Cotton vs Microfiber: Is Cotton or Microfiber Better?

Using the best is the smart way to get things done. Sure those better items cost more initially but in the long run, you pay less. That principle applies to fabrics as the initial cost may be cheaper but in the long run, you are spending more to replace those cheaper fabrics

Is cotton or microfiber better? Microfiber may be better in some categories than cotton is but it is made from recyclable plastic and petroleum ingredients. Those two differences make it hard for that material to be better than cotton. But then we are biased towards natural fabrics.

To learn more about the differences between these two fabrics and which one is actually better, just continue to read our article. It has the information you need to see why one is better than the other in certain circumstances.

Difference Between Cotton And Microfiber

Sometimes it is hard to see the differences between two very close fabrics. Here is a quick comparison chart to help you see the difference between cotton and microfiber:

Category Cotton Microfiber
Origin Cotton plant Petroleum products, plastic and other synthetic materials and chemicals
Years of use Thousands of years Since the 1960s
Application A wide variety of uses including clothing, upholstery, medical supplies & more Clothing, bedding, camping and hiking gear and more
Cleaning Very easy to clean Easy to clean except when made with rayon or viscose materials
Breathable Very breathable Better than some synthetic worse than cotton and other natural fabrics
Water repellent No, it absorbs water well Yes and wind resistant
Wrinkles, etc Shrinks, wrinkles, and may pill Resists wrinkles, pilling and possibly shrinking
Flammable Some what but does not melt Very flammable
Cost More expensive than microfiber Less expensive than cotton and other materials

Does Microfiber Feel Like Cotton?


Not exactly although this will depend on your own sense of touch. Microfiber is soft but it does not get that crispy feel that cotton gets in certain applications, for example, hotel rooms.

Cotton comes in different weaves and kits, so its feel has a broad range to it. You will get a different feel depending on the cotton type, how it is laundered, and how good the quality is.

Microfiber sheets come with a silky feel which helps you relax when you need your sleep. But if the cotton sheets are woven in a better method then it is like putting your favorite cotton T-shirt on. It is hard to beat the feel of good cotton.

If you like plastic next to your skin, then go with the microfiber material. Just be aware that the chemicals used to make microfiber are ever-present and can leech onto your skin.

Egyptian Cotton vs Microfiber Sheets

Egyptian cotton is grown with long blossoms that can be turned into long fibers. That extra length makes them more comfortable than other cotton types. Plus, when you up the thread count you get unbelievable comfort.

Microfiber sheets can be soft but Egyptian cotton breathes better and keeps you cooler than microfiber will. The short microfiber threads are the reason for that difference. If you sweat at night then you want to avoid microfiber sheets as they do retain body heat.

That type of sheet is best for winter when you need to stay warmer. Egyptian cotton will absorb moisture helping you to stay drier throughout the night. Also, to keep Egyptian cotton soft, you need to avoid using fabric softener and dryer sheets when laundering.

Microfiber sheets are eco-friendly as they are often made from recyclable materials while the cotton plant needs natural resources to sustain it.

Is Cotton or Microfiber Better For Hair?

Again, this will be a depends issue as which fabric you use will be up to your personal preference and experience. Some people prefer to dry their hair with cotton as it makes their hair look good and keep its natural shape.

While others like microfiber because there is less frizz when your hair is dry. They also found that the microfiber towel absorbed more water than cotton did. But then the comparison was between a cotton t-shirt not a cotton towel.

If you use a cotton towel you will get more water absorbed, up to 27 times its weight. Plus, it gets stronger as it gets wet. That makes cotton towels better than a microfiber one when you want to take good care of your hair.

Terry cotton cloth is the best version to use for hair drying but if you do not want the weight on your head, go with a lightweight microfiber hair towel.

Is Cotton or Microfiber More Absorbent?


Cotton, as you already read, can absorb up to 27 times its weight in moisture, the same cannot be said for microfiber. One figure that was mentioned for microfiber’s absorbency was 7 times its weight.

When it comes to towels cotton is the better fabric to use to wipe up the different messes and spills you get from time to time. Then depending on how tight the weave is, cotton will last longer than microfiber.

The makers of microfiber towels and material may make some pretty big claims about their product but when it comes right down to it, cotton is better in performance. Generally, cotton is softer and gentler than microfiber but then you can’t expect plastic to feel like real natural fibers.

The best thing to do is buy a set of each and see which one works best for you.

Cotton vs Microfiber Underwear

Cotton is probably the best fabric for this task. Microfibers are made with plastic and chemicals so the very first issue you may run into is allergies. If you have allergies, sensitive skin, or even hatred for plastic, you should avoid wearing microfiber underwear.

Next, microfiber is usually thicker than cotton underwear material. So you may end up looking a little bulkier in the wrong places. But if you are very athletic you may want to wear microfiber material as it wicks away moisture fast and lets you breathe fairly well. Cotton will absorb the moisture and keep it close to you.

As for comfort, that will depend on the cut or the type of underwear you like to wear. Both fabrics will be about the same in this category. Then the most important category in this topic is odor. Microfiber will be better here as it gets rid of those odor-causing moisture while cotton retains it.

Is Cotton or Microfiber Better For Allergies?

Hands down cotton is better if you have allergies. The reason for that is that natural fibers, all kinds, rarely trigger any allergic reactions. They are processed more naturally than semi or fully synthetic materials thus they have fewer chemicals that will make your allergies act up.

On the other side of the coin, microfiber is made from polyester products, petroleum ingredients plastic items, and more chemicals than you want to know about. Each of these elements contributes to allergic reactions.

If you have allergies, especially to those synthetic materials, then you should stick to cotton or other natural fabrics for underwear. This is one area where synthetic materials just cannot compete. While the microfiber may feel soft next to your skin, your sensitivity may react to the chemicals, etc., and cause a few rashes or some other unattractive ailment. Keep in mind that the chemicals and ingredients used in microfiber may influence your health.

Cotton vs Microfiber Beach Towels


Cotton towels are very absorbent and can make sure you get dried off very quickly and thoroughly. Microfiber towels are made with very tiny fibers that allow the towel makers to create a very soft towel for your use at home or at the beach.

Cotton towels will be softer and more gentle on your skin when you are trying to towel off. That is an important factor when you want to have your skin look good and healthy.

Also, the microfiber towels may spray you in the face with some saltwater as you towel off. That is due to their tight weave, yet they will dry quicker than cotton and resist both mold and mildew.

Then, if you want thick and plushy towels, go with cotton material. You get a nice feel with that brand of towels and make your beach experience a lot better.

Cotton vs Microfiber Blanket

Microfiber materials for blankets can be very durable if you wash and dry them properly. Plus, they are comfortable to some extent and resist fading even after many laundry loads. These blankets also tend to be cheaper than other blankets which is always a plus as is its ability to resist wrinkles and creases.

The bad news about microfiber is that it will retain heat and may overheat you during the night. Then it can pill on you after a few washes. Along with static electricity, microfiber may irritate your sensitive skin.

Cotton won’t hurt your skin or trigger your allergies. Plus, it is soft, comfortable especially when the thread count is high. It lets you breathe better than microfiber and is very easy to wash. The drawback is that it may shrink, crease or wrinkle on you. On your bed, it will look elegant though.

Cotton vs Microfiber For Cleaning

The winner here will depend on what you are cleaning and what cleaning solutions you are using. For floors and mop heads, microfiber is the better material to use. It is durable and holds up better than cotton will.

The cotton mop may last between 10 to 20 washes approx., while the microfiber will last about 10 times longer. But if you are using bleach and other harsh chemicals in your cleaning, then cotton is the better material to use.

If you are worried about the cost of each, microfiber costs roughly 3 times more than cotton mops. But they last longer and you may lose the cost advantage when you need to buy replacement mop heads for cotton mops. The initial microfiber mop will still be going strong.

Cotton vs Microfiber Socks


If you have sensitive skin, stick with cotton. Not just because they will be nice to your feet but because they are softer, breathe better, and don't trigger allergies. Microfiber may be soft here but it loses out in those two other categories.

The microfiber material will be more durable and last longer yet that positive contribution to your life does not overshadow breathing or comfort. It is hard to wear plastic materials especially if your skin gets irritated or you have an allergic reaction.

In addition, microfiber may resist fading keeping your socks looking good but what are good-looking socks when you have skin irritation and other health issues with this material?

Ultimately, the choice is up to you but synthetic materials can never beat natural ones no matter how well they are made.

Is Microfiber Better Than Cotton?

In our opinion, the answer would be no. Nothing beats cotton except other natural fabrics. While synthetic materials can compete in softness and durability they do not hold a candle to cotton in breathability or comfort.

Then, you do not have the health risks with cotton that you do with microfibers. Those toxic chemicals are a risk you should think about before spending less money on microfiber fabrics.

On top of that, it is hard for plastic, petroleum products, and polyester to feel natural or better than cotton. There is just no comparison here. In the end, cotton is better at certain applications and microfiber will be better at others. It is just that cotton is better at more than microfiber is.

Some Final Words

In this comparison, cotton comes out on top because it is natural and it is made in a more natural way than microfiber is. The latter fabric has its uses and can be good in certain situations but it doesn’t top cotton.

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