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Viscose Rugs – A Big Problem

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Here at Rendall’s, we receive a wide variety of types of area rugs. Recently, there is one type in particular that has made us internally scream. Judging from the title of the blog post, you can probably guess which one! Yep, Viscose rugs. And there are many aliases for it too. It is also named “banana silk”, “art silk” (A/S), or “rayon”. They’re all the same, just different marketing names.

Before we go any further, you might be wondering what viscose is made of. Essentially viscose is wood pulp stuck together with plasticizing binders. The manufacturing plant processes wood pulp into a fiber, and then the rug mill turns the fibers into a rug by weaving or gluing the fibers into a backing.
The issues with viscose are two fold. First, it’s a really weak fiber when it gets wet. Viscose loses at least 50% of its strength when it’s we, and in most cases the best way to clean an area rug is with a copious amount of fresh water. If the rug gets weaker while wet, you can see why it would be a challenge to get them truly clean; especially if you have pet urine issues. In our opinion, it’s harder to clean a viscose rug than a silk rug.
The second reason is because of the nap lay. If a viscose rug is not properly groomed when drying, the fibers will stand up every which way and look dirty because of the nap lay. Viscose is a VERY sensitive fiber.
As viscose rugs dry, we have to continue to groom them out to make sure the fibers don’t spring back to where they should not be. It’s not uncommon for viscose rugs to take 3 to 4 times as long to clean than wool, synthetic, or even silk rugs.
One question we get often is “What should I do if my pet urinates on my viscose rug?”. Aside from blotting it up, and perhaps using our product Stain Fu (our stain cleaner), there’s not much you can do. Viscose rugs are VERY sensitive to yellowing and color change due to cellulosic browning.
Cellulosic browning is a condition where a natural substance turns yellow or brown due to oxidation. Biting into an apple and letting the bitten apple sit on the table for some time causes the meat of the apple to turn brown due to oxidation of the sugars. This browning condition is a common example of cellulosic browning, and viscose rugs have the same condition when they get wet and start to dry.
Viscose rugs require a LOT more care than other rug construction. Because of the extra processes and care required, most professional rug cleaning companies have to charge more to clean them. We highly recommend that you stay away from buying these types of rugs. Sure, they might look really nice on the outside, but they are a nightmare to deal with down the road when it comes time for cleaning.
As always, we are here for you. If you have any questions about your viscose rug, or any rug at all, let us know in the comments down below!
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Scott Rendall

When I'm not running the most exciting and extraordinary cleaning company in the universe, you will find me organic farming, practicing Hangul (Korean), and studying history.
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