Difference Between Polyester and Viscose

Fibers play the most important part in the making of a cloth. Fibers of various types are used for a variety of purposes. Polyester and viscose are two of the most popular and widely used fibre materials in the textile industry.

There are plenty of aspects to compare between polyester and viscose. But the biggest difference comes in the manufacturing process of polyester and viscose. It defines how they can be useful for the environment or threaten it. Even with the similarities, the processes for making polyester and viscose are very different. This makes them different from each other.

What is Polyester?

Polyester is a synthetic fibre that comes under the category of polymer and is made from petroleum. Polyester became popular in the 1960s and 1970s as it started to be used for making leisure suits. This synthetic fibre is one of the most popular and is used for thousands of customer and industrial applications.

Most synthetic and some natural polyester fibres are made from ethylene. Although some of them are biodegradable, most of them are not. In today’s era, polyester is one of the most used fibres in the clothing industry. Polyester is the best in terms of durability, shrinking, and wrinkling because it is made from cotton.

In the process of making polyester fabric, it undergoes the following steps

  • Creating a monomer

  • Creating a Polymer

  • Extruding

  • Spinning

  • Finishing

Polyester is mainly produced in China, at very large scales. Taiwan, Korea, India, Japan, and Indonesia are some other countries that produce polyester. There are various types of polyester. Some of them are ethylene polyester, plant-based polyester, and PCDT polyester.

What is Viscose?

Viscose fiber, which is widely known as rayon, is a semi-synthetic fiber. Viscose fibre is durable and very soft in nature; it is hence loved worldwide. It is generally made by extracting cellulose fibres from wood pulp and is organic in nature. This cellulose needs to be 90% pure in order to become a high-quality product. Later, the cellulose is dissolved in caustic soda to remove impurities and convert it into alkali cellulose.

The cellulose is pressed between rollers, which remove the liquid and turn it into white sheets. After undergoing the proper process, the cellulose turns into fabric, which is then used to make cloth. Viscose fabric is generally used as a cheaper substitute for silk. The quality of viscose is that it is very breathable and good at absorbing water. Along with this, viscose is good at absorbing sweat as well, which helps to reduce sweat marks on shirts. Types of viscose include nitrocellulose, acetate, cuprammonium rayon, modern method, lyocell, and model.

In the process of making viscose fabric, it undergoes the following steps

  • Extraction of cellulose

  • Alkali-cellulose conversion

  • Pressing

  • Aging and xanthation

  • Ripening

  • Filtering and extruding

  • Acid bath and completion

Rayon or Viscose is a type of synthetic fibre which is highly produced in India, Pakistan, Indonesia, and China. These countries have cheap labour and less stringent regulations. Polyester is transported to other countries in order to be converted into clothing, household textiles, or other types of products.

What Is the Distinction Between Polyester and Viscose?

On various bases, polyester and viscose can be distinguished. Polyester and viscose are breathable, non-stretchy, and moisture-wicking fabrics. But some of their qualities make them different from each other. Given below are the key differences, through which it is easy to distinguish them.

Basis Polyester Viscose


Polyester is a synthetic fiber and a type of polymeric material. It is made from petroleum.

Viscose is a semi-synthetic fiber, which is a version of rayon. It is made form wood pulp and is used as substitute for silk.



Wood pulp


Polyester is used for the manufacture of shirts, pants, hoodies, dresses, jackets, socks, blankets, etc.

Viscose is used as a substitute for silk in the clothing industry


Polyester is durable, moisture-resistant, and it retains shape. It is generally non-biodegradable

Viscose is absorbent, lightweight, breathable, soft, and maintains shape as well. It is organic in nature.


Polyester is in-expensive textile, which has gained popularity worldwide.

Viscose is cheaper than other cotton.


Polyester is used for casual clothing and sportswear.

Viscose if highly used in making blouses, and skirts as silk alternative.


Polyester is moderately warm. Some versions are warmer than other.

Viscose is also moderately warm. But it requires layering in order to keep the warmth.

Impact on Environment

Polyester is not so good for the environment as it is obtained from fossil fuel.

The process of making of polyester undergoes from crude oil to petroleum harms the environment at massive level.

Viscose or Rayon is not pollutant, which doesn’t affect the environment. It is derived from plants and does not contain any pollutant material.


Polyester fabric is eligible for a variety of certifications. Some of them are

  • Standard 100

  • Global Recycle Standard (GRS)

Viscose is made from USDA or EU-certified organic cellulose.


Polyester and viscose are both good and very popular fibres all over the world. They are highly used in the textile industry in the making of cloth. Both are made from different processors, which makes them different from each other. Polyester is a 100% synthetic fiber, whereas viscose is a semi-synthetic fibre material. And due to this, they both have different impacts on the environment.

Updated on: 02-Feb-2023

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