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Can Polyester Ever Be More Breathable Than Cotton?


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Polyester is more breathable than cotton? Why is it, then, that when you wear polyester clothes for a couple of hours you stink to high heaven, but not when you wear cotton? (This is why I never wear polyester clothing. I don't like stinking very much.)

Although Herschel's post is from the Yankees' Pinstripes Thread, this applies very much to the Science Forum. I simply do not believe that polyester is more breathable than cotton - I believe the best materials are lighter, repel water better, dry out much more quickly, wick the perspiration to the outside of the clothing (I think this is the key argument for polyester), and are stretchier, but in terms of letting outside air in, I don't care what scientific tests say - unless things have changed substantially in the past ten years or so (and maybe they have), no polyester can breathe like cotton.

I'm a sweater - always have been - and I would go through four and five shirts a *set* in tennis sometimes, always cotton. There's no question that material becomes drenched, and stays drenched, but it also breathes. The high-tech water-repellent polyester tennis apparel I tried out for a couple years stayed drier for *sure*, but they also smelled like plastic, and that was whether they were clean, or not - you could pull them straight from the washer and drier, and they'd smell like plastic. I *hated* them, and I just resolved myself to bringing up to *ten* shirts for a given tennis match, and threw them all in the washing machine afterwards. It's true that once they become saturated, they don't dry out quickly, and maybe this is what "Science" is talking about - polyester keeps you drier: I can buy that. But I can't buy that it "breathes" better than cotton. For casual summer wear (non-athletic), I never, ever buy polyester; only cotton.

An interesting article:

"Exercise Perspiration: Polyester's 'Wicking' versus Cotton's Absorbency and Comfort" by Mark Saracino on drmarksaracino.wordpress.com

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