Is Rayon a Natural Fabric? Is It Sustainable?

Is Rayon a Natural Fabric? Is It Sustainable?

Is rayon a natural fabric and what is it? Here are the materials used to make rayon and where they come from.

Rayon is a popular fabric used in clothing and textile products that is often referred to as a “semi-synthetic” or “man-made” fabric. However, is rayon a natural material?

The cellulosic fiber rayon, which is semi-synthetic, is widely used in a variety of products, including bedsheets, tire cords, and clothing. Despite being made from natural materials (such as beech trees or bamboo), rayon is a manufactured fiber because of the extensive chemical processing it goes through.

To find out if rayon qualifies as a natural fabric, we will examine its properties in this article.

Is Rayon a Natural Fabric?

Rayon is a type of fabric that is often referred to as a “semi-synthetic” or “man-made” fabric, as it is produced from naturally occurring materials but requires chemical processing to create the finished product. The natural substance cellulose, which is present in plant cells such as those of cotton, bamboo, and wood pulp, is what is used to make rayon.

The plant fibers are treated with chemicals like sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide to dissolve the cellulose and produce a viscous liquid, which is then used to make rayon. The finished fabric is created by washing and drying the thin fibers that were created when the liquid was forced through tiny holes.

Although rayon is made from natural materials, it is not regarded as a natural fabric in the same way that cotton or wool is since the raw material must undergo extensive processing before it can be used to make fabric.

Is Rayon a Natural Fabric? Is It Sustainable?

Additionally, the chemicals used to make rayon have the potential to have an adverse effect on the environment, and the production process uses a lot of water and energy.

Despite this, rayon is still a preferred material for clothing and other textile goods because of its softness, drape, and adaptability. Dresses, blouses, bedding, and upholstery are just a few items that frequently use this material, which is available in a wide range of weights, textures, and finishes.

Is Rayon Sustainable?

The environment isn’t adequately protected from its negative effects, even if workers are. Up to 30 grams of carbon disulfide are used and released into the environment for every gram of viscose rayon produced, the majority of which is a direct result of rayon production.

When it enters the environment, it finds its way into animals, humans, and indirectly drinking water.

And then there’s the requirement for large factories to have chemical storage and powerful manufacturing equipment in order to produce rayon. The majority of this occurs in Pakistan, China, India, Indonesia, and China.

Actually, rayon production in the US is not possible due to the chemical-intensive process. Even EPA standards are too toxic for it.

Also, keep in mind what is used to make rayon. Trees: Not only does the process of extracting pulp for cellulose result in the destruction of about 70% of the tree, but reports have revealed that some wood pulp is sourced from forests that are in danger of being destroyed, which causes deforestation and other problems (such as global warming). biodiversity loss).

According to estimates, ancient and endangered forests provide 30% of the world’s rayon. No “sustainable” jumpsuit looks good enough to justify those losses.

Is Rayon a Natural Fabric? Is It Sustainable?

Rayon Fabrics Pros and Cons


  • Breathable: Rayon fabric is soft, breathable, and comfortable to wear. Underwear, pajamas, and other clothing that needs moisture-wicking qualities frequently use them. (See Is Rayon Fabric Good for Summer?)
  • Luxurious Appearance: It appears opulent and has a drape.
  • Versatility: rayon is a versatile fiber that can blend well with natural materials like cotton fiber to create cotton rayon and a wide range of other fabrics.
  • Absorbent: rayon fabric is highly absorbent and dyes easily.
  • Cost: In comparison to other natural materials, the costs of manufacturing rayon are typically lower.


  • Shrinks easily: The fact that rayon shrinks easily when wet is a significant drawback. Additionally, in comparison to other fabrics, its water sensitivity reduces its ability to resist wrinkles. Your rayon fabric may require frequent dry cleaning or hand washing. (See How to Care for Rayon Fabric?)
  • Lightweight fabric: Due to its lightweight, it is easily damaged during the ironing process if not handled carefully.
  • Longevity: Rayon is a delicate material that should be handled carefully when washing to prevent it from shrinking.
  • Harmful manufacturing process: Is Rayon environmentally friendly? No, generally speaking, as the majority of chemical processes used to produce rayon clothing harm both the environment and human health.

Conclusion: is Rayon a Natural Fabric?

A cellulose fiber called rayon is created by pulping bamboo, pine, or beech wood, most frequently. Despite being a plant-based material, rayon is not sustainable.

Even though it comes from natural materials, the fiber goes through an intense chemical-soaking process. Afterward, various varieties of rayon are produced. The most typical kind is a viscose substance, also referred to as synthetic silk.


Is Rayon a Healthy Fabric?

A synthetic fiber made by humans, rayon. Wood pulp is treated with highly toxic solvents to convert it into pure cellulose, which is then used to make rayon. The hazardous chemicals required — like carbon disulfide — pose serious health risks for factory workers, including potential damage to reproductive and nervous systems.

Is Rayon Better Than Cotton?

When it comes to rayon vs cotton, rayon is more absorbent than cotton. Cotton is an insulating fabric, whereas rayon is not. While cotton is best used in warm climates, rayon can be used in humid environments. The fabric of cotton gets stronger when wet, while rayon becomes weaker.

Is Rayon a Natural Breathable Fabric?

Rayon doesn’t cause you to sweat because it offers moderate breathability and has a silky texture. Generally speaking, rayon also has a nice drape and dries quickly if you do perspire. Cons: Rayon needs to be dry cleaned and doesn’t wick away moisture well.

Is Rayon Cheap Material?

Rayon is a relatively cheap fiber that makes low-cost and low-quality clothing. It works well as the main fiber in low-cost clothing. The majority of semi-synthetic clothing uses rayon as a significant portion of the fiber composition, which is used widely in the textile and apparel industry.

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