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Understanding workwear fabrics used and what’s best for you

Posted by Mark Tanner on 03/05/2023

What are the differences between cotton, poly/cotton and polyester (wicking) and what properties do they have that make the garment more comfortable or durable for the wearer?

Cotton is a natural fibre that is known for its softness and breathability. It is comfortable to wear, absorbs moisture well, and is gentle on the skin. However, it tends to wrinkle easily and is not very durable compared to synthetic fibres.

NX3600 100% ringspun cotton t-shirt K504 polyester/cotton t-shirt TL545 recycled wicking polyester t-shirt

Poly/cotton blends are a combination of cotton and polyester fibres. These blends provide a balance between the comfort of cotton and the durability of polyester. Poly/cotton blends are typically more durable than pure cotton fabrics and are less prone to shrinking or wrinkling. They also dry faster than pure cotton fabrics, making them more practical for everyday wear.

Polyester is a synthetic fibre that is known for its strength, durability and resistance to shrinkage and wrinkles. Polyester fabrics are quick-drying and tend to hold their shape well, even after repeated washings. However, polyester fabrics do not breathe as well as cotton fabrics and can be uncomfortable in hot weather.

Polyester wicking fabrics are designed to draw moisture away from the skin and onto the surface of the fabric where it can evaporate more easily. This makes them ideal for athletic wear or other activities where moisture management is important such as workwear. Wicking fabrics are typically made from a blend of polyester and other synthetic fibres, such as nylon or spandex, to provide a balance between moisture management and durability.

In summary, cotton is a natural fibre that is soft and breathable but not as durable as synthetic fibres. Poly/cotton blends provide a balance between comfort and durability, while polyester is strong and durable but not as breathable. Polyester wicking fabrics are designed for moisture management and are often used in athletic wear and more recently uniform clothing.

If you’d like to talk to us about what fabrics are best suited to the workwear you need please call Mark or David for expert advice on 020 8991 1800 or chat to us online or email at