation process, there may be some differences in how to care for your fabrics. Ever asked yourself, does viscose shrink? Check tags and follow care instructions specific to each product.
Most viscose can be:
- Washed – Wash gently with a mild detergent, either by hand or on a delicates or gentle machine cycle.
- Dried – Ideally, drape or lay flat to air dry in a shaded location, or use a low-heat gentle setting on a dryer.
- Ironed – Use a low setting or select “rayon” on your iron.
Avoid dry cleaning viscose fabrics, as the chemicals can break down or damage its synthetic fibers.
Where did bamboo viscose come from?
The viscose process began in response to a silk shortage after a silkworm blight in the late 19th century.1 Using mulberry leaves (a popular dinner for silkworms) as the source natural material, Count Hilaire de Chardonnet experimented with finding the right chemical treatment to produce long, silky fibers that could be spun into material.2 Viscose fabric was lauded as an amazing silk replacement and renamed rayon.
At this point you are probably questioning is viscose biodegradable? Today, any wood or plant pulp can be used as source material, but about 30% of the rayon and viscose materials used in the fashion industry is sourced from endangered forests.3
Bamboo fabrics became popular in Western markets in the early 2000s, both for their comfort and quality but also due to growing eco-consciousness among consumers. Unlike trees, bamboo benefits are:
- Is a fast-growing grass that uses little water
- Requires no pesticides or fertilizers
- Is self-generating (plant it once and you’re done)
Combining a sustainable source material with a proven process for creating high-quality fabric has made bamboo viscose a sought-after choice for bamboo shirts, underwear, and more.
Boody Eco Wear: Bamboo viscose done right
Our mission at Boody is to create sustainable clothing, both in terms of ecological sustainability and lasting fashion. Our intimates, loungewear, and activewear collections for women, men, and babies are beautifully comfortable and durable as well as just plain beautiful.
Ethical practices at Boody include transparency. You can find out more about our sustainability, living wage, process, and certifications on our website.
While you’re there, take a look at the cross-section of wearable luxury, sustainable fashion, and soft-to-the-touch clothing that is Boody.
About the Author:
Daisy Hemmen is a San Diego State University Fowler College of Business alumni. Based in Encinitas, California, Daisy is a part of the marketing team at Boody North America. She is passionate about learning the ins and outs of living a happy and healthy lifestyle that benefits both people and the planet, and enjoys sharing her bountiful findings with the community.
- Treehugger. What Is Viscose? https://www.treehugger.com/what-is-viscose-fabric-5070642
- McGill Office for Science and Society (OSS). What was meant by “Chardonnet Silk?” https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/history-you-asked/what-was-meant-chardonnet-silk
- Fibre2Fashion. Fashionable fabrics leading to deforestation. https://www.fibre2fashion.com/industry-article/7365/fashionable-fabrics-leading-to-deforestation
- Fabrics Galore. Why Should You Use Viscose Fabric for Dressmaking? https://www.fabricsgalore.co.uk/blogs/news/why-should-you-use-viscose-as-a-dressmaking-fabric