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Cotton vs. Wool: Which One Is Better?

Let’s talk natural fabric. If you are not a fan of polyester fibers and the way they feel on your skin, you might want to think about going natural. Both cotton and wool are dominant in the retail industry. However, they are very different. To know which one to choose, whether you’re making your garment or buying something new, you need to know your basics in fabric. Don’t stress, we got you. Just keep reading.

Key Takeaways

  • Cotton fabric and wool fabric are natural fibers.
  • Cotton comes from plants, and wool comes from animals, most often sheep.
  • Wool clothing is better for cold weather, and cotton is better for warmer climates.
  • When it comes to wearing socks, wool socks are better than cotton socks, not only more comfortable but they tend to have less smell. On the other hand, cotton breathes better than synthetic fabrics.
  • Both have their pros and cons, and it’s up to you to pick which one works better for you.

Comparison: Cotton Fabrics vs. Wool Fabrics

What do they have in common?

Besides being a very popular fabric that is used worldwide, cotton and wool don’t have that much in common. Yes, they are both natural and durable fibers, but they come from completely different places. Wool is an animal product, while cotton comes from a plant.

What makes them different?

As we mentioned, wool garments comes from animals, most commonly from sheep, but sometimes it can come from rabbits, lamas, or goats. If it is not mentioned on the label, you can assume that your wool is from a sheep. The sheep’s fleece is cut and sold to manufacturers, who then clean it and spit it in your yarn. Fabrics made from wool, although breathable, are very heavy and will keep you warm during cold mounts.

Cotton, on the other hand, comes from the fluffy part of the cotton plants that wraps around the seeds. The fibers are harvested, and then the manufacturers comb through the seeds or any other debris and spin it into yarn.

Which one is better?

We cannot generally answer which one is better, but we can give you a guide to help you choose which one is better for your specific needs.

Warmth

Wool wins here by a long shot. Wool fibers have air pockets that work as an insulator. Also, thanks to this, wool has a sort of “waterproof” ability. This means that the insulating properties are intact by the water. Have you ever worn a wet cotton t-shirt? Horrible right? Cotton absorbs the water, and it becomes very heavy, and it’s hard to dry.

Cooling effect

Well, this is obvious by now. Cotton is way better at keeping your body cool during warmer days. However, merino wool is popularly used for cooling because it wicks perspiration from the skin, merino wool socks for example will keep your feet cool and moisture free, while a cotton sweater is more breathable in hot weather and helps to wick sweat away from your body, allowing you to stay cool.

More durable

Depends on what you mean by durable. Generally, cotton fibers are stronger than wool, but it heavily depends on how the material is made. However, wool fibers are a lot more flexible. Wool can bend over 20 000 times before it breaks, whereas cotton breaks somewhere around the 3000th bend.

Which is more expensive?

Cotton is grown everywhere in the world year-round. This allows for the production of mass supplies. Wool, however, is sheared once a year, making the supplies limited.  The cost of taking care of the sheep is also added, making wool more expensive.

Which one is eco-friendlier?

It’s a tie with this one. Both are naturally biodegradable and produced from renewable sources. However, both are not very eco-friendly. Wool produces more greenhouse gasses, while cotton production uses a lot of water and pesticides that contaminate the soil. If you want to make an eco-friendlier choice, you should choose organically frown cotton or second-hand wool.

Remember that as a consumer and an active member of society, you have the responsibility to make better choices for the planet. The Earth is already facing ecological issues, and every decision you make as a consumer is important in the long run.

Why wear wool?

Wool has been around since ancient Mesopotamia. It can stand rigorous daily wear, and its elasticity makes it very durable. The wool fibers are strong and resistant, so you can make sure that your clothes will last for years. Wool is also water-resistant, making it perfect for rainy days. Another interesting fact is that wool is naturally flame-retardant and odor-resistant. Can you ask for anything else?

Why wear cotton?

The cotton plant makes fabric that is strong and durable yet soft and comfortable. It is used in a variety of things, such as clothes, bedsheets, feminine pads, coffee filters, and other applications.  Cotton feels soft on the skin, and it’s very absorbent and breathable, making it a favorite amongst retailers.


Let’s summarize

Both wool and cotton are very breathable fabrics. However, wool has a slight advantage. Both are also very durable, with wool being extremely flexible. Cotton is very soft and fluffy, making it perfect for clothes and bedding. On the other hand, wool can be a bit scratchy when it comes in direct contact with skin.

If you are looking for something warm, wool is the way to go, as cotton tends to keep moisture in and isn’t as effective in keeping you warm. As far as the price goes, cotton is more affordable because it’s harvested around the world all year round.

When it comes to cleaning, cotton is safe to be washed in the washing machine, but wool should be washed by hand for the best results.

As far as which to use for what, there are a few general rules you can follow. Cotton is better for warmer weather, and it’s the perfect fabric for shirts, pajamas, garments, and so on. Wool, on the other hand, is perfect for cold weather and can be used to make gloves, scarves, hats, and similar outerwear. And last but not least, wool is also fire-retardant, but we don’t recommend you try to prove this, just take out word for it.

To make things simple, yes, there are many differences between wool and cotton, but we cannot tell you which one is better. They all have advantages and disadvantages. It’s completely on you to choose your project and which fabric will work best. This article can serve as a guide to make your decision easier.

Further Reading

You can keep going and read some other articles.

There is a blog that answers if silk wrinkles.

There’s also a list of the long-arm quilting machines. Another blog reviews the Bernina 335, so don’t miss out and enjoy.

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