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Polyester Vs. Cotton: Know Which Fabric to Choose and Why

Polyester vs. Cotton: Which Fabric to Choose?
Wondering what to choose between cotton and polyester? We have brought you a detailed comparison between these two fabrics, to help you make a wise decision.
Buzzle Staff
Last Updated: Dec 10, 2017
Cotton being a natural fiber, should ideally be used by infants, kids, and people with a sensitive skin. Also, it is hypoallergenic, making it better than polyester.

Cotton and polyester are among the most popular fabrics when it comes to clothing, bedding, and other home apparel. Cotton is being used as clothing since prehistoric times. Although cotton faced some fierce competition from polyester after its invention in the early 1950s, it is still one of the best-selling fibers in the United States of America and many other countries.
Cotton is used to make absorbent towels, denim, socks, t-shirts, and many other clothes. It is popularly used to make bed sheets as well. Polyester thread has become a much sought-after fabric due to its durability and sheen. It is used to make home furnishings, blankets, bed sheets, and insulating tapes. In case you are wondering which fabric to choose, fret not! We have a detailed analysis of both these fabrics, which should help you make the right choice.
Use of cotton as a fabric dates back to prehistoric times. Cotton is made from soft cotton fiber. It is first spun into a yard or thread to make fabric. Polyester Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), is a resin of the polyester family which is used to make synthetic fibers. The polyester thread or yarn is used to make fabric. Cost
  • Pure cotton is costlier than polyester. But, usually the price depends on many other factors as well.
  • When buying clothing or bedding, the cost will depend more on the designs, patterns, colors, and other elements, rather than just the fabric.
♦ Since cotton is a natural fabric it is breathable and soft. Cotton dresses are ideal for summers, as they give a cool and comfortable feel.
♦ Polyester, being a synthetic fiber is less breathable, and can be a little rough for some people. Wearing polyester is summer could lead to a sticky or sweaty feeling. It is best worn in winters, as it retains heat.
♦ Cotton is hypoallergenic and suits everybody
♦ Some people may be allergic to polyester.
♦ It wrinkles very easily, and needs ironing.
♦ Polyester holds its shape better, and is resistant to wrinkles.
♦ It is better suited to casual dresses and daily-wear clothes.
♦ With its sheen and variety polyester makes good formal dresses.
♦ Cotton is definitely the best option for bedding.
♦ Polyester bedding could lead to itchy and sweaty feelings. It also creates more static electricity.
♦ It is susceptible to general wear and tear after a few washes.
♦ It is more durable and hence cost-effective.
♦ It does not hold colors well. Colors usually start fading after some washes.
♦ It retains colors very well.
♦ Cotton is nonresistant to moisture and can get damaged by mildew.
♦ It is resistant to moisture, hence does not get damaged by mildew.
♦ It is more susceptible to fire, and burns quickly leaving behind a residue.
♦ It does not catch fire quickly, but once it does, it melts causing localized burns.
♦ It takes a long time to dry.
♦ It dries quickly, and hence is used to make waterproof clothing.
♦ Towels are made from cotton as it is very absorbing. But this quality has a drawback as it leads to quick staining.
♦ Polyester is not as absorbent as cotton nor does it stain easily. Environmental Impact
  • The production of both the fabrics requires a lot of water, energy, and other resources. So, both are equally harmful for the environment.
  • Cotton is highly dependent on pesticides and requires a lot of water. It is biodegradable, but the production of both the fabrics leads to discharge of toxins.
Which to Choose?
  • The best option would be to opt for a polyester and cotton blend. There are many garments available in the market which are made of 50% cotton and 50% polyester.
  • These are an excellent option as they have the benefits of both cotton and polyester. You will get a fabric which is strong, durable, and breathable as well. Moreover, these cost less than 100% cotton.
  • In case you want to go in for pure cotton or polyester, you should choose cotton for the bedding, and polyester for other furnishing.
  • When it comes to clothing, opt for cotton in summers, and polyester in winters.
As you can see, both the fabrics have their pros and cons. Choosing one of the two will depend on your needs, comfort, and preferences.