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Viscose Rugs Guide: Is It a Good Material & Easy To Clean?

Viscose Rugs Guide: Is It a Good Material & Easy To Clean?

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Most area rug materials can be divided into two categories; natural and man-made. While the former consists of materials like jute, wool, seagrass and the like, the latter is all about polyester, olefin, and of course, viscose (also known by the term “rayon”).

Viscose rugs are synthetically produced from a mixture of cellulose treated with carbon disulfide and sodium hydroxide. It’s a material that boasts a number of benefits, including the fact that it can be easily dyed in a number of beautiful colors and doesn’t really trap any heat. However, they are not the most durable on their own and can stain pretty easily.

They don’t fare very well against heavy foot traffic as well and tend to become matted. Some area rug maestros even combine this material with natural wood or cotton for more durable results.

Viscose rugs are also notoriously hard to clean and even something as small as being careless while vacuuming can result in damage to the pile. In case of spills, you’ll see a lot of leftover stains even after extensive cleaning.

(Fun Fact: The pile of viscose rugs has a bend-over ratio of 70 times. Compared to that, the pile of silk rugs can be bent around 2000 times.)

Below, let’s look at everything about viscose rugs in detail:

What is a viscose rug made from?

Viscose Material
Savelov Maksim/

Viscose is basically a silk rip-off. It has all the physical trappings of authentic silk (soft, shimmery, supple, romantic, nice to touch, etc.), but when it comes to actual qualitative value, this material falls short.

Viscose is basically made of something called “regenerative cellulose” – which is basically wood pulp fibers and cotton by-products. This cellulose is then treated with a number of chemicals including carbon disulfide and sodium hydroxide. The result is a silk-like fiber that can be converted into rugs that “look” as if they’re made of silk but are actually not. Truth be told, when compared to actual silk, viscose is pretty weak.

It’s interesting to note that the popularity of this product actually hides a very harmful environmental backstory. In fact, the manufacturing of viscose is highly toxic to our environment. The process results in the production of a byproduct known as carbon di-sulfate, which is why the USA has banned its production.

How do viscose rugs wear?

Viscose rugs are really popular with homeowners because of their affordability, easy availability, and beautiful visuals. However, their faux-luxury hides an ugly truth; they are extremely hard to maintain. Generally, there’s no win-win situation with these rugs. Here’s why:

  • Not prone to heavy foot traffic: Viscose rugs are not able to hold on to their luxurious persona and fluffy texture in the face of heavy foot traffic. This is why it’s recommended that you don’t place them in rooms where there’s a lot of footfall. Eventually, they will become matted and worn down, losing all their glimmer and plushness.
  • Requires super careful vacuuming: The problem with viscose rugs is that even if you place them in areas with low foot traffic, they’re still going to collect dust. Thus, you’ll have to vacuum them. Now, remember to use an upright cleaner and be gentle with your vacuuming. If you’re careless, you’ll just end up damaging the pile. It’s also recommended that you vacuum it at least once a week to keep the debris or dirt from setting in.
  • Stain immediately: Viscose rugs are easily susceptible to stains. Even if it’s a simple water spill, it’s going to leave a yellow-ish mark upon the rug. In case of heavier spills (especially ones including pet urine, wine, or other food items) you’ll need to immediately call in a professional. 

How to clean a viscose rug?

Viscose rugs are pretty hard to maintain and even more difficult to clean. The first priority should always be to prevent any damage, but if there are any unfortunate spills, dirty footprints, or other accidents, here’s a handy trick that you can use, courtesy of this youtube channel.

Here’s a list of things that you’ll be needing to clean up: dry compound powder, tamping brush, cotton terry cloth, dry cleaning solvent, and a tiny bit of peroxide. Now, you just need to isolate the stained spot on the rug and cover it with dry compound powder. After that, brush the powder in thoroughly.

The compound will activate the dirt and you can easily clean it up with a brush. If it’s not working all the way, then dab some dry cleaning solvent onto a terry towel and dab/blot at the area where you’d tapped in the powder. The soil or dirt discharge will come off in a gradual manner.

However, if you want a full-rug cleaning, then just sprinkle the dry powder onto the rug and spread it evenly with a medium-sized brush roller. It will activate the dirt and bring it to the top. Then you can vacuum it all off in one go.

Other than that, just regularly vacuum it once a week and you’ll be good to go.

Are viscose rugs expensive?

Viscose rugs are mainly popular because of their affordability. They provide all the aesthetic luxury of silk without all the expensive price tag. They have a really neat price range of $50 to $1000 depending on how much money you’re willing to spend and the kind of design you’re opting for.

The reason why viscose rugs are so affordable is that their production does not require a lot of manual labor. In fact, most of them are either machine-made or hand-tufted (which is where the viscose yarn is “stapled” onto a canvas to make patterns on the rug). The craftier viscose rugs also come in hand-knotted and handcrafted formats.

Is viscose better than polypropylene?

When you compare polypropylene to viscose rugs, polypropylene definitely has a better standing against high foot traffic.

The main difference between viscose and polypropylene is that the former is semi-synthetic while the latter is completely artificial. Viscose is a fiber that is made from cellulose (derived from plants, wood pulp, cotton, etc.) and then treated with chemicals. Polypropylene, on the other hand, is made out of wholly synthetic products.

As a result, there are many similarities between these two types of rugs. They both have piles that crush or matte pretty quickly under heavy objects. The pile is fragile at best because it has a really low bending quotient.

Is viscose better than wool?

Wool is an entirely natural fiber that is derived from the fur of sheep. It is then woven into yarn that is used to create beautiful rugs. Note that wool fiber is thick, so the designs crafted out of these rugs are rather pixelated.

Viscose rugs are silkier and smoother than wool rugs, but at the end of the day, viscose is rather fragile. Moreover, wool rugs never shed, but viscose rugs begin to shed a few months after you’ve installed them. Wool rugs offer the benefit of being extremely durable as well as sustainable. They are also hypoallergenic.

What happens if you get a viscose rug wet?

Getting a viscose rug wet can be incredibly disastrous. Not only does the fiber lose 70% of its structural integrity, but the cellulose that it’s made of begins to turn a yellowish color. Moreover, you cannot harshly scrub this material as it is already weak as paper and might get even more damaged.

This is everything that you need to know about viscose rugs and how they compare to some other popular rug materials. We hope this guide is helpful to anyone who’s searching for the best value for this product.