What type of fabric do you prefer to keep warm? Is polyester warm? What makes this cheap yet durable fabric stand the test of time and remain a fabric of choice by many?
In this informative article, we dig deep and find out what makes polyester have unique heat retention capabilities.
We also explain whether the fabric insulation properties work or if it’s just another commercial gimmick by manufacturers to get us to buy their apparels.
Is Polyester Warm?
Yes. For the following reasons:
First, the material resists moisture. Therefore, it is an ideal fabric during the rainy season. Secondly, the material has anti-abrasion and heat-set retention abilities.
Finally, it tends to dry very fast. As a result, it is convenient to wear even during winter.
Polyester fabrics reach firm texture when ironed or heat pressed. It is also easy to wash. However, there is still room to improve its moisture wicking and stain resisting capabilities.
It is prone to static and pilling. In particular, unlike cotton or nylon, polyester tends to stick to the body when static.
Which Polyester Blends Are Warm?
Poly Cotton is a mixture of polyester and cotton. It not only retains heat but can also absorb moisture in its surrounding. Therefore, the resulting material is a steady wrinkle-free fabric.
This fabric is hand made using a hand loom. There are also other blends including Terricot and Terriwool materials.
How Is Polyester Applied For Its Warmth?
Polyester is an affordable fabric that works well in providing coverage on the outside. Most sleeping mats, tents, and backpacks use polyester stuffing because it not only retains warmth, and it also repels wetness.
Hence, these sleeping clothes will keep you warm and dry throughout.
Most outdoor products will have polyester as filler and not as an outer cover. This style makes the fabric to retain maximum heat. Due to the flexible nature of polyester, it is also perfect in making sails and conveyor belts.
Polyester in Clothing
Polyester fabric is ideal for winter clothing. Since the material does not wick away sweat, it allows heat to build up on the skin surface, thereby keeping you warm.
However, it is rare to find clothes made from 100% polyester filling. This is because pure polyester does not breathe well. To solve this, manufacturers often make clothes with a blend of cotton and wool lining and an outer polyester finishing.
On the other hand, microfiber cloth is a gem in the cleaning world. Its fine strands pick up everything on a surface. Additionally, the material is free from dust.
It is, therefore, ideal for both winter and summer clothing. The fabric is used extensively in making magnetic recording tapes in floppy disks.
Is Polyester Warm Compared To Cotton?
Whereas cotton is highly breathable, polyester has poor ventilation. So, during the summer, the cloth will work towards keeping your body cool whereas, polyester will work towards retaining your body heat.
Additionally, whereas cotton wears off quickly, polyester remains sturdy for long.
Have you ever heard of cotton shirts that do not need any ironing? Such clothes are a blend of cotton and polyester fabrics. Whereas cotton is a natural fiber, polyester isn’t.
However, for the cloth to be warm, its weave must be made significant. This weight causes pure cotton fabrics to be a little too heavy to wear. Cotton needs ironing. It fades quickly. It shrinks when handled poorly.
Nevertheless, when cotton combines with polyester, it gives the cotton the ability to stay in shape hence not wrinkle easily. It also makes the garment steadier.
Is Polyester Warm Compared To Nylon?
Whereas polyester is made of polycarbonate components, nylon is a combination of various chemicals. In addition, polyester is slightly rough with a fiber feel.
On the other hand, its counterpart has a smooth, silky texture. One other notable difference between nylon and polyester is their composition.
Polyester has DMT and PTA, whereas other synthetics are as a result of condensed copolymers.
Polyester tends to shrink when heated whereas nylon melts in high heats. It catches fire faster than polyester. It also has a more natural feel than that of its counterpart.
In terms of strength and hardness to creasing, polyester is much stronger superior to the former. However, both fabrics are synthetic thermoplastic in nature.
Let’s take a look at the history of polyester.
How Has Polyester Evolved Over Time?
The history of polyester’s change over time includes many highs and lows. It all started in 1946 when four British scientists tripped upon a unique formula which they named Terylene.
To them, this was just another unexpected finding.
They had no clue what this wonder thread could do. Hence, it was only after America’s DuPont Company decided to take a risk and buy the material from the scientist that its fame grew and spread like a bush fire.
From Terylene to Dacron
DuPont renamed the fabric Dacron. They then came up with a selling point, promising its consumers that the magic yarn will keep clothes straight for at least 68 days before ironing.
And it did just that. Besides, the material was durable and easy to reproduce.
As the demand for this wonder fabric rose, more textile mills were established all over America. By the year 1958, there was at least one textile mill in every major street, all of which relied on polyester as their primary raw material.
A Change in Fashion Shakes the Discovery
The real test of the fiber came in the ’70s when fashion trends began to change. Specifically, younger consumers did not like the feel of the double-knit polyester fabric.
Some consumers lamented how challenging it was to remove oil stains in the clothes.
Additionally, the fabric did not work well for people who sweat a lot. All these complaints began to taint the once stable image of polyester.
Eventually, the once cheap and effective fabric was equated with poor quality. In turn, the double-knit polyester fabric’s negative perception saw its sales dwindle in the ’70s.
It was only until in the ’80s that famous brands like Oscar de la Renta and Calvin Klein became interested in the fabric, thereby boosting its image.
These influential brands focused on other aspects of the material, including its insulation properties.
We now have microfibers that are breathable, easy to clean, super absorbent, and have a clear surface like silk. Processors can’t have enough of it.
The microfiber’s use does not stop with clothes. We can now trace polyester microfibers in home furnishings, linens, sports gears and, select devices where insulation is requisite.
However, the focus has shifted to the environmental impact of the massive use of microfibers.
Being a petroleum-based product used in most clothes, traces of harmful microfiber now filter into the water basins and end up in fish catchment areas.
How Does Polyester Work?
As earlier mentioned, the fabric comes from a line of research dating back to the early 20th century. This synthetic fiber was from a chemical reaction involving petroleum, water, coal, and air.
This effect resulted in large pieces with a durable and stable structure. As a result, this steady structure repeats itself along the single strands to give them an overall firm frame.
So, is polyester warm? Scientists believe that polyester’s ability to retain heat lies in the texture created by this unique structure (a foam, webbing or textile texture).
But how is that possible? And if so, how does its texture contribute to this?
Here is how it works:
Experts measure the ability of any material to stay warm in terms of its thermal conductivity. Polyester’s thermal conductivity lies between 0.17 and 0.035 at a moderately low rate.
This rate is a factor of three things. That is the density, temperature, and moisture content of the polyester.
First, polyester is made of a fine fiber that comprises of many types of polymers. The polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and Poly-1, 4-cyclohexylene-Dimethylene Terephthalate (PCDT) being the ruling one in the material.
The two main parts give the fabric it’s full, firm, and stiff structure.
Subsequently, this compact structure tends to confine air and other gases. And when the warm moist air is in between the threads, it creates a layer of insulation which gives the fabric its heat retention properties.
Like most synthetic fibers, polyester is not very breathable. For this reason, wearing a polyester jacket or shirt will keep you warm. It traps in warmth given off by your body.
However, unlike natural fiber, this material is non-absorbent. Thus, it will not wick moisture away from your body.
What Makes Polyester Unique?
Polyester consists of some unique qualities that make the fabric a favorite of many. These traits also contribute to making the fabric warm. They include:
Water Repelling Abilities
In the ‘50s, the fibrous polyester fabric was referred to as the magical ”wash and wear” fabric. This name associates the material to its hydrophobic tendencies.
In other words, you could wash a polyester garment, take it out of the machine, and it’s dry already.
Similarly, the fabric doesn’t wrinkle easily. It is secure and flexible. It also repels moisture quickly. Hence it works well when blended with other more fragile fibers. Such fabrics are excellent for use in wet and damp environments.
However, the downside of polyester is its tendency to retain oil. It also does not breathe well. So, an oily stain on polyester is very tough to remove.
Additionally, it can be quite cumbersome if you have oily skin or if you sweat a lot because such fabrics will leave nasty stains under the armpits or other joints.
A Strong fabric
It doesn’t matter whether polyester is wet or dry. It always remains crisp and resilient. This attribute is because the fabric’s molecules tend to align in a parallel way when stretched.
Therefore, instead of becoming brittle, the fiber strengthens even further.
Polyester fiber is made of a long round structure that quickly traps air between the fabric and the body.
This air then warms up and remains confined for long, hence keeping the user warm.
Alternatively, the polyester fiber can act as a fiberfill. And unlike cotton or wool which flattens over time, the polyester fabric remains crimped, hence retaining warm air for long.
Microfiber polyester is a form of improved polyester. In general, light materials are often better insulators than dense materials because they tend to have more air pockets that act as insulators.
This material gets its name from the nature of its loop shape. Each piece is split up to100,000 times. This makes the individual strands very fine in texture; about 100 times narrower than the human hair.
Generally, microfiber polyester comprises of 80 percent polyester and 20 percent polyamides. The polyamides can be nylon, trogamide, or Kevlar.
This means that microfiber polyester is best at picking up particles near it. Besides, thanks to its super absorbency nature, it can hold bits eight times its weight.
Moreover, unlike the pure original polyester, this fiber is very breathable. The improved materials are also waterproof and wind resistant.
Due to the diverse nature of microfibers, they are a favorite with most manufacturers who use them as insulators in mats, upholstery, and other furnishings.
The quality of microfiber polyesters is estimated in Grams per Square Metre [GSM]. Heavier microfibers are of superior quality than their counterparts with lower GSM.
So, is polyester warm? Yes. Since it is a petroleum-based product, polyester retains heat.
The hydrophobic nature of the polyester microfiber makes it an excellent insulator for various industrial applications.
Furthermore, polyester can be blended with other fabrics to boost their heat retention capabilities.
We have looked at the various aspects of polyester and how it works as an insulator. As lower temperatures set in, we want to pick our styles and fashions made of the best fabric to keep us warm.
Polyester is one of the rare materials that keep on evolving to suit the needs of the current generation. So, is polyester warm?
The currently improved microfiber polyester is not only warm; it is also a highly breathable fabric.
Huge fan of hiking with my dog, camping in the great outdoors, biking, and writing about all of it. Staff Writer at ATO.