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Does Rayon Stretch? (Answered)

We are aware of the typical materials our clothes are made from like, cotton, linen, silk, and so on, however, did you know that often these natural fibers are mixed with synthetic ones?

Don’t get us wrong, synthetic fabrics are used everywhere and have their own advantages, but we need to know what are their properties and how to take care of them. For example, what is rayon and does it stretch out? In this article, we will explore all about rayon and its elasticity.

Key Takeaways

  • Rayon fibers lies on the border between natural and man-made fiber.
  • 100% is not at all a stretchy fabric, however, it is often mixed with other elastic fibers.
  • You need to be careful not to wash rayon with hot water because it will shrink
  • Regular rayon, also known as viscose rayon, has the largest market share.
  • The fabric is biodegradable, but it is not very eco-friendly.

Where does it come from & How is it made?

Rayon fibers are made from cellulose leftovers from the production of cotton from tree pulp. Usually, the trees in question are pine, hemlock, or spruce. After this, with the help of a few chemicals, the cellulose is turned into synthetic fibers that are later spun into a yarn.

As you can see rayon starts as a natural fiber, but the chemical process it goes through in its manufacturing adds the title “manmade”, making rayon a semi-synthetic fabric.

How does it feel on the skin?

Rayon is soft to the touch and feels silky. Similar to cotton, the material is comfortable because it drapes nicely and does not stick to your skin. The fabric is also very breathable because making it perfect for summer.

Is Rayon Stretchy?

The rayon fiber by itself is not stretchy, however, you can find some clothes made from rayon that have a bit of stretch to them, and you will usually find them as rayon knit. Why is this? When knitted, the fabric generally has a stretch to it because of the process of the fibers being knotted together, however, a woven rayon fabric will not stretch. Manufacturers know this and that’s why they often mix rayon with stretchy fibers like spandex to give the material more elasticity.

100% rayon fabrics are sensitive to water and unlike other synthetic fibers, they absorb water causing the fabric to expand. So technically yes, you can stretch it when damp, but it has no use. It is also very sensitive to hot temperatures so if you wash it in hot water or dry it in the dryer it will shrink in size.

Can shrunk rayon be stretched out?

If you wash your rayon clothing in hot water, it will shrink. How much? Well, it will all depend on the temperature of the water. However, there is a way to stretch them out back to their original size. You want to start by filling a washing basin with lukewarm water and adding a few drops of baby shampoo or very gentle laundry detergent. You want to make sure that, if you go for detergent, it does not contain any bleach or other harsh chemicals.

Next, put your rayon garment in the basin and make sure it’s completely submerged in water. Gently rub the shampoo or detergent in, making sure you get it all over. After, rinse with cold water and gently twist to get the exes water out. You can also lay your rayon garment on a towel, roll the towel so the garment is inside, and gently twist, this will leave your garment dumped and perfect for our next step. Last, you want to gently stretch the material, making sure not to tear the fibers.

Does it stretch with wear?

Rayon clothing will not stretch if you wear it for a long time. This can be both a good and bad thing. If you are planning to fit into a pair of rayon pants that are a bit too small, we are sorry, but it’s not going to happen, so yeah if you want to stretch rayon clothing, that’s a no.

However, On the other hand, rayon clothes will not wear out in time and won’t look baggy on you like other fabrics, for example, cotton, would.

Why did my rayon jeans stretch out?

Have you noticed that a pair of old rayon jeans stretched out? How? You thought the fabric doesn’t stretch. Well, jeans usually have cotton or a polyester fiber added in the mix such as polyester. Rayon is used in jeans to give them sturdiness so they keep their shape. Cotton on the other hand is used to make the jeans breathable and polyester can be used to give them elasticity.

Pros and cons

Like with every type of fiber, rayon too has pros and cons, depending on what you are looking for.

The fabric looks luxurious and feels nice on the skin. It absorbs moisture so it will keep you cool all day long. Due to the type of fiber, it’s made from, it keeps its shape and color very well. Also, good news if you hate ironing. Rayon does not wrinkle when being washed.

On the downside, the fabric does not stretch at all, and it may shrink if you are not careful with taking care of it. Also, it is not sustainable because it goes through a chemical process using harsh chemicals that can end up in the waters and soil. Even though it is biodegradable, it does contribute to deforestation.


If you bought a rayon shirt that is a bit too thigh with the hopes that it will stretch out with a few washes, tough luck. You might have to return it and get a bigger size or hit the gym. The fabric is made from tree cellulose and it does not stretch at all. Some manufacturers, wanting to make rayon more elastic, add synthetic fibers to the fabric polyester.

However, you can make sure that your rayon clothes will last for years. This fabric is very durable and your clothes will keep their shape and vibrant color for a very long time and won’t fade if you take care of them properly. So next time you are looking for a dress that drapes perfectly and looks luxurious, check the label to make sure it’s rayon.