Does Rayon Shrink? A Guide to Prevent Rayon Sheets from Shrinking.

Many of the sheets we already own have Rayon in them without us ever knowing. The “Not Knowing” is the main reason bed sheets don’t last as long as expected.

If washed incorrectly, rayon bed sheets will shrink when washed, develop wrinkles and can even become deformed.

In this article we will be answering the very important question; “Does Rayon Shrink?”.

We have also put together a guide with all the information about rayon bed sheets, rayon fabrics and clothing made with rayon.

Finally, we’ve included “Easy-to-Follow Steps to Prevent Rayon from Shrinking”.Do Rayon Sheets Shrink

Do Rayon Bed Sheets Shrink?

The first thing that comes to mind when one hears the phrase rayon bed sheets is “what exactly are rayon bed sheets?”.

That’s actually a very simple question with a very straightforward answer. Rayon bed sheets are bed sheets made from rayon.

So, if after considering all the pros and cons of rayon sheets, you still choose to settle for rayon (probably because of its impeccable softness and comfortability), an important question you’ll need to ask is “do rayon bed sheets shrink when wet?”

To give a proper answer to this question I must refer to the types of rayon mentioned earlier. Remember that rayon is classified into three generations.

The first generation is purely viscose and it is the weakest form of rayon possible. It possesses a very high tendency to shrink when wet.

The second generation rayon is the High Wet Modulus. This generation of rayon was actually created to counter the “weak when wet” problems of viscose rayon therefore it is a stronger form of rayon compared to viscose.

The third generation is the Lyocell which also possesses a level of strength.

All in all, fact is that rayon is a weak kind of fabric which does not possess the kind of strength other fabrics like cotton possess. It will not stand up to the same kind of abuse that we put cotton fabrics through.

If you put a rayon dress through a washer or dryer with a load such as jeans, then in tumbling, the jeans will rub and pull on the dress seams. If the dress has ties or straps, they will get tangled in the jeans and other items and pull and tear at the seams.Prevent Rayon from Shrinking

How to Prevent Rayon Sheets From Shrinking

The good news in all of these is that you can actually avoid and in fact completely prevent your rayon sheets from shrinking.

Here are some basic principles you can follow to prevent shrinkage of rayon sheets:

  1. Hand washing is the best and recommended way to wash rayon sheets to prevent shrinking. Hand washing totally avoids the whole rumpling and tangling phenomenon encountered with machine washing. If at all you must machine wash, then put the rayon sheets in a net or bag.
  2. Line drying is also the best and recommended way to dry rayon sheets. Lay it on a nonmetal hanger to dry. If it can lose its shape, you can dry it flat. It will dry best on a drying rack rather than on a towel, if you have one.
  3. Avoid wringing, twisting or bunching up rayon bed sheets. Shake the sheets out gently and smooth out any wrinkles with your hands.
  4. Additionally, always read the garment care label. If you wash rayon garment that isn’t washable, it will shrink, stretch and possibly bleed all over. So ensure to check the instructions.

What is Rayon?

Those in the fashion and clothing industry already know what Rayon fabrics are. In fact, many will have come across it one time or another while shopping for clothing and bed sheets.

Rayon is a type of fabric. I tend to refer to it as the middle-ground between natural fabrics and man-made fabrics. This is because it  is gotten from a natural source which then goes through a process of refining and manufacturing to yield rayon.

It is a manufactured fibre made from natural sources such as wood and agricultural products which are then regenerated as cellulose fibre.

The technical term for rayon is “Regenerated Cellulosic Fiber“, due to it being made from purified cellulose.  The cellulose is harvested primarily from wood pulp which uses a chemical process to convert it into a soluble compound.

Rayon is a highly versatile fabric which can be found in many different products. The comfort it provides is very close to those of natural fibres.

Rayon also has the tendency to imitate the feel of silk, wool, cotton and linen. Rayon fabrics are soft, smooth, cool, comfortable and highly absorbent. However, they’re not a good insulator for heat. This property makes them the coolest bed sheets for hot and humid climates.How Rayon is Made

How is Rayon Made?

The process of making rayon fabrics is a quite straightforward process.

It starts by taking raw organic plant materials such as bamboo, eucalyptus, pine, spruce and hemlock trees. The plants are dissolved in a chemical bath until the materials break down in to a cellulose base.

After converting it into a cellulose state, the pulp is pressed and dried and stored as large sheets, until ready for the next step.

Once ready, the sheets of dried-pulp are pushed through tiny openings to create the threads. The threads are then woven into large rolls of fabric which will become the base material for bed sheets and clothing.

Products made with rayon are remarkably light and comfortable.

Different Types of Rayon Fabrics

There are three types of rayon that is commercially used today. You can find some more information about each type below.

Viscose Rayon: Viscose is the most common type of rayon fabrics and is often found in bamboo sheets.

It has a characteristic feature of being WEAK WHEN WET. Therefore it may shrink or stretch when wet. Dry Cleaning is usually recommended to preserve the appearance of fabric made from this fibre.

Modal Rayon: This is the HIGH WET MODULUS (HWM) rayon, also known as ‘Modal Rayon’. It was developed to conquer the ‘weak when wet’ problem of viscose.

Modal is extra strong when wet and extremely soft. Because of its softness,it is often found in underwear and sleepwear.

Lyocell or Tencel Rayon: This is the high tenacity rayon. It is also called Lyocell or Tencel. Lyocell uses eucalyptus, bamboo, cotton along with many other natural plants as its cellulose source.

It has the ability to absorb excess liquid (perspiration) and quickly release it to the atmosphere, all the while being resistant to developing odor.

Benefits of Using Rayon Bed Sheets

So if I were to go out shopping for bedsheets today, what qualities will I consider that will spur me to settle for rayon sheets?

Well, for one, the unimaginable softness of rayon sheets is something I particularly appreciate about rayon. Apart from that, some other advantages of rayon sheets include:

  1. It is inexpensive. Rayon has a “silk-like” feel that comes with it. So I get to enjoy the comfort and luxurious feeling that comes with silk without necessarily paying as much money as I would for real silk and even Egyptian cotton sheets.
  2. Rayon drapes beautifully. Spreading it across my bed furniture will effortlessly give a feel of royalty and luxury. For this reason, rayon is ideal for those seeking a luxurious look at a more economical price.
  3. One particular reason that will without doubt make me choose rayon is that it blends easily with other fibres, especially woven fibres.

However, as we all know, everything good has its downsides, so does rayon.

Amidst all the beautiful qualities which it possesses, some of its shortcomings are:

  1. It almost always needs to be dry cleaned.
  2. It is prone to stretching and bagging and often doesn’t recover, therefore it is not recommended for use in home furniture.
  3. Rayon fabric is very weak and often weaker when wet.
  4. Rayon is highly absorbent. It absorbs body oils and water, moisture. All these may result in spots on the sheets. Moreover, treating these spots more often than not results in permanent marking of the sheets.

Well, I hope you’ve learnt the beauties and delicacies of rayon fiber and how to care for it just in case you choose to drape your furniture with it’s royalty or spread it across your bed for luxury and immense comfort.