Viscose vs Rayon
What Is Rayon
Rayon is a generic term for fibers created by regenerating natural plant cellulose. So rayon is the term for the physical fibers that things like bamboo bed sheets are made out of.
Rayon can actually be used for many different products, not only bed sheets. But rayon bedsheets are popular, so that is what I will focus on. Rayon starts as a natural plant material, usually made from bamboo or a type of tree. The cellulose is then extracted from the plant, and processed. The processing of the plant cellulose is called "regeneration". This takes a natural plant material and uses man-made processes to turn that material into fibers which can then be woven together to make products like bed sheets.
The regeneration process is not natural and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has ruled that rayon products cannot be labeled as "natural".
Rayon originally gained popularity as a more affordable alternative to silk. Silk is made by a silk worm and is an expensive material to produce. Rayon is easier and cheaper to produce, and offers a similar soft feeling to silk. If you do not wish to pay a lot of money for silk bed sheets, rayon is a good silk alternative.
Not only is rayon soft, it also is absorbent and easy to dye. Easy dying means that rayon products can be produced more easily. This means more savings for the end consumer.
What You Should Know About Rayon
The biggest drawback of rayon is how delicate the material is. Bedsheets and other products made from rayon are going to wear and tear more quickly than products made from cotton and other competing materials. Rayon bedsheets will not last as long as other types of bedsheets.
Rayon feels soft like cotton and looks shiny like silk.
What Is Viscose?
Some products are labeled as viscose rayon or just viscose. Viscose actually refers to a process for making rayon. So Rayon is the fiber that is produced, and viscose is a method of producing rayon fiber.
The terms viscose and rayon are used interchangeably and the FTC has stated that the two labels mean the same thing. So if you see a product that is labeled as "viscose rayon", "viscose", or just "rayon", you can assume that this all means the same thing.
There are a few other methods of producing rayon other than viscose, but those are not used as labels in products, so there is no need to worry about them.
Rayon and viscose are both used to label the same products. Be aware that other materials, such as cotton, silk, etc. are different than rayon and viscose.