Cotton vs Viscose: 11 Differences Between Viscose and Cotton

One was made to mimic the other. That is the reason behind the existence of viscose. It was made to mimic cotton and give you an alternative fabric to wear. While viscose is another name for rayon, it does have some differences from that fabric as well from cotton.

The main difference between these two fabrics is that cotton is an all-natural fabric while viscose is an in-between fabric. It is both synthetic and natural. Another good difference between the two is that cotton doesn't lose its strength when wet.

To learn more about the differences between the two materials just continue to read our article. It has those differences and other information so you know how to use both fabrics better.

Is Viscose Cotton?


No, viscose is not cotton. This is like polyester and wool. While viscose comes from nature it does not originate from the same plant as cotton comes from. Viscose comes from beech trees and bamboo plants then mixed with sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide to take those wood and grass chips to the fabric.

Cotton comes from the cotton plant which is grown around the world. This plant can be picked about every 3 to four months depending on the environment whereas the trees to make viscose take years before they are mature enough to be made into clothing.

Then viscose is not used in medical applications but it does have its industrial uses. Besides clothing, it is made into tires, disposal wipes, and more. Cotton has a wide range of applications including the medical industry.

Cotton is often seen as weaker than synthetic and semi-synthetic materials.

Difference Between Viscose And Cotton

Viscose may mimic cotton but it does not match up in every category with cotton and it is those differences that help you decide where and when you are going to use that material instead of the nice cotton fabrics that are available.

This chart will give you those differences:

Category Cotton Viscose
Origin The cotton plant Different trees and chemicals
Years of use Thousands of years Since the late 19th century
Strength Stronger than viscose Not as strong as cotton
Moisture strength Gains strength when wet Loses strength when wet
Breathability Very good Very good
Drape May not have a great drape Drapes really well
Laundry care Very easy to care for Hard to care for, needs dry cleaning
Environment Very friendly to the environment Has toxic chemicals that are not friendly to the environment
Laundry result Can shrink, create wrinkles and more Resists those if dry cleaned
Texture Soft, comfortable feels good against the skin Soft, comfortable and ice against the skin
Hypoallergenic Yes No

Is Cotton or Viscose Cooler?

Viscose does drape very well which is why you may feel cooler wearing clothing made from those materials. It is a lightweight fabric that does encourage your body heat to disappear quickly into the air.

For cotton, it will depend on how the material was woven. If it is a lightweight fabric, then cotton will probably be cooler to wear than viscose. But a heavyweight cotton material will not be as breathable or as cool as viscose.

If the viscose is made from bamboo then that set of bed sheets should be cooler for you than cotton sheets. The bamboo makes sure your body heat is regulated throughout the night.

Viscose bamboo may be a bit more comfortable than some cotton bed sheets but not all. Again, cotton has the ability to be woven in different ways to provide you with the comfort and coolness you need.

Bamboo Viscose vs Egyptian Cotton


Here is a brief comparison of the two fabrics to help you decide which is the best option for you, your family, and your home.

- Durability- both last a long time and with the proper care can make it a decade and a half before needing to be thrown out.

- Feel- bamboo comes with a silk-like feel without the slipperiness but Egyptian cotton has both a soft and a luxurious feel especially when it comes in a high thread count.

- Hypoallergenic- bamboo can be very hypoallergenic and cotton is good for sensitive skin. Although some cotton fabrics are very hypoallergenic.

- Environmental impact- bamboo is a fast-growing plant and doesn't require a lot of pesticides, if at all, to thrive. Cotton needs pesticides and other chemicals because it has natural enemies that destroy the plants.

- Price- both have a very wide price range. You just have to do some good comparison shopping to find the sheets or fabric that fits your budget.

Viscose vs Cotton Price

Viscose may be a bit cheaper to produce and that difference reflects in the material’s retail price. Cotton can be more expensive due to the pesticides and other chemicals needed to keep the plant very healthy.

In other words, cotton usually is more expensive than viscose. It may not be all the time or at every store, or the quality of cotton is really low but generally cotton is more expensive than viscose.

But cotton has more uses than viscose which may make it the better fabric to use in your next sewing project. Unless you need excellent drape which would be viscose’s time to shine.

Which fabric you buy will depend on your preferences, sewing project, and budget. Cotton is easier to sew than viscose so that may make the extra cost worth it.

Bamboo Viscose vs Cotton Socks

Bamboo is a hearty grass and that difference makes it the better material to use when you want to wear comfortable socks. Cotton is very good as sock material but bamboo has other qualities that may have you reconsider the type of socks you will wear.

The key difference is Bamboo Kun. Cotton doesn’t have this ingredient and what it does is help stop your foot odor from getting worse. Bacteria and fungi are attracted to cotton but bamboo is able to keep those unhealthy items away from your feet.

Bacteria will also grow when attached to cotton while it has no home with bamboo. Then bamboo may be more breathable than cotton. This will keep your feet nice and cool as well as fresher.

Viscose Yarn vs Cotton Yarn


Cotton yarn certainly has its uses and its ability to be washed easily certainly makes it a more attractive and popular fabric to pick when needing yarn. It also comes in a lot of different colors to make creativity easier.

Then cotton does not lose its strength when wet, while viscose will and that is a major factor when deciding which yarn to go with. Viscose also has to be cared for in a specific manner which makes cleaning the yarn more difficult.

Also, if you want to change the color of the yarn, viscose is trickier to dye even though it accepts dyes very well. Cotton should be easier to work with as well and give you fewer problems to solve as you work.

Viscose vs Cotton Breathable

There are some people who say that rayon or viscose should be avoided when the heat goes up but that is their opinion as others say this is an excellent fabric that lets your body heat escape very well.

It is the drape of viscose that does it all and it lets your body heat find its way to the air very quickly. Cotton is very breathable but does not have the drape that viscose has But it can absorb moisture and keep you drier and cooler.

As you know viscose loses its strength when wet which may affect the breathing aspect of the material. Cotton doesn’t lose its strength so you may be able to breathe better with cotton fabrics instead of viscose ones.

Viscose vs Cotton Shirt

Both materials are going to be soft and comfortable when made into a shirt. The strength factor is one issue where cotton will excel as it gets stronger when wet and viscose gets ruined when too much moisture hits it.

A rainy day may be the worst time to wear a viscose made shirt. Cotton also is made with more natural processes. While some chemicals may be applied to stop wrinkles and other cotton laundry problems, viscose has too many toxic chemicals in it to be a healthy alternative to cotton shirts.

Where the viscose shirt will top the cotton one is in wrinkles. Viscose was created to solve the problem that cotton shirts are famous for. You may have a better look with viscose but cotton is still the superior fabric.

Viscose vs Cotton Sheets


This will depend a lot on the type of sheets you buy. Some cotton sheets are very basic and made from simple cotton fabrics. That means they will not have the superior qualities or abilities that better cotton fabrics have.

Viscose is the same way. A lower thread count and quality mean that cotton will top it every time. Where there is a real difference is if the viscose is made from bamboo or not. This material is very good in a variety of ways that makes it a tough competitor to Egyptian cotton.

Egyptian cotton is seen as the top of the cotton line and the best fabric you can use on your bed when you want softness, luxury, comfort, and breathability. Bamboo viscose is a close second if not in a dead tie with that cotton option.

Viscose vs Cotton Environment

Cotton is the better material here as well. Because it comes from a plant, it does not need chemicals to break it down into cellulose before being turned into fibers. Its main environmental drawback comes during its growing season where pesticides are needed to keep cotton’s natural enemies at bay.

Unfortunately, viscose comes from wood chips, and toxic chemicals are needed to make sure those chips turn into cellulose before it is made into fabric fibers. Those toxic chemicals may be absorbed by your skin if the material is very low quality.

If those points are not enough to convince you then the deforestation that is caused by the harvest of trees to make viscose materials may. Lots of trees are lost each year just to make this material. Not to mention the air and water pollution the viscose process contributes to.

Is Cotton or Viscose Better?

We are biased and prefer natural fibers over synthetic or semi-synthetic fabrics. But as you look at the facts, you can see our bias is well-founded and rests on the evidence, not personal preference.

Cotton is softer, stronger, easier to wash, and can be woven in many different ways. Plus, it is easy to launder and dye. While viscose has its uses, including stopping winkles, it is just not the better fabric to wear.

It is more delicate than cotton even though it has a better drape.

Cotton Viscose Fabric


Whenever you come across fabric blends, you should know that those blends are done to make the two or more fabrics’ weaknesses stronger. In other words, you get the best from both or more worlds in order to save money, have a more durable material to wear as well as look good and be able to stretch when you need to.

Cotton certainly will help strengthen viscose and make it a better fabric to wear in the summer. Plus, viscose ability to resist wrinkles helps your cotton clothing look better and save you some ironing.

Some Final Words

While cotton is the better fabric, viscose makes some positive contributions that help cotton be even better. If you want healthy clothes to wear and be environmentally friendly, then you will opt for clothing made from cotton.

Although bamboo viscose gives cotton a run for its money and competes at a very high level.

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