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Is polyester warmer than cotton?

Is polyester warmer than cotton?
by freestockcenter -

Polyester and cotton, the most used and popular fabrics in the textile industries. Where cotton is a natural fiber, obtained from plants, polyester is a man-made synthetic fabric obtained from the chemical reaction. Both share some similarities and dissimilarities in their physical and chemical properties. Besides the fact, that one is more suitable for winter and the other for summer, still both are used in both seasons to achieve the different goals of different industries. But the question that usually comes to our mind while buying any cloth item is that it is good enough to keep me warm in winters or cool in summers. Well, If you struggle with these questions then don’t worry, I got your answer but today we only focus on a single topic i.e is polyester warmer than cotton?

Is polyester warmer than cotton?

Yes, polyester is warmer than cotton because of its ability to absorb less moisture than cotton. Not only that, polyester is a tightly woven fabric that doesn’t let the air directly enter inside or level outside. It also traps the heat in its fiber, and thus prevents you from cold.

But cotton is more breathable than polyester which is also important to create warmth and avoid wetness inside. There are few other factors also that make one a warmer fabric than the other. Lets, know it better in detail.

Factors that make the fabric warm

Each fabric has its own physical and chemical properties. Some fabrics are more breathable than others and some are not.

Like linen is more breathable than cotton, similarly, some fabrics are warmer than other fabrics like wool, one of the warmest fabrics.

But why it is warm and what properties are responsible for holding the warmth inside the fabric, let’s know and understand this better.

Heat capacity

As reflected by its name, heat capacity is the amount of heat the material or fabric can store or absorb, when the temperature changes.

In fabrics, specific heat is used to find out the heat capacity. The greater the no. the more it keeps you warm.

Heat conductivity

Heat conductivity also known as thermal conductivity is responsible for heat transfer along the body. The higher the no. the more heat is transferred along the body of the fabric.

If we compare to cotton and polyester cotton has (0.026-0.065) thermal conductivity, which is less than 0.05 of polyester.

Time take to dry (moisture regain)

This is the simple, yet important factor when it comes to warmth. If we take cotton and polyester, the time cotton takes to dry after getting wet is much more than polyester.

The reason is behind this is that cotton absorbs more water than polyester, also it is 99 percent cellulose and traps the water inside its fiber, which is why takes time to dry.

The quicker the fabric dries the less cold you experience.


How the fabric is woven is also plays important role in making the fabric warm.

Thick and loosely woven fabrics like wool, provide more warmth and breathability to the material.

Then the loosely woven fabric because it allows the air to pass and trap inside the fibers, while the air itself is a poor thermal conductor.

But the main disadvantage of loosely woven fabrics is that they absorb water easily, on the other hand tightly woven fabrics absorb less water and act as water resistance fibers.

surface area

The surface area is another minor factor that decides how warm is the fabric. In this case, the less the surface area is the more warmth the fabric can hold.

Similarly, if the surface is large, there is, the less warm fabric can be because of more space for heat to get out.

Do you know which is better between polyester and linen, if don’t know here – Linen vs Polyester

How warm is polyester

Polyester a chemical and man-made fabric is a warm fabric, but it is not one of the warmest fabrics for winters.

But still, most of the clothing material of winter is made of polyester like long coats, tents, speed bags, etc.

The reason behind that is polyester forms a stronger layer outside and prevents the cold air to enter inside because of its strong and tight weave.

But for the inner layer, polyester may not be the best option because a tight weave makes it less breathable, which leads to the formation of moisture inside from the body heat that’s why all polyester clothing materials are a mixture of two fabrics, one for inner and one for outer.

Most of the time polyester is blended with other materials to improve the quality of the item.

But you may wonder why it’s not the warmest? it is because it doesn’t hold the air and convert into warmth like wool.

Wool is the warmest fabric because it traps the air inside the fabric and acts as an insulator.

Not only that, the reason it surpasses polyester is that it also absorbs the warmth from your body which is generated through any workout or body movement.

While on the other hand, polyester does absorb moisture body because it has less moisture regain than wool but becomes wet easily, still gets warm but not more than wool.

Besides all that polyester is touch against cold weather because of its high tenacity, which is the parameter in textile to measure the strength of the fabric.

Furthermore, the fabric is man-made which also makes it more durable fabric than natural fabrics.

How warm is cotton?

cotton is one of the least warm fabrics out there. The reason behind that is moisture reagin, moisture regains(8.5) of the cotton is the highest in all fabrics which means cotton absorbs a lot of moisture.

But same does wool? yes, wool absorbs the moisture so does polyester but cotton doesn’t allow the moisture to carry out.

It holds it there for a long period of time which is not a good property for winters. Unlike polyester, cotton is not a moisture-wicking fabric.

If you sweat the cotton doesn’t take the sweat away from your skin. Although cotton is the most used natural fabric in clothing still it is not recommended in winters because of its high moisture regain and breathability factor.

The cotton fabric can absorb 0.3 gallons of water, which makes it the wettest fabric in the world.

The fabric which becomes wet easily is not a good option in winters because it can lead to hypothermia, that’s why cotton clothes are prevented on tracks and sportswear.

Of all the fabrics from wool to polyester, cotton becomes most uncomfortable when wet.

Besides all that cotton is used in winter clothes as an inner layer to provide breathability to the material. For the outer layer synthetic fibers are used to prevent breathability.

Is polyester good for winter?

yes, polyester is one of the most used fabrics for winter items because of its moisture-wrecking quality, also it gets dry faster than other fabrics if gets wet.

These properties also make many sports gear companies produce polyester clothing items.

Polyester is less expensive than natural fibers but more durable and strong. Polyester is used in backpacking for making sleeping bags and blankets.

The reason behind that is it doesn’t get wet easily if it does get it has quick drying quality which is most important in winters.

Besides all the merits of polyester, still going with only polyester is not always a good idea, instead try the blends, some are- polyester-cotton blends.

Where polyester is used on the outer layer of the item to protect from harsh weather and cotton is used on the inner layer to increase the breathability of the item.

Polyester works best in winters if it is blended with breathable fabric because polyester is tightly woven, which doesn’t allow the air to trap in.

Air plays a very important role in keeping the warmth inside because the air itself is a poor thermal conductor which acts as an insulator.

Do cotton and blends keep you warm in winters?

Cotton is not the best option for winters because of its physical and chemical properties but still, you can consider this fabric for any coat, or shirt but first make sure it is a blend.

Blends like cotton polyester are used more in clothing production to provide cloth breathability and insulation at the same time.

Hi, gurbi is a fashion blogger, designer, and fashion consultant. He is 25 yrs old man who love the world of fashion.