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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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10 thoughts on “Viscose Rugs – A Big Problem

  1. Thanks for putting together this blog post. I have a question I hope you would answer… What is the best way to clean a silk rug? I’m worried about ruining an old rug I inherited from my grandmother. Thanks in advance for your answer!

    • For silk rugs, we always recommend getting them cleaned by a rug care professional. Silk is a high-quality sensitive fiber that requires special cleaning methods and products to clean it. Especially if it’s a family heirloom, best bet would be to take it to an area rug cleaner for cleaning. Who you hire matters too, so we recommend checking out https://rugcaredirectory.com/ for a rug pro in your area, as you’ll want to hire someone who has experience cleaning silk 🙂

  2. Our dog threw up on our large viscose rug – I scooped it up as quick as possible and have not put any water on it. Can I use baking soda or anything like that to lighten the brown spot? I have experienced everything you have written above with our rug and have even tried dying the carpet in spots to bring it closer to original color. Any advance would be greatly appreciated!

    • Hi Brigid, my apologies we didn’t see your comment until now (got mixed up in spam). But if you’re still looking for advice, we dont recommend using baking soda as it can change the pH and also can cause damage to the fibers in the foundation (as well as your vacuum). Once any stain gets on viscose/rayon/art silk rugs, it’s more than likely a permanent stain due to the characteristic of the fiber itself. We have found that Stain Fu has worked well on viscose and removing spots, but results can definitely vary based on the manufacturer, type of stain, and what’s been used on it so far. If you do use Stain Fu or water, try to speed dry it as fast as possible. Sadly even using water on viscose can cause the rug to turn brown. Lastly a rug cleaning professional is probably your best bet with getting it back to as the original as possible. You can check out https://rugcaredirectory.com/ to find a rug pro in your area. I hope this helps!

  3. Specialised in rugs cleaning since 1980 I completely agree with you those viscose rugs are nightmares ( and very expensive ) I try to find a solution to avoid yellow spots but till now it doesn’t work the way I want. I’ve heard about H2O2 which whitten naturel fibers…

    • Yes, I think the fact these rugs are marketed as high priced high-quality items bother me the most. We’ve had good luck with yellow stains using products with h202 (like Stain Fu) but we are definitely cautious each time with using any product (and even water!). Thanks for your comment and best of luck!

  4. Howdy! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and
    tell you I truly enjoy reading through your articles. Can you suggest
    any other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same subjects?
    Thank you so much!

    • Hi Jonnie, thanks for your comment! We’re glad you’re here 🙂
      You can check out Lisa the Rug Chick’s blog, she knows her stuff about area rugs and the industry. There’s a lot on YouTube as well. Depending on if you’re a cleaning pro or consumer we can give you some more, just let us know!

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