The comfort of your underwear makes a huge difference in your daily life. Did you know that the fabric in your undergarments can also impact your health? To feel both healthy and comfortable, you want to make sure you select the best fabric for underwear.
The best fabric for underwear is soft and breathable material such as 100% cotton. Cotton is an all-natural fiber that provides softness, breathability, and hypoallergenic properties. Other materials that provide softness and breathability include nylon and modal.
In this article, you will learn about the top nine kinds of underwear fabric. You will discover what makes cloth breathable and stretchy. Finally, you will find out what kind of cloth works best for special kinds of underwear.
- Underwear Fabric Types
- Best Fabric for Underwear: 10 Types
- Most Breathable Underwear Fabric
- Best Underwear Fabric for Sports
- Best Underwear Material for Women
- Men’s Underwear Fabric
- Cotton Underwear vs Nylon
- Is Polyester Good for Underwear?
- Best Underwear Fabric for Protection
- Which Fabric Is Best for Panties?
- What is the Best Fabric for Bras?
Underwear Fabric Types
Some of the most popular fabric types for underwear include several kinds of cotton material like cotton jersey and 100% cotton. Synthetic fabric such as spandex, nylon, and polyester remains readily available in many types of underwear because it costs so much less than cotton. Other underwear fabrics you see a lot include more luxurious materials like satin, silk, and even some kinds of mesh.
When you shop for underwear, it’s easy to focus on the style of the garment or its color and appearance. You may not realize that you should also read the product description or the package to find out what kind of fabric the underwear contains!
Ideally, good underwear fabric should provide lots of comfort and softness. You often want a fabric that has some stretchiness, as well. Finally, you need a fabric that provides key health factors such as breathability, good absorbance, and hypoallergenic properties.
So, what kinds of fabric can offer all of these key characteristics? Most of the time, 100% cotton is your best choice. It gives you comfort but also great health benefits. Actually, in general, natural fabric tends to provide better comfort and health benefits than synthetic materials.
Synthetic, or manmade, materials like polyester and nylon are made out of a kind of plastic. And, of course, Spandex contains a type of elastic fiber.
Many popular underwear styles, including shapewear and everyday panties, use synthetic fabrics. They cost much less than all-natural material and come in all kinds of cute styles.
Unfortunately, this kind of fabric is not healthy for sensitive areas of the body. These synthetic materials do not provide much breathability or absorbency and can cause serious health issues.
That said, wearing spandex shapewear under a bridesmaid’s dress to your sister’s wedding or a special event once in a while will not hurt you! But for everyday underwear, you probably want to seek out all-natural fabrics whenever possible.
Best Fabric for Underwear: 10 Types
Cotton material like cotton jersey and certain cotton blends make the best underwear fabric for everyday underwear. Still, many other fabric types such as modal and silk make excellent underwear for certain situations.
That said, every type of fabric commonly used in underwear does come with some pros and cons. For example, cotton will keep you comfortable and healthy, but it may not look fancy enough for some situations. Likewise, spandex underwear is not a healthy choice for daily wear but might be just the ticket when you need shapewear or sportswear!
1. 100% CottonCotton fabric has excellent breathability and can also easily absorb moisture. Both of these qualities make it a great choice for fabric that will rest closely against some of your most sensitive skin!
Health experts recommend cotton underwear because it allows good airflow that can help prevent yeast infections and other health concerns. Cotton also easily absorbs liquids instead of allowing them to pool on the fabric’s surface and rub against your skin, causing irritation.
So cotton underwear should be your go-to fabric for everyday panties or briefs. It may cost a tad more than some materials like polyester, but overall, it provides an affordable option.
Finally, cotton also feels very soft to the touch and can keep you cozy and comfortable all day! You can find popular cotton underwear in styles like women’s panties and men’s boxers because pretty much everyone recognizes the superior softness of this material.
If normal cotton does not feel elegant or soft enough to you, you can also find underwear made of specialty cotton such as Pima cotton or combed cotton. These kinds of cotton feel even softer against your skin!
Cotton does not make the best choice for athletic activities like running or hiking. In those cases, you should find a fabric that can provide good moisture-wicking to move sweat away from your private areas as quickly as possible. This will prevent chafing and possible infections.
2. Cotton JerseyCotton jersey is a type of cotton fabric made by interlocking loops of thread instead of weaving them today. T-shirts and hoodies often contain a type of jersey knit, as do many everyday kinds of underwear such as panties or briefs. This kind of cotton fabric makes some of the best underwear because it combines cotton’s softness and breathability with an additional elasticity created by the fabric construction.
Knit fabrics feel much more stretchy than plain-weave fabric. The thousands of tiny loops in the knitted material allow it to stretch and then retract easily, creating a soft and stretchy material. Think of how soft and stretchy your favorite t-shirt feels!
Of course, manufacturers can make other kinds of jersey knit besides cotton. You will find quite many polyester jersey knit underwear on the market. So make sure you read the product description and buy authentic cotton jersey knit underwear to get the ultimate softness, stretch, and breathability in your clothing!
3. Cotton BlendsOne of the ways manufacturers get around the higher cost of cotton is to blend cotton fibers with synthetic fibers to create a cheaper product. Cotton blends like polycotton still offer decent breathability and softness because of the high percentage of cotton fibers in the material. And the fabric sots much less because of the synthetic fibers!
Alternatively, you can often find underwear made out of a synthetic material like spandex with a cotton liner for comfort and health purposes. One of the big benefits of this option is that it lets you select underwear suited to any occasion without sacrificing your health!
4. SpandexIs spandex underwear good for you? Not really. It completely lacks breathability and does not absorb moisture well, meaning that you could end up sweaty, chafing, and even getting infections if you wear this kind of underwear too often.
On the other hand, almost all types of underwear do incorporate some percentage of elastic fibers like spandex or elastane in the material. This provides essential stretch that keeps your underwear in place while you wear it!
Plus, Spandex remains very popular in the undergarment industry largely due to its extreme elasticity and shaping ability. If you need shapewear or “invisible” panties, all of your options will contain a lot of spandex!
In some situations, you may even find it necessary to wear undergarments composed primarily of spandex, such as shapewear. In this case, try to find garments that have a more comfortable cotton lining inside.
5. ModalModal fabric comes from highly processed beech-tree pulp. It’s a super eco-friendly version of viscose and has recently started to show up as a substitute for cotton because it has a remarkably soft feel. It can also absorb up to 50% more moisture than cotton, offering many of the same benefits.
Depending on the construction of the fabric, modal can provide decent breathability. It does especially well in this regard in a jersey knit form.
One downside to modal in underwear is that so far, this specialized partially synthetic fabric does cost significantly more than cotton. This may change in the future, but for now, you do have to pay a bit more to get this more environmentally conscious fabric in your undergarments.
The other potential downside is that you may find that modal requires careful laundering to keep it in good shape over time.
6. NylonNylon has a lot of great qualities, such as moisture-wicking ability, that make it an excellent material for active wear-type undergarments. It does not offer good breathability and does not make great material for everyday underwear.
Another potential issue with polyester is that it can hold onto odors, especially the oily odors created by your body. This means that polyester garments like underwear may not smell good even if you wash them!
Unfortunately, you do see a lot of nylon underwear on the market for both men and women. For women, many of the cute printed stretchy panties you find will contain a large percentage of nylon and some spandex. For men, lightweight boxers and briefs in nylon have gained popularity in recent years.
Nylon feels silky smooth against your skin and can wick away sweat as you exercise. It also costs very little compared to cotton. The downside, of course, is that it does not breathe well and can lead to increased yeast infections or other health concerns when worn too often.
7. ViscoseViscose is a partially man-made fabric created by chemically processing wood pulp or bamboo fibers. This fabric can vary widely in its softness and comfort depending on the type of processing used and the kind of wood or bamboo it comes from.
In general, viscose feels soft and silky to the touch. Some types like bamboo viscose may even feel softer than cotton! This is why you can find things like bamboo bedsheets selling so well these days.
Does this make viscose a good choice for underwear? Not entirely. Viscose can make great special occasion garments, such as fancy, silky items you may wear once in a while.
But this material does not usually offer great breathability, and it can also tend to hold onto odors in some cases even after washing.
8. SilkIf you can afford it, pure silk does provide an excellent and incredibly comfortable option for underwear. Silk has great breathability because of its super-fine threads. It also does not hold sweaty odors and feels amazingly soft!
Many high-end brands sell pure silk underwear or lingerie. Unfortunately, the high cost of real silk does prevent it from becoming a mainstream option for everyday underwear.
9. SatinSatin makes silky drapeable or shaped underwear that looks very pretty. This kind of underwear or lingerie offers an affordable option for fancy occasions. Still, since almost all satin contains 100% polyester, it makes a great choice for everyday underwear.
Satin fabric is made by weaving threads in a special pattern that places more threads on top of the fabric grouped. The satin weave is what forms the silky, sheened surface on the cloth.
A long time ago, satin contained silk threads. Today, manufacturers almost exclusively use polyester because it costs so much less. Polyester satin looks lovely but does not breathe well, meaning that you will find it comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
10. MeshBelieve it or not, mesh underwear is quickly gaining popularity! Originally designed for athletic use, these lightweight styles of underwear offer a lot of aeration because of the visible holes in the fabric’s weave. You can find mesh undergarments made out of several different types of material, though polyester or nylon are the most popular.
In this case, the synthetic fabric actually can allow breathability because of the big holes in the weave! Plus, you will probably find this lightweight material col and silky against your skin. The only negatives associated with this underwear style are that it is not as easily accessible quite yet, though it is rapidly gaining popularity.
Most Breathable Underwear Fabric
Hands down, the most breathable underwear fabric is 100% cotton. Whether you prefer comfy, stretchy jersey-knit cotton undergarments or perhaps plain weave cotton briefs, you will find the most comfort and breathability from cotton.
Cotton breathes so well, mostly because of the shape of its fibers. Cotton fibers have a twisted helix kind of shape that does not allow them to crowd close to each other. This means that microscopic holes exist between the fibers, allowing air to flow in and out! For this reason, cotton will not trap hot air next to your skin while you wear it.
Synthetic fabric such as polyester has tiny plastic-based fibers that do group together. This kind of fabric does not typically offer good airflow.
Best Underwear Fabric for Sports
The best underwear fabric for sports includes materials like nylon, spandex or lycra, and some types of polyester that can wick moisture from your skin and allow it to evaporate into the air. Any good athletic undergarments must have excellent moisture-wicking abilities to prevent the sweaty, damp fabric from causing chafing in sensitive areas.
In general, underwear intended for active use has a close-fitting style to prevent chafing and contains at least some type of elastic to hold it tightly in place. In this case, the need for good moisture-wicking usually outweighs the neds for breathability in underwear.
Best Underwear Material for Women
The best underwear material for women is usually 100% cotton, though other kinds of cloth work better in specific situations such as going to the gym or attending a formal occasion. For example, silk or satin make the best fancy lingerie for important occasions, while synthetic cloth makes the ideal activewear undergarments.
Health experts recommend that women focus on wearing breathable underwear that allows good airflow. This can help prevent many health issues, including yeast infections, urinary tract infections, and so on. Fabric that can absorb moisture is also a good idea.
For these reasons, cotton, mesh, or silk underwear gives women the best chance of staying healthy.
Men’s Underwear Fabric
These days, you can find dozens of different kinds of fabric used in men’s underwear, though cotton remains one of the most popular. As always, the most important factors in choosing a good underwear fabric include breathability, absorbency rate, stretchiness, and health properties.
Some kinds of fabric rapidly gaining popularity in men’s underwear include bamboo cloth that has antimicrobial properties and both microfiber and micro modal, but very soft synthetic materials that provide good moisture wicking.
In general, though, cotton and cotton knit remain the most prevalent materials in men’s underwear because they feel soft and keep you healthy during your daily life!
Cotton Underwear vs Nylon
Cotton and nylon make popular and comfortable underwear for both men and women, but each type of fabric works better in particular situations.
In general, cotton provides more softness and breathability than nylon. Nylon will feel especially uncomfortable in hot or humid weather, as it does not allow airflow and can trap heat against your skin.
On the other hand, cotton soaks up moisture and can feel very uncomfortable during a sweaty workout. In this situation, you will prefer nylon underwear that quickly wicks away moisture from your skin.
If you like a silky texture rather than a soft texture, you may also prefer the feel of nylon over the feel of cotton.
But all that aside, cotton does provide a safer, healthier option for daily wear in both men’s and women’s undergarments.
Is Polyester Good for Underwear?
In general, polyester does not make good underwear because it has less softness than cotton and lacks breathability. This makes it an overall unhealthy choice for everyday underwear.
On the other hand, in some instances, the advanced sportswear-type polyester fabric does offer excellent moisture-wicking properties. This kind of garment works great for long hikes, morning runs, or any sporting event or workout where you might get extra sweaty.
You may find yourself wondering why so much of the underwear on the market today contain polyester if it isn’t really good for you. The answer, of course, is the low cost of this synthetic material.
In this case, you really shouldn’t settle for second-best just because you pay a few dollars less for the synthetic version. If you can, buy all-natural underwear that will keep you both healthy and comfortable. Save the polyester for special events or your morning workouts at the gym!
Best Underwear Fabric for Protection
The best fabric for specialty undergarments designed to wear during your period or for anyone experiencing incontinence includes cotton jersey, waterproof material like polyurethane, and semi-synthetic fabric designed for extra absorbency.
These types of garments use a waterproof outer layer, often made of a plastic-like casing such as polyurethane. The middle layer usually features comfortable fabric such as a cotton jersey. Then a special padded layer includes either layered cotton or special semi-synthetic material like Zorb, which you can also find used in cloth diapers.
These specialty kidneys of underwear allow the wearer to continue about their day while wearing comfortable, normal-looking undergarments instead of bulky pads or diapers. This protective underwear also offers a more eco-friendly option than using disposable products.
Which Fabric Is Best for Panties?
Cotton provides the safest and most hygienic option for panties, but many other types of fabric, including nylon, satin, and spandex, make great panties under certain circumstances.
Often you need to match your underwear style to the activities you have planned for the day or the type of outfit you want to wear to work or school. A silky panty made of nylon may work best under a pencil skirt, for example, because it will not create visible lines in your outerwear. Spandex or lycra work great as you go on your morning run because they keep everything in place and don’t rub on sensitive areas.
And, of course, sometimes you need the confidence boost that comes from knowing you have coordinated an elegant ensemble from your underwear on up! In this case, you may want to splurge on silk or satin for your panties,
Just remember that doctors and health experts find that cotton provides the healthiest airflow to your personal areas, which can help prevent infections and keep you hygienic.
What is the Best Fabric for Bras?
Many popular bras are made out of cotton or polyester, but there is no one best fabric for bras because every different bra has such unique characteristics.
For example, sports bras typically use a strong, stretchy material such as polyester blended with spandex or perhaps nylon with mesh panels for added breathability. Some fancy lingerie uses nothing but lace, while other elegant bras may use silk, satin, or even velvet!
All of that aside, you can generally categorize bras into everyday wear bras and special occasion bras.
In general, you want your everyday bras made out of washable fabric that can hold up to many uses. Fabrics such as jersey knit and polyester fit the bill here.
For special occasions, you can select fancier fabrics that may require hand washing or dry cleaning since you won’t wear them as often!
No matter what type of bra you select, make sure the fabric provides the comfort and support that your body requires.
Next time you buy underwear, take a moment to think about what kind of fabric it contains and how it looks and how it fits you! The best, most comfortable, and most healthy fabric for men’s and women’s underwear is cotton. Cotton feels soft and comfy and provides crucial breathability that keeps you healthy.
Synthetics like polyester and nylon work best for activewear undergarments because they can move sweat from your skin, keeping you comfortable as you work out. You should save fancier fabrics like satin for special occasions, though. This kind of material does not provide the same level of hygiene as cotton.
Do you find cotton underwear more comfortable than other types of fabric? Leaves c comment below to let us know!