Which Material Is the Most Breathable? Update 06/2022

The sticky, hot feeling of sweaty clothing on your skin in the summer is something that many people detest. Running or suffering from night sweats can leave you with a sweaty shirt at the end of a run, or you may wake up in a bed of damp sheets. Fortunately, today you can readily purchase clothing and bedding manufactured from a wide variety of the most breathable fabrics available!

Moisture can be evaporated from the skin more easily when wearing clothing that is made of a breathable material. When a fabric has the ability to drain away moisture or has a loose weave that allows for increased airflow, it is frequently considered more breathable. Cotton, polyester, linen, and bamboo are just a few of the common materials used to make breathable clothing.

You’ll learn what makes the fabric breathable in this article. In addition, you’ll learn about the top twelfth of fabrics that are breathable. Here are some ideas on how to choose the most breathable sheets and face masks for your bed!

Most Breathable Fabric

What is Breathable Fabric?

When it comes to wicking away sweat, breathable cloth is an ideal choice. The ability to wick away moisture is another feature you’ll notice. The Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate (MVTR) is the scientific term used to describe how well a fabric transfers moisture.

It is possible to determine exactly how well a certain cloth transfers moisture from one side to the other. If you are an athlete who sweats a lot, specific sweat-wicking performance textiles like nylon and polyester can help keep your sweat away from your skin.

That being said, the word “breathable” does not necessarily carry a highly technical connotation when you see it. It can also be used to describe any garment that is light, airy, and flowy. The shape and style of an item of clothing can also have a significant impact on how cool or hot it feels.

A tight-fitting clothing will make you sweat more than a loose-fitting one since it traps your body heat.

The type of fibers employed in any given material has an impact, as does the final product. Some fibers, such as cotton, have a built-in ability to allow air to flow through them. Polyester and rayon, two of the most common synthetic textiles, do not. The structure of the weave is what creates synthetic fabric’s ability to drain away moisture and allow for airflow.

Because of this, natural textiles like cotton, linen, and silk tend to be lighter and less sticky in hot temperatures. As a result, natural fabrics aren’t the best choice for athletic clothing because they tend to retain moisture rather than wick it away.

Best Breathable Fabrics Comparison Table

RatingFabricBreathableMoisture-WickingBest For
1CottonHighly breathable and airy.Absorbs moisture well but does not disseminate it as easily.Everyday clothing, bedding, household products.
2PolyesterDepends on the structure of the weave.Performance-level polyester uses advanced weaving techniques that provide high moisture-wicking ability.Athletic wear, everyday clothing.
3NylonDepends on the structure of the weave.Performance-level nylon uses advanced weaving techniques that provide high moisture-wicking ability.Athletic wear and winter athletic wear.
4RayonLight, breathable, and airy.Highly absorbent but not as wicking as polyester.Everyday or formal clothes.
5LinenHighly breathable, with hollow fibers that allow air circulation.Absorbent but not as good at wicking as synthetic fabrics.Great for casual clothing and household items, but does wrinkle easily.
6SilkVery fine, delicate, and breathable.Does not handle moisture well and shows sweat stains.Best saved for indoors, or times when you need to look nice!
7MicromodalFine threads provide great breathability.Semi-synthetic fibers provide good moisture wicking.Popular for underwear or soft t-shirts.
8Merino WoolVery breathable and lightweight.Wool fibers provide excellent absorbency and moisture wicking.Great for outdoor running in winter and summer.
9ChambrayCotton threads provide airy breathability.Absorbs moisture well, but does not wick it as easily as synthetics.Good for dress shirts and dresses.
10ViscoseSomewhat breathable.Highly absorbent but not as good at wicking as polyester.Great for silky, drapey garments such as dresses and skirts.
11BambooHighly breathable.Excellent at moisture-wicking.Popular for athletic wear and bedding.
12GauzeLarge air gaps between threads make it highly breathable.Good at absorption but not wicking.Popular for some types of clothing such as sundresses and baby clothes.

12 Most Breathable Fabric Types

A cool night’s sleep and a sweat-free morning run are just two of the many uses for the most breathable materials! Although each of the materials discussed below has its own advantages and disadvantages, they all have a high level of airflow.

1. Cotton

Cotton is the most breathable fabric of all time, according to most experts. Small, natural fibers that make up every cotton thread are responsible for this.

A birthday present’s twisted ribbon resembles the curlicue shape of each strand. To keep the fibers from clumping together, twist the fabric in the opposite direction of how they normally would!

As a result, cotton has a natural ability to quickly and efficiently absorb moisture. However, because cotton fibers retain moisture, it takes a long time to dry.

There are synthetic materials like polyester added to cotton to increase its ability to wick away moisture. Water and sweat evaporate fast from synthetic fabrics because they do not readily absorb moisture.

Cotton is a common ingredient in many popular fabrics. Among these are denim, jersey-knit, and poplin. Cotton is still a popular fabric for many sorts of clothes, as well as for home furnishings like sheets and towels.

2. Polyester

Polyester, on the other hand, is made entirely of synthetic fibers. Almost every fiber in polyester is formed of solid plastic from petroleum by-products. As you may imagine, this does not allow for easy airflow.

Polyester, on the other hand, is a frequent winner in contests involving breathability due to its exceptional capacity to drain away sweat. When it comes to synthetic textiles, this is where they shine.

Because they are hydrophobic by nature, most synthetic fabrics do not absorb water or perspiration. There is less of a chance that the moisture will be trapped and remain, as it does with cotton, because of this.

Fabric makers also use innovative thread architectures within the cloth to quickly channel moisture to the fabric’s outside surface. Allows the material to dry quickly while eliminating any remaining moisture.

It’s important to note that not all polyesters are the same. Normally, this particular thread structure is found in high-tech or performance textiles, but it is unlikely to be found in your floral summer blouse. If you want polyester that is both lightweight and breathable, pay attention to how it is woven.

3. Nylon

Nylon is also excellent at wicking away moisture. Uniforms, running shirts, track jackets, and even sports bras are common places to find nylon in athletic gear.

In the same way that polyester does not allow much airflow through its plastic fibers, this synthetic material excels in wicking away sweat from your body.

In terms of breathability, nylon and polyester both take a lot of flak. Synthetic fabrics are often criticized for not being as breathable as natural ones by your friends or others online.

This is, in a sense, correct. Synthetic textiles can stick to your skin in a sweltering manner at times! If you’re going to wear synthetics, bear in mind that some weaves, such as those that wick moisture away from your skin, will keep you cooler than others.

In a nylon dress, you’ll likely sweat and overheat rapidly if you’re out in the sun. Wearing a performance fabric nylon T-shirt on a hot day will keep you cool because of the particular nylon structure that wicks perspiration away from your body.

4. Rayon

Rayon Challis Fabric 100% Rayon 53/54' Wide Sold by The Yard Many Colors (Aqua, 5 Yards)

Chemically treated wood pulp is used to make rayon, a semi-synthetic fabric that may be dyed. As a result, it is referred to as light and airy. Plus, it’s just as good at soaking up water as cotton is!

Rayon resembles silk in appearance and feel, but it is far less expensive because to the chemical processing of its fibers. Because of the material’s very thin threads, air may easily pass through it.

However, you should think carefully about the type of rayon apparel you buy. An item of clothing made of loosely flowing rayon will be cooler and less stuffy than one with a tight cut that sticks to your skin.

5. Linen

Linen is made from flax plants, just like cotton. With a loose weave and textured surface, this fabric is prone to creasing and pilling. Because of its porous weave and the ease with which air may travel through fabric, it has a cooling effect.

Having hollow cores, flax fibers are exceptionally cool and breathable, making them ideal for summer wear.

linen, unlike cotton, resists moisture absorption, but not as much as synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon do. Linen, on the other hand, is excellent at wicking away sweat!

Unfortunately, linen is less popular for clothes than cotton because it is more expensive and requires more maintenance. Despite this, it is still in high demand for bedding since it has an unmatched capacity to keep you cool as you sleep in a heated environment.

6. Silk

100% Pure Silk Fabric Wine Red Charmeuse Fabrics by The Pre-Cut 1 Yard for Sewing Apparel Width 44 inch

There are so many tiny threads in silk that air may travel through the fabric’s woven structure without getting trapped. In hot weather, these millions of imperceptible air pockets cool you down, while in cold weather, they insulate you, keeping you toasty!

Silk, on the other hand, is a poor moisture-wicker and does not absorb well. In addition, it can reveal sweat stains quite clearly and maintain body odor long after being washed.

Aside from that, silk is a fantastic choice for bedding if you have the means to purchase it. While you sleep, cold air will be able to circulate around you thanks to these sheets. On top of that, they’re so thin and light that you’ll forget you’re wearing them.

7. Micromodal

Micro Modal Spandex Fabric Jersey Knit Camel #B 4 Way Stretch by The Yard 2/6/17

Using even finer threads, micromodal rayon is a form of rayon. In addition to being exceptionally smooth and silky, this material is excellent at allowing both moisture and air to move through it, making it ideal for clothing like undergarments and socks.

Additionally, micro modal is generally knitted rather than woven, making it more comfortable to wear. You might think of this as a fine, silky version of t-shirt fabric! This thin, elastic fabric is extremely soft to the touch.

Micro modal is softer than cotton and excellent at wicking away moisture.

8. Merino Wool

You may be surprised to learn that merino wool is also quite breathable! Wool has a natural crimp, which traps pockets of insulating air inside the fibers. If you think of wool as a cold-weather fabric because of its velvety thickness, you’re right!

Wool made from merino sheep’s wool is incredibly soft and breathable, making it ideal for wearing all year round.

Unlike synthetic fibers, wool has a unique capacity to drain moisture and vapor away from the skin. Because of this, it provides great temperature control.

Even merino wool, which used to feel light against the skin, will now be heavier than silk or rayon. Summertime jogging may necessitate the use of a lighter fabric. But don’t rule out a merino top for a chilly night out in the summer!

9. Chambray

Chambray is a lighter form of denim that is comprised of delicate cotton fibers. As shirts and summer dresses become more popular, it’s becoming more popular as well. Having cotton in its composition makes it inherently porous, allowing air to pass through the threads more freely and efficiently.

Airflow is made possible by the high thread count of this fabric. Like cotton, chambray is good at wicking away moisture.

As a result, wearing tight-fitting chambray or denim next to your skin will make you feel hotter and less comfortable.

10. Viscose

In addition to nylon and polyester, viscose is another type of rayon recognized for its fineness and shiny appearance. Breathability is enhanced due to its high thread count and fine threads, creating numerous air spaces in the weave.

Viscose is often used in popular summer sundresses, skirts, and blouses. Because of its weaving, it provides a lovely cooling breeze.

Viscose, on the other hand, has a tendency to quickly soak up moisture and does not wick it out as effectively as polyester. When wet, it becomes brittle and susceptible to harm. In dry heat, smooth viscose clothes may be appropriate, but not if you anticipate to sweat a lot! ”

11. Bamboo

Bedsure 100% Viscose from Bamboo Sheets Set 4PCs Queen Grey - Cooling Breathable Bed Sheets for Queen Size Bed with Deep Pocket

The manufacturing method for bamboo fabric is similar to that of rayon, however the chemicals used are usually less toxic. As a result, it is a more environmentally friendly option than the common synthetic fabric production method. In addition, bamboo cloth is superior at absorbing moisture than cotton!

Temperature regulation and moisture wicking are only two of the many benefits this material has already achieved since it became popular in apparel and home goods. Additionally, it is resistant to foul odors and hypoallergenic.

Bedsheets made of bamboo cloth are becoming increasingly popular, as you may have noticed on the internet. These high-end garments feature a smooth feel, an airy weave, and exceptional breathability. They are quite expensive.

12. Gauze

In order to maintain the fabric’s loose, airy structure, the threads are twisted before and after they cross each other. With obvious air holes between threads, this material allows a lot of air circulation!

As a result of the cotton thread used in gauze, it is capable of absorbing moisture.

When it comes to gauze apparel, you may not be aware that you’ve worn something made of double cotton gauze. This fabric is made up of multiple layers of gauze and is extremely light and breathable.

Gauze or double gauze material can also be seen in loose sundresses, infant clothing, and swim coverups.

Most Breathable Fabrics For:

Consider when you’ll be wearing it when looking for the nicest, most breathable material. Do you need a face mask for work or sports clothing for the gym? See which cloth is the most permeable in each condition with this fast comparison!

Cotton can be found in just about each category you can think of. While synthetic materials like polyester and lycra have emerged, cotton has remained a popular choice for breathable fabric in nearly every product category.


Hot-weather pants can be made from denim, linen, or bamboo cloth. Linen and bamboo are expensive, therefore you may also come across a variety of mixed textiles. Breathability, durability, and cost-effectiveness all come together in this fabric.

Cotton is, of course, a component of denim, and you’re probably already aware of its superior breathability.

Wearing pants in hot weather also necessitates careful consideration of the type of pants you choose. Summer pants should not be made of thick fabric or have a lining. You’ll also be much more comfortable if you go for a cut that doesn’t cling too closely to your flesh around your thighs.


Wrangler Men's Denim Shirt, Large

Cotton button-up shirts are wonderful for keeping you cool and dry. This category also includes synthetic and semi-synthetic fabrics! Women’s blouses made from rayon and viscose have a wonderful, smooth feel and an airy feel. Linen is a great option if you’re looking for a more natural aesthetic, as it’s both breathable and cool.

A high-intensity exercise like running or playing basketball need a shirt with a performance fabric, which is widely available nowadays. For added comfort, these are often made of a combination of synthetic and natural fibers, such as polyester or a polyester/cotton blend. If you want to stay cool while working out, make sure the shirt has superior moisture-wicking thread structures!


Cotton is still the most widely used fabric for T-shirts. Cotton knit, as you may be aware, has naturally porous fibers that enable a great deal of air to pass through. As with synthetic materials, it is good at absorbing moisture but less effective at allowing it to evaporate.

However, the t-shirt market has been decimated by cheaper synthetic textiles during the last few decades. There’s a lot of debate regarding whether polyester t-shirts are indeed permeable to perspiration. In reality, some are and some are not! It all comes down to the weave’s structure.

Face Masks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises using a face mask with a minimum of two layers of breathable fabric. Although even a nose wire isn’t enough to keep the mask in place, wearing one that is as close to your face as possible is the best option, according to the group.

What kind of fabric can you readily breathe through? The most popular material for a comfortable, breathable mask is still cotton or double-knit cotton. Silk is an excellent material for the lining of your face mask since it allows for easy ventilation. The inside layer of the mask can also be made of chiffon or a loosely woven cloth, according to some DIY mask manufacturers.


ZIMASILK 4 Pcs 100% Mulberry Silk Bed Sheet Set,All Side 19 Momme Silk(Queen Grey Purple)

Egyptian cotton, silk and bamboo all vie for the title of the most breathable bedding! This topic is sure to stir up a lot of debate. As an alternative, none of these three exquisite varieties of bedding will let you down!

“Normal” cotton sheet sets can be purchased for as little as $40-$50 and provide a refreshing night’s sleep. In addition, you may wish to investigate synthetic bedding, as polyester and rayon are excellent at wicking away perspiration.

Hot Weather

To keep cool in hot weather, cotton is the most commonly suggested fabric. Linen and moisture-wicking synthetics are probably the second and third most popular fabrics for sporting wear.

In hot weather, the best breathable fabric is determined by what you’ll be wearing that day. An easy-to-wear denim button-down or a breezy rayon sundress are ideal for a barbeque outing. A high-performance moisture-wicking material, such as high-quality polyester or nylon, is recommended if you’re going to be active in the heat.


WOXER Boxer Briefs for Women Soft and Comfortable 3” inseam Micro Modal Boy Shorts Underwear (Black, S)

There are a wide variety of styles and types of micromodal and cotton underwear that are both comfortable and breathable. The underwear market is dominated by synthetic materials like polyester and poly-cotton blends.

Cotton underwear is the most breathable and comfortable. When it comes to delicate places, polyester and polycotton are better choices because they wick away sweat more effectively.

Due to the usage of spandex in many types of underwear, this garment should be made of a material that is breathable. A fabric other than spandex must be used to counteract the lack of ventilation provided by spandex.

Best Fabrics That Don’t Show Sweat When Running

Choosing a synthetic, sweat-wicking fabric like polyester or nylon is your best bet when it comes to running attire. Bamboo and merino wool are the two unexpected runners-up for this award.

Performance-grade polyester and nylon use thread architectures that quickly move moisture from the interior of the cloth to the outside. As a result, they maintain a constant humidity level by transferring moisture from one side of the fabric to the other.

While it may seem like a bad idea to wear a sweater while running, the benefits of merino wool are undeniable. However, this fabric is so lightweight that it regulates your body temperature and wicks away sweat as you move!

As a last choice, semi-synthetic bamboo cloth costs more than other options, but this material provides excellent moisture-wicking and antibacterial characteristics.

What Fabric is Soft and Breathable?

In general, cotton is the softest and most breathable fabric available, but bamboo and micro modal also have the potential to be more breathable and softer to the touch.

In terms of cotton, you can buy a variety of different types, and each type has a different number of staples in it. It is expensive to buy long-staple cotton, but the softness is worth it. In addition, the softer the fabric, the more cotton threads per square inch are used.

As a result, cotton has the potential to give the best combination of breathability and suppleness of any textile. Quality cotton staples and thread count are critical to the performance of a fabric.

Compared to cotton, bamboo cloth is more expensive, but its production process is more environmentally friendly. Because of its special fibers, which can easily absorb large amounts of moisture, it may be more moisture-wicking and breathable than cotton. That being said, bamboo fabric isn’t as supple and comfortable to the touch as high-end cotton.

Finally, micro modal, the most delicate and soft form of rayon, has a stake in the outcome of this competition. When compared to cotton, micro modal is frequently softer. The high thread count is due to the usage of ultra-fine threads.

There are certain drawbacks to micromodal fabric as well, such as its semi-synthetic chemical structure, which does not allow for as much ventilation as cotton.

The twelve types of materials covered in this article are all effective at wicking moisture away from the body. The majority of them have a pleasant softness, too!! Cotton, bamboo, or micro modal are likely your best bets for the top three softest and most breathable fabric options you’ll find.


Natural fibers such as cotton, linen, and silk have a high capacity for perspiration absorption. Moisture-wicking properties of synthetic materials help them keep you cooler in hot weather. That’s why synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon are ideal for athletic apparel.

Breathability can be affected by the quality of the material. The complex weaving techniques used to create moisture-wicking properties in more expensive polyesters may not be used in the cheaper variety. High-quality cotton, on the other hand, is softer and more breathable.

Where do you prefer to spend your summer days? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

What do you think?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.