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What The Heck is Viscose?

What The Heck is Viscose?

We at BedVoyage often get asked ‘What Is Viscose?’ The packaging on our bamboo linens used to say Viscose but now we use the term Rayon Viscose from Bamboo, and we’ll explain why. We’ll also discuss some history of both terms. The term Viscose and Rayon are used interchangeably, as they’re made in much the same way, from the regenerated cellulose of woody plants. BedVoyage has chosen to use the term Viscose from Bamboo when describing our linens. The Federal Trade Commission has allowed the use of either term when marketing fabrics made from bamboo. The term Rayon may be more commonly used, and as people have heard that term for many decades, and are more familiar with it.

What Does Rayon Mean?

The name ‘Rayon’ was given to regenerated cellulose fibers in the early 1920’s by a French Count named Hillaire de Chardonnet. He discovered in the early 1880’s that the cellulose from wood pulp could be spun into fibers, and turned into fabrics. Being the first manufactured fiber, its considered a semi-synthetic because its derived from a real plant, but then ‘processed’ into a fiber. Rayon is produced by treating the dissolving pulp of the plant with aqueous sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide. Its then spun through a Spinnerette, which  creates very fine, smooth and round threads. When woven together, it has an amazingly soft drape and feel, making it a great clothing and bedding fabric.

Although rayon dates to the late 1800’s, it really got its traction in the 1920’s as a popular fashion fiber. Lady’s fashion apparel was one of the first uses for the fabric, making beautiful clothes.  Many of us first heard of it when leisure suits hit the market in the late 60’s to early 70’s! People often ask us if our products are synthetic when they see the word rayon. But we explain that it’s actually considered a semi-synthetic. It began its journey as a live bamboo plant, from the Moso species of bamboo (also called tortoise-shell).

When did the process begin of making viscose?

Also in the early 20th century, an English firm, Courtaulds Company, devised a commercial method of regenerating cellulose fibers. They named it ‘viscose’ due to the viscous solution used in the processing. He then started a U.S. branch of his company in 1910 and called it the American Viscose Company.

In 1917 the Industrial Rayon Corp opened its doors, and Time Life Magazine took photos of the workers spooling the threads.

Rayon is used today in many different products, from socks, to underwear, to bedding to performance clothing. It has a drape and hand feel that is very soft and comforting, and can imitate the feel and texture of silks and cottons. It takes dye very well, and keeps its colors true. While historically used only for structural elements, such as bustles and the ribs of corsets, BedVoyage is very pleased to offer much softer items from quality Rayon from Bamboo, in our line of bedding and bath linens.

I hope that information was interesting and informative, and if you’d like see more about bamboo you can visit the BedVoyage blog here. Or feel free to reach out to us at or visit our site at

From glamorous 1920’s dresses to fabulous bedding; viscose is an amazing fabric!

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