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All you need to know

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The non-profit association Vesti la natura provides several free guides specially created to promote the use of low environmental impact materials among consumers and entrepreneurs

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What is Viscose?

Viscose is an artificial fiber made by mixing vegetable cellulose with chemical compounds; it is not a natural fiber nor a synthetic fiber as many say, but a textile fiber that uses a part of raw material of natural origin and a part of synthetic chemicals, and which is obtained through different chemical processes.

In the first part of its history, viscose was called vegetable silk and later Rayon, but today it is called in different ways depending on the natural raw material used. The raw material used is not always the same: mostly trees, plants, fruits, or other materials of vegetable origin are used.

However, there are two main types of viscose:

  1. Cellulosic
  2. protein

The cellulosic viscose fiber is extracted from cellulose of vegetable origin, while the protein viscose fiber it is extracted from proteins of materials of vegetable or animal origin, or from food production waste.

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How is Viscose born?

Viscose was born in the early 900s from the need to find a soft fiber like silk, but much cheaper. The economic boom occurs around 1930 when it was called Rayon. For further historical background we advise you to read the description of the viscose on Wikipedia

What does Viscose mean?

By viscosity we mean a liquid solution with a high fluidity. Being made in the laboratory in the liquid form (usually dissolved in caustic soda), viscose is very fluid, and hence the common name of viscose.

How to recognize viscose by touch?

It is very difficult to recognize it by touch, viscose is soft and luminous and could be confused with others artificial fabrics or synthetics, but especially with silk. If not specified on the label it is practically impossible to distinguish it by touching it with your hands.

Viscose Textile Fiber

Viscose is a breathable fiber, it gives a touch of freshness to the body and it is pleasant to wear it in direct contact with the skin. As mentioned, it was born with the name of vegetable silk, as it was created by man specifically to emulate the characteristics of softness of silk, but with a lower cost.

It is wear-resistant, absorbs well the colors that appear brighter than the classics natural fabrics and it is biodegradable. There viscose it is often mixed with other fabrics such as cotton and polyester, to give the garments further peculiar characteristics. It is also blended with elastane and spandex to ensure elasticity.

The most widespread is certainly the Rayon, and it is also the "oldest" version of viscose. For commercial purposes today viscose takes different names depending on the manufacturer, but despite changing the production process and the raw material used, it still remains an artificial fiber.

Ecological vegetable viscose

  Viscose of Bamboo

  Eucalyptus viscose (lyocell)

  Beech viscose (modal)

  Milk viscose (lanital)

  Viscose of oranges (orange fiber)

  Corn viscose

  Castor viscose

Being an artificial fiber of natural origin, viscose has greater moisture absorption properties than others textile fibers. By preventing the formation of bacteria and the growth of dust mites viscose fabric is often classifiable as hypoallergenic and thanks to this property it is also used to make blankets and sheets, in addition to classic clothing and underwear.

From Tree Cellulose to Textile Fiber (video)

Characteristics of Viscose

Fabric Quality:

The qualities of the fabric may vary based on its blending with other fibers. Example: with Elastan or Lycra you gain in elasticity.

  Does not shrink / discolor
  Quick drying

Ecological Characteristics:

The ecological characteristics of the fabric may vary based on textile certifications or blending with other fabrics.

  Natural - Artificial - Synthetic  
  No GMOs
  Natural raw material
  Recycled raw material
  Mechanical extraction
  Chemical extraction
  Energy saving
  Sustainability class  

Textile Certifications:

The certifications that can be assigned to the fabric, but which vary according to different factors: manufacturing company, fashion brand, blending.

Global Organic Textile Standard
Organic Content Standard
Global Recycle Standard
Second Life Plastic
Animal Free
Fair Wear Foundation

This card can only be found on www.vestilanatura.it

Ecological viscose clothing

Most fashion brands sell clothing in viscose, it is in fact easy to find it in clothing stores, or on the shelves of large distribution chains. T-shirts, dresses, pants, jackets, knitwear, any garment can be made of viscose.

How to choose an ecological viscose?
Certainly by purchasing certified clothing. In the case of the viscose we can choose certified clothing Oeko-Tex, possibly produced in Europe.

Why viscose clothing made in Europe?
The clothing in viscose produced in Europe complies with the regulations REACH valid only for clothing made in our continent. The regulation REACH, drawn up thanks to the collaboration between GreenPeace and the European Union, provides for the exclusion of over 1000 toxic substances commonly used in the textile sector.

Buy viscose products

A showcase where you can find Sustainable, ethical and cruelty free fashion brands guaranteed by the supervision of our association:

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Viscose for the summer

Viscose is a very breathable fabric as well it adapts very well to hot periods, it is in fact advisable to wear viscose fabrics in direct contact with the skin.

Viscose for the winter

The viscose it can also be worn in winter, but usually does not have great thermoregulatory capabilities, unless you buy a viscose Lyocell o Modal (Lyocell Tencel), as these two viscous are designed to perform at their best even during the winter period.

Viscose for children

Viscose clothing for children is recommended if it has textile certifications necessary to ensure the absence of toxic substances commonly used both for the production of viscose and for dyeing clothes. To rest assured we recommend buying Oeko-Tex Standard certified viscose children's clothing, possibly produced in Europe.

Viscose and allergy

If you have dermatitis problems or particular allergies we do not recommend the use of viscose in favor of natural fabrics, because despite being a fabric of natural origin it is still exposed to strong chemical media that could react in contact with the skin. Although in some cases, such as for Lyocell e Modal with Tencel brand, the use of these substances is minimized.

Viscose with Nickel

It is not the the fiber of viscose contain nickel, but the synthetic dyes normally used in the textile sector, and this is one of the reasons that pushes us to reiterate the importance of textile certifications: dyes of vegetable origin, or at least that use few toxic substances for humans and for the environment.

The toxic substances normally present in our clothing, such as nickel, chromium and other heavy metals, are absorbed by our body during the life span of our clothing, and those that we do not absorb are released into the water with each washing of the fabric.

Viscose with polyester

La viscose it is often mixed with polyester to guarantee additional characteristics to the garment, above all technical and tactile. The clothes in polyester mixed with viscose acquire softness and seem “less synthetic” to the touch.

Viscose is blended with many other fibers. For example t-shirt in organic cotton and bamboo viscose, with percentages up to 70% viscose and 30% organic cotton. This blend makes t-shirts and other organic cotton garments even softer and more pleasant to the touch, while maintaining a good compromise between environmental sustainability and fabric quality, such as breathability and thermoregulation.

We don't like viscose with polyester, but if it has the right certifications, it can fit.

Maintenance of ecological fabrics

How do you wash viscose?

The environmental impact of laundry detergents and household cleaners is devastating to our planet, so we highly recommend using ecological detergents.

Viscose was formerly called artificial silk, or vegetable silk, due to its silky and airy texture. The fabrics made with this material are light, highly breathable, dry quickly and, above all, hardly produce creases, lending themselves very well to the production of "no-iron" garments, which save time and effort.

As for washing, viscose garments can be safely washed both by hand and in the washing machine. The golden rule of observing the label also applies to viscose, as it is the most effective way to check if the garments require separate washing or special treatments.


If you are preparing to wash by hand, you need to fill a basin with warm water and a little ecological liquid detergent, preferably for delicates. After leaving the clothes to soak for about a quarter of an hour, rinse under cold running water, wring lightly and hang out in the open air or on the drying rack, according to your needs.

Machine wash

For washing in the washing machine it is advisable to choose a program for delicate garments, preferably not higher than 30 degrees, add a little delicate liquid detergent, a teaspoon of bicarbonate and start the cycle, avoiding spinning to the end: ideal it would be to squeeze the garments slightly, to avoid deformation during drying.

Do you want to wash your clothes while minimizing water pollution?

  1. We have selected one of the most sustainable detergent and detergent brands click here to buy an ecological detergent
  2. You could use a Washing Ball to wash without using detergents click here to buy a washing ball
  3. You could use the nuovissimo Ecoegg, a nice ecological egg with which you can do about 720 washes click here to buy the ecoegg egg


Do you want more information on Viscose? Ask your questions using the form below.

Ask Your Question!

Our answers:

Where can I buy viscose fabric?

Vesti la natura has created a table with more than 40 sustainable materials, their respective applications in the textile sector, and their suppliers (even for small quantities). To access the table we ask you to donate a small financial contribution to our association. Click here for more information.

Viscose or cotton?

We love natural fabrics and we consider them more eco-sustainable in the medium / long term. As a result, we are biased and vote for good old organic cotton.

Cotton is less breathable than some viscose, but more thermoregulatory than most viscose on the market. To the touch, viscose is certainly softer than cotton, in fact wearing viscose clothing in direct contact with the skin is pleasant.

Viscose in eucalyptus and beech

Lyocell (eucalyptus fiber) e Modal (beech fiber) are two ecological viscose produced by Lenzing AG and branded with the Tencel label. They are certainly the two most popular forms of viscose when it comes to sustainable fashion.

Is Viscose Ecological?

Compared to a few years ago, when viscose fabric was considered "toxic" for the environment, today, if it has the right textile certifications, it can be considered an ecological fabric.

We don't like rayon, but we like bamboo viscose, beech viscose and eucalyptus viscose very much. Remembering that NON ecological viscose is diluted in caustic soda and that to be considered ecological it must have these certifications:

  • REACH the European regulation created in collaboration with GreenPeace.
  • Oeko-Tex one of the most important environmental certifications.

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