How to Clean Viscose Shawls

by M.H. Dyer

Commonly known as rayon, viscose is a soft, absorbent, lustrous fabric often made to look like natural fibers, such as linen, cotton, silk or wool. However, unlike those fabrics, viscose isn't made completely from natural fibers, nor is it a synthetic like nylon or polyester. Because it is manufactured from cellulose-based wood pulp or cotton seed fibers, viscose is classified as a semi-synthetic fabric. Read the care tag before laundering a viscose shawl. Although some viscose fabrics require dry cleaning, others are suitable for gentle laundering.

Launder a viscose shawl in the washing machine, using cold water and a gentle laundry detergent, if machine washing is indicated on the care tag. Set the machine on the woolen or delicate cycle. Avoid fabric softeners and bleach.

Hand-wash the shawl in cool water if the fabric needs gentle handling. Use a mild shampoo or a soap manufactured for hand-washing. Swirl the shawl gently in the sudsy water and avoid harsh rubbing or agitation, which may damage or stretch the fibers. Rinse the shawl in cool water until the water runs clear. Squeeze the shawl to remove excess moisture or roll the shawl in a clean, white towel. Never wring or twist.

Lay a still-wet shawl on a towel to dry. Stretch the shawl gently to restore the item to its original shape and to prevent excessive wrinkling. Or hang the wet shawl on a hanger to air dry.

Press the shawl carefully when it is slightly damp, using a warm steam iron and a press cloth. If the shawl is a dark color, press the fabric on the wrong side.

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Items you will need

  • Gentle liquid laundry detergent
  • Mild shampoo or hand-washing soap
  • White towel
  • Hanger
  • Steam iron
  • Press cloth


  • Tumble dry a viscose shawl only if the label indicates that machine-drying is safe. Use your dryer's delicate setting and remove the shawl as soon as it is dry. Never expose viscose to high temperatures.
  • Viscose fibers often tighten and shrink when wet; however, the fibers usually return to normal as the fabric dries.
  • Always launder a viscose shawl if you plan to store the shawl for any length of time. Dirt and grime attracts pests, such as clothing moths and silverfish.


About the Author

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.

Photo Credits

  • Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images