Cotton vs Silk: 12 Differences Between Cotton and Silk

If there is a fabric hierarchy, then both cotton and silk, along with wool, would fill the top tiers of the fabric kingdom. There is nothing that beats natural fibers and when woven into clothing you are safe, comfortable, and look good. Even when wearing casual clothes.

The biggest difference between these two top fabrics is like night and day. Cotton comes from a plant while silk comes from an insect. You cannot get any more different than that. Plus, silk shimmers giving you an air of sophistication and elegance cotton can’t.

To learn about the differences between the two fabrics, just continue to read our article. it provides you with those differences and other information that you should find helpful when you want to create something wonderful.

Difference Between Cotton and Silk

There is no point in delaying this. You can see and feel the difference between these two top fabrics but if you are not at the fabric store, this quick comparison chart will give you those same differences in a few seconds.

Category Cotton Silk
Origin The cotton plant The silk worm
Years of use Thousands of years Thousands of years
Insulation properties Average at best Very good
Absorbency rate Good Good
Feel & texture Common, soft, fluffy but not as smooth as silk Luxurious, shimmering, and can be soft and smooth
Comfort very comfortable especially when broken in Extremely comfortable
Breathability Very breathable Not as breathable as cotton
Hypoallergenic not as good as silk Very hypoallergenic, resists mold, mildew and bacteria
Laundry care Very easy to take care of Needs special care
Cost Very low compared to silk Very expensive
Moisture Very absorbent Very good at wicking away moisture
Application A wide array of applications from clothing to accessories to medical and more usually reserved for clothing, accessories and bedding

Is Cotton or Silk Cooler?

Cotton has better breathing capability than silk for the most part. We say the most part because both fabrics can be woven into lightweight materials that breathe well. Cotton will have the edge in blankets, sheets and everyday normal office clothing.

But silk has a natural thermometer that helps cool you down in the hotter weather then amping up the insulation when the temperatures drop. To get that effect from cotton you have to add or remove layers.

Normally silk comes with a tighter weave than most cotton versions so wearing silk in the winter or having silk sheets on your bed will keep you warmer, not cooler. if you want to raise the heat level in your room, make sure your bed has cotton sheets or blankets on it.

Is Cotton or Silk Thread Stronger?


In this case, if both threads are in their natural state, and left untouched then silk may be the stronger of the pair. But cotton is often mercerized which adds strength to the thread and making it stronger than silk.

But it will also depend on how the thread was made. Since all thread is made in 4 ways, cord, corespun, ply, and twist direction, you will have a hard time deciding which one is stronger.

Then the thread type will play a role in how strong either thread will be. All-purpose thread is for generic sewing projects that do not need above-average strength. Then all thread types are not using cotton or silk in their construction.

For heavyweight fabrics, you may want to avoid both types of thread as they are not as strong as a polyester made thread which works best in heavyweight fabrics.

Is Silk or Cotton Better for Skin?

There are several reasons why silk will be better than cotton next to your skin. It is softer for one but that is an obvious reason which really doesn’t make silk better than cotton.

The first major reason is that silk is more hypoallergenic than cotton is. That makes a big difference if you have allergies, asthma, hay fever or do not like mold and mildew getting on your clothing or bedding.

Second, silk dries faster than cotton does. That helps keep you warmer and dryer when you get caught in the rain. Silk also wicks away the moisture while cotton will absorb it. Once that is done, cotton loses its insulation factor.

When it comes to face masks, then silk is the better option. It repels moisture so you may be spared any airborne virus that is floating around. Cotton’s ability to absorb moisture also means it can absorb those airborne virus germs and keep them close to your skin.

Why is Silk More Expensive Than Cotton?


One reason is that cotton can be grown around the world. It is common and there is a very large supply of cotton fibers which drives the price down. Silk comes from either the mulberry silkworm or the moth caterpillars and both insects need special care.

Then there is a lot of time invested in harvesting and processing the silk thread while cotton doesn’t need as much time to be turned into fabric. That processing time means expenses go up.

On top of that, it takes roughly 1800 silkworm cocoons to make one silk dress. That amount of fiber will drive the cost up a lot. Cotton does not come close to the difficulties that come from producing silk.

The cotton plant does have natural enemies but pesticides and other chemicals help protect the plants from harm.

Silk vs Cotton Sheets

For starters, silk sheets are better at insulating you from both the cold and heat in your room. Cotton, on the other hand, only has average insulation abilities. Then if you are a night sweating person, silk dries quickly and gets that moisture away from your body faster than cotton will.

The cotton sheets will be cheaper unless you are purchasing Pima or Egyptian cotton, then their cost will rival that of silk sheets. When you have an allergy or asthma sufferer in your home, then silk is more hypoallergenic than cotton sheets.

It resists mold, mildew, and other breathing ailment triggers. Cotton is good here but silk is just better. Then if you are looking at the price difference, that is partially due to the fact that silk sheets are sold by the Momme weight while cotton sheets are sold by the thread count.

Both are soft and smooth to sleep under with cotton not being as smooth as silk is.

Cotton vs Silk Bedding


You are going to find the same comparisons here as you just did in the previous section. Whether it be pillowcases or blankets you will find the same principles apply and that the silk bedding performs better than cotton does. The two types of bedding are also sold in the same manner as the sheets are.

For cotton to catch up in smoothness, comfort, and softness of silk, you would have to buy the material in higher thread counts which will add more money to your overall cost.

Regular cotton will be cheaper than silk, but those bedding items may not be as durable or last as long as silk can (Except for Egyptian cotton which can last up to 5 decades under normal use).

If you like luxury then go for silk but if you like being part of the common man, go with cotton. You will still be comfortable and have soft bedding. The biggest difference will be the level of hypoallergenic capabilities with silk being the superior of the two.

Cotton vs Silk Bow Tie

Do we really have to say it? Cotton is good if you are not attending a formal or semi-formal affair. In fact, it may be the preferred type of material for those lower-class outings that may not be as refined as formal events can be.

Also, cotton may be better as they are easier to clean and get the stains out. Silk ties, like all silk materials, need special care and it may be impossible to remove some of those nasty stains that come your way. That means that silk ties are often bypassed for cotton when it comes to wearing a tie to the office.

But when it comes to formal or even semi-formal events, silk ties add another level to your look that can’t be achieved by cotton ties. When you want to impress someone, go with the silk over the cotton but when it comes to daily activities, cotton is better.

Cotton or Silk Bandana


The same could be said for the two fabrics in this comparison as was said for the previous comparison but most people do not wear silk bandanas to formal or even semi-formal events. They do not complement a tuxedo nor a great evening gown.

Bandanas are more casual type accessories that just do not fit into upper-class events. Then for daily or casual wear, it would depend on what you are doing. Girls will be able to get away with wearing bandanas to the office or similar activities while men would not. Doesn’t matter the material they are made of.

To choose between the two fabrics it would boil down to how much you want to spend initially and how easy the materials are to clean. Silk is going to require special care even as a bandana, while cotton bandanas can be cleaned easily and cost you less.

Silk vs Cotton Clothing

Here the comparison boils down to the cost of the fabric or the outfit you want to wear and again, the ease of cleaning. Plus, the purpose you are wearing those clothing items. Each of those factors will influence your purchase and wear decisions.

Silk is not something you want to wear if you are attending a professional or amateur sporting event, except maybe tennis or cricket. Also, you would not want to wear silk while working in your garden or cutting the lawn. The fabric is not designed for such activities.

But outside of those everyday activities, silk is a good fabric to wear to the office if you work in a top law firm or someplace similar. That is if you can afford the silk outfits or suits, shirts, blouses and so on.

The cleaning bill may also have you wearing cotton over silk as it costs a lot to dry clean silk items. It also takes some time to hand wash your silks.

Silk Weight vs Cotton


Silk is sold in momme weight and that may be hard to recognize when you are reading the label. if the label says momme weight 8mm it means that a 100 yard long 45-inch wide piece of silk fabric weighs 8 pounds.

Cotton is sold more by thread count and its price reflects the quality of those outfits you want to buy. The two are not really easy to compare in this way. Nor are they easy to compare when you ask the question is cotton lighter than silk.

The reason for that is both fabrics can be made into very lightweight materials.

Is Silk Better Than Cotton?

Yes and no. Cotton is better than silk in some situations and silk is better than cotton in others. If you want to make a great first impression and the occasion is casual, do not wear silk.

If it is formal, etc., then wear silk. Cotton will not make the same impression at those affairs. In terms of durability, strength and longevity normally silk will win over cotton here.

Some Final Words

While there are a lot of differences between the two fabrics, it is still hard to compare them. Both fabrics have distinct purposes which do not really allow for any cross over.

Silk will make you look gorgeous and handsome while cotton will make you look like who you really are.

Leave a Comment:

1 comment
Add Your Reply