Polyester vs. Cotton Socks

There are many different types of materials that are used in manufacturing clothing and household products. Since these fabrics are made from a variety of fibers, it's important to know the difference between common types of fibers.

Many socks are made of primarily polyester or cotton. Below is a guide on the key differences between them. At 21Socks, we're experts when it comes to these types of questions.

What are the Pros and Cons of Cotton?

Cotton is widely regarded as a versatile and comfortable fiber. It is harvested from the cotton plant and is generally used for apparel, bedding, threads and other related products. Below is a list of benefits and drawbacks to wearing clothing made of cotton: 

Pro #1: Cotton is tremendously soft

The perfect mix of cotton will feel extremely soft on your feet. While some socks may feel like they constrain your feet, the right type of cotton combined with a good fitting pair of socks will feel great on your feet.

Pro #2: Cotton holds color quite well over time

While cotton doesn't hold color as well as polyester, it will still be relatively long lasting. Your cotton socks will be safe after many wears. Over time and with proper care, your pair of socks will look just as vibrant as when you bought it.

Pro #3: Cotton is more breathable on your feet

It will be less irritating on your skin, and your feet will also sweat less. This is a huge consideration when choosing your socks. Ensure that if you're in a room-temperature environment, you'll likely sweat in a pair of polyester socks. However you might not sweat at all with a pair of predominantly-cotton socks.

Pro #4: Cotton is a good choice for sensitive skin.

Cotton is more of a 'natural', and not chemically-derived fibre, especially relative to polyester. If you're an individual with sensitive skin, polyester might be an irritant. Make sure to wear cotton on your bare-skin if you have more sensitive skin.

Con #1: You may pay slightly more for cotton, than lower-quality fibers like polyester.

Sometimes, certain types of cotton can be more expensive than polyester. That's why many socks are cheaper. However, buying cotton is definitely worthwhile in the long-run. Your feet will thank you for it.

What are the Pros and Cons of Polyester?

Polyester is a human-made petroleum-based synthetic fiber. This means that if you magnify the polyester strands, you will see plastic fibers that are woven together finely. Below are the various benefits and drawbacks to polyester as a fabric.

PRO #1: Your socks will last longer

Polyester will generally last longer than cotton, if it's taken care of properly. This is a great feature for an item like a coat, which can prolong the coat's life. It's a great feature in an item that's more expensive, since you'll be able to get more wears out of it before having to buy a replacement.

 PRO #2: Polyester fades less than other fabrics

Polyester retains the dye it has been colored with, for a longer time than cotton. This increases the aesthetic longevity of your garments (like socks). 

PRO #3: Polyester dries quickly

If your polyester garment gets wet due to sweating (or otherwise), it will dry quicker than cotton.

CON #1: Polyester is bad for our planet

It's important to consider the environmental impacts of fabrics, when making a purchase decision. Polyester is a fabric that isn't easily compostable. It typically does not break down well in soil, which isn't too great for our environment. 

CON #2: Polyester is not that breathable

Polyester can make your body sweat tremendously, because it's a great insulator. Your skin will not breathe nearly as much as with cotton. You'll sweat more than you would wearing cotton. Polyester isn't the best choice of fabric during the summer, since you'll perspire quite easily.

How to Make Your Socks Last Longer

Con #3: Polyester isn't absorbent

This is may be a positive in some regards, however it means that it is more difficult to remove stains from polyester fabrics. You can ruin your new shirt very quickly, and it'll be tough to wash the stains out. 

Which fiber wins in the Cotton vs. Polyester debate?

Both have their varying uses. But choose cotton for your socks!

Beyond a select few products (like socks), it depends on the occasion. There isn't one correct answer, however the cotton vs polyester debate should be decided based on the scenario. If you're looking for a shirt that's very durable and wrinkle resistant (for example, one that a a restaurant worker might need), polyester would work well.

5 Rules for Wearing Socks and How to Break Them

However if you're looking to purchase socks, it's almost always a great idea to prioritize cotton. Your cotton socks will feel softer on your feet, and will still allow breathability for your body; sweating through your socks isn't a great feeling. You can avoid this by wearing cotton socks.



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