How to wash Rayon (& read the care label symbols properly)

Tips to maintain the softness and drape of rayon fabric by washing and caring for it the way it should be according to the fabric care label on it.
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how to wash rayon clothes

Rayon is a soft shiny fabric that can almost be classified as delicate because of the regenerated cellulosic fibers that it is made of. There is a likelihood that your favourite rayon top (a lot of soft tops today are made of rayon) will be damaged in the wash if you are not careful. So you have to take particular care when washing clothes and other things made of rayon.

There are many challenges in maintaining rayon clothes.

  • Rayon fabrics usually shrink after washing and drying
  • It can stretch out of shape if pulled.
  • Colors can run
  • Fine sheer rayon like rayon-batiste can be damaged in washing. Rayon fibers are weakened when wet
  • Some Rayon clothes are marked Dryclean only.  

Read the Care label symbols on the clothing

If your rayon top is marked dry clean only, you may not want to read further. Just give it up for dry cleaning.

dry clean only clothing symbol on care label

This will be the symbol on the clothing which says – Dry clean only.


dry cleaning symbol

Usually rayon clothing will have this symbol – this means that – You can dry clean the garment in any solvent except trichloroethylene.


rayon fabric care label - symbols for washing in mild temperature water in the washing machine and do not wring or tumble dry and use steam iron

The above symbols will be there in a lot of rayon clothing – which says to machine wash in mild temperature, Do not tumble dry, instead line dry, Do not wring, Use steam iron. 

This is the care lable on my rayon top – let us see how they translate in plain english.

rayon clothes symbols

hand wash only symbol for rayon

This symbol means hand wash only.

do not bleach symbol


This symbol means – Do Not Bleach

do not tumble dry care label symbol

This symbol means do not tumble dry your rayon clothing in a machine. Line dry.

dry flat

This symbol means dry flat.

do not iron

This symbol means do not iron – maybe it means do not iron directly on fabric.

do not dryclean fabric care symbol meaning

This means, do not dry clean.

Handwashing is preferred even when it says machine washable. The whole tumble in the machine can only be damaging to the fine fibers that make up the rayon fabrics.

How to handwash rayon

Color bleeding is a problem with rayon clothes. You may need to set the colors by adding a spoon of salt to the water for washing.

Do not rub the rayon or agitate it too much. Abrasion will remove the finishes on rayon and when wet rayon fibers are extra weak and they may break or distort. 

You should expect some alteration in the shape of the rayon garment in the wash.

Prewashing iron

Pre-washing Rayon is advised before sewing with it. You can also steam press rayon to shrink it to an extent (instead of pre-washing) but this is advised only for garments you will give to dryclean later. If you are going to hand wash the garment later, it is better to prewash the fabric as described above.

How to wash linen/rayon blend  or cotton/rayon blend fabrics

If you have blended fabric you have to take care of the fabric according to both the fibers. In case of cotton and linen blends with rayon, all these fibers shrink, all these fibers may loose color. Cotton and linen are sturdy fibers. Rayon is comparatively delicate. The blending of the fibers makes the resultant fabric more durable and easy to maintain than regular rayon fabrics. 

Ironing Rayon Clothes

As Rayon does not tolerate high temperatures, so ironing with a low heat setting is advised. Using the steam press in your iron settings is an effective way to iron rayon. 

You can use spray starch to make it look slightly stiff but remember that the flowy drapey quality will be compromised.

Related posts : Hand washing tips – clothes ; Machine washing tips – clothes.

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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.
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