Cotton vs Polycotton Workwear Garments: A Comparison

The suitability and safety of a workwear garment is largely determined by the material and fabrics it is made with. There are some technical differences between different styles that you should be aware of, so you can select the right garment.

Different work environments and jobs require different types of workwear. Choose the right fabric for the workwear, based on the level of protection and performance required by the prevailing industrial regulations or employers own safety standards.

Also, consideration should be given to the jobs being undertaken. For example, someone working on an oil rig may require flame retardant clothing, and someone working at a bench may require a heavy weight fabric, at least on the front, to stop wear. Lightweight fabrics could offer reduced protection if an occupation requires manual lifting of abrasive materials. Fire retardant garments should be considered if the job exposes workers to an ignition source such as naked flames, molten metal or electronic arc.

Polyester is a man-made fabric (from petroleum) and cotton is natural. 100% Cotton material is breathable, which means that it is cool to wear. Thicker cotton material is hotter to (“more thickness = less breathability”. Some 100% cotton garments may wear and tear easily, depending on the weave. Cotton material that is not treated for fire resistance, will burn away, while polyester melts. As a natural fibre, 100% cotton garments are a bit more expensive that synthetic items. Polyester has just as many pro’s and cons as cotton. It is not breathable, and sticks to the skin when it comes in contact with sweat. Polyester is more elastic than cotton, so it is thus more resistant to tearing. It is not as resistant to friction. Polycotton is cheaper than 100% cotton, because the manufacturing process is less about-intensive, and it is not dependant on good weather for a successful “harvest”.

Polycotton material is a mixture of cotton and polyester fibers.
The material combinations differ, with 65% cotton and 35% polycotton being the most common combination. Polycotton material combines the strong points of both fibers. The germens are breathable, tear-resistant and are not easily damaged by friction. Polycotton is more expensive than pure polyester, but a lot more comfortable to wear. It is cheaper than pure cotton. The 65/35 combination is very popular for workwear, because it is affordable and durable. There is also a wide range of colours available.

The choice between 100% cotton and polycotton mostly depends on the work environment, and customer’s preference. If workers are outside, and especially in warm climates, 100% cotton will be the best.

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