Q. Can you wash rayon items by hand or in the washing machine or by hand?

A. The confusing part about caring for rayon is that two types of rayon exist: viscose and polynosic. The major difference is that viscose rayon becomes weak when wet, and therefore normally requires dry cleaning. Occasionally it can be finished so that gentle hand washing is possible. Blends with 30 percent or more polyester will provide enough strength for gentle hand washing or machine laundering. Polynosic rayon is an improved version with high wet strength. You can safely machine wash and dry it.

How do you tell the difference? Unless information is provided on the label, or can be obtained by calling the manufacturer, you can’t. Machine washable rayons will have the term polynosic, the trade names Modal or Zantrel, or indicate machine wash and dry on the label. The term viscose on a label will be accompanied by a care label that indicates to dry clean.
For best results, follow care label instructions.