Which Cloth Absorbs More Water? A Comparison

Like most people, you probably don’t overthink which cloth would absorb more water. But the truth is, it makes a big difference!

So, which cloth absorbs more water? Natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, bamboo, and rayon absorb more water than synthetic fabrics such as polyester.

cloth absorb water
Cotton Terry Towels. Credit: canva

This blog post will compare different types of fabrics and their water-absorbing abilities. We will also discuss the benefits of each type of fabric. Stay tuned to learn more!

Why Do We Even Need to Know?

There are many practical reasons why it’s important to know which fabrics absorb more water.

  • If you were choosing fabric for a towel, you would want to ensure it has the best absorption ability possible.
  • When choosing fabric for cleaning and drying dishes, you want it to absorb as much water as possible.
  • Similarly, when selecting fabric for clothing or upholstery, it is essential to consider water-absorbing abilities to prevent stains and ensure durability.
  • Absorption abilities would be crucial if you were camping and needed to bring a cloth to dry dishes or wipe down surfaces.
  • Knowing how well a fabric will absorb sweat during physical activity or on a hot day is important.

Which Cloth Absorbs More Water?

cloth linen napkins
Yellow linen napkins. Credit: canva

Natural fabrics like cotton, linen, bamboo, and rayon absorb more water than polyester or other synthetic materials.

  • Cotton is the best fabric for water absorption, with a rating of 100%. It can hold about 27 times its weight in water.
  • Linen and bamboo are highly absorbent fabrics, around 80-90%.
  • Rayon and Tencel (a type of lyocell) have an absorption rating of 60-70%.
  • Polyester, however, has a very low absorption rating of 0-5%.

It’s important to note that the specific fabric and its weave can also affect water absorption. For example, a tightly woven cotton fabric will have better absorption abilities than loosely woven polyester fabric.

Cotton absorbs up to 6 times its weight in water, holding a person’s sweat for up to 48 hours.

On the other hand, polyester only absorbs three times its weight in water, meaning it will only hold effort for around 12 hours.

Different Types of Cloths Vs. Water Absorbance

cloth bamboo diaper
Bamboo reusable cloth diaper. Credit: canva

There are many types of clothes that people can use to absorb water. Some of the most common dresses include cotton, linen, and hemp.

  • Cotton is the most absorbent of the three fabrics and is best for use in areas with a lot of moisture.
  • Linen is a softer fabric than cotton and is better suited for areas that are not as sensitive to moisture.
  • Bamboo is also a soft fabric known for its antibacterial properties, making it great for use in the kitchen or bathroom.
  • Hemp can wick away excess water quickly, making it a good choice for areas with a lot of moisture or sweat.
  • Rayon and Tencel are also absorbent fabrics, but not as much as cotton or linen.
  • On the other hand, polyester is not a very absorbent fabric and should be avoided in areas with high moisture levels.

Natural Vs. Synthetic Materials

cloth microfiber cleaning
Microfiber cleaning cloth. Credit: canva

The different materials that it is made from can affect how much water it absorbs.

Natural fabrics

Natural materials such as cotton, linen, and silk absorb more water than synthetic materials. That is because natural materials have more porous fibers, allowing them to absorb more moisture.

However, natural fabrics comprise larger molecules, causing them to release water slower. So, natural fabrics may not be the best choice for high-intensity activities like sports or exercise.

Synthetic materials

Synthetic fabrics such as polyester and nylon hold less water because their fibers are not as porous.

However, synthetic materials are made up of small molecules that can quickly move through the fabric. That is why they can dry quicker and are less likely to wrinkle.


The only exception is microfiber. Microfiber is a synthetic fabric made of very fine fibers, allowing it to absorb more water than other synthetic materials.

Microfiber textiles are often used for cleaning because they can hold up to seven times their weight in liquid.

Cloth for Cleaning Dishes

cloth cotton towels
Cotton towels. Credit: canva

Choosing Cloth for Cleaning Dishes

There are a few factors to consider when choosing a suitable material for cleaning dishes. The type of fabric, weight, and the way it is woven all play a role in how much water it can absorb.


Fabrics made from cotton, linen, or rayon are generally best at absorbing water. These fabrics are dense and have a soft feel. They also tend to be wrinkle-free and easy to clean.

On the other hand, polyester materials tend to be less effective at absorbing water. They are thin and have a rough texture. They can also be challenging to clean because they often leave residue on dishes.


The weight also plays a role in how much water it can absorb. A lighter material will absorb more water than heavier ones. This is because a heavy product can trap moisture inside the fabric.

On the other hand, a soft garment will quickly move through the material and release its absorbed water.

Woven vs. Non-woven

Woven fabrics are also more effective at absorbing water than non-woven fabrics. This is because woven fabrics have many tiny threads that absorb water quickly.

Non-woven fabrics, on the other hand, are made up of large pieces of fabric that don’t absorb as much water.


There are many advantages to using cloth for cleaning dishes.

  • It absorbs more water than others. This means that it can clean dishes more effectively and quickly.
  • It is less abrasive than others and does not damage dishes as easily. It is antimicrobial, meaning it can kill bacteria and prevent the spread of food poisoning.
  • It absorbs more water and can clean dishes because it is versatile and easy to use. It is also effective at removing dirt and grease from dishes.


Which absorbs more water, cotton or wool?

Both cotton and wool absorb water, but to different degrees. Cotton absorbs more water than wool, which is why cotton clothing feels heavier when it gets wet.

Which cloth absorbs the least water?

Terry cloth. It is a type of cloth made with loops of fabric. The loops create a lot of surface area, which allows the material to absorb more water than other types.

Which is more absorbent, cotton or sponge?

Cotton is more absorbent than a sponge. Cotton can absorb up to 27 times its weight in liquid, while a sponge can only absorb about three times its weight.

This is because cotton has many tiny pores that can quickly suck up liquid, while the sponge is less porous and thus slower to absorb liquid.

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