How Does Moisture-Wicking Work?

How Does Moisture Wicking Work 1024x536, Moisture-Wicking Shirts

Every athlete knows the importance of staying hydrated during a workout, but many may not know how moisture-wicking clothing keeps them dry. Moisture-wicking fabrics pull sweat and water away from your skin to the outer layer of the fabric, where it can evaporate more easily.

This keeps you cooler and more comfortable while you work out and can help prevent chafing. If you’re looking for a new way to step up your fitness game, consider investing in moisture-wicking clothing!

While it is true that wicking fabrics pull moisture via a process known as capillary action, the tiny conduits within these materials allow sweat to be removed from your body and evaporated on their surface rather than soaking into them.

Anyone who is active or has been outside for long periods on a hot day knows exactly how sweaty and smelly you can quickly get as your body tries to cool itself down and regulate its temperature. Unfortunately, the inevitable side effect of having spent a warm day outside is – sweat.

The solution that many active people have turned to is moisture-wicking fabric, which promises to keep the wearer dry and odor-free as it wicks moisture away from the body. This fabric that boasts such bold claims is often turned into clothing, bedding, camping gear, and many other creative uses.

Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, we are here to explain exactly how moisture-wicking fabric works and the benefits for people who use these fabrics.

How Does Moisture Wicking Work?

Moisture-wicking fabrics pull water and sweat away from your skin using “capillary action.” The term capillary may be more familiar to you about the human body, where capillaries are small blood vessels that connect arteries and veins to allow nutrients, among other things, to pass through them to travel to different areas of the body.

The same principle applies to the capillary action of moisture-wicking fabrics, which have tiny pathways designed to pull moisture away from the skin and onto the fabric, which can then evaporate into the air around you.

What Are The Benefits of Moisture-Wicking?

Moisture-wicking is a popular feature sought by many athletes, outdoorspeople, and other individuals who often break a sweat in their day-to-day activities. This is due to its inherent ability to whisk sweat and water away from the skin, which helps to cool the wearer down and to bring the skin’s overall temperature to a more comfortable level.

Pulling sweat away from the body also helps in odor reduction, as the sweat evaporates rather than sitting on the skin and starting to smell. Once the body reaches a more comfortable temperature level with this fabric, it will produce less sweat overall since the ultimate purpose of work is to cool the skin down, which it will no longer need to do.

This cooling-down cycle is the primary benefit of moisture-wicking fabric, which is why it is highly sought after for clothing and bedding.

The quicker the fabric can wick the moisture off of your skin, distribute it along the surface of your clothing, and allow it to absorb into the air around you, the faster these cooling and odor-preventing promises can be met. Because of this, brands spend considerable time and effort trying to find (or produce) the best fabrics that offer the quickest rates of moisture-wicking found on the market.

How Are Moisture Wicking Fabrics Created?

Not all fabrics are inherently moisture-wicking. While some natural fibers such as wool have the ability (after all, sheep need to be able to keep moisture away from their skin), more often than not, moisture-wicking fabrics are carefully engineered by the brands that sell them. For this reason, most moisture-wicking fabrics are synthetic creations. Synthetic fabrics are generally “hydrophobic,” meaning that they resist water penetration and do not allow water to gather against the skin like many non-synthetic fabrics may do.

To produce moisture-wicking fabrics, brands often create custom yarn or fiber structures that include these capillary conduits. They will also usually apply various treatments to surfaces within the fabric structure to further promote its wicking properties.

Polyester, for example, is a standard moisture-wicking fabric that s created by a chemical reaction of petroleum, air, and water. This reaction results in the formation of a thermoplastic, which is then melted and shaped into fibers that are woven into fabric. When forming the final fabric product, brands can easily use these synthetic fibers to add channels that promote optimal wicking.

The Takeaway

Moisture-wicking fabric is an excellent solution to help prevent sweat and odor caused by daily activities. Its unique capillary action allows moisture to be pulled away from the skin to evaporate in the air, giving it skin cooling and odor reduction properties. Because of this, it remains a fan favorite for athletes and outdoorspeople.

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