The Ultimate Moisture Wicking Fabrics List (Pros and Cons)

You may have heard the term but may not be sure what a moisture wicking fabric is. That is okay as there are many people in the same boat as you and they want an answer to that very question. Moisture-wicking is not the same as moisture absorbing and may not always be as good as the latter fabric.

Aside from the many synthetic fabrics that will make this list, Merino wool is said to be a great moisture-wicking fabric. besides keeping you nice and warm, Merino wool should keep you drier and cooler. One pro is that your clothes dry faster.

To learn about the many fabrics that populate this list, just continue to read our article. it has the information you want to know about so you can plan your sewing projects better. It will take a few minutes to read so grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the content.

What Fabrics are Moisture-Wicking?

Finding moisture wicking fabric is not going to be a hard task to complete. There are a lot of good materials, mostly synthetic ones, that move moisture away from your body and to the exterior edge of the fabric so it can evaporate quickly.

Here is a short list of the more famous moisture-wicking fabrics you can buy:

  • Polyester
  • Merino wool
  • Wool in general
  • Polypropylene
  • Spandex
  • Bamboo
  • Gore-tex
  • X-static
  • Nylon
  • Acrylic
  • Modal
  • Micro modal
  • Rayon
  • Almost all synthetic fabrics made today

Moisture-wicking is generally found in fabrics labeled as hydrophobic. That term means ‘afraid of the water’ but these materials are not afraid of water, they just repel it instead of absorbing it.

They are very good at keeping you drier longer as it takes a lot of water before that moisture-wicking ability is overcome and stops working. Also, these fabrics dry as they get wet which means that in normal rains or snowfalls you should not get that wet when your umbrella breaks.

What is a Moisture-Wicking Fabric?


Basically, moisture-wicking fabric is a material that helps move water from close to your body to the exterior of the fabric where it will evaporate. It is a light-absorbing material that does not hold onto water like cotton or other natural fabrics do.

Its job is to keep you dry even when you are doing a lot of athletic activity and sweating up a storm. The good thing about these materials is that they come in a variety of colors, designs as well as thicknesses.

You can create your own fashion statement and stay warm all at the same time. Moisture-wicking fabric is found in some great outfits as well as gowns and other formal clothing. No matter the occasion you should be able to be comfortable even if the night is hot and the event is not that exciting.

With this amount of choice at your fingertips, you should be able to let your creative nature flow and design some great clothing for you and your family.

How Does Moisture Wicking Fabric Work?

The key to moisture-wicking is called capillary action. What that means is that the moisture-wicking material is made with little tubs in it, similar to the capillaries found in your body.

These tubes help move the moisture away from the fabric and your skin and transports that moisture towards the exterior of your sweater, etc. Once there the air either takes it away or evaporates on the spot.

With moisture wicking material next to your skin, you usually feel cooler and drier than you would with moisture-absorbing material. Not everything about moisture-wicking materials is positive and we will get into those negatives as we go along.

One example of a drawback to this material, though, is the fact they can hold onto foul odors a lot longer than moisture-absorbing materials. If you want to make a great first impression, these fabrics may not be the wisest choice to wear.

Cleaning these clothes can be difficult at times as well as the synthetic versions, as well as wool, can be difficult to clean especially if you want to use hot water or your dryer.

What is a Moisture-Wicking Fabric Made Of?


That is a good question as this type of material is found in all three major fabric categories. usually, and the majority of these fabrics, are made from synthetic products like petroleum and harsh chemicals.

You can see those fabrics on the list at the top of this article. Polyester, nylon, polypropylene, and other synthetic fibers are not made with healthy ingredients. One of the exceptions to this rule is bamboo and it is generally found in the in-between fabric category.

Made from grass and chemicals this fabric has excellent moisture-wicking properties that may make the synthetic fabrics jealous. Bamboo is also a healthier fabric to wear, and it is quite strong helping it to last a long time.

Then another exception to the rule is wool. Merino wool seems to be the most moisture-wicking natural fabric out of all the wool varieties. Its source is from the merino goat and it can be quite expensive to buy.

Far more expensive than the synthetic materials in this class. You will find that moisture-wicking materials are found in all categories of fabrics. They just might not be the ones you would expect.

Is Moisture-Wicking Waterproof?

Not really. While moisture-wicking materials are called hydrophobic they do not repel 100% of the water that hits them. They repel a lot of water but not 100%. The best way to describe moisture-wicking materials is that they are water-resistant.

They do resist water up until they have reached their saturation point. But if they absorbed a lot of water then they would not be classified as moisture-wicking. This ability means that they will dry a lot quicker than the non-moisture-wicking material.

That fact is what makes them more popular as one can get wet outside and before long their clothes are dry again and you can act normally. There is a possibility that some manufacturers coat a portion of their fabrics with a waterproof coating or chemical.

That chemical helps these fabrics resist water longer keeping you a lot dryer over a longer period. Unfortunately, that chemical is not always a permanent coating and it can come off in the washing machine.

No matter what, though, moisture-wicking fabrics are great when you are caught in a big rainstorm. You should not get as wet as you would if you had worn the alternative.

Does Moisture Wicking Fabric Show Sweat?


Moisture-wicking fabrics may show off your sweat stains. The reason for that is that often the sweat has nowhere to go once it has hit the exterior of your fabric. With that stagnant position, it is easy for your sweat to stain the fabric.

Non-moisture-wicking materials often let your body breathe and absorb the sweat as it appears. That action makes sure your sweat stains do not appear as readily as their alternative.

The only drawback to the non-moisture wicking materials is that you should not wear dark colors. Those colors should show the same stains as your moisture-wicking fabrics show if not worse.

What you really need to worry about with moisture-wicking materials is the retention of foul odors. For some reason, this material cannot release that odor very well and you may end up trying to add too much laundry soap to your wash to get rid of it.

The best strategy is to find non-sweat stain showing fabrics and wear those over any other material you can buy. Then watch how you clean those clothes as the odor will reach other people long before you do.

Is Bamboo Fabric Moisture Wicking

Yes, this material is found on many moisture-wicking lists and it has great properties to back that one up. Along with being able to keep you cooler and drier, bamboo is known for absorbing moisture, moving it to the surface, and being hypoallergenic.

On top of that, this material is anti-mold and other germs so it is a healthy fabric option to wear. With its sustainability factor, it is a fast-growing grass, not a tree or a bush, this material should be around for a very long time.

You can enjoy its properties for a long time as well as the fabric is very durable and strong. Making sure that you have good clothing in your wardrobe like bamboo helps cut down on your clothing expenses. Bamboo should be easy to clean as well.

Bamboo is seen as an in-between fabric and an exception to the synthetic moisture-wicking rule. That is okay as the more fabrics you have to choose from the better your fashion style.

Is Modal Fabric Moisture Wicking


Yes, the modal fabric is moisture-wicking and like bamboo, it belongs to that dreaded in-between fabric category. A form of rayon, modal is very good at wicking away moisture and keeping you dry and cool. Plus, it is soft, comfortable, and feels as good as cotton can.

Along with that, there is a form of modal called micro modal. This new version is also good at wicking moisture away from your body. That is why both fabrics are used in intimate clothing like underwear.

Neither of these two materials should be that expensive and they should fit your clothing budget when you need to replace older intimate apparel. Also, modal seems to be able to absorb a lot of moisture at the same time it wicks it away.

It is said to be 50% more absorbent than cotton. Made with harsh chemicals this material is not as perfect as some people would like you to believe. That construction ingredient is something to be concerned about when you wear modal for long periods.

It is an option when you have nothing else to where but be careful with those chemicals as they make the material highly flammable.

Is Nylon a Moisture Wicking Fabric

Some people say it is and others say it isn’t. This material is used in sports or athletic wear because it absorbs moisture very well and stretches when you need it to stretch. For some people that water absorption ability disqualifies it from being moisture-wicking.

Then some people classify its moisture-wicking ability as medium. That word means it is in between being good at that task and being lousy at it. A lot will depend on how the nylon fabric is woven and made. Plus, its quality will have some say in how good or bad it is at wicking away moisture.

Check the different labels on those nylon items you intend to buy and see what they say. The labels may agree with one of the three viewpoints or disagree with two of them.

Nylon stockings may not be that moisture-wicking but it is hard to say with all the upgrades in technology and fabric production. This may be decided on a case by case basis. Not all synthetic fabrics are good at moisture wicking

Does Microfiber Wick Moisture?


Yes, microfiber does and that is one of its abilities that makes it so popular. Not only is it light and soft, but you should stay dry and cool when wearing this material. Another one of its properties is the ability to breathe.

It is said to be better at breathing than polyester even though the two fabrics are made from the same materials. Microfiber has a little different manufacturing process than regular polyester so that may explain the difference in breathing abilities.

With that wicking ability, microfibers also dry very well and very quickly. the moisture is not absorbed as much into the material like it would be if the shirt, etc., were made from cotton.

When you get wet wearing this clothing on your way to one appointment, you should be dry by the time you are ready to leave for your next appointment. Or at least close to dry, we hope. That is not a guarantee just wishful thinking.

Microfiber should be comfortable to wear as it is not heavy fabric. Lightweight materials can wick away moisture as their heavy-weight counterparts can. They are good options when you want to move freely and not worry about being wet.

Does All Polyester Wick Moisture?

Maybe yes and maybe not. It will depend on how you classify nylon and similar stretch fabrics. Generally speaking, the majority of polyester materials are all made from the same ingredients.

That means that they all share many of the same characteristics like lack of breathability, lack of moisture absorption, lack of handling high temperatures, and so on.

If you want to include polypropylene in polyester then you have a great number of fabrics that all wick away moisture like an expert. This factor will depend on how you view polypropylene.

Generally, almost all synthetic materials wick away moisture. Even the ones found in the in-between category and use a lot of the same chemicals as polyester does, do the same task quite well.

So it would be safe to say that more polyester fabrics wick away moisture than there are that don’t. Like cotton, polyester has many different versions so you may find one or two that somehow got missed when the ability to wick moisture was handed out.

You may have to wear a few different versions in the rain to find out how many do and how many don’t protect your body from moisture.

Moisture-Wicking Lining Fabric


This is not really a different category than the rest in this article. The moisture-wicking ability should be found in a variety of linings when those linings are made from moisture-wicking material.

Then if those linings have been treated with a moisture absorption resistant solution, just about any lining fabric can become moisture wicking. That solution is added to fabrics to help people stay drier even when they are wearing top layers like coats and other outerwear that has pockets to it.

The best thing to do in this case is to talk to your fabric outlet personal and see what linings will wick away moisture best. Their recommendations will help you find the right lining to use in your sewing project.

Then if the lining is made from synthetic materials or wool, you know you have a good lining that will not absorb any moisture but move it away from the body. Wool and polyester are great fabrics to use for lining and one will keep you warmer than the other.

Then if you want more fabric names to use as lining just read the list at the top of this article. it gives you those names so you have an easier time picking out the right lining.

Does Moisture-Wicking Material Really Work?

According to our sources, the answer is yes they do. The reason they work is because of the upgrades in processing techniques. The different fabrics are blended together in such a way the moisture is actually forced to move away from the body.

Then since polyester absorbs only about .4% of moisture there is nowhere for that moisture to go but through those tiny little tubes that move it toward the exterior edge of the fabric.

Once there the moisture evaporates away and is gone. Also, most people say that they do remain drier wearing moisture wicking fabrics over the alternative. That tells you that they do work and you should consider using them when you do heavy workouts or participate in a lot of physical activities designed to make you sweat.

They will be good on hot humid days as well. you do not have to be active to sweat a lot or need moisture-wicking fabrics. There are a lot of regions in this world that are very hot and humid and a short ten-minute walk produces more sweat than a basketball game.

Moisture-Wicking Fabrics Pros and Cons

Even these materials have their good and bad points. Here is a short list of each to let you see the full picture before you make your final decision whether to purchase them or not.

Personal preference in favor of non-moisture-wicking materials is not a negative.


  • Not very expensive except for wool
  • Comes in a lot of fine colors and designs
  • Keeps you drier and cooler on hot moist days
  • Very easy to find in the stores
  • Keeps you from chaffing in the wrong spots
  • Sometimes very easy to sew and embellish
  • Some are made from very sustainable sources
  • Can be wrinkle, shrink and stretch resistant
  • May not pill on you except for nylon
  • Can be machine washed


  • Can be very flammable and ignite easily
  • Made from petroleum products
  • Also made from harsh chemicals that are not good for sensitive skin
  • May stick to your skin through sweat or static electricity
  • Only one fabric is all-natural
  • May retain foul odors for along time
  • May show sweat stains

Some Final Words

Moisture-wicking fabric is a good addition to any wardrobe. Even if you do not play or participate in highly physical activities you still may live in a very humid region of the country.

Having a few clothing items that wick away moisture on those days comes in handy. The choice is yours to make as the fabrics are there to help you look good and stay nice and dry.

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