Modal Fabric vs. Cotton: How Are They Different?

modal fabric

When it comes to different fabrics, it can be difficult to really understand them, especially if they appear the same to the naked eye. Both modal and cotton fabric are like that. To those who have no idea what both are, they can look very similar.

Modal fabric is known for its natural ability to stretch, absorb water better than cotton, and be breathable. However, cotton is also known for its breathability, as well as its comfort and durability. 

If you are unsure whether to choose cotton over modal fabric, you have come to the right place. We look at what the differences and similarities are, as well as which fabric is best to be worn as underwear.

Micro Modal vs. Cotton

Both cotton and micro modal are known as cellulose fabrics. This means that they have fibers which are plant-based. 

While cotton is 100% natural, micro modal is known as semi-synthetic due to being derived from the pulp of beech wood trees (though hardwood has also been known to be used) and then treated with chemicals to create a yarn.

Cotton on the other hand is created harvesting cotton and then compressing and spinning it to create a thread. This makes cotton fully natural compared to micro modal, but having some synthetic parts to its makeup isn’t exactly a bad thing.

However, if you are looking for something that might be considered hypoallergenic, then cotton is the one to go for. Saying that, both cotton and micromodal have plenty in common. Some of these things include their ability to let your skin breathe, as well as their comfort and general soft feeling.

On the other hand, micromodal is a thinner fabric which can wick sweat away, whilst still allowing the skin to breathe. This makes it an ideal fabric to use during the summer months. It is known for having a silk-like feel to it.

It also can resist shrinking, unlike cotton which can shrink those socks if you put a too hot wash on – woops!

Having said that, cotton is very inexpensive to create and has been around for a very long time. So much so it was likely used a fair number of thousands of years ago. The materials used to create it are also widely available, making it easy to manufacture.

It has a soft feel to it and is very breathable, making it yet another great fabric to use once the warmer months roll around. It is highly comfortable and very versatile, meaning it can be used for a number of things from clothing to bed sheets and toys.

So, let’s take a look at each one in more detail while we compare them against each other:

  • Both cotton and micro modal begin as plant-based material, but that is the only similarity. To create the end product, both of the materials go through different manufacturing processes, and chemicals are added to micro modal unlike cotton which is 100% natural.
  • Both of the fabrics are soft and breathable and can be worn in warmer weather, however micro modal is best for wicking away all that sweat.
  • Micro modal can resist shrinking, though you may still want to wash it on a low temperature and make sure that you either naturally dry it or put it on a gentle dry.
  • Both of these fabrics can biodegrade making them a great conscious fashion choice. 
  • Both the materials are used for a plethora of different items because of how versatile they are to use.
  • Micro modal can absorb around 50% more water than that of cotton, and is said to feel even softer than cotton.
  • Cotton is much cheaper to produce, meaning it may even be cheaper to buy cotton products compared to micro modal.
  • You may find that underwear made from micro modal is more expensive due to the process, but more so because of how it feels against the skin.
  • Cotton can be made to be available in different thicknesses, whilst micro modal is only available as a thin material.
  • Whilst micromodal isn’t prone to shrinking, it also resists wrinkling.

Now that you know some of the clear points when it comes to micro modal and cotton, let’s take a look at some more specific items like bed sheets and underwear. Read on to find out all about them!

Modal vs. Cotton Sheets

When it comes to sheets, you will likely want something that will aid in a good night’s sleep, or perhaps you want something comfy that you can drape over yourself whilst you are watching TV.

Whatever it is for, if you are looking for a fabric that is both breathable and comfy, then either modal or cotton might just be the best choice for you. However, there are some differences when it comes to the overall feel and durability of the material.

Cotton sheets are always seen as a good choice. They help to let your skin breathe during use. One of these ways is by absorbing the heat that the body produces during the night time in order to keep your body temperature regulated.

Not only that, it helps you to stay dry too as you won’t be sweating too much. We naturally do that at night anyway, but cotton can help to let the sweat naturally evaporate from the skin.

Modal is similar in the sense that it helps the skin to breathe and to regulate temperature, however, unlike cotton, modal also wicks away sweat. It can absorb more water too, hence why it is a good material to use for sportswear. 

Cotton sheets are prone to creases which can be annoying if you have just washed and dried the sheet, only to find that the bed sheet looks messy. Modal on the other hand doesn’t crease at all. 

Both of these materials are made from biodegradable plant-based material, and are soft on the skin. However, modal is much softer, yet thinner. If you want a thicker sheet, opt for cotton. Even so, modal is often put with other material to create a thicker fabric so make sure it is 100% modal. 

modal fabric

Modal vs. Cotton Underwear

Modal is used for underwear because it has some good properties, one being how much water it can absorb compared to cotton. In fact, it is 50% more absorbent, meaning that if you are feeling sweaty down there, you know that your underwear will soak it up.

One of the top things you will want with underwear is breathability. Despite modal fabric being breathable, cotton is a lot more breathable which makes it ideal to be worn as an undergarment.

Despite this, modal is soft and very durable, and it has a really soft feel to it which some may find extra luxurious. 

Cotton vs. Modal Underwear

Cotton underwear is the general go-to for many. Whilst cotton doesn’t wick away sweat the same as modal, it is fully breathable and very comfortable because of this. This also means that it doesn’t carry around water which is much better for the crotch area.

Cotton is also durable and cheaper to buy, so it makes sense to wear cotton underwear, though it isn’t necessarily soft. 

Is Modal Okay for Underwear?

Modal is really great to be worn as underwear because it can survive many, many washes due to its durability. It is said to be very hard wearing, and because of this it also holds the shape without becoming ruined.

Not only that, its softness can feel great against the skin, and it is breathable too. 

Is Modal The Best Fabric For Underwear?

Modal isn’t the best fabric for everyday underwear. Whilst it does have similar properties to that of cotton, it isn’t as breathable and holding on to water isn’t seen as the best for the crotch area in most situations. 

Having said that, it is a very durable material meaning that it can be worn and washed many times and still look great, whereas cotton can look a little worse for wear after so many washes. 

However, despite cotton always being the top choice for underwear, modal shouldn’t be ignored. It has similar properties to that of cotton and can keep your crotch area healthy. 

Is Modal Okay for Vaginal Health?

Modal is said to be absolutely fine for vaginal health. In fact, because it has breathable properties, it is a good choice if you are concerned about the material of your underwear. 

While modal is known for holding onto sweat compared to cotton, it doesn’t mean that you are going to have an uncomfortable experience. What it does mean is that the modal fabric will be able to wick away any sweat and keep it at arms length away from your delicate skin. 

For example, if you plan to workout, then modal underwear might even be a better choice compared to cotton. 

Is Modal Hotter Than Cotton?

If you want a hotter material, then cotton is your go-to. Modal is much thinner and doesn’t trap heat in the same way as cotton. This also means that modal is a better choice during the warmer months, especially if you want thinner fabric. 

Also, because it is breathable and can retain water that was collected from the skin, it is a really good fabric to choose during the summer or a workout without making you become overheated. 

Although cotton is still a great option for airy comfort, it may feel too warm on really hot days. 

Is Modal Cheaper Than Cotton?

Modal is not cheaper than cotton because it is actually considered a premium fabric. This is because of the higher cost of creating the fabric, as well as the luxurious softness of the material. 

Cotton on the other hand is widely available and cheaper to produce, so you will find that cotton garments and housewares are far cheaper. However, the durability of modal is higher meaning that the product will last longer compared to cheaper cotton.

Is Modal Breathable?

Modal is known as a breathable fabric. Because of this, it is used in many sportswear garments but it isn’t just down to its breathability. The fabric can hold up to 50% more water compared to something like cotton, and it will wick sweat away to keep you dry.

All these reasons make modal a really great option when it comes to sportswear, so take a look for this fabric the next time you buy something like a base layer or sports bra.

Is Modal a Stretchy Fabric?

Speaking of a sports bra, modal fabric is stretchy and can be used to make form fitting garments like sportswear. 

Not only is it stretchy and breathable, but the fabric is durable too making it ideal for impact sports. Cotton on the other hand isn’t stretchy at all unless it has been mixed with another material, it is breathable enough though that a cotton T-shirt can be worn during an intense activity. 

However, you will not be able to find something like a cotton sports bra because it just isn’t stretchy enough (if at all)  to create such a garment that will also be supportive. If you do try and stretch cotton, you will have a lot of trouble trying to do so!

Or, you may cause it to stay looking stretched and horrible, which is the last thing you want!

Final Thoughts

When it comes to choosing either cotton or modal, it really all comes down to which one you would prefer. They are both quite similar when it comes to a lot of things, so the best thing to do is take a look at how they differ.

Not only that, if you care about sustainability, then choosing the one that does the least damage to the planet is always the best choice. 

Hopefully this article has helped you to decide which fabric is best to use for either bed sheets or underwear. 

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