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Polyester vs. Viscose: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 23, 2024
Polyester is a synthetic, durable fabric, while Viscose is a semi-synthetic fabric made from wood pulp, known for its silk-like feel.

Key Differences

Polyester is a synthetic polymer made from petroleum-based products. Viscose, also known as rayon, is semi-synthetic, made from regenerated cellulose fiber derived from wood pulp.
Polyester is known for its strength and resistance to wrinkling and shrinking, but can be less breathable. Viscose is soft, breathable, and drapes well, making it comfortable but less durable.
Polyester is not biodegradable and can release microplastics, impacting the environment. Viscose is more eco-friendly but its production involves chemicals that can be harmful if not managed properly.
Polyester is easy to care for, being machine washable and quick-drying. Viscose requires more delicate handling, often needing hand washing or dry cleaning, and can shrink in water.
Polyester is widely used in a variety of garments, outdoor gear, and home textiles due to its durability. Viscose is preferred for its aesthetic qualities in dresses, blouses, and linings.

Comparison Chart


Synthetic, petroleum-based
Semi-synthetic, wood pulp


Less breathable, wrinkle-resistant
Soft, breathable, drapes well

Environmental Impact

Not biodegradable, microplastic release
More eco-friendly, chemical-intensive production


Easy to care, machine washable
Requires delicate handling, prone to shrinkage

Common Uses

Varied garments, outdoor gear, home textiles
Dresses, blouses, linings

Polyester and Viscose Definitions


Synthetic Fabric.
The jacket is made of durable polyester, ideal for harsh weather.


Semi-Synthetic Fiber.
This scarf is made of viscose, giving it a silky feel.


Polyester clothes can be problematic as they are not biodegradable.


Breathable Fabric.
Viscose dresses are perfect for summer due to their breathability.


I prefer polyester shirts because they don't wrinkle easily.


Delicate Care.
My viscose blouse requires hand washing to maintain its shape.


Versatile Use.
From sportswear to curtains, polyester's versatility is unmatched.


Silk-like Texture.
Viscose is often used for luxurious, silky linings in garments.


Durable Material.
Outdoor tents are often made from polyester due to its durability.


Eco-Friendly Aspect.
Viscose is more eco-friendly than many synthetic fabrics.


Any of numerous synthetic polymers produced chiefly by reaction of dicarboxylic acids with dihydric alcohols and used primarily as light, strong, weather-resistant resins in boat hulls, textile fibers, adhesives, and molded parts.


A thick, golden-brown viscous solution of cellulose xanthate, used in the manufacture of rayon and cellophane.


A wrinkle-resistant fabric of fibers made from any of these resins.


Viscose rayon.




Of, relating to, or made from viscose.


A viscous orange-brown liquid obtained by chemical treatment of cellulose and used as the basis of manufacturing rayon and cellulose film.


A fabric made from this material.


A cellulose ester obtained by treating cellulose with caustic soda


A rayon fabric made from viscose (cellulose xanthate) fibers


How is viscose made?

From regenerated cellulose fiber derived from wood pulp.

Can polyester be recycled?

Yes, it can be recycled, reducing its environmental impact.

Does viscose shrink in water?

Yes, it can shrink, so careful washing is advised.

Is polyester suitable for athletic wear?

Yes, due to its durability and quick-drying properties.

Is polyester environmentally friendly?

Less so, as it's not biodegradable and releases microplastics.

Is viscose good for hot weather?

Yes, its breathability makes it suitable for warm climates.

What is polyester?

A durable, synthetic fabric made from petroleum products.

What are the advantages of viscose?

It's soft, breathable, and has a silk-like drape.

Is viscose a good choice for formal wear?

Yes, its drape and texture make it suitable for elegant garments.

How should I wash polyester garments?

They can be machine washed and are quite easy to care for.

Can viscose be ironed?

Yes, but at a low temperature to avoid damage.

What are common uses of polyester?

In clothing, sportswear, outdoor gear, and home textiles.

Why is viscose popular in fashion?

For its aesthetic qualities like softness and silk-like feel.

Can polyester cause skin irritation?

Some people may find it less breathable, leading to discomfort.

How long do polyester fabrics last?

They are known for their long-lasting durability.

Are viscose fabrics expensive?

They are generally more affordable than natural silk.

Can polyester fabrics retain body odor?

They can, due to less breathability compared to natural fibers.

Is viscose vegan-friendly?

Yes, as it is made from plant-based materials.

How does viscose impact the environment?

Its production can be harmful due to chemical use, though it's more eco-friendly than purely synthetic fabrics.

How does polyester react to fire?

It can melt and is not very fire-resistant.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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