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Cotton Vs Viscose: Key Differences Between Natural & Man-Made Fabrics (2024)

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cotton vs viscose differenceCarefully crafting choices between cotton and viscose creates an awareness of the attributes for applications. Discerning distinctions reveals divergences driving decisions. Favoring functionality frames the final fabrics.

Appreciating absorption affirms advantages. Savoring softness selects satisfaction. Harmonizing hydration highlights health. Understanding uses unites us. Respecting resources refines reasoning. Balancing breathability benefits bodies. Honoring histories humbles humanity. Choosing consciously cultivates community.

Key Takeaways

  • Cotton is more absorbent and moisture-wicking than viscose. Cotton is better suited for bedsheets and hot sleepers who perspire throughout the night.
  • Viscose has a silky feel and beautiful drape, making it more suitable for lightweight summer clothing that flows gracefully.
  • Cotton is very durable when wet, whereas viscose requires more delicate care like handwashing and low heat drying to prevent damage.
  • While cotton can have high water and energy usage in production, its sustainability ultimately depends on growing methods.

What is Cotton?

What is Cotton
You’ve felt it a thousand times – that soft, breathable fabric gently hugging your skin. Cotton’s natural fibers have been clothing humankind for centuries. It starts as a tiny seed with fluffy white fibers that are spun into yarn and woven into fabric.

Cotton is valued for its comfort, durability and longevity. Whether you prefer the cooling touch of percale, the lightweight feel of poplin or the crisp smoothness of broadcloth, cotton’s versatility makes it the most popular textile fiber in the world.

But not all cotton is created equal – the length and thickness of fibers impact the quality, feel and longevity. Seek out long-staple Pima or Egyptian cotton for superior softness that gets even softer with age.

Let cotton’s natural breathability keep you cool while its hypoallergenic properties provide comfort.

What is Viscose Rayon?

What is Viscose Rayon
Viscose is a regenerated cellulose fiber with a silky feel that mimics natural fibers like silk and cotton. Derived from wood pulp, viscose has a beautiful drape and luster. However, it lacks the durability and moisture absorption of cotton.

The manufacturing process for viscose uses harmful chemicals, raising sustainability concerns, though lyocell offers a greener alternative.

While cotton excels in versatility and breathability, viscose shines in certain niches like clothing, bedding, and curtains. Considering the qualities and trade-offs between cotton and viscose can guide you to the best textile for your needs.

With an eye to ethics and longevity, we can choose fabrics bringing beauty and comfort more consciously.

How is Cotton Fabric Made?

How is Cotton Fabric Made
Cotton’s origins can be traced from fluffy fields to the finely-spun threads that weave into your favorite tee.

  1. Cotton is harvested, cleaned, carded, spun into yarn, and woven or knitted into fabric.
  2. The ginning process separates seeds and debris from raw cotton fibers.
  3. Ring spinning creates a strong, uniform yarn well-suited for lightweight fabrics like t-shirts.

Cotton cultivation and processing are water and energy intensive, but the natural fibers make durable, breathable fabrics. Understanding the journey from crop to closet instills appreciation for sustainable textile practices.

We can support eco-conscious brands and reduce waste by mending, repurposing, and responsibly disposing of cotton goods.

How is Viscose Rayon Fabric Made?

How is Viscose Rayon Fabric Made
Raw material selection: Viscose starts with a cellulose source like bamboo, beech trees or eucalyptus.

Dissolving: The wood pulp is treated with chemicals like sodium hydroxide to dissolve it into a viscous solution called viscose.

Ripening: The viscose solution rests to achieve the right viscosity and uniformity for spinning.

Spinning: The viscose liquid is pumped through spinnerets, forming strands that are spun into yarn filaments.

Drying: The filaments are dried to stabilize the shape. The yarns are then ready for weaving into viscose rayon fabric.

Through this intricate chemical production process, the resulting viscose rayon takes on silk-like properties, with a soft drape and luster. Viscose’s versatility allows it to be used creatively for clothing, upholstery and more.

Pros and Cons of Cotton

Pros and Cons of Cotton
Cotton has many properties to consider for your purposes. It absorbs moisture well, is durable when wet, and is a natural fiber, but cotton production uses a lot of water and the material can shrink.


Bamboozling your senses, viscose just pretends to be as absorbent as cotton.

Cotton has excellent absorbency, while viscose only has moderate absorbency. Cotton wicks moisture away superiorly, while viscose is average. Cotton is highly breathable, but viscose is only moderately so. Cotton dries quickly, but viscose only sometimes dries fast.

When selecting sheets and clothing, cotton’s superior moisture absorption keeps you dry and comfortable. Though viscose drapes beautifully, cotton better wicks away sweat for hot sleepers.


Durable cotton withstands the rigors of daily use and remains strong when wet. This natural fiber is valued for its longevity and resistance to wear and tear.

  • Withstands frequent washing
  • Maintains strength when wet
  • Resilient to daily friction
  • Possesses high tensile strength
  • Ages gracefully over time

Cotton’s superior wet strength and durability give it an advantage over fabrics like rayon, silk, polyester, and modal.


You’d be surprised to know cotton production uses over 20,000 liters of water per kilogram. Cotton has a high water footprint due to intensive irrigation needs. However, sourcing cotton from areas with sufficient rainfall like West Africa reduces freshwater demand.

Factors like organic growing methods, efficient dyeing processes, and recyclability make cotton a more eco-friendly choice. Ultimately, thoughtful sourcing and production choices allow cotton to be a sustainable mattress material.

Cotton is a natural fiber while viscose comes from wood pulp. Cotton is biodegradable but has high irrigation needs. However, there are organic cotton options that reduce its footprint. Cotton’s also reusable and recyclable.

Viscose has lower water use but limited recyclability. Some argue bamboo viscose’s renewable but there are concerns. The takeaway’s informed choices are key for mattress components. There’re more and less sustainable options for both so it depends.

Cotton Viscose
Natural fiber Derived from wood pulp
Biodegradable Some eco-friendly manufacturing processes
High irrigation needs Lower water use than cotton
Reusable and recyclable Limited recyclability
Organic options reduce footprint Bamboo viscose touted as renewable

Pros and Cons of Viscose Rayon

Pros and Cons of Viscose Rayon
When comparing viscose rayon to cotton, you’ll find viscose has an appealing silky softness, though its shrinkage tendencies require extra care. Unlike cotton’s durability when wet, viscose rayon’s shrinkage means it must be laundered gently and air dried to prevent damaging the fabric.

The softness of viscose makes it appealing, but its tendency to shrink requires gentle laundering and air drying. Cotton, on the other hand, retains its durability even when wet. To avoid damaging viscose fabric, it’s important to wash it carefully and let it air dry rather than machine drying.


You’ll love how irresistibly soft viscose feels against your skin.

  1. Delicate, smooth, and silky texture
  2. Feels like a second skin against you
  3. Ultra lightweight and cool to the touch
  4. Drapes across your form gracefully
  5. Sensation of being gently caressed

The luxurious softness of viscose rayon will delight your senses. Its feather-light feel glides over your body soothingly. You’ll crave the velvety comfort viscose provides next to your skin. Let the sensuous fabric embrace you.


No matter how often you’ve washed your viscose, you’ll never again buy a cotton shirt that shrank so badly you couldn’t even give it away. While viscose and cotton both shrink when wet, viscose shrinks far less. Cotton absorbs moisture readily, swelling the fibers and causing significant shrinkage.

For summer clothing, viscose’s minimal shrinkage makes it a better choice over cotton. Though cotton’s more sustainable, viscose requires less water and outputs fewer microplastics when washed. Ultimately, viscose’s shrink-resistance and breathability give it the edge for warm-weather wear.

Material Shrinkage Absorbency Summer Suitability
Cotton High High Moderate
Viscose Low Low High

Comparing Cotton and Viscose Rayon

Comparing Cotton and Viscose Rayon
When choosing between cotton and viscose rayon for your sheets, breathability and moisture absorption are key factors to consider. Both materials are quite breathable, but cotton absorbs moisture better than viscose.

This makes cotton sheets a bit cooler for hot sleepers who tend to sweat at night.


Both materials breathe well, but cotton excels at moisture wicking. When sleeping in humid climates, cotton is the ultimate cooling and sweat-wicking champion. Its natural fibers readily absorb moisture, pulling perspiration away from your skin.

Viscose may feel deliciously silky, yet it doesn’t absorb moisture quite like cotton. Opt for breathable cotton sheets and mattress protectors if sweaty nights are your nemesis. Though both fabrics are breathable, cotton’s superior moisture absorption provides unbeatable cooling relief for hot sleepers.

Moisture Absorption

Between cotton’s formidable moisture-wicking prowess and viscose’s middling absorption, you’d think cotton outclasses viscose for perspiring sleepers. Cotton’s unrivaled breathability whisks dampness away, keeping you comfortable and dry.

Meanwhile, viscose’s moderate moisture uptake leaves clammy sleepers sticky and uneasy. For humidity control and cooling comfort, cotton is clearly the winner. When selecting bedding, consider cotton mattress protectors or sheets for optimal moisture management.

Ultimately, cotton’s superior absorption provides a breathable oasis for those seeking escape from the heat.

Uses of Cotton Vs Viscose Rayon

Uses of Cotton Vs Viscose Rayon
When choosing bedding materials, you’ll find cotton and viscose rayon have distinct purposes. Cotton offers durability and breathability, ideal for bed sheets, especially if night sweats trouble you. Its natural fibers stay cool against your skin. Meanwhile, viscose rayon drapes beautifully as lightweight upholstery fabric for curtains and furniture.

Its silky sheen also suits form-fitting clothes. Unlike cotton, viscose lacks stretch. But blended with spandex, it creates a smooth, supple fabric molding to your active body.

For mattresses, viscose infused with silica provides flame retardancy. And for food packaging, its low permeability keeps contents fresh. So let your needs guide you – cotton for versatile bedding or viscose for elegance and performance.

Caring for Cotton and Viscose Rayon

Caring for Cotton and Viscose Rayon
You’ve gotta gently care for your cotton and viscose materials to keep ’em feeling comfy and lasting long.

With cotton, machine wash in cold water using a mild detergent, then let air dry to avoid shrinkage.

Viscose rayon’s more delicate – wash by hand in cool water with a gentle cleanser, roll in a towel to remove moisture, then lay flat on a rack to dry.

Avoid high heat from dryers or irons which can damage viscose fibers.

Spot clean stains ASAP with a damp cloth.

Proper care preserves the soft handfeel and drape you love in viscose and cotton’s durable strength.

By handling with a gentle touch, your fave fabrics will stay looking fab.


To wrap up, cotton and viscose rayon are as distinct as apples and oranges. While cotton’s an all-natural fiber with unbeatable breathability, viscose brings a sensuous softness synthetics covet.

Though their care differs, both fabrics enrich lives with their unique strengths. The fibers make charming bedfellows when blended, marrying cotton’s trusted durability with viscose’s gentle feel. At day’s end, weigh what matters most when deciding between natural cotton or man-made viscose.

Comfort can come from nature or science when you know the core differences.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a site dedicated to those passionate about crafting. With years of experience and research under his belt, he sought to create a platform where he could share his knowledge and skills with others who shared his interests.