Polyester has been a go-to fabric for clothing and other material products for decades. We are used to the feel and many sewers have few issues handling it. Then microfiber came along and offered us something new. But, is microfiber the better choice? How do the two materials hold up in the battle of microfiber vs polyester?
Aren’t polyester and microfiber the same thing?
Not exactly. Microfiber materials are often made from polyester and similar synthetic fabrics. However, the construction makes the two products very different. As the name suggests, microfiber is all about creating something with a finer thread at 0.7 denier. The reason for this was to create something much softer and appealing for wearers than the rougher synthetic polyester. That is why you see so many microfiber bed sheets and shirts that will feel better against the skin.
What benefits does microfiber have over polyester?
Microfiber is an attractive option for a lot of manufacturers because it is a stronger material. The use of the split weave should mean that it is able to hold up to greater loads and forces than standard polyester. This is important when creating a more durable product that consumers can rely upon.
Consumers also tend to lean towards microfiber for the way it feels. We are used to polyester as it has been around for so long. Microfiber brings something new to the table with that finer texture and silkier feel. You want to run your hands over it and know that it will be more enjoyable to use.
This softer, dense material may also prove to be a little warmer as the weave can trap a little more heat at night. So, it can help to change your sheets from polyester to microfiber during the winter for a cozier feel.
Microfiber is also much more absorbent than polyester because of the larger number of fibers per square inch. This can have some great benefits with the right products. For example, you can get microfiber cleaning cloths that will soak up spills and water with ease. Then there are microfiber towels that can dry you off much faster. This is is great when drying our hair. The other benefit of these towels is that you don’t have to rub at your hair so much to get it dry, which reduces the chance of any damage.
Is microfiber a more hygienic choice?
It depends on how you use it. There are some great microfiber clothes out there in the sports industry that are able to absorb sweat and reduce the risk of irritation. This is ideal for athletes and teams playing long games in hot weather. The downside is that the absorbent nature does mean that bacteria and dirt will also seep into the fibers.
This then raises the question of the hygienic nature of microfiber bed sheets. If these sheets are more likely to soak up sweat and dirt to make us more comfortable at night, aren’t we still lying in that every subsequent night until we change the sheets? On the other hand, the more repellent nature of polyester means that we could feel a lot less fresh and comfortable at night there.
Then there is the confusion over microfiber and dog hair. There are some microfiber cloths that are great at attracting dog hair and other particles due to static charges. This is great for wiping down counters and floors and trying to get the house in a better state when pets are shedding. But, then there are those that say that their microfiber upholstery and bedsheets are so dense that the pet hair doesn’t stick in the same way as other materials.
Are microfiber materials bad for the environment?
Yes. While there are benefits to using microfiber as a synthetic material in the right situation, it is important that we look at the long-term impact on the environment. We often overlook the effect that textile production and the clothing industry have on water use and emissions. Furthermore, the small microfibers that give the material its name are a common pollutant. They break away from garments and sheets in a washing machine and enter the water supply. They can then end up in the ocean where creatures mistake them for plankton or other sources of food.
Is microfiber difficult to sew?
Yes. The softer feel and movement of microfiber do make it trickier to use in sewing projects. It may not hold its form in the way you expect. Take your time with it and maybe practice your patterns with polyester first.
Microfiber vs polyester: the pros and cons.
The pros of choosing microfiber over polyester are:
- You get a much softer material that feels great on the skin
- That material is much stronger and more durable than you might expect
- Microfiber can be a warmer choice as needed
- The absorbency is great for wicking away sweat and keeping you feeling fresh
- You still get the same great non-fading colors as polyester
- It is not as expensive as some natural materials
The cons of choosing microfiber over polyester are:
- The absorbency can be an issue with some products
- The static attraction is also an issue depending on the weave
- There are major environmental implications to think about
- It is not the easiest to sew with
When we lay things out like this, the positives do outweigh the negatives. When used correctly, microfiber has the potential to be a better, more consumer-friendly choice than regular polyester. But, there are challenges and the environmental issue is hard to ignore.
Should you use microfiber in your next project?
In short, you could find that microfiber is a better choice for your next project than polyester. The softer feel and the properties of the material could be ideal for bedding, shirts, and washcloths. But, you need to consider if you are comfortable using this environmentally-unfriendly choice and if you are ready for the challenge of sewing with it.