Viscose, Bamboo Silk, Banana Silk, Art Silk. What you need to know.
If you’re looking to buy a viscose rug or viscose furniture, watch this short video to see what you need to know about this fiber and All its aliases:
UNDERSTAND VISCOSE CARPETS.
If your designer strongly recommends viscose… ask them to watch the video with you, and then ask why they think this is the best choice for your home.
Carpet manufacturers are lying to consumers and designers.
Viscose peels, tears, distorts, yellows horribly with just a spill of water (you should see what a pet stain does!), fades, and wears out quickly even after just MOnths of use.
Viscose rugs are easily stained and worn by foot traffic.
The viscose is rayon. It is a fiber made from wood pulp and cellulose waste byproducts. These fibers go through an extremely aggressive chemical process to make those fibers smooth and shiny. In fact, the manufacturing process for rayon is so toxic that they stopped all rayon manufacturing in the US many years ago. Instead, the carpet manufacturers have gone to India to do their pollution.
Here’s the FTC’s ruling on banning rayon from bamboo clothing in the US due to false claims it’s “green” and the harm chemicals cause.Click to read the full article.
In the world of professional cleaning we call viscose the “sausage of the fiber world.” This is because you don’t want to see how it’s made… and you’re not sure what’s really in it when you buy it.
Viscose is being given many names to mislead consumers: art (i.e. artificial) silk, bamboo silk, banana silk, artificial silk, lyocel, tencel, and synthetic silk.
To the untrained eye, the fibers are very soft and appear silky. But where silk is strong and can last decades under use, viscose is one of today’s “disposable fibers” because of how weak it is.
The decorator recommended installing viscose rugs in the family room. After only a few months of use, clearly a horrible purchase.
Viscose has a unique look and feel. That’s true. And if viscose was super cheap, then I wouldn’t spend so much time on the topic. That’s because everyone would know from the cheap purchase price that it’s not meant to last.
However, while the quality of these fibers is cheap, the price to buy them is not. Designer brand artificial silk sells for real silk prices, and that’s what bothers me. Especially when they imply that it is real silk and not fake by giving it misleading names like bamboo silk, banana silk, artificial silk, and art silk.
If you’re spending thousands of dollars on a rug, it should last more than a few years, or a spill or two, in my opinion.
My quest is to bring viscose rug education to as many consumers and designers as I can, let them know the TRUTH about these rugs, and then they can make an informed decision whether or not to buy them.
And when disaster strikes the carpet, which it will eventually, then the homeowner will have realistic expectations about what even the best professional cleaners can do. Often replacement will do the trick and usually over time most viscose owners decide to never buy viscose again.
Here are some things to consider before viscose your home, and some tips in case you decide you should have viscose in your home, to help it last a little longer.
APPLY FIBER PROTECTOR IMMEDIATELY.
The only chance to help save these rugs from any spills is to apply a fiber protectant from day one. This must be done by a professional cleaning company and are often applied in different phases to allow for quick drying time and the least risk of texture distortion.
Fiber protectors today provide great repellency to dirt and spills/stains. It can’t bulletproof fibers, especially viscose, but it gives you more time to clean up the mess and hopefully less signs afterwards.
Remember that viscose is an expensive paper, so anything that can help create some repellency will help the fibers last. I don’t know why all viscose manufacturers don’t apply protectant before each sale. Well, actually, I know why. Most sales are “final” and most manufacturers don’t want your rug to last long…they want you to have to buy another one. Defective product means more money for them.
VACUUM THE VISCOSE VERY CAREFULLY.
With viscose rugs, pulling/pulling is very common. In fact, in most traffic Areas it starts to look like a cat has scratched it. You will have thin threads appearing all over the place. And beater bar vacs will make this MUCH worse.
Fiber tears and pulls are a common problem with viscose rugs.
It is best to vacuum with suction only and without a beater bar on viscose carpets. If even that pulls up too many fibers, use a handheld horsehair brush to pick up the lint and a handheld hose vac with a square ladder attachment to vacuum the surface.
This is the horsehair brush we like to use to groom all silk and wool rugs, and it’s great for helping to correct the distortion of the hair on delicate rugs:
Braun Toothbrush Company
WATER DAMAGE AND PET DAMAGE.
In these cases, your carpet is likely gone. Slime that settles in water causes dark yellowing and structural damage. Since water, even “clean” water, moves through soiled floors and walls, dark discolorations are often obtained due to flood damage. Carpet will never be as good as new again, so unless you plan to place furniture over the damaged area, it would be wise to replace it.
Floods of clean water create large yellow discolorations.
Floods of clean water create large yellow discolorations.
If the viscose rug stays wet for days,mold finds in slime a fantastic food source.
Bamboo silk mat, the whole end full of mold growth.
And pet damage, unless you can get to it right away (and a fiber protectant has been applied to help), that’s about the most damaging thing that can happen to a rug, but especially viscose.
Stains are very difficult to improve on viscose.
Sometimes color correction is possible on viscose, and you need a brave specialist who is willing to try to save your rug for you. (If you need a contact for a professional cleaner in your area, and specifically a stain specialist if you have a stain mess, send me a note with a photo and where you are and I can find you someone I know in your area.)
SPILLS. BLOT CAREFULLY & QUICKLY. NEVER RUB.
No miracle stain removers. (By the way, never use consumer stain remover on wool.)
Most consumer stain removers will damage viscose.
If the spill is water, the best option is to take a White cotton towel, fold it over, cover the area of the spill, and place a heavy weight on it. A gallon of water, laundry jug, or kettle weight to hold the towel firmly over the wet area. (If you use a large stack of books, protect your covers from moisture as it absorbs.)
Leave the area alone for 24 hours. Do not look or you will stop the absorbing process. Then pick it up and see what’s left. The idea is to get all the moisture in those fibers to move into the dry cotton and pull the “stuff” up as well. If you have it pressed, this capillary action works best. Looking stops him.
If the area is stiff, you can lightly wipe the surface of this area with a dryer sheet of fabric softener, and then take a soft horsehair brush and slowly work it back into place. The dryer sheet helps break surface tension and the brush helps pick up the fibers. If they start to separate when you brush, stop and leave it alone.
If the spill is a drink that needs to be cleaned up, you’ll need to mix two parts filtered water to one part white vinegar, take a light-colored sponge (blue sponges can transfer color), dampen it, wring out any excess, and carefully moisten the area. spill with vinegar water. If you spill it on the area, it will ruin the carpet, so keep things moist and not soggy.
Blot with a dry towel (never rub) to remove excess moisture. I like to stand in the area one last time to dry off. Then, place a dry, folded white cotton towel over the spill area and weigh it down for 24 hours.
The same steps if the accident is related to a pet.
Anything especially big or particularly gross, chances are you’re buying a new rug. Viscose is very absorbent and super weak when wet, so if you have a large vomit stain, I don’t see any scenario where you can get out of that even with fiber protectant and fast acting.
MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS.
Remember that viscose is glorified paper.
These are rugs that even new,Just by rolling them up and shipping them, they can create permanent damage that won’t come off.
New tencel rug with shipping wrinkles.
When you can’t even roll up new rugs smoothly, I would call it a quality issue.
Therefore, expecting a rug that has been stepped on by two children and two dogs for over a year to be cleaned “like new” by your professional cleaner is a pipe dream.
You must be prepared to be thrilled with “better than it was.”
Many cleaners will not touch viscose, because it is known to be a defective fiber. If you find a cleaner willing to take on your cleaning challenge, you should be happy because there are few who will say yes (especially if there are some major issues). I recommend cleaners always get a viscose carpet and furniture release due to product failures that have nothing to do with their skills.
BUYING “SILK” CARPETS: How do you know if a rug salesman is lying to you?
Carpet shops lying about real silk vs. artificial silk is a big problem nowadays. But this is how you can determine if it is real or not.
Get a sample of the rug before you buy it. There are two ways to test for fiber.
1) BURN TEST
Take a pair of tweezers and pull out a fiber to test. With a lighter, light it up. Wool and silk are protein fibers that smell like burning hair, and are also self-extinguishing. This means that the flame will go out. Once cooled, crush the ash with your fingers and it will crumble. (Synthetic fibers are plastic, so they burn to a hard Black bead, and if you try to squash them too soon, it will melt and burn your fingers, so please be careful. It won’t fall apart.)
Cotton and viscose will burn like paper. It will carry a flame and burn. It smells like burnt paper. The ash crumbles like burnt paper.
2) WATER TEST
To determine if a rug is made from mercerized cotton (a high-shine version of regular cotton) or viscose (the waste byproduct production of cotton and wood pulp), the water test is used.
Drop the fibers into a cup of water. Take the tweezers to grab a thread, and if the fiber is cotton, it will be STRONGER wet, so when pulling the thread it will hold together. Take your fingers and hold one end, and the tweezers on the other and pull. The cotton will hold.
With viscose, the fiber turns to mush, so when you pull and roll it with your fibers, it separates. It falls apart.
If the sample passes the test, order the rug. However, just to be sure, please try on the real rug when you receive it, just to make sure that they did not send you a good sample but a fake real rug.
Not to imply that some carpet manufacturers lie… but… some carpet manufacturers do lie.
I’ve recently been hearing companies talk about the “silk blend” of real silk and cotton. I guess the only reason they do this is so they don’t have the name “viscose” attached to their rugs. And technically with the burn test you test viscose like cotton does,but the water test will tell you the truth whether it is cotton or mush.
Any “mix” rug I would absolutely try the sample on. And if you’re not sure, you can send me the sample and I’ll tell you what I see.
Viscose is the most problematic fiber on the carpet market today. And these are the rugs with the shortest life. I have seen carpets cost tens of thousands of dollars and have to be replaced in less than a year. I’ve seen it happen several times.
Not once have I seen those rug stores stop selling those defective rugs. Why should they? Those margins are great and there are plenty of new customers to trick into buying.
And that’s how this often happens… being cheated on. He said these are great options for the Dining Room and family room. He said they are perfect for rooms with children and pets.
That’s the most common scenario I see. Carpet manufacturers either lie to consumers or designers, or leave out details, like you can never spill on this rug.
Now if the rug store is telling you the TRUTH. That the fibers are weak. They can’t stand That the carpet will only look worse over time. And after hearing the truth, you still love the texture, feel, and look, and you’re okay paying the price. Then good. At least you are fully informed and can make that decision for your home with your money.
That’s all I want with viscose: some transparency. So I know I’ve done my job here as a Rug Chick.
If you have any rug questions please drop me a note. I would love to hear from you.
The best to you, Lisa
PDA Sometimes, with a good wash, you can bring a viscose rug back from the edge. Here’s one of a flood that came back very well. Some yellowing still remains, but it has been treated to remove all mildew odors, and the discoloration has improved much better than expected.
BEFORE: flood damaged.
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PostingViscose, Bamboo Silk, Banana Silk, Art Silk. What you need to know.first appeared inCarpet Girl.