Polyester vs Cotton: Which is Better for Your Undershirt?

Undershirts are mostly made of cotton and polyester. The same applies to other clothing, such as T-shirts. I will tell you which material is more suitable in which circumstances in this article.

Cotton is better than polyester because it’s elastic, comfortable, and absorbs sweat, so it doesn’t spread to the outer clothing. Polyester is better because it breathes well, is lightweight, and doesn’t wrinkle. If you sweat a lot, choose cotton. If you want to wear a lightweight material, choose polyester.

An undershirt can make you look thinner and prevent you from getting cold in winter and hot in summer. But there are many differences between polyester and cotton, and each material suits different people and styles. So please read this article, where I will go into more detail about the materials to help you choose the right one.

Polyester vs Cotton: Pros and Cons of Each Material

Polyester and cotton are common materials used to make clothing. They are also often found in undershirts, so shoppers are often confused about which undershirt material is best. Below I present each material to help you choose. Please also take a look at the table below for a better overview of the pros and cons in one place.

You can choose any shape of undershirt made of polyester and cotton (tank top, short-sleeved, long-sleeved). See the pros and cons of wearing a tank top.

Polyester vs Cotton: Which material is the best for undershirt
Polyester vs Cotton: Which material is the best for undershirts?

Polyester as a Material for Undershirts

Polyester is a synthetic material, which means it’s made from chemicals or artificial substances rather than natural ones. Such materials are durable and breathable, which is why polyester is most commonly used for sportswear. Polyester is not elastic, so it appears in clothing as a blend with other materials such as elastane, nylon, and spandex.

Sportswear needs to be light and breathable. This is why polyester is so popular because it’s a very light, breathable, and lightweight material that doesn’t wrinkle and therefore does not need special care or ironing. Polyester is cheaper than cotton because it contains no natural materials and can therefore be produced in large quantities at any time.

Polyester sport T-shirt
Polyester sports T-shirt.

Polyester is a popular choice for undershirts because it’s lightweight, and you don’t feel like you are wearing it. It’s good for your skin because it breathes well, so you start sweating later. But there is a downside to polyester. Polyester doesn’t absorb any sweat, which causes sweat to stay on the undershirt or repel back onto your skin, causing you to sweat even more. Polyester starts to smell after repeated use, compared to nylon, which absorbs sweat well and does not retain odors.

Cotton as a Material for Undershirts

Cotton is a natural material, which means it is an agricultural product because it grows from the soil. Cotton is a very breathable and comfortable material, which is why it’s so popular and commonly used for everyday clothing such as trousers, T-shirts, underwear, socks, sweaters, etc. Cotton is an elastic material, but it also sometimes appears in apparel as a blend with other materials such as elastane, nylon, and spandex.

Everyday clothes should be comfortable. That’s why cotton is so popular – it’s a natural material, absorbs sweat well, is breathable, and is very comfortable. Cotton is a more expensive material than polyester because its production depends on the agricultural harvest, and the level of demand influences the price.

Cotton farm
Cotton field.

Cotton is a popular material for clothing because it absorbs sweat well, preventing it from spreading to outer clothing. The absorbent material keeps your skin drier for longer, so you sweat less. The only drawback I have noticed with regular use of cotton undershirts is that they need more careful care and should be washed in cold water (30°C) to prevent them from wearing out too quickly. If you wash a colored cotton undershirt at a high temperature, the color can fade quickly and may not look as good as it did at the beginning. With more care, your undershirt will last longer and be more comfortable.

Polyester UndershirtPolyester Undershirt
Breathable✅ VERY breathable material✅ VERY breathable material
Absorbs sweat❌ DOESN’T absorb sweat✅ DO absorb sweat
Elastic material❌ NOT elastic material, unless not blended with nylon or elastane✅ Elastic material
Lightness✅ VERY light material🟠 Light material, but not so light compared to polyester
Prevents odors❌ DOESN’T prevent odors and can smell bad after repeated use✅ Prevents odors
It doesn’t shrink or wrinkle✅ DOESN’T shrink or wrinkle❌ COULD shrink if you wash in hot water
Cost✅ Cheap material because it is produced in large quantities❌ Cost MORE than polyester. The price depends on the harvest and demand
Polyester vs Cotton: Pros and Cons of Each Material

Does polyester make you sweat?

Polyester makes you sweat more because it doesn’t absorb any moisture. So sweat builds up on your shirt or repels back onto your skin, causing your skin to sweat even more. It’s better to choose clothing that is a polyester/nylon blend because nylon absorbs sweat and is also elastic.

Materials that absorb sweat better are nylon, cotton, bamboo, and merino wool. You can learn more about sweat-absorbent materials and how to prevent sweat stains by clicking on this link.

What are the positives and the negatives of polyester?

Polyester is durable, breathable, quick-drying, and lightweight. It does not shrink or wrinkle and is more affordable than cotton. Its disadvantage is that it does not absorb sweat, and it absorbs odors, which can be noticeable after prolonged use.

Another positive feature of polyester is that it is a very thin material and, therefore, less noticeable through the clothes you wear. Check out why it’s not good for your undershirt to show through your shirt and other clothes at this link.


My name is Gregor and I'm a sports and fashion enthusiast. Like you, I want my clothes to be good quality and comfortable. I hope my articles will help you choose the right underwear for you.

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