In simple terms, Viscose is a manufactured textile made from the cellulose found in trees and plants. The cellulose, or byproduct of these plants are then heavily processed using a cocktail of chemicals such as Caustic Soda and Sulphuric Acid to break down their fiber content.
Viscose’s source material is always plant-based (hence the term ‘natural’ often used by manufacturers and retailers to describe Viscose); however, due to the artificial manufacturing process, it is more accurately a semi-synthetic fiber.
Do Viscose rugs have other names on the material tag I should be on the lookout for?
Yes. Viscose is also referred to as Bamboo Silk, Banana Silk, Rayon, Plant Silk, Art (artificial) Silk, and countless brand names that are copyrighted.
Why are viscose rugs so popular?
There is a growing trend among interior designers to furnish homes and stage apartments throughout SW Florida with 100% viscose rugs. As the “cleaner of choice” to many interior designers and realtors, Oriental Rug Salon sees a growing trend to use Viscose rugs, combined with genuine hand-knotted textiles when staging properties. Since Viscose rugs “look” like silk and are much less expensive than their real counterparts, the designer can make a home look “expensive” relatively inexpensively.
From speaking to our clients, we’ve found two main reasons for the rise in popularity of viscose rugs, and none of them takes into account the cleaning issues and short lifespan of these rugs. To many stagers, these rugs are considered “throw-aways.”
Viscose looks and feels like silk. To the untrained eye, Viscose rugs can be challenging to differentiate from real silk.
Viscose rugs are cheap to produce. Designers and homeowners love the fact that they can get that silk look without paying silk prices.
Viscose comes in a vast range of designs and colors. Due to the low production cost, you can find Viscose rugs in any shape, size, and design element.
Why you shouldn’t buy a 100% Viscose Rug
A Viscose rug’s benefit is that it can look and feel like silk at considerable cost savings. On the other hand, the attributes of silk far outweigh those of Viscose. If you already own a viscose rug, the points below will probably ring true. If not, think carefully before purchasing one.
Viscose is a fragile fiber. Because it’s made from a chemical soup of dissolved cellulose, it has very little resilience. Most spills such as soft drinks, coffee, tea, pet urine, etc., will ‘blow’ the fibers or cause them to ‘bloom.’ Once this happens, nothing can be done to return the fibers to their original appearance.
Natural fibers such as silk or wool are naturally resilient and can look better with age if they are well made, and good quality natural dyes are used. Wool and silk fibers spring back, whereas viscose crushes.
Viscose can be overpriced and will not hold its value. Viscose rugs, although cheaper than a comparably sized silk rug, with the right marketing, purchasers of Viscose rugs can overpay by more than 500% of the rug’s actual value.
Recently we saw a 9X12 Viscose rug in a local retailer for sale with a price tag of $7500.00. The area rug was surrounded by expensive leather furniture to give the appearance that the area rug was “high quality,” and the setting justified the high price. Instead of identifying the area rug as Viscose, the manufacturer called the material ‘bamboo silk,’ making it sound exotic and expensive.
Viscose Rugs and Cleaning
Viscose rugs are difficult to clean and maintain, and spills and foot traffic easily damage them. They begin to look ‘flat’ and tired very quickly. Careless vacuuming can eventually cause irreparable damage to the pile. Even high humidity can discolor the rug because Viscose fibers absorb moisture readily.
I own a Viscose Rug. Can it be cleaned?
The short answer is yes; we regularly clean viscose rugs successfully for many clients. We can wash contaminated carpets (i.e., flood damage) and return them to a sanitary cleanliness level.
How effective is Viscose Rug Cleaning?
There are limitations to what visual results can be achieved when a viscose rug is cleaned. Damage to the pile can not be corrected with a good rug washing process. Also, discoloration due to pet urine, browning, and yellowing is usually permanent. Viscose will never look as good as silk after it has been cleaned.
Specific to Viscose, the most important thing you can do is have a protector treatment applied as soon as possible. Ideally, it would help if you had this done before you even use it. Any spill, even water, on a plant-based fiber can cause severe damage and discoloration. Anything you can do to minimize moisture from getting into your rug will keep it looking better for longer.
Viscose rugs are certainly less expensive than their real silk counterparts, but they come with baggage, and that’s why many professional designers consider them “throw-away” rugs.
Unlike natural fiber rugs, a viscose rug does not have the resilience of a natural fiber area rug like wool or silk. It is usually not economical to treat them for discoloration, as most stains will be permanent. Also bloomed, blown, and other damaged fibers due to traffic lanes develop over time.
Oriental Rug Salon is SW Florida’s leading Oriental, Persian, Turkish, wool, and silk area rug cleaning company. Our certified technicians have years of experience cleaning and repairing all hand-knotted and machine-made wool and silk area rugs. We are the “cleaner of choice” to many area rug collectors, rug retailers, interior designers, realtors, and clients who cherish their area rugs and want the best care possible.
At Oriental Rug Salon, all cleaning efforts are by hand, and each rug is cleaned one at a time. Our cleaning solutions are allergen-free, and GOLD Certified safe for wool and silk textiles.
If we can ever be of service for your Oriental, Persian, wool, or silk rug cleaning needs, or if you would like more information about area rugs, please do not hesitate to give us a call anytime.