Wicking Fabric: A Detailed Look at Its Features and Applications

Wicking fabric is a new technical material that drains moisture from the body. Wicking fabrics are produced using high-tech polyester, which absorbs water extremely little compared to cotton.

There are several clothing alternatives available to assist you in managing if you have hyperhidrosis or extreme contextual sweating.

That’s why clothing made of sweat-wicking, anti-odor, breathable, and sweat-absorbing textiles is available and makes dealing with perspiration simpler.

What is Wicking Fabric?

Moisture wicking fabric

Wicking fabrics keep a user dry and convenient by pulling the skin’s moisture away and onto the fabric’s outer layer. Due to the greater surface area of these advanced fabrics, more water is absorbed away from the skin, and evaporation occurs more quickly.

Moisture is carried via a network in the fabric, which resembles a complicated “capillary,” to the surface, where it is dispersed into a thinner layer.

Wicking fabrics are also called breathable fabrics, as air may enter or leave easily. These characteristics make wicking materials ideal for sports apparel, where increased body temperature and unavoidable sweat occur.

Sportswear often uses advanced draining materials to help athletes keep cool and maximize their performance. Also, wetsuits, jackets, and t-shirts are just a few examples of clothing items constructed using these wicking materials.

The speaker cloth used in arts and crafts projects and for covering speaker grilles is also from wicking fabric. 

Modern materials for athletics or sportswear are designed to drain sweat and moisture away from the skin’s surface to the outside of the garment, where it may evaporate and keep the user dry and cool.

How is Wicking Fabric Made?

Wicking Fabric

Wicking fabric types like wool, cotton and regenerated cellulose are hygroscopic fibers that absorb and desorb water vapor, which is recognized as the fabric’s buffer qualities. These fibers also give increased pleasure or at least perceived additional comfort.

Polyester merely absorbs 0.4 percent of its weight in water, compared to cotton’s 7% absorption rate.

For instance, with a relative humidity of 65 percent, wool will absorb around 15 percent of its mass as water vapor and up to 35 percent at a relative humidity of 100 percent.

Wicking fabric fibers absorb and desorb water vapor when the relative humidity of the environment varies.

Also, because most synthetic fibers have low surface energy, clothes made from them are hydrophobic until a surface-active chemical (like detergent) is added to the liquid.

The ability of the interior structure to retain water and the fiber’s hygroscopic characteristics to buffer moisture are also important factors.

A wicking gradient is created for cloth to allow moisture to be wicked from one side to the other. 

For instance, this is easily accomplished in a two-layer fabric structure by knitting a fabric with one side made mainly of a hydrophobic yarn and the other made primarily of a more hydrophilic yarn.

The yarn’s affinity for liquid water is determined by a balance between the characteristics of the fiber surface. 

A Brief History of Wicking Fabric 

It is believed that Robert Kasdan and Stanley Kornblum of New York, New York, and Monmouth Junction, New Jersey, were the first people to produce a cloth that could wick away moisture.

They made this discovery after knitting a synthetic material made of microfiber yarn and finding that it possesses wicking properties.

Kevin Plank, who was a student at the University of Maryland in 1996, is believed to have been the first person to sell moisture-wicking materials on a commercial scale. Plank would go on to found Under Armour.

The question therefore is, who should get the credit for inventing this fabric?

Even though no one can say for certain, there is no doubt that somebody is making a lot of money off of this idea.

Types of Wicking Fabric

Wicking fabric, like other fabric types, consists of many types based on their level of absorbency and how they are made.

Some of the various types of wicking fabric are:

  • Polyester

Polyester, a synthetic mix, is a trustworthy fabric for wicking away sweat. Polyester is an excellent material for functional clothing since it is light, breathable, and fast to dry when combined with other fabrics.

One disadvantage of polyester is that it may help bacteria develop and tends to hold smells.

  • Merino Wool

Many suitable textiles are available now for wicking away sweat, and one of them is merino wool. It is a natural fabric that is lightweight and breathable, making it ideal for warmer climates.

It does not absorb scents as the polyester fabric does. 

However, compared to cotton and other synthetic materials, it is less resilient.

  • Nylon

Nylon wicks away moisture, fends against mildew and dries rapidly. It is light, flexible, and pleasant to wear, making it ideal for training clothing. For this purpose, a lot of workout equipment is composed of nylon or probably has a high nylon ratio.

Although fine nylon is very effective at wicking away moisture, it has a few significant downsides.

If you perspire a lot, nylon may keep odors in even after you wash it. In addition, the level of breathability of nylon can be affected by the size of the yarn as well as the weave.

  • Wool

Natural fibers like wool are excellent at wicking away moisture. It is the ideal fabric for winter clothes since it regulates body temperature, is cozy, and is comfortable.

Wool, as opposed to merino wool, is not as soft, and it has the potential to irritate skin that is already sensitive. Additionally, it does not possess the same level of tensile strength as man-made materials.

  • Polypropylene

Almost the same as polyester, polypropylene is a thermoplastic polymer. Polypropylene is perfect for use in chilly wear and apparel because, in addition to wicking moisture, it dries rapidly and is well acclaimed for its thermal qualities.

However, like polyester, it has a propensity to retain smells and isn’t quite as soft as some of the other textiles on the list.

  • Bamboo fabric

Bamboo is made from plants, much as micro modal; therefore, its fibers naturally wick moisture. It helps maintain homeostasis efficiently and has a soft, relaxed feel, making it perfect for year-round use.

But bamboo moisture-wicking clothing is more costly than cotton or other natural fibers.

  • Micromodal

One of the most breathable sweat-wicking materials currently in use is micro modal. Micromodal fabric offers outstanding temperature-regulating abilities, making you feel convenient in any climate.

Because it has a very smooth, silk-like feel, it is perfect for loungewear, intimate apparel, and undergarments. 

Micro modal requires greater attention than moisture-wicking textiles since they may sometimes pill.

Also, micro modal fabric aids in controlling body temperature but doesn’t retain heat or maintain a warm temperature.

The average cost of wicking fabric by the yard 

Wicking fabric types are numerous and may vary depending on various factors such as their production methods. 

Wicking cloth costs average between $7 and $55 per yard. It’s important to note that the cost varies according to the wicking fabric’s kind and quality.

The production process’s components make certain other fabrics more expensive.

Wicking fabric usage and application

Wicking fabrics are breathable and can be used in many ways. Some of the applications you’ll find wicking fabric includes:

  • Outdoor clothing

Wicking fabric is the ideal material for any athletics, activewear, and clothes used for outdoor activities due to its sweat-diffusing qualities. It’s also becoming more common for daily clothing, undergarments, and even bedding in hotter regions of the globe.

  • Sportswear

Sportswear is an excellent use for fabrics with moisture-wicking qualities since they draw sweat away from the body and into the outside air. Wearers feel more at ease and are cooled off by this.

  • Undershirts

Merino wool is now obtainable in lightweight fabrics perfect for undershirts and athletic wear, so it is not only reserved for sweaters.

  • Baby Clothing

Many baby care specialists and product manufacturers now employ these fabrics due to the moisture-wicking abilities of some of the wicking fabric types listed above.

They come in handy in the production of baby clothing and diapers.

Wicking Fabric Care and Maintenance Tips 

Wicking fabric must be cared for and maintained properly to ensure it retains its moisture-wicking property, and failure to ensure this may result in the fabric becoming damaged.

You can follow these tips outlined below to do this. 

  • Before washing the fabric, check the label to ascertain the maintenance method suited for that fabric. 
  • Wicking fabric may be spot-cleaned and is constructed of low-maintenance materials. So you do not need much to ensure proper care of the fabric. 
  • When necessary, you can wash the cloth with a mild detergent in moderate washer settings. Harsh chemicals may damage the fabric. 
  • You may air dry your fabric to prevent damage or melting from a dryer’s heat, as some fabric types are pretty soft. The time required for air drying is substantially less than for materials that absorb water since most water will bounce off the material. Just shake the material to remove extra water droplets, then leave it to dry.
  • Store your wicking fabric in cool, dry areas to avoid dampness and moisture absorption, which could result in mold formation. You wouldn’t want that to happen to your fabric. 

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