Poly cotton — sometimes known as polycotton or poly-cotton — is a blend of natural cotton and synthetic polyester. The blend mixes cotton fibers with artificially made polyester fibers. Usually, the mix has a ratio of 65% cotton and 35% polyester. It’s not limited to such ratios and we occasionally see 50/50 blends as well. Poly cotton blends are very popular because it is used to make many types of clothing due it being stronger, more customizable, and more versatile (dries faster) than 100% cotton. At the same time, it doesn’t naturally stick to the skin like 100% polyester. So what is the difference between 100% cotton or polyester and a poly-cotton blend? Which one should you choose? We thoroughly break down the top 5 poly cotton advantages and disadvantages you should know in 2018 to help you make an informed decision for your garment manufacturing that is beneficial to your business. Business looking to make a decision on which fabric to choose or if they just need some information on the best fiber makeup for their product — this is your buyers’ guide to poly cotton and this article will help you decide if poly cotton is right for you or not.
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Common Poly Cotton Fabric Uses
Before we get into the top 5 poly cotton advantage and disadvantages, let’s discuss what poly cotton is and why it’s commonly used in the textiles, apparel and fabrics industry. Cotton and polyester blends are widely used in the consumer clothing industry and are found in abundance at retail outlets. Lightweight poly cotton blends are used for shirts and blouses, while heavier ones are reserved for skirts, pants, and fall wear, all in a variety of ratios. Commercial clothing such as corporate uniforms and athletic team uniforms also use blends; a 50/50 ratio is most popular in this industry because of its’ balance between breathability and durability. Other common uses for poly cotton include using the fiber to make pillows, bed sheets, tablecloths and exhibition canvas. As we discussed, the major difference is that poly cotton is generally a 65% cotton and 35% polyester blend, but can also come in 50/50 blends — which can sometimes rival the popular 65/35 blend, such as in the athletic apparel industry. Before we get into our leading 5 poly cotton advantages and disadvantages, we must ask some important questions first.
But is it right for you?
Comfort matters — clothing made from 100% cotton is not only soft and gentle on the skin, but they tend to be heavier than popular blends like poly cotton. Affordability — polyester is generally more affordable than natural cotton; this is where a 50/50 blend becomes a good compromise between polyester’s price and cotton’s feel. Here is a better breakdown of the top 5 poly cotton advantages and disadvantages; let’s start with 5 reasons on why you should choose the cotton and polyester blend.
Top 5 Poly Cotton Advantages: Poly Cotton vs Cotton vs Polyester
Poly Cotton Is Made of Stronger Material Than Cotton
The main benefit of cotton is that it is such a breathable material; this is why it’s such a popular fabric. The biggest drawback, however, is that %100 cotton wears out and rips easily. Durability is not cotton’s biggest strength, on the contrary, it is arguably the fabrics’ biggest weakness. Now cotton canvas is durable and it’s a very abrasion-resistant fabric but it’s not as practical for wide adoption as it’s heavy and pretty thick. Clothing that is made from 100% cotton need to be taken care of properly to last long; whereas polyester’s elastic traits make it more durable than cotton. This is where the cotton and polyester blend comes in, a fabric made of poly cotton blend has the strength of polyester and cotton combined.
Poly cotton blends are often fashioned into abrasion-resistant fabrics. Poly cotton can also be washed more often and doesn’t shrink like 100% cotton or polyester; because of this you can wear poly cotton fabric more often and wash it more often without worrying about the material losing it’s durability as fast as other types of garments. Ultimately, the main advantages of the poly cotton blend are it’s best for heavy usage — leading to its’ popularity in the athletic apparel market.
Ultimately, cotton and polyester blend means longer garment lifetime. Recent studies from the European Textile Services Association (ETSA) say that a worker wearing cotton and polyester blend at work requires 25% fewer new clothes than a worker wearing 100% cotton — confirming the superior durability of workwear made from poly cotton vs cotton or polyester. going through our 5 poly cotton advantages and disadvantages, from a clear advantage standpoint — the strength of the material is widely considered its’ biggest advantage.
Softer Material: Cotton Polyester Blend Properties
Polyester by itself is not a breathable fabric and has a tendency to stick to the skin. Once perspiration begins, polyester can be a nuisance and not necessarily the most comfortable fabric to wear. Combining cotton and polyester makes the garment less prone to piling and static. One of the main advantages of the cotton-polyester blend is that it is more wrinkle-free. Because of poly cotton’s wrinkle-free characteristics, it doesn’t really need to be ironed. Cotton’s lightweight and cool characteristics in the blend also makes the fabric ultimately perfect for all-day comfort. Cotton is also hypoallergenic — so it doesn’t cause allergies or skin irritation.
Cotton’s characteristics of soft fabric that is pleasing to the touch, breathing capacity and absorbency make it ideal for blending with man-made fibers like polyester that possesses high strength, abrasion resistance, and wrinkle recovery properties. When discussing 5 poly cotton advantages and disadvantages, one of the things we came across was the blending properties favor the cotton and polyester blend due to the unique characteristics of cotton’s soft-to-the-touch feeling, while retaining polyester’s strength.
The Rise of Cotton Production and Exports
Annual cotton production by country continues to increase everywhere but in China. The percentage breakdown of cotton production by million tons are as follows.
Cotton Production by Country in 2018
|Rank||Country||% of Cotton Production by Million Tons|
|10||Rest of the World||8%|
|Total||22.4 Million Tons|
Cotton production is on the rise in all top 10 cotton producing countries but China 2018. With the rise of production and yields mixed with rising exports, we are seeing this affect the poly cotton market as more cotton is moving around in the supply chain. Currently, cotton is grown in 85 countries and uses 2.5% of the world’s arable land.
We see similar trends in 2018 for global cotton exports.
Cotton Exports by Country in 2018
|Rank||Country||% of Cotton Exports by Million Tons|
|2||Rest of the World||15%|
|Total||7.4 Million Tons|
The rising production and exports of cotton are really helping the cotton and polyester blend increase it’s popularity around the world for both consumers and for the businesses that manufacture the products.
Must Read: Learn More About the Global Cotton Market
Why the Cotton and Polyester Blend Is Less Expensive and More Affordable
Not only is it more comfortable — minus super humid environments — 100% cotton garments and fabrics tend to be more expensive than their synthetic counterparts. Since the polyester aspect of the poly cotton isn’t reliant on harvesting, it is more readily available and cheaper than 100% cotton. As the world consumption of textile fibers rises to over 90 million tons in 2016, the price of cotton & polyester is decreasing. According to the World Trade Organization, poly cotton fabric prices have seen a consistent decrease year-over-year for the last 4 years; as prices decrease, poly cotton is becoming more popular for businesses in their garment manufacturing. 65 polyester 35 cotton fabric is the most affordable to make due to polyester’s affordability — making it a go-to choice for garment manufacturers to keep costs low while providing a quality product.
Works Best Together
You get to have the best of both worlds with poly cotton. The wearer can take advantage of the superior breathability of cotton fabric and the tear-resistance of polyester. Polyester by itself has always been cotton’s greatest threat in terms of competition. Polyester had made considerable gains in the market for downstream products, such as yarn, filament, staple, and apparel. A primary reason for polyesters dominance in the market is due to cheaper prices for the fiber caused by current oil prices and the need to not harvest the product but by itself, it is often considered an inferior product to 100% cotton. Mix the two, especially the super popular 65/35 poly cotton blend and you get the best of both worlds.
The Low Down on Poly Cotton Advantages
The Poly cotton blend, whether it’d be the typical 65% cotton and 35% blend or the 50/50 blend is more versatile and durable and maintains shape and colors longer than 100% cotton or polyester. Poly cotton is also soft and light due to the fiber blend and it is less susceptible to excessive shrinking, piling, wrinkles, and static. Poly cotton blends need less energy to dry. According to the same ETSA study, laundries drying polyester/cotton blends will consume 50% less gas than when processing 100% cotton workwear — making it more environmentally friendly and sustainability more promising.
Poly cotton is best used for: Athletic activities that are low and medium impact, they have that sport looky; perfect for casual settings and heavy everyday use as you can wash it more often. A polyester/cotton blend means workwear needs to be replaced less frequently.
In our article outlining the leading 5 poly cotton advantages and disadvantages, we are now going to discuss 5 poly cotton disadvantages that might keep you away from choosing the blend.
5 Disadvantages of Poly Cotton?
Cotton and Polyester Blend Doesn’t Perform as Well in Outdoor Working Environments
Poly cotton is great indoors if you are working in factories or around machinery and its tear-resistant traits could be more desirable here. However 100% cotton could be more desirable outside as it will always be more breathable. Because cotton is such a breathable product, it is perfect to wear when it is hot out and immensely popular in regions where the climate is hot. Working outdoors can be a nuisance if you don’t have the right breathable material to wear and cotton by itself will always be a better choice than a cotton and polyester blend for working outdoors in hot temperatures.
Poly Cotton Doesn’t Thrive in High Temperature
Technically, if going by fabric weight both cotton and polyester is breathable but that’s not a practical way to assess things. 150 gsm cotton is always more breathable than 150 gsm polyester but the price at that same fabric weight will always be more expensive for cotton. If you are shopping for work garments, your choice if you go 100% cotton or polyester would depend on the environment. However, if you choose the poly cotton blend you will have a small but noticeable disadvantage of each brand. Poly cotton is less breathable and not as fire-resistant as 100% cotton. Cotton has a tendency to burn under fire but poly cotton melts away. Ultimately natural or 100% cotton can be argued to be as popular as any other fiber around; according to Livestrong cotton is grown in over 85 countries and uses 2.5% of the world’s arable land.
Not as Popular in High-Fashion
In the world of high fashion, in the past polyester blends had a reputation for being called cheap and not really that popular in high fashion, however, polyester is arguably more popular than cotton in fast fashion and has overtaken cotton as the most popular textile fiber. Why is it not as popular in the high fashion industry? First, we have to answer what does poly cotton feel like? Poly cotton has a slippery feel to it — the more polyester in it, the more slippery it will feel. Polyester will also make you hot and it does not absorb moisture well. Due to this, polyester will rise to the surface showing as little hard bobbles on the surface of the fabric, looking shabby and feeling uncomfortable.
Cheaper Than 100% Cotton but Pricier Than Pure Polyester
Mainly due to cotton’s higher pricing mixed with the product, as a result, poly cotton is pricier than pure polyester. 150 gsm of cotton will always be more expensive than 150 gsm of polyester. In fact, the cheapest will always be 100% polyester because the blend will drive the price a bit higher because of the cotton fabric. Polyester is cheaper and more durable and combining it with cotton will make a durable product that is still relatively inexpensive with the some of the best traits from cotton, which is breathability and lightweight.
Best of Both Worlds…but Master of None
When it’s 100% cotton or 100% polyester, you get the absolute best from each fabric — if you ignore their own drawbacks of course. You get the best-of-the-best like cotton’s breathability and polyester’s durability, but you also get each fabric’s worst. Blending polyester with cotton gives you some of the polyester’s disadvantages. A perfect example is that polyester isn’t as breathable as cotton by itself and it sticks to the skin once perspiration begins. Unlike 100% cotton, when you are blending the two fibers you are getting the worst from each fabric. Polyester fibers don’t ventilate as well as cotton, so this characteristic allows fungi to thrive if polyester is worn close to the body for long periods of time. This leads to an uncomfortable experience, costing consumers money in the long-run.
The Low Down on Poly Cotton Disadvantages
We’ve now discussed the top 5 poly cotton advantages and disadvantages, the main disadvantage for poly cotton is that it is not as breathable as 100% cotton and not ideal for really hot weather. Not ideal for business wear and more catered towards casual and athletic wear. There are concerns about adoption from the high-fashion industry.
Final Thoughts on Poly Cotton Advantages and Disadvantages
We are at the end of our break down of the top 5 poly cotton advantages and disadvantages; 5 advantages and 5 disadvantages each for the cotton and polyester blend. Here is a quick recap on what we learned so that you can make an informed decision on your choice of fabric: Cotton-polyester blends (poly cotton) can be strong, wrinkle and tear-resistant, and reduce shrinking. With the prices of these fibers decreasing we are seeing the poly cotton advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Which fabric is the best — Cotton vs. polyester vs. poly cotton? The answer depends on the type of garments you are making, but know that you getting the best of both worlds with poly cotton and the fabric will be cost-effective without sacrificing the quality. Let us know in the comments sections what you prefer?
Tips: If you do choose the poly cotton blend for your business here are some tips to help you out. The main thing to know is that you won’t need a lot of ironing — if you need to iron, use low heat. To get a long shelf-life, It’s best to wash poly cotton products in warm water and dry in low to medium heat. Oil stain will be harder to clean vs. water soluble stains. When deciding which material is the best choice for you and your garment products you will have all the facts you need to make an informed-decision now that you know the top 5 poly cotton advantages and disadvantages from this article.
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