Rayon. Can it be machine washed? That is the question!
The answer is yes, but...
Rayon is not as sturdy a fabric as cotton and will not stand up to the same level of abuse that we put cotton T-shirts and jeans through. If you put a rayon dress through a washer/dryer in a load with say, jeans, then in the tumbling, the jeans will rub and pull on the dress's seams. If the dress has ties or straps, they will get tangled in the jeans and other items and pull and tear the seams. If you machine-wash rayon items alone or better yet, in a net bag, then the rayon item will usually hold up just fine. We recommend caution using any machine with an agitator which can pull and stress the fabric, even on delicate settings.
Best of all is hand washing and line drying, which avoids the issue entirely, and is what we recommend.
Also, rayon is weaker when it is wet than when it is dry. We used full strength bleach on some black rayon to discharge it and rinsed it immediately after it discharged for a minute or two - both the discharged areas and the untouched black areas ripped very easily in one direction while wet. After the fabric was dry, it did not rip, even where bleached. Conclusion: You have to treat WET rayon very carefully, and it is not the discharging (if done properly) that is making the fabric weak. You have to support the whole garment if you are going to lift it out of a dyebath wet. You can't just grab part of it with a stick or some other object.
We recommend hand washing & line drying Rayon clothing, and handling wet rayon with extra care.
Hand Washing Rayon
- Detergent for hand-washing fabric
- Pressing cloth (a very thin cotton towel or a piece of scrap will work)
1. Always (ALWAYS!) read the garment's care label. If you wash a rayon garment that isn't washable it will shrink, stretch, and possibly bleed dyes all over. You may not be able to wear it again so be sure to double-check the label's instructions.
2. Washing all rayon by hand is, of course, preferable. Though we've said it can be done in a washing machine (using a net bag or alone in the machine), remember that rayon is likely to be damaged when it's wet. The washing machine's agitation alone could ruin it so be careful if you decide to go that route.
3. Wash in cool or temperate water with your hand-washing detergent. Gently squeeze and massage the soapsuds into the fabric. Rinse thoroughly in cool water.
4. Never wring, twist, or bunch up rayon. Shake it out gently and smooth out the wrinkles with your hands.
5. Hang your garment on a non-metal hanger to dry. Wire hangers will most likely leave rust spots on your garment. If it could lose it's shape, you can dry it flat. It will dry best on a drying rack this way rather than on a towel if you have one.
6. Be sure to iron all rayon inside out to prevent it from shining. Use low heat and press it while it is slightly damp to ease the wrinkling. If you must touch up the right side of the garment, be sure to cover it with your pressing cloth first.
Tips & Warnings:
- Be sure to iron rayon while it's still damp. It will make the job much easier.
- Never iron rayon right side out without a pressing cloth to protect it. Rayon will gain a shine to it if you iron it directly. Either iron the inside of the garment or use a pressing cloth on the outside.