Polyester vs Silk: 10 Differences Between Silk and Polyester

Knowing the difference can spare you from making terrible fashion mistakes. Making sure that you know the difference between fabrics can also save you money by not buying the wrong fabric. Take the time to learn the differences between all the fabrics so you can save on your shopping time as well.

The biggest difference between these two fabrics is their cost. Polyester is about a fifth of the price of real silk. That is just the conservative estimate. Sometimes silk clothing costs 6 to 10 times more than polyester clothing items.

To learn more about the differences between silk and polyester, just continue to read our article. It comes with a quick comparison chart to save you time when you are in a hurry. Then read the rest of the article when you have the time to relax for a few minutes.

Polyester vs. Silk: Quick Comparison Chart

To get an easy and fast look at the differences just look at this chart. It gives you the main differences in a glance and helps keep you from being late for work:

Number Polyester Silk
#1. Manmade from petroleum products Fibers made by the silk worm and is a natural product with out oil additives
#2. Resists wrinkles and creases Wrinkles and creases easily
#3. The texture is not so soft or smooth Has a very smooth and soft texture to the fabric
#4. Can be washed and dried easily, even dry cleaned. Little maintenance for this material Needs careful maintenance as it is a fragile material when faced with cleaning appliances
#5. Doesn’t cost lot when made into clothing or sold by the yard Can be extremely costly when sold by the yard or when made into clothing items
#6. Has an even, almost symmetrical woven look that looks perfect The weave of this material is filled with imperfections, variations and slight flaws
#7. Patterns do not shine through to the reverse side of the material Lets you see patterns on the reverse side of the material
#8. This fabric shines white no matter white and can seem quite boring When held to the light, the fabric has a nice shine that may change colors when you change angles
#9. Has an artificial feel and look about it Has a natural, nice feel to it. Nothing artificial about this material
#10 Has an artificial look to it but does not drape that well Has a luxurious feel and drapes very well

Is Polyester Silk?


The answer to this question is clear and unquestionable ‘no’. Polyester is about as close to silk as a tricycle is to a car. This material is made from synthetic fibers spun from petroleum products in such a way that it may resemble silk but it is not silk at all.

About the only things these two fabrics have in common are that they are fabrics and they can be made into clothing, bedding, and other fashion accessories. Then polyester has a little stretch to it allowing it to handle the wear and tear a lot better than silk.

Its main drawback is that it doe not drape very well, and it can stick to your skin as it helps develop electrostatic build-up.

Is Milk Silk Polyester?

This is an interesting question. If you have not heard about this fabric option, it is high time you did. This turns wasted, spoiled milk into fabrics that can be worn by just about anyone.

The original formula was created in the 1930s and used chemicals so in one sense the original milk material would be similar to polyester. But a new formula has been created that omits the chemicals and uses natural ingredients to create silk-like fabric.

In this new way, the milk silk fabric is not like polyester but more of a natural material that is safe to wear. The new process uses about 2 gallons of water for every 2.2 pounds of fabric which is not a lot when you compare it to the 20,000 gallons of water needed to make the same amount of cotton.

Milk fabrics are not cheap, just like silk, and costs about $15 per pound to make. Thus the reason you may not have heard about this fabric option.

The Difference Between Silk And Polyester


The difference between these two materials can be summed up in a few words. For polyester, it is man-made and cheap and for silk, those words are natural and expensive. In those few words, you can easily understand the biggest differences between these fabrics.

The other differences are polyester doesn’t normally wrinkle, crease, shrink, and fade. Silk will do all of those things if you are not careful with it. Most silk fabrics are dry clean only because they are so delicate. Polyester can easily be washed in your washing machine.

Then silk has a luxurious, soft, smooth, and natural feel to it and it is wonderful next to your skin. On the other hand, polyester can be rough, not so soft, artificial, and may irritate your skin if you have a sensitive skin type.

How Can You Tell The Difference Between Silk And Polyester?

If the price doesn’t already tell you which is which, then you need to learn about some different tests you can do to see the difference. As far as price goes, if the ‘silk’ price is too good to be true, it is probably polyester.

If you look at the weave, polyester is usually even, no imperfections, and even symmetrical. Silk, is not so even, perfect, and has flaws in it. The threads may be slightly twisted as well. A magnifying glass should help you spot these differences.

Then when you place the material in question up to the light, silk will look like it has a subtle sheen, and this shine changes color when you change the angle. Polyester is boring and shines white all the time.

Finally, silk has a luxurious and timeless look while polyester is not a close second.

Is Polyester Better Than Silk?


Yes and no. It would depend on the categories you are comparing the two fabrics. Polyester beats silk in the wear and tear category as well as the laundry one. It is not a fragile fabric and those two qualities make polyester a little better than silk.

In terms of accepting dyes, texture, feel, looks, and formal events very little beat silk. Polyester does not even come close as it does not drape well, can cling to your body, and look and feel artificial. Silk comes with a soft, luxurious look that just makes you look a cut above average.

While silk does not have the toughness of polyester at least you can change the color and pretend you went out and bought a new silk dress for the occasion. In the long run, silk is probably better than polyester but it is not a clean sweep, polyester has its advantages as well.

Polyester vs Silk Pillowcase

This comparison usually is made between real silk and polyester satin and as usually the first difference you will notice will be the price. Silk just costs more than man-made fabrics. Then the feel of the two is the next biggest difference.

The polyester will be slippery and may be rougher than silk which is soft and smooth. Both provide less friction so you see less split ends but the major difference between the two fabrics is health-related.

Silk is thermal regulated, hypoallergenic, resists mold, mildew, and dust mites as well as fungus. Something polyester satin cannot do. Comparing these two fabrics is like comparing a Rolls Royce or Bentley with a 1960s VW Bug.

You get the same purpose but the latter option just doesn’t give you the luxury or the performance of the former. That is the way it is with silk and polyester pillowcases. The latter does not perform as well as the former.

Silk vs Polyester Lining


Silk lining adds that touch of luxury, softness, and drape you want in a formal gown or wedding dress. It just makes the dress all that much better... if you can afford to use this material as lining. Good thing silk lining comes in cheaper versions.

Polyester on the other hand is cheap and it does not wrinkle. When you use this material as your lining option, you cut your ironing down a lot. While it is inexpensive it may look cheap and does not breathe. Silk linings breathe very well.

Which one you use will be up to your bank account balance and your preferences. But if you go for silk, you are making a better fashion statement than if you used polyester. Of course, polyester has a wide variety of fabric options to choose from

Polyester vs Silk Thread

In this category, the two fabrics may be a bit more even than they would be in other categories. The polyester thread can stretch somewhat and is perfect for those physical activities that require a lot of stretching. Plus, it does not shred a lot of lint.

Silk thread has some elasticity to it as well but maybe not as much as polyester thread. Silk’s good looks make it ideal for lingerie The main drawback to a polyester thread is if you want to dye the clothing it is used in.

The polyester thread will not accept the dye as easily as the non-polyester fabric will and you end up with a two-toned outfit that is not even close to being fashion-forward. Silk thread will accept the dye and keep your outfit looking perfect

Polyester vs Silk Pajamas


This comparison will be much like the pillowcase comparison. The two fabrics, especially when it is poly satin made, are smooth with silk being smoother. They are both lightweight and can look really good when cut into great-looking pajamas.

The major difference between the two is that the polyester satin is man-made while the silk comes from all-natural fibers. Then the sating outfit is thicker and heavier than silk so it breathes a lot less than that latter material.

At laundry time the silk pajamas should be hand washed or dry cleaned only while the satin can also be cleaned in your washer. Polyester satin’s shine is one side only like regular polyester fabric while the silk pajamas will have a shine on both sides. Finally, silk should drape and flow better than the polyester satin will.

Polyester vs Silk Carpet

Here is a category where polyester will come in first by a long shot. Silk’s best features are that it can be dyed easily and has a wonderful look. That is great if you are not going to walk on the carpet that much, if at all. Also, to cut the cost wool is usually blended with silk.

Its competitor, polyester, may not have the ability to change colors very well but it can resist stains, cuts, and is easy to clean. Plus, the polyester carpet is a cheaper alternative for floor covering.

Its drawbacks are that it does not hold up very well to a lot of foot traffic and will fade easily when left in the sun. In this category, polyester may win over silk, but it is not a great alternative to nylon carpets

Some Final Words

The differences between the two fabrics are like the difference between sunlight and moonlight. Both can shine but the sun or silk can shine brighter than the moon or polyester.

Then while the moonlight looks good, as do some polyester fabrics, the sunlight just makes everything better just like silk can. If you can afford it, opt to use silk whenever possible. It is just the better fabric of the two.

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