Viscose area rugs are everywhere these days. Whether you’re shopping at your local home decor store, or the popular online stores, like Wayfair and overstock.com, viscose rugs are all the rage. And why not? They’re attractive, have a silky sheen to them, come in trendy styles, and are generally priced lower than their wool, hand-woven counterparts. So what’s wrong with spending less and getting a beautiful new focal point for your room, you ask? Keep reading. I’ll explain what viscose is and why it doesn’t belong anywhere that’s going to get foot traffic or could potentially get dirty. And God forbid it get wet!
First, let’s clear up what viscose actually is and how it’s made. Viscose is a semi-synthetic fiber, made by taking cellulose (wood pulp by-products, bamboo scraps, plant stalks, etc) and putting it through an aggressive chemical process that turns it into a thick paste which is regenerated and put through more chemical processes to create the shiny, silky fiber which is referred to as viscose, among other names. This process has eared viscose the oft-used, industry insider nickname of the “sausage” of the fiber world. Yuck. In fact, the process to create viscose fibers is so toxic, it’s been outlawed in the U.S. for years and outsourced to countries like India to do our dirty work.
What’s In A Name?
Viscose, also known as rayon, has many aliases to confuse and mislead consumers. Due to its soft, silky appearance, it has been dubbed by marketers as faux silk, art silk (short for artificial), bamboo silk, and banana silk. These names are meant to imply that viscose is a silk or silk like fiber, when in fact the only similarity is the sheen. Aside from that, viscose falls flat in comparison to silk, or any other natural fiber rug. Many consumers have found themselves the victims of fraud when they purchased at a premium price what they thought was a real silk rug, but soon realized they were duped.
The harsh, toxic, chemical process which created viscose, degraded the fibers so much that it essentially yielded a disposable rug. Reputable professionals in the rug retail and cleaning industry will tell you, you’re viscose area rug will never look as good as it does the first day you get it. It’s all down hill from there. After even minimal foot traffic, the luster on the rug will fade as the fibers degenerate further. To give you an idea of just how weak the viscose fibers are, here’s an analogy. Wool fiber can be bent 10,000 times before showing signs of breakage. Silk, up to 2000 times. Viscose breaks after just 70 times!
The rug will show the signs of breakage several ways. It will start looking dirty and/or discolored in spots as the fibers deteriorate. It will lose its luster and sheen. It will shed to the point where you want to vacuum it obsessively, but when you do, it will start pulling out fibers and your rug will resemble a cat’s scratching post. The thinner viscose rugs will actually wrinkle, and once they do, no iron is going to fix it.
How’s The Water?
Water is the mortal enemy of viscose. The fibers immediately lose 50% of there strength when wet. That can pose a problem if you ever intend to get your rug cleaned. In fact, the process to clean a viscose rug is so lengthy and involved, that it isn’t even cost effective in most cases. Another reason to avoid water is dye bleeding. Viscose is a great fiber to absorb dye due to extreme porousness, but it’s a horrible fiber to hold the dye for the same reason. If you spill water on a colorful viscose rug, you’ll see how the colors transfer to whatever is beneath it. Hopefully it’s not wall to wall carpeting, or you’ll be replacing that too…
Is Yellow My Color?
I hope you like yellow, because that’s the color viscose rugs turn when moisture gets in them. The hue ranges from light yellow to deep amber depending on the spill, color of the rug, and level of moisture, but what doesn’t change is the near impossible task of cleaning it. The main problem being, of course, that it generally takes copious amounts of water to clean stains, but in this case the cure is also the cause….
Viscose rugs provide instant gratification – they’re pretty, shiny, and trendy and usually don’t put a big dent in the wallet. Easy to understand why so many people are buying them! Unfortunately, few people end up happy with their purchase and have to replace their rug after a short period of time. The old adage, “You get what you pay for” is certainly true in this case. I hope you found this article helpful and informative. Please contact Coastal Carpet Cleaning with questions about viscose, or any other rug or carpet.