What Are Moisture-Wicking Fabrics?

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Moisture-wicking fabrics have become popular with athletes because they help keep them cool and dry during competition. But what are these fabrics, and how do they work? This blog post will answer these questions and discuss the benefits of using moisture-wicking fabrics. Stay calm and dry out there!

Moisture-wicking fabrics are a must for all kinds of exercises and sports, as the ability to pull moisture away from your skin will make you feel calmer. Wearing these types, in particular, can reduce muscle fatigue due to their design, allowing excess sweat to quickly evaporate in contact with air instead of sitting against it as regular clothes would do; this way, we can avoid overheating ourselves!

Regular clothes tell the story whether you’re playing sports, exercising, or working at a job. Dingy yellow stains, musty odors, and sweaty moisture on clothing remain long after washing. However, performing those activities with moisture-wicking clothing is a different story. Due to their construction, the clothes won’t leave you drenched in sweat, etched in stains, or musty smelling, yet they feel comfortable and dry.

What Are Moisture Wicking Fabrics?

Moisture-wicking fabric is a breathable, waterproof, woven fabric designed to pull moisture away from the body. In turn, your body stays dry on the inside. These fabrics also protect against rain, snow, and water coming in contact with the material from the outside.

In detail, moisture-wicking fabrics come in three layers of material. The bottom layer is polyurethane film. The middle layer is breathable urethane, and the outer layer is DWR-treated fabric. Sweat accumulated during activity moves from the bottom layer to the top layer.

The material pushes body sweat through tiny holes left in the woven fabric through the bottom and middle layers to reach the top layer. The top layer evaporates the water. The process is called a capillary.

The best moisture-wicking fabrics have excellent permeability too. Permeability measures the moisture-wicking ability of the fabric to transport sweat through its material.

List of Moisture Wicking Fabric Material

Not all fabrics qualify as moisture-wicking. Certain types contain fibers in the fabric moving sweat through the layers to the outside. It’s imperative to select adequate moisture-wicking material. These nine choices are the top moisture-wicking material available.

Polyester

Polyester is a popular material found as 100% or mixed with cotton or another material. It is moisture-wicking, durable, shrink-resistant, and wrinkle-resistant.

Wool

Traditional wool is a thick and warm material that wicks water and odors while keeping you warm. The material is perfect for the winter months. The best type of wool is merino wool. It is soft, lightweight wool, wicking water and odors while comfortable wearing summer and winter clothing.

Nylon

Light, stretchy, and moisture-wicking, nylon is comfortable to wear while keeping you dry. It dries quickly and prevents mildew growth.

Polypropylene

Expect to see the thermal material on coats and raincoats. Besides keeping you warm, polypropylene is a moisture-wicking material that dries quickly.

Moisture-Wicking Honorable Mentions

Bamboo

The best semi-synthetic moisture-wicking material is bamboo. The natural plant mixes with synthetic material in clothing to keep you cool, feel soft, and maintain body temperature.

Rayon

Originating from tree bark, rayon is more breathable and less moisture-wicking. The semi-synthetic is perfect for summer clothing worn in areas with little humidity.

Modal

Another natural moisture-wicking material is modal. Derived from beechwood tree fibers, when mixed with synthetic material, the natural plant is soft, silky, breathable, and comfortable, perfect for pajamas. The rayon-type material regulates body temperature, like bamboo as well.

Acrylic

A fully synthetic fiber commonly mixed with other synthetics, acrylic is a wool alternative with moisture-wicking properties. Acrylic mostly appears in socks, scarves, and sweaters.

Spandex

The stretchy material in leggings keeps you dry no matter how hot. The moisture-wicking properties are low but adequate.

Types of Moisture Wicking Material

Notice that most fabrics on the list contain some synthetic. Nylon, polyester, acrylic, and polypropylene are full synthetics. These synthetics include an oil-based material called petroleum as part of their construction. The oil base makes it easier for sweat to move through the layers.

The rest of the fabrics listed are semi-synthetic or natural fabrics. Semi-synthetic mixes are synthetic with an animal or plant-based material. It is not great at moisture-wicking as full synthetics because of the mixture. The biological component absorbs water, not wick it away.

All the honorable mentions sans acrylic are semi-synthetic. Meanwhile, the only natural fabric that qualifies as moisture-wicking is wool. All animal or plant-source fabrics are natural fabrics that absorb water. The exception is wool, coming from sheep because of its lanolin fibers.

In closing, moisture-wicking fabrics keep up with active lifestyles, sweaty environments, and outdoor elements. The material keeps you dry and cool inside and outside. Most moisture-wicking materials, sans wool, are fully or partially synthetic. Just because it prints moisture-wicking on the label doesn’t mean it is.

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