Is Cotton Breathable? (Keep You Cool or Make You Sweat)

It is almost all about staying cool. You would think that the way people talk about fabrics' breathing ability that all they are concerned about is staying cool. Looks and feels do not matter to them. That is the way it seems as fabric breathing is one of the top priorities when it comes to fashion.

Is cotton breathable? Cotton is one of the most breathable fabrics you could wear. Even when you are working out you should sweat less and the material keeps your body cooler longer. It is all in the airflow you receive from cotton as it wicks away the sweat and the heat while you do your thing.

To learn more about the breathability of cotton just continue to read our article. It has the information you need. Cotton is an all-round fabric that works well in all seasons if you get it in the right thickness and quality

Does Cotton Breathe Well?


Most cotton options breathe very well. It is known as one of the most breathable fabrics you can buy which makes it perfect for just about any activity you plan on doing. With the good airflow cotton provides you should stay a lot cooler than if you wore other fabrics.

The only caveat here is that the thickness of the fabric will influence how well the material breathes. The thicker the fabric the less breathing you get with your clothes. This is why denim cotton is not good at keeping you cool. It is great at keeping you warm but its tight fit and thick material cut the breathing option down.

Then it is easy to care for saving you money on your dry cleaning bill. That makes up for any lack of breathing you get with those thicker cotton fabrics. It is safe to say that on a hot day and wearing the right thickness of cotton, you should stay cool

What Makes Cotton Breathable?

Not only does it have built-in breathability due to the nature of the fibers cotton is made from, but it can also absorb up to 27 times its weight making sure you stay cooler. Removing the hot sweat from your body is just one way cotton is breathable.

Then cotton is woven, in most cases, in such a way that it allows the outside air to flow to your body and remove the heat. That airflow is what makes cotton a great low workout material. You stay cooler longer helping you to do more reps and lose that weight.

To aid cotton in its ability to breathe, there are three things you should do. First, avoid wearing knit cotton unless it is wintertime. Second, do not wear cotton when it is blended with synthetic fibers. Those synthetics shut down the breathing fast.

Third, you should wear non-tight-fitting cotton clothes. If you want to be cool, then ditch those skin-tight jeans.

Does Bamboo Cotton Breathe?

This is the best you may be able to find as both fabrics are excellent at breathing. Then when you get it in a bend you are going to have the power of cotton’s absorption rate and bamboo’s ability to wick away moisture quickly at your service.

When it gets hot out, you want the best fabric on you to help you stay cool. This may be the ideal blend when it comes to keeping you cool. That is because the bamboo lets moisture evaporate into the air quicker than cotton can if it does at all.

That means that if you sweat wearing this blend, you shouldn’t stay wet. Not only will bamboo help the moisture evaporate, what doesn’t disappear into the air cotton will absorb.

Does Waxed Cotton Breathe?


This is a great material if you are expecting to do a lot of rough activity that adds a lot of wear and tear to the material. It is also good for hard rainstorms as it is thick, treated with wax, and oils to make sure the water didn’t get through to your body to your tent contents.

But all that treatment and coating comes at a price. This version of cotton doesn't breathe very well. The thicker the fabric the harder it is to breathe and when the material is coated, it cuts down escape routes and heat stays trapped.

You may recognize wax cloth by another name. That name is oilcloth which is an early version of waxed cloth, thick, and treated to prevent water from getting through the material. Wax cotton came into being in the 19th century and took over for oil cloth as it was an upgrade over the latter material.

Does Egyptian Cotton Breathe?

Egyptian cotton is sometimes seen as the top version of all cotton options. It is soft, comes with a high thread count, and is lightweight. On top of those characteristics, this version of cotton breathes very well.

Not only do you get soft wonderful cotton to sleep under, but your body also should not overheat as the material works hard to get the heat out from under the covers to the air in the room.

The key to staying cool with Egyptian cotton is to make sure the thread count doe snot go above 400. The tighter the weave the less breathability you will get from those bedsheets. So while you enjoy having Egyptian cotton next to your skin, make sure it is not woven so tightly you can’t breathe.

Is Supima Cotton Breathable?

There are some facts to get out of the way first before we talk about breathing. Supima cotton is actually a brand name, like Tencel, and it refers to Pima cotton which was named in honor of the Pima Indians of Arizona.

This cotton makes up about 1% of the world’s supply and is made from ELS cotton fibers, one of the top ways to make cotton bedding and clothing. This version of cotton is very breathable, like Egyptian cotton but be careful of the tighter weaves as that will cut down the amount of breathing you will receive.

Also, Supima cotton is very lightweight so you shouldn’t feel weighed down like some fabrics tend to make you feel. The other fact you should know about this style of cotton is that it is 100% American grown.

Is Cotton The Most Breathable Fabric?


Cotton is usually listed as number one for being the most breathable and it is one of the most breathable fabrics you can buy. But there will always be someone who will think otherwise and pick a different fabric and say it is the most breathable.

Lightweight silk or rayon may breathe better than cotton because those fabrics tend to drape away from the body and let the heat escape a lot faster. If cotton is worn next to the skin, then do not expect it to maintain its top breathing ability.

The thicker the material. The tighter the weave and the closer to your body the less breathing you will get. So cotton’s breathing ability, like every other fabric, depends on how it is made, the quality of the material, the thickness of the fabric, and how skin-tight it is.

Does Cotton Keep You Cool?

If it is a lightweight cotton weave then yes it will keep you cool. The lighter the weight and the longer the distance from your body and cotton will keep you really cool. Unless you are doing some heavy workouts. Then nothing will help keep you cool but air conditioning.

Denim is made from cotton but it does not keep you cool. It may have you look cool but it is a thick fabric that tends to be made to stick close to your body. Those are bad elements to have when you are looking to be cool throughout the day. Jeans, jean jackets, and denim shirts are best left for cooler weather.

You will want loose weaves when you wear cotton to stay cool. That is alright as all versions of cotton fashions come in a myriad of colors so you will always look good.

Does Cotton Make You Sweat?

No, it doesn’t. It does help you stay cooler longer so you do not sweat as much. Even if you sweat a lot at night, cotton should help you stay cooler and cut down the amount of perspiration your body emits.

But, with that said, you should avoid thick cotton fabrics, tight weaves, and knit cotton materials to stay cool. The tighter the weave the hotter you will become. The reason for this is that those elements stop cotton from breathing very well.

You may think jeans will keep you cool in the summer but the opposite is true. It is best to go with lightweight cotton materials if you want to impress your new romantic interest and avoid overheating when he touches you.

Cotton won’t make you sweat, it will be the activities that you participate in that will handle that task.

Why Does Cotton Make Me Sweat?


If cotton makes you sweat it is because you are wearing the wrong kind of fabric that does not breathe as well as other cotton varieties. What will make you sweat are all the activities you do that need a lot of physical movement.

If you are wearing thick, tightly woven cotton materials then expect to feel the perspiration coming on. When that happens you may experience some skin irritation as cotton will absorb moisture up to 27 times its weight.

Then you will be faced with the possibility of body odor when that happens. This is a concern when you are out to impress people with your intelligence, talent, and wonderful personality.

The key is to choose the right version of cotton for the day and the activities you will be doing. If you are going to sweat, bring along a change of clothing just in case.

Does Cotton Absorb Sweat?

Yes, it does and it will absorb water and other moisture up to 27 times its own weight. This is a good characteristic when you wear cotton to do some light to medium workouts. The material will keep you dry as you do your reps and it will also keep you cooler.

That means you can workout in confidence and stay cooler longer and do more reps with ease. Cotton will absorb more sweat and cool you down through its breathing ability. It is a great fabric to wear when the days get hot and you have to be outside in the heat.

The one area you may have trouble wearing cotton is if you are wearing a cotton mask. These tend to get hot as the sweat is absorbed and make you more uncomfortable than you should be.

Does Cotton Show Sweat?

This is actually a yes and no answer question. Cotton absorbs a lot of moisture. Is lightweight and very breathable. Plus, it allows for a lot of airflow which helps keep sweat to a minimum. These are all good and fine characteristics that work for you.

The way that cotton does not show sweat is if you wear dull dark colors. It is not the fabric but the color that will show sweat. That means if you want to wear bright and bold colors expect to display your sweat stains for everyone to see.

Everyone may like to see a brightly dressed person but they do not want to see someone with sweat stains under their arms. Even lecturers have this problem and do not realize what it does to their audience.

Sweat may be natural, like cotton, but it is not something that should be shown to the world.

Does Cotton Absorb Water?


Yes, cotton absorbs water and it absorbs it at the same rate the material absorbs sweat. This means you will stay drier when you get wet and you should stay cooler at the same time. Not good situations to be in when the weather is cold and nasty.

But at least you will be drier. Cotton also takes a long time to dry so you may feel uncomfortable as well as wet. Wet clothing can cause some skin irritation if it rubs you a lot.

If it is going to rain while you are out, it may be best to change clothes to another fabric that not only repels water but keeps you drier than cotton will. Staying protected from the harsher elements is a good way to stay healthy.

How Much Water Does Cotton Absorb?

Cotton can absorb between 24 to 27 times its weight in water. The difference in the range may be due to the type of cotton material you are using or wearing as thicker cotton may absorb more than lightweight cotton fabrics.

To stay drier and have your cotton material absorb less water, you can always coat the fabric in a waterproof substance or spray. Much like you do with leather. Or you can put linseed oil or wax on the material to make sure the cotton becomes very waterproof.

One good aspect of cotton terry cloth is that it has a lot of loops on its surface. Those loops provide more places for water to be absorbed by the cotton material. That gives you the reason why terry cloth cotton is used in bathrobes and towels. It just absorbs water better.

The Best And The Worst Fabrics To Wear in Hot Weather

There are always good and bad fabrics you can wear when the temperatures start to rise. If you are doing a workout, it doesn’t matter which fabric you wear as you will be creating a lot of sweat and will shower when you are done.

But for those other times, there are some fabrics you should wear and others you should avoid if you do not want to sweat.

The best fabrics to wear:

1. Cotton

2. Linen

3. Chambray

4. Stretch fabrics with moisture-wicking ability

The worst fabrics to wear:

1. Polyester

2. Rayon

3. Denim

4. Cotton spandex blend

Your list may be different but this gets you on the right track to wearing the right fabric in hot weather. The only questionable one would be rayon as it is also said to be great for hot weather and it keeps you cool. Read our fabrics for hot weather guide for more info.

Some Final Words

If you are looking for a great fabric to wear throughout the hot days of the year, look no further than cotton. It comes in a variety of styles and types and its natural properties help you stay cool all day long.

Plus, cotton comes in a lot of different colors and designs so you always look good even on your worst days.

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