Can You Dye Rayon

Rayon, also known as viscose, is a regenerated cellulosic fiber mainly produced from wood pulp. Firstly, it was invented as a substitute for silk and also known as artificial silk.

Now, it can also be produced for resembling linen, cotton, or wool. They are mainly used in home furnishing, medical supplies, fashion purpose, diapers, sanitary products, etc. So, if you ask us, can you dye rayon, the answer is yes, and definitely yes.

Now you might also ask, why is rayon called regenerated fiber?

The raw material of rayon, cellulose is obtained from linters (short-fibers) or wood pulp. They are converted into liquid, passed through tiny holes of spinneret, and finally converted in the form of fiber as cellulose. That’s why it is called regenerated fiber.

Rayon vs. Cotton

  • Rayon has more stretchability than cotton and also shrinks more. Mock cable
  • They are readily damaged due to poor resistance to abrasion.
  • Their strength becomes lower in wet conditions, so careful wash or dry-cleaning is necessary.
  • Rayon is also more absorbent than cotton.
  • Theoretically, the pH requirement of rayon in dyeing is 0.5-1 higher than cotton. Practically it does not affect so much.

Can You Dye Rayon

As we have stated earlier, rayon can be dyed just like the dyeing process of natural fibers.

As rayon is a cellulosic regenerated fiber, all the dyes that work on cotton are applicable on rayon also. Moreover, you’ll achieve more brilliant and deeper shades.

These dyes can used to dye rayon −

  • Fiber Reactive Dyes

    The high reactivity, i.e., cold brand reactive dyes that work in lower temperatures, produces the best result in dyeing for rayon.

  • All-Purpose Dyes

    You can also use all-purpose dyes and direct dyes. The main problem of using those is that they will provide less wash fastness and fade quickly unless you fix the dyes by using a cationic after-treatment.

  • Natural Dyes

    If you want to use natural dyes, pre-mordanting is the best process like cotton. However, brilliant fastness like wool will not be obtained.

  • Other Class of Dyes

    Sulfur, indigo, azoic colors, and vat dyes will also work for rayon like cotton.

How to Dye Rayon

For dyeing,

  1. You can use Procion MX fiber reactive dyes which will give you best results.
  2. Carry your dyeing in a washing machine or bucket.
  3. Continuous stirring is necessary during the dyeing.
  4. Maintain high liquor ratio.
  5. Follow the dyeing procedure of reactive dyes for cotton (according to the reactivity of you dye). If you use other dyes, the procedure is also same as cotton.

Be careful about rayon damage

A major drawback of rayon is their poor strength in wet conditions. The reason behind ‘Dry-clean only.’ tag for rayon is because they are damaged very readily in wet conditions. The tag also applicable if the dyes used are water-soluble or any water-soluble finishes are applied.

During dyeing of rayon, do machine wash without putting stress to the fiber. Gentle hand wash followed by machine wash is more suitable. But if you want to use a washing machine, use a delicate cycle and avoid washing with heavy garments.

Try to wash rayon with cold water and tumble dry in low temperatures. Beware that using a washing machine may cause several failures sometimes if the rayon fabric has weak spots present.

Where to Buy Rayon Fabrics

Dharma Trading Company supplies white rayon fabrics that are ready to dye. Their rayon fabrics are sewn with cotton sewing threads most of the time, and they also absorb the same amount of dye as the fabric.

If you buy rayon from local sources, make sure that they are free from finishes such as water repellent finish, stain-resistant finish, etc.

Similar Fibers Like Rayon

  • Rayon Acetate

    Although rayon acetate is made from rayon, the dyes that work for rayon does not apply to acetate. You must use disperse dyes for rayon acetate dyeing.

    Now, you can ask, “How can I know that my fiber is rayon or rayon acetate?”

    The answer is, cut a small piece of the fabric, dissolve it into acetone, rayon will remain undissolved, and acetate will be dissolved.

  • Lyocell

    It is almost similar to rayon; just it has higher wet strength. So, you can dye lyocell in the same manner as rayon. It is also known as Tencel (Commercial name).

  • Bamboo

    Most of the recent bamboo fibers are made from bamboo pulp instead of wood pulp that is used for rayon. The bamboo plant is only used for producing a very small amount of these fibers. Both cases use the same dyeing process as rayon. Some bamboo fibers are acetylated for making acetate; you can dye them in the rayon acetate dyeing process. Fiber reactive dyes produce beautiful shades in bamboo.

Final Words

I think we were able to provide you an indepth answer of your query regarding can you dye rayon or not. As long as you stick with the instructed dyes and method, you’ll be all set.


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