Nylon is a synthetic fabric that is made out of petroleum. It was first made in 1935 to make the toothbrush bristles. But after that, it is found that it can serve more purposes and then be used in the textile industry to make clothes, garments, carpets, umbrellas, etc. But the only doubt that people still have in their mind is “is nylon breathable”? Well, nylon is tough, durable, and cost-effective, and because of these reasons, it became a choice for many manufacturers. But today we are going to answer the unfamous yet important questions so that you can make the right choice when it comes to synthetic materials. So, Is nylon breathable?
Nylon as a 100 percent synthetic fabric is not a breathable fabric as it is made of tightly woven fibers that block the ventilation and trap more heat, which makes it a less breathable fabric. However, it has a great moisture-wicking capability, which allows it to dry superfast.
A lot of people get confused between breathability and moisture-wicking ability. Firstly, both are different things. Cotton is a natural fabric that is breathable but is not good at moisture wicking. So, first, let’s understand what is breathability and moisture ability really are?
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What is breathability in fabric?
Breathability in a fabric is when air or light can easily pass through the fabric. Natural fabrics like cotton, and linen is super breathable because of loose fiber weaves. However, on the other hand, synthetic material like polyester and nylon is not breathable because of their tightly weaved fibers.
This is the reason why the natural fabric is a practical pick for summers, because of its airflow capabilities. This also makes clothes made of cotton or other summer fabrics feel lighter on the body.
What is moisture-wicking?
Moisture-wicking as the term suggests is a technical word for the ability of the fabric or material to move the moisture away from the skin.
This term is specially used for synthetic materials, like nylon and polyester. Nylon is a synthetic material, it is not breathable but still has the moisture-wicking ability, which helps to move the sweat out from the skin.
The reason why nylon or polyester is good in this is that tight fibers structure in them prevents the absorption, hence making it easy for sweat to pass out.
When we talk about natural fabrics, it is not the same as some super-breathable fabrics like cotton and linen absorb water and that is why they lack the moisture-wicking ability.
Further, there are a lot of factors that make nylon a non-breathable fabric.
Reasons why nylon is not breathable
Nylon is a synthetic or man-made fabric that is obtained from petroleum. But this is also one reason why it is not breathable.
Most synthetic fabrics are less breathable than natural fabrics because synthetic fabrics go through many stages during construction to make them tougher and more durable.
Nylon is one fabric that is made to add durability to clothing items and other material, and that is also the reason why nylon now is used in sports where tearing and fraying is common.
Tight weave fibers
Nylon is made with tight weave fibers to provide durability to the material so that it can last longer. This is the reason why it is hard for light and air to pass through it.
Many things are made of nylon-like umbrellas, which block the sunlight in summers and water on rainy days.
Though nylon keeps you cool but prevents the air to pass through it, which is very important to prevent suffocation or build-up of moisture inside, especially in summers.
Hugs the skin
Another reason why it is hard for nylon to be considered a breathable material is because it hugs the skin.
It is fact that the material or fabric which hugs your skin makes you feel hotter because it traps the body heat, and as synthetic fabric, nylon traps heat.
However, because of its moisture-wicking ability, it dries super fast but it doesn’t happen with all nylon weaves.
Is nylon more breathable than cotton?
No, nylon is not breathable in contrast to cotton. The main reason behind that is the natural ability of cotton to pass the air through it.
In simple words, cotton fibers are loosely weaved which let the air pass through them, whereas it is completely opposite with nylon.
Nylon fibers are tightly weaved, leaving no space for air to pass through them, hence making a cotton fabric more breathable.
However, nylon excels in moisture-wicking ability. In contrast to cotton, nylon does not hold or absorb water, which elevates the movement of moisture (sweat) to pass out through the fabric.
It is completely opposite of cotton, where moisture gets absorbed in the fibers or materials, and ultimately takes more time to dry.
This is also the reason why nylon is in athletic wear in comparison to other natural fabrics.
However, this also doesn’t mean that all nylon weaves are good at moisture wicking. Nylon weaves that are special moisture-wicking weave made using advanced weaved technology is good at it. While others are not. It is the same with polyester.
Is nylon more breathable than polyester?
It depends on the weave of the fabric. Both nylon and polyester are synthetic fabrics made of plasticky fibers, which makes it hard for anything to pass through them i.e air or light.
When it comes to polyester it is made up of petroleum by-products. This means fibers that make polyester are basically plastic, which means airflow is not that easy. But still, you see a lot of times, that polyester is used in summer clothes and stated as breathable material.
Well, the only reason behind that is the moisture-wicking ability of polyester. As discussed above, during the manufacturing stages, advanced technology is used to make the thread.
This helps the moisture or sweat easily excrete out through the fibers. This is very important to prevent any wetness inside and also to make the cloth dry quickly.
Is nylon good for summer?
To be honest, nylon is not a good material for summer, despite its ability to move away sweat from your skin. The reason is, that nylon traps heat in its fiber, and also clings against the skin, which ultimately makes you sweat a lot more. Nylon is a bad pick for summers, instead, go with breathable fabric like cotton or linen which allows the air to pass through them and reduce sweating.
However, if you are involved in physical activity, then nylon is a much better choice even in Summer as it is tough and move sweat super fast.
Can air pass through nylon?
The simple answer to this is very low. As nylon is a tightly weaved synthetic fabric it makes it difficult for air to pass through it. It is the same with polyester fabric.
The same is not true with blends. If nylon is blended with other fabrics like cotton and the Percentage used is equal to or less than other fabrics, then there are high chances that it is more breathable than 100 percent nylon.
The best way to find out if a nylon shirt or textile is breathable or not is to hold it up and see if the light passes through it. The more the light passes the more breathable is the clothing. You can always compare it with the cloth that
Fabrics that are breathable
Linen is a plant-based fabric, which is obtained from the flax plant. The supreme quality of the linen is that it is super breathable.
The reason why linen is super breathable is because of its loose weave and hollow fiber cores, which allows the air to flow very easily and keeps the temperature down.
Linen is a fabric that is very light and has a texture on the top. On the downside, linen wrinkles the most. But that is not a negative for this fabric, as it is now accepted as a wrinkled fabric.
Linen is one of the best choices for summers after cotton. It has a cooling ability and is also good at moisture wicking.
Though linen doesn’t absorb the water, still it is not as good as synthetic fabric in this segment.
The only reason why it is not used so much is that it is very expensive, and also requires more care.
Without a doubt, rayon is one of the most breathable fabrics out there. Rayon is basically a synthetic fabric but not totally. It is made of chemically processed wood pulp.
However, rayon has very thin fibers, which allows the air to pass through them without blocking it.
Sometimes, rayon creates the illusion of silk, as it looks just like it. But still, cost way less than natural silk.
Rayon is used for making clothes and garments. But when it comes to rayon picking a loose item is much better than a slim-fitted shirt or pants.
Cotton is the most used natural fabric in the world and the one reason behind that is the airflow capability of cotton. Cotton is used in summer garments, and clothes to provide breathability and soft touch to the item.
Cotton thread is made of tiny fibers that are loosely packed (space between them), which allows the air or light to easily pass through it.
This gap between fibers also means that water can also pass through it, and on the downside cotton absorb water instead of repelling it. This also means anything made of cotton will take more time to dry.
However, to counter this problem, cotton is often blended with synthetic fabric like polyester or nylon. The synthetic fabric allows the water or moisture to pass through the fibers without absorbing it, thanks to the moisture-wicking ability of synthetic material.
When it comes to summers, you can easily go with cotton as it provides ventilation (airflow), which is important to prevent sweating or suffocation inside. Moreover, cotton does not cling to the skin.
Gauze is made up of a special weave pattern that allows the air to easily pass through the loosely packed fibers.
Gauze is basically a shadow of cotton, as its thread is made of it.
Gauze is usually used to make underwear, baby clothes, etc. However, you don’t find any shirts or pants made of this material.
Overall, gauze is also one of the most breathable fabrics out there.
Chambray is a different version of cotton which is slightly thick than cotton, but less than denim. This material is often used to make shirts and other summer outfits.
Because it is made up of cotton, it also has natural airflow capability. However, on the downside, it might trap heat if it clings to the skin.
Overall, this fabric is breathable but not supreme as cotton.
Bamboo is another breathable fabric, which allows the air to pass through fibers. However, just like cotton, bamboo also absorbs moisture.
Despite this fact, bamboo is gaining popularity and has been used to make clothes and household products for a few years now.
Though bamboo goes through the addition of chemicals during the manufacturing process, still the chemicals are less dangerous than the ones used in making synthetic fabric.
Merino wool is another breathable fabric. Yes, as unreal as it sounds, it is! Thanks to merino wool fibers, which hold the air in pockets.
Most people think of wool as a winter fabric, which it is. Merino is also used in winters mainly but the fine thin fibers of Merino are used to make clothing items that can be used year-round.
The upside of Merino wool is that it excels in moisture-wicking ability. On the downside, it is heavier than other summer fabrics, and the reason why not preferred by people in summer.