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Rayon vs. Nylon: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 6, 2023
Rayon is a semi-synthetic fiber made from cellulose, resembling silk; Nylon is a fully synthetic polymer, known for its strength and elasticity.

Key Differences

Rayon is created from cellulose derived from plants, making it a semi-synthetic fiber. It's known for its silk-like feel, draping quality, and breathability. Nylon, in contrast, is a fully synthetic fiber, produced entirely from petrochemicals, and is celebrated for its exceptional strength and durability.
Rayon has a soft texture and is comfortable against the skin, often used in clothing that requires a flowing, silky appearance. It's also absorbent, making it suitable for warm climates. Nylon is more resilient and elastic than rayon, often used in activewear, swimwear, and outdoor gear due to its ability to retain shape and resist wear and tear.
Rayon fabrics are prone to wrinkling and can lose strength when wet, requiring careful handling during washing and ironing. Nylon is much more wrinkle-resistant and retains its strength when wet, making it more low-maintenance and suitable for rugged use.
Rayon is more sustainable than many synthetic fibers since it is derived from renewable plant materials. However, its production process can be chemically intensive. Nylon is less sustainable, as it relies on petrochemicals for its production, but it offers durability and longevity.
Rayon blends well with other fibers to create mixed fabrics, enhancing comfort and aesthetic appeal. Nylon is often blended with other materials to improve elasticity and strength, particularly in blends for sportswear and functional garments.

Comparison Chart


Semi-synthetic, made from cellulose.
Fully synthetic, made from petrochemicals.


Soft, silky, and breathable.
Strong, elastic, and durable.


Prone to wrinkling, weaker when wet.
Wrinkle-resistant, retains strength when wet.


More sustainable, but chemically intensive to produce.
Less sustainable, relies on petrochemicals.


Clothing with a flowy, luxurious feel.
Activewear, swimwear, and durable fabrics.

Rayon and Nylon Definitions


Rayon is a soft, breathable, semi-synthetic fiber made from regenerated cellulose.
Her evening gown was made of smooth rayon, draping elegantly.


Nylon is often used in activewear due to its moisture-wicking properties.
The nylon jogging pants kept him dry during the workout.


Rayon mimics natural fibers like silk and cotton in feel and appearance.
The rayon curtains had a lustrous, silk-like finish.


Nylon is a strong, elastic synthetic polymer, widely used in textiles.
The nylon backpack was durable enough for hiking trips.


Rayon is absorbent, making it suitable for summer wear.
He preferred rayon shirts in the summer for their breathability.


Nylon is known for its high resistance to wear and tear.
Her nylon tights were remarkably tear-resistant.


Rayon, while versatile, requires careful laundering due to its delicacy.
The label instructed to hand wash the rayon scarf gently.


Nylon fibers are commonly used in blend with other materials for enhanced durability.
The nylon-cotton blend jacket was both comfortable and sturdy.


Rayon is known for its ability to blend well with other fibers.
The sweater was a comfortable blend of rayon and wool.


Nylon is popular in outdoor gear for its weather-resistant qualities.
Their nylon tent withstood various weather conditions during the camping trip.


Any of several synthetic textile fibers produced by forcing a cellulose solution through fine spinnerets and solidifying the resulting filaments.


Any of a family of high-strength, resilient synthetic polymers, the molecules of which contain the recurring amide group CONH.


A fabric so woven or knit.


Cloth or yarn made from one of these synthetic materials.


A manufactured regenerated cellulosic fiber.


Ray; beam.


A synthetic fiber, made of thin filaments of regenerated cellulose, extruded from a solution of viscose. Called also viscose fiber and viscose rayon fiber.


A textile fabric made from rayon{1}.


A synthetic silklike fabric


Is nylon environmentally friendly?

Nylon is less environmentally friendly due to its reliance on non-renewable petrochemicals.

What is rayon made from?

Rayon is made from regenerated cellulose fibers derived from plants.

How should rayon garments be cared for?

Rayon garments should be hand-washed or dry-cleaned, and ironed with low heat.

Can nylon be recycled?

Recycling nylon is possible but can be complex due to its synthetic nature.

What are common uses of rayon?

Rayon is commonly used in clothing, bed linens, and curtains for its soft, luxurious feel.

What are the environmental impacts of rayon production?

Rayon production can be chemically intensive and may impact the environment, although it uses renewable plant materials.

Can nylon fabric stretch?

Yes, nylon has high elasticity and can stretch without losing its shape.

Can rayon shrink when washed?

Yes, rayon can shrink and lose shape if not washed carefully.

Why is nylon preferred in outdoor clothing?

Nylon's strength, elasticity, and resistance to weather make it ideal for outdoor clothing.

Is nylon a natural fiber?

No, nylon is a fully synthetic fiber made from petrochemicals.

Is nylon fabric breathable?

Nylon is less breathable compared to natural fibers but is often treated or blended to enhance breathability.

Is rayon suitable for summer clothing?

Yes, rayon's absorbency and breathability make it suitable for summer wear.

Are rayon fabrics good for sensitive skin?

Rayon is generally gentle on the skin, but some may be sensitive to the chemicals used in its production.

Is rayon comfortable to wear?

Yes, rayon is comfortable, breathable, and has a soft texture.

Does rayon blend well with other fibers?

Yes, rayon blends well with various fibers, enhancing comfort and aesthetics.

How does nylon perform under high temperatures?

Nylon can resist high temperatures but may melt at very high temperatures.

What is the difference in the feel of rayon vs. nylon?

Rayon feels soft and silk-like, while nylon is smoother and more plastic-like.

Can nylon be used in home furnishings?

Yes, nylon's durability makes it suitable for home furnishings like carpets and upholstery.

What makes nylon ideal for sportswear?

Nylon's durability, moisture-wicking properties, and elasticity make it ideal for sportswear.

How is rayon's impact on the environment being addressed?

Efforts to make rayon more environmentally friendly include using sustainable wood sources and developing eco-friendly manufacturing processes.
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
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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