This is precisely what I thought as I looked at a pretty, shiny, smooth blue shirt at Nordstrom…
The label read “60% rayon.”
True rayon (viscose) is one of the most fragile fibers. It is one of the fibers used to make artificial Silk.
It’s weak and yellow. It loses its color and ages quickly. Although it may appear to be Silk at first glance, it lacks the vibrancy and strength of real Silk. Silk will still look good after many years, while rayon won’t.
My rationalization for the purchase was that I should have known better, but I didn’t. My head told me that I could gently hand wash the item. It was suggested that I avoid using high heat or steam when ironing and not wring it. I CAN HANDLE THIS because I am an expert in fiber and fabric care.
The fabric has already broken down and lost its sheen. I’m the only one responsible. This makes me angry. It makes me mad that designers don’t even bother to reduce the price of tops, even though rayon is “fake” Silk, to save money. Rayon is everywhere in clothing today. Clothing is not cheap.
We see it in RUGS. It is important to note that rayon and viscose cannot withstand a typical household’s soil or foot traffic.
Beware if you’re a buyer. Here are some facts and tips for rug cleaners about silk-like artificial rugs.
How to identify “Artifical Silk” Rugs? What to look for
High-quality silk rugs, as I stated in my post about Real Silk Rugs, are thin, flexible, and very detailed because of the high knot count per square inch.
Look at the corner of this silk rug again. It’s thin and has a detailed design.
Art Silk is also sometimes referred to by the fancy French term Faux Silk. =)
Most problematic are those made from rayon, also known as viscose. This is a very weak fiber. Viscose, a chemically reprocessed by-product of cotton spun into fibers for weaving processes, has been called sausage fiber.
These rugs are available in China, Europe (Belgian Machine Woven Products), and the US.
It is also found in products from China, where it’s blended with silk by-products. Wild Silk is not blended with cultivated Silk of high quality.
Silkworms produce cultivated Silk fed mulberry or other controlled diets. The cocoons of the silk worms are boiled and then unraveled to create ONE continuous filament. It is extremely strong and has a high sheen. The worms do die during this process.
Wild Silk comes from silkworms without control over their diet and breaking through the cocoons. It is not one filament but broken pieces of Silk that are spun into a stronger, thicker thread.
Wild Silk is similar in that it’s made from broken staple fibers spun into something that can be woven. The “reject” Silk is blended with rayon to make the rug look like Silk.
Imagine spinning the waste lint out of your clothes dryer lint filter into fibers to make a new top. It is meant to be thrown out, not reused.
You will notice that these rugs shed in a way that almost looks like a claw has been used to scratch the rug.
You will get mixed results from your fiber test. The rayon will not dissolve in the chemical test, but the “real” but crappy Silk may. The burn test will show a mixture of ash and smell due to the protein and cellulose fibers blend.
You’ll get frustrated if you try to give a definitive answer.
Although many of the “problem” Artificial Silk Rugs are from China, this does not mean all Chinese rugs do not have quality. China does produce some excellent quality rugs. Every country with weaving has both mediocre and spectacular rugs.
This is a cheap, mediocre Artificial Silk Rug from China. The color is flat, and the pile looks shaggy.
China Silk Carpet is a wonderful website to visit if you want to see other silk rugs made in China.
You can tell the difference between the two rugs by the sheen of the fibers and the amount of detail in each. It’s easy to tell the difference between a fake and a real rug. You can tell the difference even when it is dirty.
This is a filthy Artificial Silk Rug from China.
These rugs, made of mercerized cotton instead of rayon, are also available in Turkey. They are also much more durable. These are known as Artificial Silk Prayer Rugs, such as this rug.
The piece is very attractive and will last for many decades. The rugs are easy to clean and will last for many years. You get the “look” and feel of real Silk without paying thousands of dollars. It is NOT a silk prayer mat like this:
This is a description of silk rug weaving from the China Silk Carpet website:
One girl will need about a half-year to make a carpet 2×3 feet with 300 lines (90,000 knots/square foot), 1.5 years for a carpet 2×3 feet with 500 lines (250,000 knots/square foot), two years to knot an 800 line carpet 2×1.5 feet (640,000 knots/square foot), and three years to make the 1000 knots/square foot 1.2×1.5 foot silk carpet. Silk threads used to make top-quality carpets are as thin as hair. Weavers need magnifiers to knot carpets. Weavers rarely make a second piece of the same work because it harms their eyes. This type of silk carpet has been named “soft golden.”
Artificial Silk rugs are more popular than real silk rugs in today’s commodity markets, where rugs are made cheaply to sell more. For this reason, cleaners are seeing more and more of these rugs to clean.
Artificial Rugs that pose a problem are those made from rayon/viscose or a blend of bad wild Silk and twisted rayon from China. Also, cheap viscose Belgian machine-made rugs and American Karastan rugs use viscose to highlight the Silk in their machine-woven rugs.
Cleaners may encounter a few problems with these Art Silk Rugs made of rayon/viscose, as well as some solutions to minimize the disasters they can cause.