Cotton vs. Polyester: What is Best for Me?
Published on February 05, 2016

When choosing a garment to decorate, our customers are continuously asking “What is the difference between cotton and polyester, and what should I choose?”

In response to that question, Cotton has many advantages and disadvantages. One benefit of cotton is that it is very absorbent. This can be great for towels because the purpose of a towel is to soak up liquid. Polyester would not be able to absorb liquid as well as cotton. This can also be a disadvantage If you order a cotton t-shirt. Cotton is more likely to stain because of the liquid it soaks up compared to a polyester shirt. Polyester resist stains better than cotton because of the chemical make-up of the polyester material which is made out of coal, air, petroleum products, and water. Polyester also holds its shape better and is more resistant to wrinkling, which is great if you don’t like to iron!

Cotton is a natural product harvested from a cotton plant, and then spun into fibers. Some people may argue that cotton is their first choice because it is a natural product and therefore better for the environment.  Whichever option you choose, the fibers and garment had to go through many production processes that used large amounts of water and energy, and produced pollution. This may not be a valid reason to consider cotton over polyester.

Polyester also has many advantages and disadvantages. Even though Polyester is not a natural product, it is manufactured by mixing different chemicals together which creates a strong and durable fiber. In the garment industry there is not another cost effective fiber available that can make a garment as durable as polyester can. Polyester is also more resistant to shrinkage than cotton. Because of the chemical composition of polyester it can hold its shape better than cotton. Cotton is naturally shrinkable and can dramatically change its shape depending on how it is washed and dried.

There is a way to compromise on this argument. There are many garments available in 50% cotton and 50% polyester. Together they make a strong, durable, breathable garment that can hold its shape and color better over time than just cotton. Many sports teams use 50/50 cotton and polyester blend because of the durability and breathability of the fabric. There are many misconceptions about polyester and cotton and what they can do for you. Based on personal preference and a few facts, you can decide what is best for your needs.