Fleece vs Flannel: 9 Differences Between Fleece and Flannel

Staying warm according to some is a matter of your state of mind. if you think you are warm then you feel warmer. If you think you are cold then you feel colder. The good news is that there are fabrics out there that will handle both situations quite well and you should be comfortable no matter how you think.

The biggest difference between the two fabrics is that one is made more from synthetic fibers like polyester or recycled plastic, while the other is made more from cotton than any other material. Flannel can be made from wool or cotton while fleece uses synthetic fibers the most.

To learn more about the differences between these two fabrics, just continue to read our article. It delves into the subject so you know the differences and can use both materials to their fullest potential.

What is the Difference Between Fleece and Flannel?

The two fabrics have similar uses and qualities but their differences make one better than the other. here is a quick comparison chart to help you find those differences fast.

Category Flannel Fleece
Origin the cotton plant, sheep’s fleece, and some silk synthetic fibers mostly with some cotton fibers used as well
Years of use since about the 17th century AD since about 1982 AD
Characteristics washes well but may shrink on you washes well and may not shrink that much, if at all
Sewing will unravel when cut should not unravel when cut
Warmth good very good
Wrinkle as a knit it should not wrinkle much may resist wrinkling
Weight medium to heavy weight lightweight
Insulating ability very good extremely good
cost very inexpensive can be on the expensive side

How to Tell Fleece From Flannel

One of the first ways to tell the difference between these two fabrics is to cut it. Fleece is not woven and should not unravel on you. When you cut flannel, there is a strong possibility that the material will start to unravel right away.

The reason for that is that flannel is usually woven in a loose fashion and fleece is not woven at all. This material can be given a twill weave or a plain weave which accounts for its weakness to hold together.

Then fleece has more pile to it and will be fuzzy to look at. Flannel will be brushed and look smooth. It too should be nice and soft. Also, fleece will have a smooth side and a nubby side while flannel should be the same on both sides.

If you can tell the difference since fleece is made from plastic you might be able to distinguish the two fabrics from their artificial or natural feel to them.

Is Fleece or Flannel Warmer?


It is safe to say that most fleece options will be warmer than flannel. it will depend a lot on what fibers flannel is made form. If they are made from wool fibers then you should expect to see flannel as warmer than fleece.

Then if the flannel is made from cotton, expect it to be cooler than most fleece fabrics. Flannel will be competitive if both materials are made from the same fibers and how thick they are woven. Fleece can be very warm even when it is made into thin fabric.

Flannel is better at breathing than fleece is so you should see that material as cooler than its competitor. Most fleece is made from polyester or plastic and neither material is known for their ability to keep you cool.

With the advent of polar and Sherpa fleece flannel doesn’t really stand a chance at being warmer than those two fleece options.

Is Fleece or Flannel Softer?

This is a very good question. With the technological advances used to make fleece today, you may say that fleece is softer than flannel. But there is something about the concept of plastic and petroleum products in the fabric that makes one think twice about declaring fleece softer than flannel.

Flannel is made from natural fibers for the most part. Cotton, wool, and silk are all known for their soft to the touch feel. Nothing beats natural fibers for softness, no matter how good those technological advances have become.

There is just something nice about natural fabrics that make them feel softer than synthetic fabrics. It is hard to put your finger on the issue, you just feel the difference in softness.

All in all, flannel should be the softer of the two fabrics unless it is made with synthetic fibers.

Difference Between Fleece and Flannel-Lined Jeans


The difference boils down to breathability and comfort. Fleece tends to keep people really warm when worn as a lining. That is good in some situations but since there is no thermostat adjusting the insulation factor, you may overheat easier wearing fleece-lined jeans.

Fleece-lined jeans also tend to create static electricity. Expect to feel more shocks when you wear that material over the flannel. The flannel-lined jeans should be softer next to your skin as well as letting your legs breathe easier. Plus, you do not have to worry about being shocked with every step.

Other than that, you may find it hard to tell the difference between the two types of jeans. They should be soft and eventually mold to your body shape so that you will feel like you are putting on an old friend and not just another pair of jeans.

Microfleece vs Flannel

This may be a bit difficult to decide as microfleece is a thin material coming in under 200 gsm or under 7 ounces per square yard. Flannel is woven about the same thickness and weight yet it can be made thicker if the manufacturer wants it thicker

Once the fleece gets over 6.7 ounces it is no longer considered microfleece. Then, this style of fleece is soft, smooth, and great for cold winter nights. Just like flannel is. The one advantage that flannel would have is that it is made from natural sources and does not have all those toxic chemicals in it as microfleece has.

Another advantage flannel has over microfleece may be in its cost. Flannel can be very inexpensive for the most part while microfleece will cost more. That difference is due to the [processing more than anything else.

Flannel vs Fleece Pajamas


When it comes to sleeping at night, your personal preference will be the deciding factor. Both materials are nice, warm, comfortable, and soft. It is hard to beat that situation.

But fleece is like polyester and may help contribute to the static electric shocks you get when you touch metal after walking a bit. Then, which one you choose would depend on the type of sheets and blankets you have on your bed.

The warmer the bedding the less you will need fleece. Fleece pajamas can be quite warm as they do not breathe as well as flannel does. Flannel should be easier to sleep in as you have fewer chemicals in the material and they should get softer with each wash.

What may influence your decision will be the colors and designs you can get either material in. Natural is always better but you decide which you want to wear at night.

Fleece vs Flannel Shirts

Both materials are going to keep you warm. Flannel is a warm fabric that looks good in plaid. Plus, it allows you to breathe better when you do not want to get too hot while you are outside.

On really cold days, you may want to reach for a nice warm fleece shirt, as those will keep you warmer. Fleece does not breathe as well as flannel; and you should not have any problems in the cold.

Each material is nice and soft and fleece will get softer the more you wash it. That gives it the edge over fleece. Sometimes certain fleece options can be a bit rough in their feel. That takes away the comfort level you were hoping for.

Overall, the decision is yours to make and you may find that some warm fleece options are very affordable and attractive. Natural is always better but sometimes harder to keep clean.

Fleece vs Flannel Robe


When it comes to softness, fleece does a very good job of competing with cotton, flannel, and other soft natural materials. It can keep you comfortable when made into a robe and you want to lower your house’s temperature to save on the electricity or heating bill.

Fleece insulates well so that is a major factor and you know you will be kept warm when wearing this style of robe. Flannel will be soft and warm as well but it breaths better than fleece so you may not be as warm as you would have been if you had a fleece robe around you.

Another factor that may have you choosing fleece over flannel is that the material resists shrinking. You may accidentally shrink your flannel robe if you are not careful. But with fleece that is one less worry to think about.

Fleece vs Flannel Pants

If you do not want to be seen as a relative of Al from Home Improvement you may want to stay clear of flannel pants. While they are comfortable, easy to break in, and keep you warm. you, may not like the fashion statement you are making.

This is not to say that flannel pants are ugly or bad, it is just that flannel does not have the greatest fashion reputation when it comes to pants. Fleece pants will keep you warmer and again, that is due to the material’s inability to breathe like natural fibers.

Fleece may be more durable than flannel as the latter material is made from cotton and repeated washing can break the material down sooner than you want them to go. Fleece should last a long time even after many repeated washings.

Fleece vs Flannel Cloth Diapers


No fabric is perfect and flannel has some faults. It will shrink on you and even pill so you must be careful how you wash it and maybe buy a larger size to handle the shrinking. If you are making flannel diapers, then pre-wash the fabric so the new owner does not have to worry about that issue.

Then if you go for flannel, you will want 100% flannel that has been tightly woven. Avoid bright colors, especially red, as those colors will; fade in the wash and red should bleed on you.

Fleece is not without its issues as well. It can be used as a liner or a diaper depending on the thickness it is made into. If you do not get to that wet diaper quick enough, the fleece material may suffer from what is called compression leaks and you will have a mess on your hands.

Microfleece is not good for a diaper as the material is too thin. It is best used as a liner and you may need two to three layers overnight. Also, you may be thinking about warmth. Flannel is good but fleece may be better on this front.

It is a soft material that will keep your child warm throughout the night. Flannel will prevent overheating and is soft as well. The question you have to ask is if you want synthetic material or natural fibers next to your baby’s skin.

Some Final Words

In this competition, it may be hard to see which is the best fabric. Fleece is good, soft, comfortable as well as durable. Flannel has the weaknesses of cotton and may wear out faster than fleece.

Yet the deciding factor will be in how each fabric is made. Sine fleece comes from plastic and polyester, you may not like those chemicals next to you or your family’s skin.

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