Rayon Vs Tencel: Learn the Difference

In a world where environmental consciousness and sustainability are becoming increasingly crucial, the choices we make regarding the materials we use play a significant role.

Rayon and Tencel are two popular fabrics known for their softness, comfort, and versatility. However, these textiles differ in terms of sourcing, production processes, and environmental impact.

In this discussion, we will explore the key differences between rayon and Tencel, examining their properties, uses in various applications, and their eco-friendliness.

Understanding these distinctions can help consumers make informed decisions when selecting fabrics that align with their values and lifestyle.

rayon vs tencel

Key Differences Between Rayon and Tencel

Fiber Source

  • Rayon: Rayon is derived from wood pulp, cotton linters, or other plant-based materials. The primary source of the cellulose used in rayon production varies, leading to different types of rayon, such as viscose, modal, and lyocell.
  • Tencel: Tencel is exclusively made from sustainably sourced wood pulp. The brand name “Tencel” refers to lyocell and modal fibers produced by Lenzing AG, a company known for its eco-friendly practices. Tencel’s primary source of fiber comes from renewable wood resources, such as eucalyptus, beech, or spruce trees.

Production Process

  • Rayon: The production process for rayon involves chemical treatment to convert the extracted cellulose into fibers. This process can have a significant impact on the environment due to the use of harsh chemicals, such as carbon disulfide.
  • Tencel: Tencel’s production process stands out as a more environmentally friendly alternative. It employs a closed-loop process, which means that the solvents used in production are recycled and reused, minimizing waste and reducing environmental impact.


  • Rayon: While rayon can be made from renewable resources like wood pulp, its production process often involves harmful chemicals and lacks the closed-loop system, making it less sustainable than some other fibers.
  • Tencel: Tencel is celebrated for its sustainability. The closed-loop production process used for Tencel fibers drastically reduces water usage and chemical emissions. Additionally, the raw materials are sourced from sustainably managed forests, earning Tencel fibers various eco-certifications.


  • Rayon: Rayon fabrics are known for their soft and smooth texture, providing a comfortable feel against the skin.
  • Tencel: Tencel fabrics share a similar characteristic of softness, often described as gentle and pleasant to touch. The fibers’ natural smoothness contributes to Tencel’s reputation for luxurious comfort.


  • Rayon: Rayon garments are comfortable to wear, especially in hot and humid climates, due to their high absorbency and breathability. However, they may not provide adequate insulation in colder environments.
  • Tencel: Tencel fabrics offer excellent comfort year-round. Their moisture-wicking properties ensure a dry feel in warm weather, while their insulation properties make them suitable for cooler temperatures too. This versatility enhances the overall comfort of Tencel apparel.


  • Rayon: Rayon fabrics are highly absorbent, making them suitable for warm and humid climates. The fibers have a natural ability to wick moisture away from the skin, keeping the wearer dry and comfortable in hot conditions.
  • Tencel: Tencel also boasts excellent absorbency, comparable to rayon. Its moisture-wicking properties make it an ideal choice for activewear, towels, and bedding, as it can efficiently absorb and release moisture, maintaining a dry and pleasant feel.


  • Rayon: Rayon is known for its breathability, allowing air to circulate through the fabric. This feature enhances comfort during hot weather and physical activities, as it helps to regulate body temperature.
  • Tencel: Like rayon, Tencel fabrics are breathable and promote airflow. The fibers’ structure allows air to pass through easily, ensuring a cool and fresh sensation during wear, making it an excellent option for summer clothing and bedding.


  • Rayon: While rayon excels in absorbing moisture and being breathable, it lacks significant insulation properties. In colder climates, it may not provide sufficient warmth, which can be a drawback for certain apparel items.
  • Tencel: Tencel fibers offer better insulation compared to traditional rayon. The fibers trap warm air, providing a layer of thermal protection, making Tencel suitable for use in various climates, including milder winters.

Climate Suitability

  • Rayon: Rayon is particularly well-suited for hot and humid climates due to its high absorbency and breathability. It is an excellent choice for lightweight and comfortable summer clothing.
  • Tencel: Tencel’s versatility allows it to perform well in a broader range of climates. Its moisture-wicking properties and insulation capabilities make it suitable for both warm and cooler weather conditions, catering to various seasonal needs.


  • Rayon: Rayon fabrics have a soft and smooth feel, providing a comfortable and pleasant sensation when in contact with the skin. However, due to its high absorbency, it can sometimes feel cool and even slightly slimy to the touch.
  • Tencel: Tencel fabrics share the same softness and smoothness as rayon, but without the slimy sensation. Tencel’s fibers are naturally smooth and less prone to feeling clammy, enhancing the overall comfort of garments made from this material.


  • Rayon: Rayon fabrics generally have moderate durability. While they can be soft and comfortable, they are more susceptible to wear and tear, especially in high-stress areas like seams and edges. Over time, rayon garments may show signs of pilling and fabric thinning.
  • Tencel: Tencel fabrics are known for their durability and strength. The fibers have a higher resistance to abrasion, making them less prone to damage or pilling. Tencel garments tend to maintain their shape and integrity over longer periods of wear.


  • Rayon: Rayon fabrics are prone to shrinkage when exposed to high temperatures during washing or drying. Care must be taken to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to avoid unwanted shrinkage and alterations in the garment’s size.
  • Tencel: Tencel fabrics are generally less prone to shrinkage compared to rayon. While following proper care instructions is still crucial, Tencel’s production process contributes to better dimensional stability, reducing the risk of significant shrinkage.

Heat Sensitivity

  • Rayon: Rayon fibers are sensitive to high heat. They have a lower melting point than some other synthetic fibers, which can result in damage or distortion if exposed to high-temperature ironing or drying.
  • Tencel: Tencel fibers also have heat sensitivity, and it is essential to handle them with care during ironing and drying. Using lower heat settings can help preserve the fabric’s integrity and prevent unwanted changes to the garment’s appearance.


  • Rayon: Rayon fabrics are prone to wrinkling, and they may require more frequent ironing or steaming to maintain a smooth and polished look, especially after washing.
  • Tencel: Tencel fabrics are more resistant to wrinkling compared to rayon. Their smooth fibers contribute to better wrinkle recovery, allowing Tencel garments to maintain a more crease-free appearance, reducing the need for extensive ironing.

Environmental Impact

  • Rayon: The environmental impact of rayon production can vary depending on the specific type and production process. Conventional rayon production may involve the use of harsh chemicals and lack eco-friendly practices, leading to potential environmental concerns.
  • Tencel: Tencel is renowned for its eco-friendliness and lower environmental impact. The closed-loop production process used for Tencel fibers significantly reduces water usage and chemical emissions, and the wood pulp used in production comes from responsibly managed forests, earning Tencel various eco-certifications.

Brand Names

  • Rayon: Rayon is a generic term that encompasses various types of fibers, such as viscose, modal, and lyocell. These different types of rayon may be marketed under various brand names, but they all share the common feature of being derived from cellulose sources like wood pulp or cotton linters.
  • Tencel: Tencel is a specific brand name owned by Lenzing AG. It refers to fibers made exclusively from lyocell or modal, both of which are sustainably sourced from wood pulp. As a result, Tencel is a more specific and standardized product compared to the broader category of rayon.

Use in Bed Sheets

  • Rayon: Rayon bed sheets are available but not as common as other materials like cotton or microfiber. While rayon is soft and comfortable to sleep on, its durability and wrinkle-prone nature may impact its popularity as a bed sheet material.
  • Tencel: Tencel is gaining popularity as a luxurious and sustainable option for bed sheets. Its softness, moisture-wicking properties, and better wrinkle resistance make Tencel sheets highly desirable. Tencel’s environmentally friendly production process also appeals to eco-conscious consumers looking for bedding choices that align with their values.

Uses in Clothing

  • Rayon: Rayon is widely used in clothing, especially in lightweight and breathable summer garments like dresses, blouses, and skirts. Its comfort and moisture absorption properties make it a popular choice for warm weather clothing.
  • Tencel: Tencel’s versatility extends to clothing as well. Its softness, breathability, and excellent moisture-wicking capabilities make it suitable for a wide range of clothing items. From shirts and pants to activewear and undergarments, Tencel fabrics are embraced by fashion brands seeking sustainable and high-performance materials.

Color Retention

  • Rayon: Rayon fabrics may have moderate color retention, meaning they might fade or lose vibrancy over time, especially with repeated washing or exposure to sunlight.
  • Tencel: Tencel fabrics generally exhibit good color retention. The fibers hold dye well, resulting in vibrant and long-lasting colors. This characteristic makes Tencel a reliable choice for garments that require rich and enduring hues.

Price Range

  • Rayon: Rayon is generally more affordable compared to high-end fabrics like Tencel. Its production process is relatively cost-effective, contributing to its lower price point.
  • Tencel: Tencel is considered a high-end material, often commanding a higher price compared to rayon. The sustainable production process and the brand’s reputation for quality contribute to the premium pricing of Tencel garments and products.


  • Rayon: Rayon fabrics may cause allergies or skin sensitivities in some individuals. The chemicals used in the production process, such as carbon disulfide and other harsh solvents, can potentially remain in the fibers, triggering reactions in sensitive skin types.
  • Tencel: Tencel, being a more eco-friendly and natural fiber, is generally considered hypoallergenic. The closed-loop production process and the absence of harsh chemicals reduce the risk of skin irritation, making Tencel fabrics a safer choice for those with allergies or sensitive skin.


  • Rayon: Rayon fabrics have varying degrees of biodegradability, depending on the specific type of rayon and its production process. Some types, like lyocell (Tencel), are more biodegradable due to their sustainable sourcing and closed-loop production system.
  • Tencel: Tencel fibers are known for their high biodegradability. The wood pulp used in Tencel’s production comes from sustainably managed forests, and the closed-loop process ensures minimal environmental impact, making Tencel a more eco-friendly and easily biodegradable option.

Care Instructions

  • Rayon: Rayon fabrics typically require more delicate care. They are sensitive to high heat, and washing or drying them at high temperatures can lead to shrinkage and distortion. Rayon garments often need to be hand washed or machine washed with cold water and air-dried to maintain their integrity.
  • Tencel: Tencel fabrics share similar care instructions with rayon, requiring gentle handling. Cold or lukewarm water is recommended for washing Tencel garments, and they should be air-dried or dried on low heat to prevent potential damage.

Environmental Certifications

  • Rayon: The environmental impact of rayon fabrics can vary depending on the specific type and production process. While some rayon production practices can be less eco-friendly due to chemical usage and waste disposal, other types, such as lyocell (Tencel), may have environmental certifications based on their sustainable practices.
  • Tencel: Tencel fabrics often come with environmental certifications, especially if they are made from the lyocell variant. Certifications such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and others highlight Tencel’s sustainable sourcing, eco-friendly production, and adherence to responsible forestry practices.


  • Rayon: Rayon fabrics, including various types like viscose and modal, are widely available in the market. They are commonly used in the fashion industry, and their affordability contributes to their widespread use in clothing and home textiles.
  • Tencel: Tencel fabrics, particularly those made from lyocell, are increasingly available and gaining popularity among consumers. As environmental awareness grows, the demand for sustainable materials like Tencel has led to more brands incorporating it into their product lines.

Rayon Vs Tencel: Comparison Table

Frequently Asked Questions

To Recap

The comparison between rayon and Tencel reveals distinct characteristics that cater to different needs and preferences.

Rayon’s affordability and suitability for warm weather make it a common choice in the fashion industry, while Tencel’s eco-friendly production and hypoallergenic properties position it as a premium and sustainable option.

Both fabrics offer softness and comfort, but Tencel’s durability and better biodegradability contribute to its appeal among environmentally conscious consumers.

As we strive to make more sustainable choices, Tencel stands out as a leading fabric that not only meets our comfort needs but also aligns with our commitment to preserving the planet.

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