Cotton Warmth Guide: Does Cotton Keep You Warm in Winter?

Winter is coming. Those are 3 dreaded words to those who live in very cold regions of the country. When the temperature gets down to -112 with a wind chill factor staying warm is very important. But if you sleep hot, cotton may be the answer for you.

Does cotton keep you warm in winter? Cotton in general may not be the warmest fabric to wear in the winter. But if you buy cotton knits, cotton fleece, or flannel then you stand a good chance of staying warm when you are outside. Then with a tight-knit, the cold doesn’t get to your skin and chill you to the bone.

To learn more about cotton and how warm it can be for winter, just continue to read our article. It has the information on cotton that you want to know bout so you do not have to spend extra money on those fabrics that are designed for winter wear.

Can Cotton Keep You Warm?


We know you are getting tired of hearing or reading, ‘it depends’ but when it comes to fabrics, that is the best answer anyone can give. For cotton that answer is the standard because you can get it in thick weaves and in variations like fleece and flannel which are perfect for the colder weather.

What makes cotton flannel and fleece a good option when the weather turns cooler is because those versions are made with a tight weave and have a nice nap finish. The tighter the weave the less chance the cold air has of getting to you.

The tighter the fabric is to your skin, the chance the cool air will get to you. That is just the principle fashion fabrics follow. So give cotton a try but make sure you get the right weave.

Does Cotton Keep You Warm When Wet?

This is a very good question as hypothermia is real and can be caused in other seasons than winter as well as in an air-conditioned home if you are a senior citizen. More people die hiking in the 3 non-winter seasons of hypothermia simply because they are not prepare4d for the cold.

How do those facts relate to cotton? That material can absorb up to 27 times its weight in water and takes forever to dry. That means that the material is not going to keep you cool especially on a mountainside.

Why is this a problem? Because water directs heat away from your body making your colder than you should be. It is best to carry an extra change of clothing when you go hiking, etc. if you are wearing cotton that day. Keeping dry could save your life.

How Does Cotton Keep Things Warm?

There are two ways that cotton keeps you dry. First, it can be woven as a lightweight material that allows for plenty of airflows to get through to your body and keep you dry. This is a good combination when the hotter days of the years are around.

Second, cotton absorbs a lot of water and when you are not sweating a lot, that ability keeps you nice a warm. Unfortunately, cotton was not blessed with a lot of moisture-wicking ability. That behavior helps keep a person warm when they need it.

But cotton is still soft, attractive, nice to feel and it certainly is cheap. Even if you have to pile on the layers cotton is a good fabric to wear when winter comes around. Just practice some good safety tips so you do not harm yourself when outside.

What's Warmer Cotton or Polyester?


If you are speaking in general terms, polyester is warmer because it can’t breathe. The heat stays near your body and keeps you warm by insulating you from the colder air. Polyester is made to trap in its little fabric pockets so you can stay warm.

Then, polyester does not absorb moisture so you do not have to worry about having the moisture in the shirt be a bridge for the cold to get to you. This material is designed to wick away the moisture so you stay warmer.

However, you can get tighter cotton weaves and thicker material that would rival polyester in this category. Of course, if you want to compare apples to apples, tighter polyester weaves and thicker fabric should beat out those cotton options for warmth.

Is Cotton Warmer Than Wool?

Not normally. In this category, wool is still the champ even if the cotton material has been given a tight weave and thicker material. One reason for this is that wool is made in such a way that its fibers trap cool air in its grasp and don’t let it get through to you.

Then, even if you get wool wet, it still maintains that insulating ability. Something cotton cannot do. Cotton is no good to you if it gets wet by the rain or by your perspiration. Too much of either will have toe cotton material transferring the cold to your body and cooling it down instead of keeping it warm.

Merino wool will keep you nice and warm without adding any bulk to your figure. That is good news for those that like to look slim and stay warm at the same time.

What is Warmer Cotton or Fleece?

This will depend, there is that dreaded word again, on what the fleece is made from. If it is made from cotton then it is not warmer than cotton because the fleece is cotton fabric. Cotton is not warmer than itself.

But if it is made from another fabric like polyester or wool, then the fleece will be warmer. That is because the fleece is designed to trap the cold air before it gets to your body.

There are different kinds of fleece, all of which should be warmer than cotton. You have lycra spandex for a close tight fit to your form, polyester, sherpa, pola, micro, and bonded, version s of fleece all made to have you look good without sacrificing any warmth.

The key is to find the right fleece material that suits your geographical region and your pocketbook.

Cotton or Nylon?


Usually, it is thought that nylon is warmer than cotton. This is another situation where the principle the closer to your body the warmer the fabric. Nylon gets real close to your body and does not have any drapes. So you should stay warmer wearing that fabric than cotton materials.

Also, nylon is woven tighter than cotton making it very difficult for hot air to escape and cold air to enter. If you see some women wearing a nice dress and nylon stockings in the dead of winter, you now know why. The nylon will be warmer than cotton stockings.

Follow the principle that governs different fabrics and their ability to keep you warm. The larger the drape the less warm you will be. That is why certain rayon clothing is only good for summer or hot evenings.

Cotton or Viscose?

In this situation, it may be better to go with cotton as viscose loses its strength when it gets wet. Cotton doesn’t but it will help transfer the cold to your body when it gets wet. Again, it depends on how both materials are used.

Viscose has been known to be used to create overcoats, sweaters and other outwear because it can keep you warm. But it will all depend on how that material is manufactured and woven.

When you get the same style of cotton, it is most likely that cotton will keep you warmer. Viscose also absorbs water making on par with a cotton material in that regard.

Because both fabrics are made from natural materials, expect about the same level of warmth. The only difference will be in the chemicals used to create the material

Are Cotton Pants Warm?

Some are and some will not be. It will depend on how the cotton pants were woven and how thick the material is. Dress cotton pants may have a light texture but the weave may be tight and present you with some warmth.

Thicker cotton pants like denim jeans do not breathe that much because unless they are a baggy design, are very close to your skin. That means the rule of fabrics will apply to the denim. The closer to your body the warmer you will be.

If you are going to work out heavy, then you should avoid cotton pants. After absorbing so much moisture, the cold air will get to your skin and cool you down before you are ready.

Thicker cotton pants, not denim, should keep you somewhat warm but it will depend on the weave of the material.

Do Cotton Blankets Keep You Warm?


If the fleece or flannel is made from cotton, then you can rest your mind as those sheets should keep you warm throughout the night. Even a cotton blend should keep you nice and warm when those nights get chilly.

Also, if you are a hot sleeper good cotton sheets should help the heat disappear into the night air and keep you comfortable as you sleep. While cotton is considered one of the warmest sheets to buy, you can do better by using silk, flannel, or fleece. Especially if the latter two are made from other materials than cotton.

The tighter the weave the better heat retention you should have. Plus, polyester and other types of fleece will wick away the moisture and cotton may simply absorb it, depending on how it is made.

Are Cotton Socks Warm?

Unfortunately, there is some bad news here. When you want to keep your feet nice and warm, avoid cotton. Even as socks cotton material will absorb moisture and make your feet colder. The cotton will work the same in your socks as it will in your t-shirts.

Even if the socks are made from thicker fabric and have a tighter weave, it will still absorb moisture and transfer the cold inside the socks. If it is wintertime and you are going to be outside for hours, then you should choose to wear wool. Wool is just better at keeping the cold away.

Wool, polyester, nylon, Nuwool, along with an assortment of blends will keep your fit warmer than cotton will. Unless you are living in a very warm region of the country and want your feet to remain cool throughout the wintertime. Then cotton might be a good choice for winter festivities.

Do Cotton Sweaters Keep You Warm?

They say that 10 thin cotton sweaters worn all at the same time, will not keep you as warm as one cable knit wool turtleneck sweater. That should give you an idea of the answer to this question.

If you want to wear a cotton sweater, do so under thick layers, like a great thick and warm overcoat. It is about the only way you will stay warm outside in the winter. Since the indoor areas of your home, office, or workplace do not get as cold as the outdoors, then you may be able to wear a cotton sweater and stay warm.

But those are exceptions to the rule. When the temperatures drop below freezing or even close to that level, you should choose a good wool sweater to wear. That way you know you will be warm throughout your day and evening activities.

Some Final Words

When woven right and at the right thickness will provide you with some warmth. That level of warmth usually does not match with what wool can offer you when it gets cold in the winter.

Cotton may be a great fabric and inexpensive but it does have some weaknesses. Being warm like wool is not one of those strengths. There is a place for cotton items in your winter wardrobe but wear lots of layers.

Leave a Comment: