Microfiber vs. Cotton Fabrics

While cotton is a common name for many, some may not know what microfiber is or the difference between both fabrics. Perhaps you haven’t given it much thought, either. 

Cotton and microfiber are fabrics used for many household use and are easily obtained from the market. Many often go for these materials because of their durability and soft texture. However, as similar as they are, they differ slightly. 

These differences can matter if you have sensitive skin or are just looking for a fabric that will give you a cozy or comfortable feeling. Knowing the differences between these fabrics will help you get the best out of each fabric. 

Microfiber vs Cotton Fabrics: Production

Microfiber and Cotton Fabric
L-Microfiber; R-Cotton

Microfiber is a synthetic fiber made from various petrochemicals like polyester, polyamides, and polypropylene. Manufacturers subject these compounds through a chemical process to get microfiber, which includes one denier and finer fibers. On the other hand, cotton is a soft, white, fibrous substance surrounding the seeds of the cotton plant, which is later made into textile fiber and thread for sewing.

Microfiber is produced through melt spinning, dry spinning, and wet spinning conventional spinning methods. However, different techniques and procedures have been invented to produce microfiber. These methods are carried out very carefully because microfibers are delicate products that require great attention during processing. No wonder the technology involved is more sophisticated and costly than conventional deniers. 

Cotton is arguably the most widely produced natural fiber. The plant comes with a great diversity of wild cotton species spun into thread to make soft, durable, and breathable textiles. These cotton grow from the seed coat or outer layer of the plant’s seed and are harvested by hand or mechanically either by a cotton picker or a cotton stripper. 

Cotton fiber grows to a great length in about a month, after which they fill the maturing seed pods to bursting point. Textile workers twist individual fibers around each other to make threads or clothes. 

The Texture of Microfiber vs Cotton

Clothes made from cotton are usually common and comfortable because of the fabric’s soft, smooth, stretchy, and strong nature. Its super softness makes it ideal for bedding, towels, and even clothes like jeans, T-shirts, and dresses. It is also widely used for underwear production because of its soft and comfortable nature. 

Health workers often recommend cotton to people with sensitive skin or those prone to allergies because of its smooth and breathable properties. However, cotton is prone to breaking down with its natural fiber with time. Many have found out that the more they wash the cotton fabric, the more it shrinks and wrinkles, but in the end, it is still very durable.

Similarly, microfibers are lightweight, smooth, have a slippery feel, and are easy to care for. They are also highly durable and stain and wrinkle-resistant. When it comes to texture, we can say that cotton and microfiber share a lot of similarities and are both durable. The major difference between microfiber and cotton has to do with their origin. While cotton is derived from organic materials, while microfiber is obtained or created from synthetic fibers. Also, while cotton fibers are soft and breathable, microfibers are smooth and silky.

Physical Properties of Microfiber vs Cotton

Microfiber and Cotton Fabric
L-Cotton; R-Microfiber

Cotton materials have a smooth finish with an obvious softness; they are also known as breathable absorbents. Their retention attributes make it feel like a mixture of wool and silk. Good cotton material is very matte and does not shine under light. One hundred percent cotton will not curl from the heat of a flame if subjected to the burn test and are usually suitable for summer seasons. 

Cotton materials can be quite stiff, which makes them easily wrinkle. There are different types of cotton fabric, ranging from short-staple cotton to long-staple, extra-long-staple, Egyptian cotton, Pima cotton, and Supima cotton. 

Microfibers appear strong, durable, lightweight, resistant to wrinkles, have a luxurious drape on the body, and resist pilling. They also show lower heat conductance properties and are breathable, and their high thread density allows the skin to breathe and the body to regulate temperature more easily. 

There are different types of microfiber clothes. Some of them are lightweight, very thin, soft, and durable. Some are medium-weight, feel like a towel, and can be used for general cleaning. Another category is the plush or dual plush, which feels like a fleece blanket and can serve as a polish remover. 

A good look at a microfibre shows that it has strands that look like an asterisk because the fiber strands are split, causing them to flare out. Each strand acts as a hook that scrapes up moisture and even bacteria.

Microfiber vs Cotton Durability

Cotton has relatively high tensile strength, which makes it strong and able to stand up against abrasion and high temperatures. It is also very water absorbent and dries quickly, making it highly moisture-wicking.

Even though microfibers are extremely tiny, even tinder than human hair, they are extremely durable; they do not tear easily. The durability of microfibers makes them an excellent choice in making furniture such as sofas and couches. It is not affected by water as it dries up easily and quickly. 

Uses and Application of Microfiber and Cotton

Cotton

  • Cotton is used in making sportswear, yoga wear, jackets, denim items, sewing threads, face masks, ropes, and cotton saree.
  • The fabric is also used in making foot mats, cotton carpets, towels, bath robes, pillow covers, duvet covers, quilts, bed linens, and curtains.
  • In the medical field, they are used as absorbents for making bandage tapes, wipes for cleaning wounds, and earbuds.
  • Textile manufacturers also use cotton to make cloth bags, book binding made with cotton cloth, baby diapers, mosquito nets, underwear, fishnets, etc.

Microfiber

Textile manufacturers use microfiber to produce clothes, mats, upholstery, industrial filters, towels, sports gear, cleaning products, etc.

Care and Maintenance of Microfiber and Cotton

Microfibre products require some extra care in maintenance for durability. Here are some precautions you can take: 

  • When washing microfibers, it is advisable not to use fabric softener or bleach as it could clog the space in the fiber and erode it.
  •  It is best to wash in cold or warm water with mild detergent.
  • It is also advisable to wash microfiber products together instead of mixing them with different fabric types. This precaution is because what applies to one fabric may not apply to another.
  • It is also good to check the care label of any product you buy to know the best maintenance plan to adopt. 

In like manner, cotton fabrics need to be handled and cared for to achieve longevity.

  • Always refer to the care label before washing your cotton products, as many types of cotton fabric and products are available.
  • Wash in cold water as they are prone to shrinking when washed and dried.
  • Always dry out of the sun if possible.
  • Buying cotton clothes treated with a wrinkle-resistant finish like those on children’s school uniforms is a way to save yourself some stress.

Conclusion

Microfiber and cotton are important household fabrics in the textile industry, and their uses are similar, although they differ slightly. Microfiber is a synthetic fiber that is very durable, while cotton is a natural fiber with a very comfortable feel. Both fabrics are fairly easy to care for; by carrying out healthy laundry practices and observing the instructions on the care label, your fabric can last a long time.

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