About Poly Cotton

Written by andrea whyte
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About Poly Cotton
Natural cotton is combined with synthetic polyester to produce a versatile fabric. (Cotton plant -2 image by Alexey Burtsev from Fotolia.com)

While cotton fabric has been used for hundreds of years and championed for its texture and breathability, there are some drawbacks to using pure cotton fabric that can be corrected in a poly cotton blend. Polyester on its own is not the most beloved fabric, due to its synthetic feel and tendency to look cheap, but a poly cotton blend can take the best of both fabrics to create a durable and wearable textile.

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History

While people have been manufacturing cotton for various uses for hundreds of years, polyester is a fairly recent phenomenon. Developed in the 1950s from chemically treated petroleum, polyester was intended as a fabric that would be inexpensive to mass manufacture and durable under a variety of conditions. It did not take long to test combinations of polyester and other fabrics and, by the late 1950s, poly cotton blends were available. Its use as a stretch fabric, especially, helped lead to poly cotton fabrics becoming a common clothing textile.

Cotton vs. Polyester

Polyester was introduced into cotton fabrics to curb some of the problems people have when working with or wearing pure cotton. Cotton wrinkles easily, can stretch out and lose its colour in the wash and can stain easily, due to the absorptive qualities of natural fibres. Polyester, on the other hand, retains its shape and colour and can easily be cleaned, due to the various types of treatments that may be applied to the fabric during the manufacturing process.

Characteristics

Poly cotton is known for its durability, as it can easily be thrown in the washing machine and retains its shape better than items made of pure cotton. Poly cotton blends are also known for their comfort. Poly cotton should have a higher percentage of cotton than polyester fabrics in the weave. The cotton allows the fabric to breathe and retain the softness of the natural fibres, while maintaining the structure enforced by the polyester,

Drawbacks

The polyester in the poly cotton blend can lead the fabric to pill over time, making the fabric look worn. While an item with a high cotton percentage (more than 85 per cent) can retain the softness of cotton, anything lower may feel too synthetic and lose the benefits of the cotton within the fabric. There is still a stigma attached to polyester fabrics, due to their mass manufacture and often lack of aesthetic quality, and many people will refuse to buy a poly cotton blend.

Uses of Poly Cotton

Poly cotton can be used to make a variety of everyday items, from upholstery and bedding to sports wear and denim. Poly cotton is particularly used for items expected to get a lot of wear. Sheets and sofa covers, as well as track suits, T-shirts and hoodies, are often made in poly cotton blends, as these items require both comfort and durability.

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