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To hate cotton and prefer polyester?

31 replies

ParentOfOne · 17/05/2021 09:15

Cotton may be breathable but it doesn't wick moisture away, so when you sweat it remains wet. This can easily lead to chafing and get uncomfortable, especially with cotton underwear.

Most synthetic fabrics, by contrast, especially polyester and bamboo, are breathable and also have good moisture-wicking properties - do the same exercise, even just running to catch a bus, in a cotton vs synthetic garment: cotton will remain damp forever.

Have you ever seen an athlete playing any kind of sports in cotton shirts and trousers? Or do they all use polyester? There's a reason for that! And you don't need to run marathons to start sweating.

Pre-covid, in the summer I used to go to the office wearing polyester, then get changed into cotton: commuting into cotton I would sweat and cotton would remain wet for most of the day, while commuting in polyester the fabric would not get damp.

I don't get why people claim that polyester makes them sweat more than cotton. The feel on the skin is subjective (cotton makes me feel clammy), the moisture-wicking properties of fabrics are not. Maybe everyone who complains buys super-cheap, poor-quality polyester? But you don't need to spend loads to get good quality synthetics : my £6 Decathlon t-shirts and my child's cheap polyester gym kit all do an excellent job.

The one thing I don't like about synthetic fabrics is the environmental impact, especially the shedding of microplastics. However, it is now easy to find clothes made of recycled polyester, plus I understand that washing clothes in laundry bags and using specific filters for the washing machine helps big time. Plus it's not like cotton has zero environmental impact, either.

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?


You have one vote. All votes are anonymous.

ItsAlwaysAFriendNeverMe · 17/05/2021 09:21

Not really answering your OP about cotton/polyester but...

I don't get why people claim that polyester makes them sweat more than cotton


The feel on the skin is subjective (cotton makes me feel clammy)

You've answered your own question, then go on to say everyone should feel the same way you do or else they're buying the wrong thing. The keyword there is "me" (you, not everyone).


ParentOfOne · 17/05/2021 09:29



The feel on the skin is subjective . Liking or not liking the feel, finding a fabric soft or not, comfortable or not, that's subjective.

The thermal properties of a fabric (how much air it traps to keep you warm) are not subjective.
The moisture-wicking properties of a fabric and the time to dry are not subjective.
The amount of air a fabric does or doesn't let through is not subjective.

All of these are objective physical properties of the fabric, unaffected by whether you like or dislike the fabric.

My cotton clothes don't remain damper for longer than polyester because I dislike cotton and like polyester!

I suspect what many people mean when they say that polyester makes them sweat is, actually, that they don't like the feel of it on their skin (fair enough, we are all different), but they haven't really compared whether they sweat more in polyester vs cotton performing the same activity.

OP posts:

ItsAlwaysAFriendNeverMe · 17/05/2021 09:44

The feel on the skin is subjective . Liking or not liking the feel, finding a fabric soft or not, comfortable or not

Ah right, I get your categories now.

Well, I agree with you in terms of the objective parts but what is the aim of your thread when it comes to the subjective - is it to get people to give polyester a chance? Dislike the lack of absorption in cotton fabrics? Realise there's a difference (I'm sure many people know there's a difference - I do and choose both for different reasons but cotton for longer-lasting freshness. If I feel sweaty, I change.)? It just seems like you're preaching at people about polyester.Grin

If people realise they mean they don't like the way polyester makes them feel vs polyester makes them sweat more, what happens? Do you think they'll suddenly like how polyester makes them feel? It really doesn't matter does, it?

For your aibu, no yanbu to hate cotton and prefer polyester, each to their own.


JackieTheFart · 17/05/2021 09:44

I have one polyester top I can’t wear anymore because it makes me sweat. Or maybe I’m sweating more and the sweat can’t get out? I don’t know and I don’t care, I just know it feels uncomfortable to wear so I don’t.

Not sure what your issue is really. I don’t care what you wear or what you say - you’re entitled to have your own experiences and have your own opinions about those experiences - don’t stamp your foot and say mine are wrong because they differ from yours!


FrenchBoule · 17/05/2021 09:49

Cotton absorbs the moisture while polyester doesn’t that’s why it stays on the skin.

I can wear cotton/linen top for 2 days while polyester lasts a few hours.

I don’t like the feel of polyester on my skin and can’t wear it because I stink to high heaven after a few hours.

Try all polyester bedsheets. Nothing better than night sweats and to come back to stinky bed at night (unless you change it every day). Our house is on the cool side and we sleep under light duvets so no overheating.
I swapped all easy care polycotton bedsheets for cotton ones. Everybody sleeps better.

There you go.

Preferences I’d say.


SnowdaySewday · 17/05/2021 10:45

Please explain how you are categorising bamboo as a synthetic fabric along with polyester when it is a plant-based fibre like cotton?


Quincie · 17/05/2021 10:49

I find non absorbing (imv) polyester clammy and once sweaty chilling to wear.
Synthetics are made from oil and probably take forever to biodegrade. Bamboo isn't synthetic.


Palavah · 17/05/2021 10:52

You do you


mainsfed · 17/05/2021 10:53

For sleeping it has to be 100% cotton. I like full sleeved nightwear and if it's polyester I wake up clammy in the morning, but not with cotton.

For running, I wear moisture wicking gear and that's fine.


CoalTit · 17/05/2021 10:57

My first thought was: bamboo isn't synthetic! Is it like viscose, needing a lot of chemical processing to turn it into fabric?


ParentOfOne · 17/05/2021 10:57

@SnowdaySewday there is no need to be this rude and confrontational.

I understand that
"Modern clothing labeled as being made from bamboo is usually viscose rayon, a fiber made by dissolving the cellulose in the bamboo, and then extruding it to form fibres. This process removes the natural characteristics of bamboo fibre, rendering it identical to rayon from other cellulose sources"

I have always thought this makes bamboo more synthetic than natural, but I have never looked into it that much.

To be honest, I mostly care about whether I should wash bamboo with a cotton cycle or a synthetic cycle; I think the latter, but any colour would be welcome - but, first, please lose the attitude.

To be clear, I do not belong to the school of thought whereby natural = good and synthetic = bad.

OP posts:

NoMLMbots · 17/05/2021 10:58

Cotton being natural is my preference


Pottedpalm · 17/05/2021 11:04

Ugh, no polyester here.
Cotton bedlinen is so much more comfortable.


JudgeJ · 17/05/2021 11:06


Ugh, no polyester here.
Cotton bedlinen is so much more comfortable.

Polyester sheets, even 50/50, are like sandpaper after a couple of washes.

ParentOfOne · 17/05/2021 11:12

@FrenchBoule yes, cotton absorbs the moisture, but then retains it. The moisture remains on the cotton, so typically touching your skin (unless it's a jacket) and making you feel colder (hikers joke that 'cotton kills' because of this).

Polyester doesn't absorb nor retain it - it helps wick it away from your skin. So no, polyester doesn't cause sweat to remain on your skin.

When I sweat, I smell like a chemical weapon in both cotton and polyester :) I find merino is the best at odour control, but it's very expensive and not too durable.

@ItsAlwaysAFriendNeverMe @JackieTheFart I don't have any issue - just curiosity! You could all wear a suit made of meat like Lady Gaga for all I care. It's just curiosity: I understand how some people prefer the feel of one fabric over another, I do not understand how anyone can say they sweat more with polyester since 1) that is to do with the physical properties of the fabric, which are unaffected by personal preferences 2) the people who sweat for a living (eg athletes) would never dream of wearing cotton

To make a comparison: I couldn't care less that people buy SUVs (which I dislike). But if everyone around me started saying they buy them because they consume less petrol I'd be like: "wait a second, is that true, why do you think that, isn't the opposite true?" This doesn't mean footstamping or rubbishing their preferences - it just means curiosity.

OP posts:

saraclara · 17/05/2021 11:13

Cotton lets my skin breathe. Polyester is like wearing a bin bag to me. I absolutely can't wear it because I do sweat terribly in artificial fabrics. It's not just an impression, or that cotton soaks it up without me realising. It's very real. I would have horrific wet armpit patches within half an hour of wearing anything polyester. I can wear a cotton tee shirt in a colour that would show any damp instantly, and be fine.

We're all different, and our bodies respond to things in different ways.

I wish it was different. I wouldn't have to do so much ironing if I could wear polyester!


angelaEhen · 17/05/2021 11:13

I like cotton and polyester, I only buy clothes made out of these. I don't find that polyester makes me sweaty at all.
I hate viscose and won't buy that


UCOinanOCG · 17/05/2021 11:18

I cannot wear polyester because when I get sweaty I just can't dry out. I remain damp and sweaty. With cotton or fine wool I know I will eventually stop sweating and dry out.


InkieNecro · 17/05/2021 11:26

Polyester retains smells. They smell clean out of the wash but then warm up and stink! I avoid everything with polyester, it makes me smell and if feels like a shower curtain sticking to me.


Hankunamatata · 17/05/2021 11:30

Anything but cotton undies give me thrush


21Flora · 17/05/2021 11:35

I try to wear cotton clothes because plastic clothes shed millions of microscopic particles into the water course that can’t be removed.


skybluee · 17/05/2021 12:22

I much prefer good quality organic cotton. I have some T shirts from Rapanui and they have lasted years - they still look the same. The synthetic tops I bought don't seem to last anywhere near as long and I don't seem to regulate temperature as well in them either.


Woeismethischristmas · 17/05/2021 12:32

I smell in polyester. I much prefer natural fibres but I don’t mind viscose or bamboo as they seem to breathe so for me they’d be closer to the cotton camp than polyester.


bingoitsadingo · 17/05/2021 12:41

Well there are different ways of weaving polyester that have different effects on how breathable they are.

Polyester gym wear is designed to be breathable and wick sweat away.

Polyester jersey thats designed to keep you warm, is much less breathable (so it traps the heat) and I find it makes me really sweaty and then I feel cold.

Just because the fibres are made of the same stuff doesn't mean the fabric has the same properties.


Crankley · 17/05/2021 12:46

I loathe polyester and will never wear or sleep in it.

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