Tech Tip: Cleaning Tips for Viscose Rayon Carpet and Fabric
What is viscose rayon?
Viscose rayon is a manufactured (manmade) fiber composed of regenerated cellulose from cotton linters. The cotton linters are dissolved by caustic soda and then extruded through a spinneret, similar to the process for other synthetic fibers. Viscose rayon feels like cotton, but it looks like silk. It is very inexpensive to make, which is why it becomes more popular each year.
Rugs made from viscose rayon are frequently called “art silk,” which means “artificial silk” (so much for truth in advertising!). But whether it is found in rugs or fabric, problems abound when it comes to cleaning.
Being cellulosic in nature, viscose rayon has the same problems as cotton, with shrinkage and browning leading the list.
Here are additional problems professional cleaners should be aware of:
- Fiber fading is an issue in both rugs and fabric. When looking at fabric, make sure to look at both sides of the cushions and under the arm covers for color differential.
- Yellowing can be caused by improper cleaning or even a spill. Alcoholic beverages can cause a color change as well as causing the spiller to weep. A quality acid rinse, such as Matrix® All Fiber Rinse, should be a standard part of your cleaning procedures.
- Shrinkage is a familiar problem to anyone that has cleaned natural fibers. For rug cleaning, you may want to create a tack-out board to hold the rug under tension.
- Fiber shedding is always a potential problem as most rayon is extruded and cut into staple fiber. Avoid aggressive agitation with rotary machines. On fabric, use only soft brushes, such as horsehair brushes.
- Weakness is due to the chemical makeup of the fiber. Viscose rayon can be broken in just 70 bends, whereas wool can withstand 2,500. Fiber weakness is especially evident on rugs due to heavy foot traffic, or on arms of chairs due to abrasion as well as body oil and perspiration.
- Stiffness can be caused by slow drying and a lack of properly finishing the pile setting following cleaning. Pile grooming should be done with soft brushes. When cleaning is complete, brush against the pile and then brush with the pile leaving it in that manner. A fabric that is not properly groomed will look like it has lost color due to poor light refraction. This can be remedied by a light misting of Matrix® All Fiber Rinse followed by proper grooming till dry. A portable hair dryer set on the cool setting can speed the process.
- Sizing is the solution that strengthens the yarn in a delicate fabric. When the fabric is wet, it can lose the sizing, which can make it limp and possibly leave water rings. For these fabrics, a dry foam shampoo, such as Matrix® Radiant Fine Fabric Shampoo, is preferred.
After performing a thorough pre-inspection and fiber testing communicate your findings to the customer. Remember to under promise and over deliver to set clear expectations.
Jon-Don recommends the following products for the proper cleaning of viscose rayon:
Matrix® Radiant Fine Fabric Shampoo
Due to its low moisture and slightly acidic pH, Matrix® Radiant is ideal for cleaning viscose rayon. It reduces the likelihood of the problems listed above, plus it does not have to be rinsed, but can simply be toweled in the pile direction.
Matrix® Accomplish Fine Fabric Pre-Spray
This slightly alkaline pre-conditioner (pH: 8.36) can be used on viscose rayon fabric and carpet that is in need of a deeper clean.
Matrix® Complete Rinse
This rinse agent should be used following cleaning with Matrix® Accomplish. Matrix® Complete will leave the fibers on the acidic side, eliminating some of the issues listed above.
This high-quality pre-spray is specifically designed for the safe and effective cleaning of both wool and pH-sensitive fabrics. It lifts and suspends tough soils without harming delicate natural fibers, wool, and stain-resistant carpet.
- Tough pre-spray that is gentle enough for natural fibers
- Great for those problem rugs
- pH: 8.36
- Safe for stain-resistant carpet and wool
- Dilute 4 ounces per gallon of water
Starting at: $27.09
Just as the name implies, Matrix Complete Rinse is a product you can use with complete confidence on ALL carpets and wet-cleanable upholstery, including commercial, residential, and yes, even wool! It eliminates dirt and cleaning solution residues, leaving carpet and upholstery looking its best.
- Eliminates dirt and cleaning solution residue
- Leaves carpet bright and soft
- pH: 4.0–4.5
- Safe for stain-resistant carpet and wool
- Variable dilutions
Starting at: $30.57
This gentle fine fabric shampoo combines a low pH with premium detergents to suspend soils, dirt, and grime while also preventing browning. It's ideal for use on any fabric, including wool and other natural fibers.
- Low pH, premium detergent shampoo formula
- Suspends soils without damaging fibers
- pH: 6.0–7.0
- Safe for use on wool
- Dilute 3–5 ounces per gallon of water
Starting at: $23.30