What Is Rayon? Here's What You Should Know

Mandy Zee
·3 mins read

Rayon is one of the most versatile fabrics around, yet it remains somewhat of a mystery. That’s partly because of its remarkable ability to shape-shift—not just literally, but also in terms of imitating other fabrics. Rayon has been known to take on the properties of silk, cotton, wool, and others, and can be used in nearly any type of clothing. This can make it challenging to pin down exactly what it is, how to launder it, and what type of weather it’s best suited for. To help boost your familiarity with this ubiquitous fabric, keep reading to see everything you need to know about rayon.

What It Is

In a nutshell, rayon is a fabric made from purified cellulose fibers, which are typically created from wood pulp. Though rayon is derived from natural materials, it requires certain chemicals, so it’s considered to be a semi-synthetic fabric.

One of the most common types of rayon is viscose rayon, which has a lot in common with cotton. It’s breathable, moisture-absorbent, and a popular choice for casual and athletic wear. It also shows up in dresses, blouses, and outerwear. Secondary types of rayon include modal rayon (typically made from beech trees) and lyocell (seen in everything from denim to dress shirts).


Laundering rayon takes a little extra consideration. Rayon is often blended with other fabrics (such as polyester and cotton), so washing instructions can vary significantly. While its texture and versatility make it an ideal choice for a range of apparel, rayon isn’t a durable fabric, and standard machine washing can cause it to stretch, shrink, or bleed onto other articles of clothing. As a result, most experts recommend hand-washing rayon, but always be sure to check the care label instructions beforehand.

Now, shop our favorite picks:

Free People Mimi Cardi ($78)

A lightweight cardi for your summer-to-fall looks.

All in Favor Floral Print Puff Sleeve Minidress ($49)

We can't decide between this and the baby pink.

AllSaints Aliza Tie Dye Dress ($260)

So dreamy.

Cotton Emporium Smocked Baby T-Shirt ($25)

For when you're on the hunt for just the right black tee.

Lost + Wander Wander My Way Mini Dress ($108)

We see a picnic in our future with this dress.

Ten Sixty Sherman Tie Dye Rib Baby T-Shirt ($29)

You can never have too many casual tees.

Faithfull the Brand Arianne Ruffled Tie-Dyed Crepe Mini Dress ($169)

The 2020 way to do boho style.

Reformation Lupe Floral Print Camisole ($78)

This top comes in so many pretty patterns.

Refinery29 Double Knit Lounge Shorts ($34)

Adding to our rotation of WFH gear.

Reformation Hunt Dress Es ($124)

The puff-sleeves on this are so pretty.

Treasure & Bond Dobby Classic Shirt ($69)

A versatile white button-down.

One Clothing Smocked Bottom Blouse ($29)

The perfect casual blouse.

Next, see the tricks to stretching out your favorite pair of denim.

This story was published at an earlier date and has been recently updated.

This article originally appeared on Who What Wear

Read More from Who What Wear