Is Polyester More Expensive Than Cotton? A Cost Comparison [FAQs]

Are you wondering whether polyester is more expensive than cotton? The answer is not straightforward as it depends on various factors such as the quality of the fabric, production costs, and market demand.

Here are some key points to consider when comparing the cost of polyester and cotton:

  • Polyester is generally cheaper to produce than cotton due to its synthetic nature and lower production costs.
  • However, the price of polyester can vary depending on the quality of the fabric and the market demand for it.
  • Cotton, on the other hand, is a natural fiber that is more expensive to produce than polyester. It requires more resources such as water and land to grow and harvest, which adds to the production costs.
  • The price of cotton can also fluctuate depending on factors such as weather conditions, global supply and demand, and trade policies.

Polyester vs. Cotton

What is Polyester?

Polyester is a synthetic fiber that is made from petrochemicals, meaning it is man-made. It was first introduced in the 1950s and quickly became popular due to its durability, wrinkle resistance, and low cost. It is commonly used in clothing, bedding, and home decor.

What is Cotton?

It has been used for centuries and is known for its softness, comfort, and breathability.

Polyester vs. Cotton: Differences

There are several other differences between the two fabrics:

  • Durability: Polyester is more durable than cotton and is less likely to shrink or wrinkle. It also holds its shape better over time.
  • Comfort: Cotton is more comfortable to wear than polyester due to its softness and breathability. It is also less likely to cause skin irritation.
  • Environmental impact: Cotton is a natural fiber and is biodegradable, whereas polyester is a synthetic fiber and is not biodegradable. Cotton is also more sustainable as it can be grown without the use of harmful chemicals.
  • Appearance: Cotton has a softer and more natural appearance, while polyester has a shinier and more artificial appearance.

Overall, while polyester may be more affordable and durable, cotton is more comfortable and sustainable.

Comfort and Durability


Cotton fabric is known for its ability to absorb moisture, making it a great option for hot weather or for those who tend to sweat a lot. Organic cotton is even more comfortable because it is free from any harmful chemicals that can irritate sensitive skin.

On the other hand, polyester fabric is not as breathable and can trap moisture, making it less comfortable to wear in hot weather. However, some polyester fabrics are designed with moisture-wicking properties, which can help to keep you dry and comfortable during physical activity.


 Polyester is sturdier than cotton, which makes it perfect for items that you know will be used a lot, like towels or gym clothes.

In summary, both cotton and polyester fabrics have their own unique benefits when it comes to comfort and durability. Ultimately, the choice between the two will depend on personal preference and the intended use of the item.

Price and Value


Generally, polyester tends to be more economical than cotton.

This is because polyester is a synthetic material, which means it can be mass-produced at a lower cost than natural fibers like cotton. Additionally, polyester is often blended with other materials like elastane or tri-blend fabrics, which can further reduce the cost of the final product.


Cotton has unique breathability and luxurious softness make it a favorite for warm weather clothing. While polyester may not be as airy, it can do a better job in certain scenarios.


Many clothing items are made from blended fabrics, which combine cotton and polyester (among other materials) to create a unique combination of properties.

Mixing fabrics can provide the advantages of both materials, creating a combination of the breathability and plush feel of cotton with the sturdiness and water-repelling nature of polyester.

When shopping for clothing made from blended fabrics, it’s important to pay attention to the specific blend percentages.

100% Cotton and 100% Polyester

Ultimately, the decision between cotton and polyester depends on the desired characteristics of the garment.


The specific type of polymer used to make polyester is known as polyethylene terephthalate (PET). This material is derived from petroleum, which is why polyester is often considered a synthetic material.

Environmental Impact


Cotton is a natural fiber that is biodegradable, and can be produced without any damaging chemicals.

However, there are sustainable options for polyester as well. Recycled polyester, for example, is made from post-consumer plastic waste and requires less energy to produce than virgin polyester.

Some companies have developed water-repellent and wrinkle-resistant polyester fabrics that can be used for outdoor and travel clothing, reducing the need for frequent washing and ironing.


There are efforts to make polyester more biodegradable. Some companies are developing biodegradable polyester fabrics that can break down in soil or compost.

Advantages and Disadvantages



  • Natural fiber
  • Breathable and comfortable
  • Biodegradable


  • Requires a lot of water to grow
  • Often grown with harmful pesticides and insecticides
  • Can wrinkle easily



  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Resistant to wrinkles and shrinking
  • Can be made from recycled materials


  • Petroleum-based and non-biodegradable
  • Can release harmful chemicals during production and disposal
  • Can be uncomfortable to wear in hot weather



Both fabrics have their own unique characteristics that make them suitable for different types of clothing.

Cotton is often used in t-shirts, jeans, and other casual wear, while polyester is commonly used in athletic apparel and rainwear.


Cotton is is hypoallergenic and resists mildew. Contrastingly, polyester is not as breezy and can make sleepers hot and sweaty, making it an unfavorable option.

Sports and Activewear

Its lightweight nature and quick-drying capabilities make it a great option for those who perspire heavily.

Cotton, on the other hand, absorbs moisture and can become heavy and uncomfortable during physical activity.


Gildan DryBlend and ringspun cotton are two popular cotton options for screen printing.

In conclusion, both polyester and cotton have their own unique characteristics that make them suitable for different applications.


Now that we’ve explored the differences between polyester and cotton, let’s take a closer look at the question at hand: is polyester more expensive than cotton? Here are some factors to consider:

  • Raw material cost: Polyester is made from oil products, which can be subject to market fluctuations and price increases. Cotton, on the other hand, is a natural fiber that is harvested from cottonseeds. While the price of cotton can also fluctuate based on supply and demand, it tends to be more stable than oil-based products.
  • Production cost: Polyester is a synthetic material that requires more energy and resources to produce than cotton. This can make it more expensive to manufacture, which can drive up the price for consumers.
  • Market share: While cotton is still the most widely used natural fiber in the world, polyester has been gaining market share in recent years. This increased demand for polyester can drive up prices, especially for high-quality fabrics that are in high demand.
  • Value: While polyester may be more expensive than cotton in some cases, it also offers certain advantages that can make it a better value in the long run. For example, polyester is more durable and resistant to wear and tear than cotton, which means that it may last longer and require fewer replacements over time.
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