Are you wondering what the difference is between rayon and cotton? Don’t worry, in this article I’ll walk you through the key pros and cons of each material. I’ll also conclude by recommending you which material I think is better, along with why.
Although rayon and cotton both come from natural sources, they’re a world apart. Cotton is often softer, more durable, and more breathable than rayon.
In This Article We'll Discuss
What is Rayon?
Rayon originated in the late 1800s, with a group of British scientists taking out the patent in 1892. Rayon is a semi-synthetic material. It aims to replicate the comfort of other fabrics. They make it from wood pulp which is then converted into a more durable cellulose compound.
Rayon is better for the planet than many other fabrics and materials. Although, there is a chemical progress involved that does produce waste. Like everything, Rayon isn’t perfect.
This fabric is sometimes called artificial silk, as it imitates silk, wool, and cotton. Manufacturers aim to give Rayon the same level of comfort as natural fibers.
Pros of Rayon
Rayon can imitate higher quality fabrics for a lower price. Although this material is often on the cheaper side, it can really pack a punch when it comes to comfort. This means your money will go further if you use Rayon.
Rayon is an absorbent material. Due to this, you can dye it easily. If you are looking for a very specific color, chances are Rayon has a variety that matches. You’ll be able to find the perfect color to match or balance your color scheme.
Another pro of Rayon is that it is cool to the touch. Considering that it doesn’t absorb much heat, it will remain cool. This is fantastic in hotter climates and can provide relief from the heat.
Cons of Rayon
Going back to my last point, the heat imperviousness isn’t always a good thing. The inability to absorb heat also makes this feel unusually cold. While this is great in hot climates, in other climates it is a hindrance. In colder climates, Rayon won’t keep you very warm. The lack of heat can also lead to the material having a slimy texture.
Rayon is also an inflexible material. Due to the reconstructed fibers, Rayon is not very flexible. This comes as a detriment to how comfy Rayon can be.
With a lack of flexibility comes a lack of durability. The inability to spring back into place leads to this material wearing out quickly.
You also won’t be able to clean Rayon in a similar fashion to other materials. Rather, you will have to dry clean it, which can be offputting.
Finally, low-quality Rayon can sometimes feel like Nylon. This is one of the worst bits about Rayon, as nylon is a particularly uncomfortable fabric.
What is Cotton?
Cotton has been around for a long time. Dating back to around 6000bc in Peru, this material is not going anywhere anytime soon. Just like Rayon, this fabric comes from agriculture.
In this case, cotton is a soft fiber that grows on cotton plants. This fabric is very popular in the modern-day. In fact, they estimate that 2.5% of the world’s arable land has cotton growing.
While cotton is better for the environment than some (we’re looking at you, leather), it still has an impact. The huge amount of water and land used for cotton means it is not the most bio-efficient material out there.
However, if you’re looking for a breathable, useful fabric, cotton is a great choice.
Pros of Cotton
Unlike Rayon, you can wash cotton directly at home in the washer. You won’t need to seek out a dry cleaner. Instead, just put your cotton fabric into your machine on medium or high. Do this ever so often to keep your cotton looking and feeling fresh.
Cotton has the ability to stretch much more than rayon. This gives the material more duality, as well as being comfier.
Cotton also has more heat retention than rayon. If you’re looking for a cozy material that can warm you up, you’re better off with cotton.
Finally, cotton is incredibly breathable. As one of the most breathable materials, cotton will stay feeling fresh. Light, airy, and always comforting, cotton is a great material for home furniture.
Cons of Cotton
Growing cotton has turned into a major international market. Due to the increased demand, cotton fields now account for 2.5% of arable land. This is a huge portion and therefore requires a huge amount of water. These natural resources used on cotton could perhaps be better used elsewhere.
Cotton, due to it breathability, can also wrinkle very easily. This is not ideal as it will often look crinkled and messy. If you’re a bit of a perfectionist, better off looking elsewhere.
Cotton also fades when in direct sunlight. If you are using cotton in a room with lots of natural light, it won’t be long before it looks a little weathered.
When it comes to choosing between Rayon and Cotton, there is plenty to consider.
If you’re looking for durability, then it will hands down be cotton you’ll want to go for. Cotton is much stronger than rayon. Rayon is also weaker and more susceptible to water damage. That all leads to cotton outlasting rayon for many months (even years) when push comes to shove.
Although they look similar, rayon is also slightly less comfortable than cotton. Cotton is much more breathable and softer to the touch. If you want comfort, it’ll be cotton every time.
The general rule of thumb is try to stick to natural fibers where you can. Although both rayon and cotton come from agriculture, they are not equal in the slightest.
Is Rayon a good material?
While there are definitely better materials out there, you can’t totally knock rayon. Rayon is useful when it comes to dyeing fabrics, as it absorbs color easily. Rayon is also a great deal cheaper than other materials, meaning if you’re on a budget this can be a great purchase.
However, I wouldn’t classify Rayon as one of the best materials out there. Considering it is semi-synthetic, it won’t easily compare to natural fabrics. It is less durable, comfortable, and breathable than other materials.
Is Rayon better than Cotton?
In a word, no. Rayon is not better than cotton by any means. Not only is cotton comfier, but it will also last longer. Rayon can be great on a budget, but apart from that, I would tend to go for natural fabrics.
Does Rayon look cheap?
Rayon doesn’t look cheap. It has a similar design and patchwork stitching like many natural fibers. The difference is with how rayon feels. Rayon is silkier and can come across as a little cold and slimy if in a cold environment.
If you’re looking to go between Rayon and Cotton, I would advise you stick with cotton. Although rayon has its pros, cotton outweighs almost all of them. It will feel better and, in the long run, get you more bang for your buck.