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Polyester vs Cotton: What to Know About These Two Fabrics

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Whether you are sewing clothes or making other crafts, having the right materials and fabric is important. While certain fabrics may look similar, they have different properties and quality you need to consider when, for example, deciding whether to use polyester vs cotton.

Both polyester and cotton are popular fabrics when it comes to creating clothes. Polyester is often less expensive than cotton, so it may be tempting for people to use this for their projects. However, depending on what a person is making, this might not always be the best choice. Sometimes cotton is better.

Knowing how to decide can be incredibly tricky. Of course, having some information about each material could be just what you need to help you choose the right one when it comes to polyester vs cotton.

Is Polyester or Cotton of Better Quality?

Depending on how and where these fabrics are produced, they can have varying levels of quality. Taking a look at the properties of each fabric may help you decide which one you think has better quality and should be used for your projects.


This is one of the most widely used natural fibers on the planet, and it has been that way for a long time. It is both comfortable and durable, so it is used quite often for making clothing. Cotton is also versatile, so it can be used to make many different types of fabric, including flannel, jersey, denim, and others.


Each of these fabrics has a different wear and feel, but all cotton fabrics are soft and can breathe. They are ideal for warm climates and hot weather, so they are also versatile when it comes to wearing items created from cotton in different places and conditions. They are also good for people with sensitive skin.

The nice thing about cotton is that it isn’t clingy. Thus, if you prefer your clothes to have a looser fit, you’ll want to make them out of cotton. The downside to this fabric is that it doesn’t dry quickly, so it’s not an ideal choice for athletic wear or other items where people might sweat or get wet.

Care and Durability

If you get fabric that is made from high-quality cotton, you can expect that it will be incredibly durable. It will be less prone to accidental tears and rips. Cotton is relatively easy to take care of and is often thrown into the washing machine when it gets dirty. The only thing to be aware of is that cotton can shrink when exposed to high temperatures.

When washing articles made from cotton, you want to make sure that you use cold water and stay aware of how much detergent you use. Too much can have an impact on how the material wears. You may also want to consider washing your cotton items on delicate to prevent the color from fading.


Polyester first came into the world in 1941. It is a man-made fiber created from petroleum-based products. Despite the fact that it’s relatively new, especially compared to how long cotton has been around, it is increasing in popularity as a fabric to make clothes. Polyester has the ability to stand up to a lot of washing and wear.


Polyester is lightweight and has a silky feel to it. Unlike cotton, which takes a long time to dry, polyester can work well for athletic wear. It traps the sweat against the skin, making it feel somewhat clammy in warm weather but warm in cool weather. If you have sensitive skin, this may not be the best choice as it could cause some irritation.

Care and Durability

Cotton is incredibly durable, but polyester is even more durable. Stains don’t usually stick to this material, either, because polyester doesn’t absorb liquids like other fabrics do. It’s also resistant to wrinkles, shrinking, and fading.

When it comes to washing polyester, you can wash this material in any temperature and on any wash setting you desire. It’s recommended you wash it in warm with an all-purpose detergent and then place it in the dryer to dry. You don’t have to worry about shrinkage with polyester, as it can withstand various washing temperatures.

Are There Any Advantages to Polyester Over Cotton?

When trying to decide between polyester vs cotton, the biggest thing you’ll need to consider is what you’re making and who will be wearing it. Both materials are incredibly durable and have been in the clothing market for a long time.

As mentioned, polyester can stand up to a lot of wash and wear, doesn’t stain easily, and doesn’t take a long time to dry, so it would make a great material for items that people wear often, including work uniforms or athletic gear. Polyester can be used in all industries, but it can be incredibly beneficial for people who work in food service, as the chances of things getting spilled on clothes increases.

Polyester may also have an advantage over cotton when it comes to creating outdoor gear, especially items that may get wet. When cotton gets wet, it can get incredibly heavy, which can make moving challenging when outdoors. Since cotton takes a long time to dry, it can also lead to a person getting cold. Thus, having items made from polyester might be the better choice for gear that might get wet.

Polyester vs Cotton: The Pros and Cons

When deciding between polyester vs cotton, you’ll have to figure out what you’re making to find the right material. Each one has different properties that make it ideal for different types of clothing.

As mentioned, polyester can stand up to a lot of wash and wear, so it would be a good choice for uniforms that need to be washed often. It also doesn’t absorb like other materials, so it can resist stains and dry faster than cotton. Polyester doesn’t wrinkle as easily, so people won’t have to iron before they wear.

You may have to be more aware of how you take care of your cotton garments to ensure that they don’t shrink, but there are benefits to creating clothes from this material. The first is that cotton is incredibly versatile and can make different strengths of fabric. From a light, flowing summer dress to jeans and different qualities in between, cotton can be used for a lot of different articles.

If you are adding a print to your garments to make them unique, then using cotton might be a better choice than polyester. Most textile inks can be used on cotton, and the images will be bright and last for a long time. When it comes to polyester, you’ll have to be cautious about the type of ink you use, as not all of them will work or last with this material.

Environmental impact

Another thing you might need to consider when it comes to polyester vs cotton is the environmental impact they have. Many people are more aware and want to do what is best for the planet, so this is something they take into consideration.

When it comes to polyester vs cotton, both of them make an impact on the world. Remember, polyester is derived from petroleum-based products, and this isn’t a renewable resource. Cotton is renewable, but the current growing practices are under scrutiny. This crop uses the most pesticides in the world, which has been shown to negatively impact the planet and human health.

Cotton also requires a lot of water during the growing process. However, during manufacturing, both cotton and polyester use a lot of water, energy, and toxic chemicals. Another factor to consider is that cotton is biodegradable, which means that if cotton clothing is thrown away, it will eventually break down into natural compounds.


Making the decision to use polyester vs cotton isn’t an easy one. Each one has their pros and cons. Some people prefer the feel of cotton over the feel of polyester, while others like the durability and longevity that comes with polyester. The biggest deciding factor that may help you decide which material to use will be what you are producing. If your goal is to make athletic wear or outdoor gear, then polyester is the better choice.

Of course, in addition to these two materials, you also have the option of getting blends. In this case, you can get a combination of both cotton and polyester, and this may solve all of your decision issues. When getting fabric that is a mix of 50% cotton and 50% polyester, you are getting the softness of cotton mixed with the durability of polyester.

The nice thing about blends is that they are often less expensive than getting 100% cotton fabrics. When cotton is mixed with polyester, the chances of it shrinking during washing are also reduced.

When it comes down to it, making the decision about polyester vs cotton will depend on personal preference. If you like one over the other and can create amazing things that you enjoy wearing or that others enjoy, that’s all the really matters, and you should do what makes you happy.

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