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Rayon Fabric vs. Cotton: What Is the Difference?


Perfect fibers are a myth; each has its distinct advantages and disadvantages. Some are resilient; they bear wear and tear. On the other hand, some are environmentally friendly. Keep on reading this blog if you are battling between the choice of rayon fabric vs cotton. It has some insightful details which will ease your decision-making. 

Rayon vs. Cotton 

Rayon and cotton are very soft and supple fabrics with good breathability and absorption capability. Both are widely used fabrics for making beddings, garments, etc. Rayon is less expensive and less durable and weak as compared to cotton fabrics.

A major difference between the 2 types of fabrics is that both have different plant origins. Rayon is made up of wood chips. On the other hand, cotton grows on a plant. Moreover, the processing of these two is different.

Rayon fabric is semi-synthetic made from cellulose fiber from the wood pulp or chips from a fast-growing tree-like bamboo. Cotton is being increasingly replaced with rayon; they give similar feels. Rayon is used in humid climatic regions, whereas cotton is suitable in warmer regions.

Rayon Fabric 

One of the best qualities of rayon fabric is that it can mimic other materials like cotton, linen, silk, wool, etc. Rayon is an open canvas, easily dyed and changed as desired, making it a popular garment choice.

Another advantage that rayon has vs. cotton is its permeability. This material is absorbent, soft, gives comfort, and is best suited for hot, stifling climatic conditions because it does not insulate body heat.

In the battle between rayon vs. cotton, when it comes to biodegradability, rayon is semi-synthetic yet compostable, making it environmentally friendly.

This fabric easily imitates silk and linen; the texture is smooth and holds color hues easily without struggle. Moreover, their consistency gives a lustrous or glossy appearance making them the first choice in the apparel industry for making blouses, dresses, jackets, and more.

However, with pros, rayon fabric has cons as well. Rayon for everyday use may seem cost effective at the time of purchase, but the overall cost may get higher. This is because the fibers are weak, not durable, and require dry cleaning. A regular wash will destroy the fibers and lessen their life.

Another reason why classic cotton is better than rayon is that rayon melts very easily. Its fibers are highly flammable. This characteristic is important, and one should keep it in mind before choosing this fabric for their project. It shrinks and wrinkles easily. If the sewer is making something for rough use which would need frequent washing, we do not recommend rayon.

Cotton Fabric 

It is extracted from seed pods of the cotton plant and is an all-natural fiber, pure cellulose. Cotton has been in use for ages; it was famous in every era amongst people. Many qualities make cotton famous; it is a soft texture and breathability lying on the top.

The star of textile industry is used for beddings, shirts, towels, diapers, etc. Anything one can think of. Cotton has various distinct advantages and properties; and it is often blended with others for maximizing the properties collectively. A few examples of such mixture are terry cloth, corduroys, and denim. All are made up of cotton mixed with another stretchy material.

Along with stretchiness, cotton fibers also increase in size when they are wet. This property is used in making cleaning and bodily fluid absorbing materials such as diapers. They adjust well, are non-irritating, and apt for people with sensitive skin.   

Unlike rayon, cotton is resistant to heat. It does not burn away and starts turning yellow when the temperature hits around 240 degrees Fahrenheit after several hours pass. Cotton fabric has strength, long life, and durability.

The only drawback it has is storage. Cotton can easily grow mildew when kept in damp areas, rendering the fabric useless. That is why take great care and ensure that the area is dry as well as the material.

Rayon vs. Cotton – Production Process 

Rayon is produced using various processes, and the result of each is given a different name, for example, viscose, modal, etc. Initial steps are the same for every process which is treating natural fibers – wood pulp. Usually, the raw material is taken from bamboo and treated with a chemical such as sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide.

Cotton comes directly from a fibrous plant. The fibers are separated from their seed and cleaned. This step changes the look, from small fibers to long strands, which are spun into yarns. They are easily dyed and woven into clothing. Cotton is comparatively more natural since it does not need intense chemicals.

What is a Rayon and Cotton Blend?

Yes, blending cotton and rayon is possible and not very uncommon. This technique reduces the costs and may also increase stretchiness. Rayon and cotton are also a part of a bigger mix with polyester and spandex for getting maximum benefits from all the materials in one piece of fabric.

Which Is Better – Rayon or Cotton?

Which fabric is better, rayon or cotton? In conclusion, both of these fabrics have similar properties and versions which are sustainable or unsustainable. Rayon is a good buy; it is inexpensive and gives a similar feel of cotton. However, nothing can beat classic cotton; it has a longer life, offers better insulation, and cleans easily.


Natural fabrics are better than semi-synthetic or synthetic materials. Natural is costly and has its weaknesses. However, natural fabric is not heavy on the environment and is always the better choice. You can always contact Royal Motif Fabrics for advice on making the right fabric choices.

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