Rayon Vs Polyester- Know the Basic Difference

Two absolutely beautiful fabrics, the battle of rayon vs polyester has been going on for decades now. And while they both seem exactly the same in the first look, the main difference between these two is their finish. While rayon has a more finished look, polyester comes in varieties. Apart from that one is derived from plants whereas another is a petroleum-based synthetic fabric.

So, if you have also been looking for the differences between rayon and polyester, you have arrived at the right place. But before going all the way into the differences, here is a small briefing to the two fabric types.

What is Rayon?

Made out of wood pulp, Rayon is arguably the first-ever manufactured fabric in the textile industry. This plant-based fabric is initially obtained from trees and pulp, which is then further processed to produce a semi-synthetic fibre that is neither natural nor synthetic.

This in turn gives rise to its amiable nature, allowing the fabric to be super gentle on the skin. Unlike other synthetic fabrics, wearing a cloth made out of rayon doesn’t trap your skin pores, as the fabric is both comfortable and breathable. Moreover, thanks to its superb absorption abilities, rayon made clothes even help absorb sweat, therefore preventing onset of infections or skin related issues.

Sometimes, the fabric may also be blended with other fibres to accentuate its characteristics. Thus, based upon their particular blending process, infusion of additives, etc, you could find four types of rayon fabrics in the mainstream market. This includes: Regular Rayon, High Wet Modulus Rayon, High Tenacity Modulus Rayon, and Cuprammonium Rayon. Every one of these types distinctly vary from each other, and hence a thorough understanding of their types and characteristics is a must.

What is Polyester?

Another popular fabric, Polyester is made up of synthetic fibre. Different to the semi-synthetic fibre as in rayon, polyester comes out to be much more durable and strong.

However the one major drawback to this particular fabric is that it is not suited for warm or hotter climates. Given the fibre’s tight knitted composition, it doesn’t allow air to pass through seamlessly, and therefore tends to stick to the body if there is enough moisture. Therefore, polyester-made clothes are best recommended for colder climates, as they keep the body warm.

Excluding this one drawback, polyester has many benefits to it. For instance, the fabric is highly elastic, doesn’t really succumb to wear and tear, can be used extensively and is also considerably cheaper than rayon. Even more, many times the fabric is also blended with more expensive fabrics like cotton or linen to create a material that has the pros of both the fabrics.

Rayon Vs Polyester- Which one is Better?

While both the fabrics have their own set of advantages and disadvantages, there is a very thin line of differences that separates them both. These include:

Type of Fabric

Like discussed previously, Rayon is a semi-synthetic fibre based fabric. That means it is neither 100 percent natural nor cent percent synthetic. The fabric is made from fibre which is processed from tree and wood pulp.

Whereas, on the other hand, polyester is an artificial synthetic fabric that is derived from coal and petroleum. This is done through extensive chemical procedures which ensures a more durable form of the fabric.


Comparatively, rayon offers superior comfort and sweat absorption and hence is better suited for warmer climates. The fibres are placed in a certain way which allows ventilation no matter how long the attire is worn, thereby keeping skin infections at bay.

However, on the contrary, polyester is more popular during winters. The intricate binding of the fibres doesn’t let air to pass through seamlessly, thereby maintaining a warmer body temperature.


The next major factor that leads to the whole rayon vs polyester scenario is their ease of maintenance. Although both the fabrics need respective maintenance and care, polyester can bear rough usage or storage much better than rayon. This is because the fabric doesn’t shrink, produce wrinkles or require substantial after-care like rayon.

To help you better understand the whole rayon vs polyester situation, here we have arranged the differences in tabular form.

OriginFrom wood or tree pulp which is further processed through chemicalsDerived from coal and petroleum by-products
Fibre QualityLustrous and well-spacedIntricately placed with stable composition
LongevityDurable but not suitable for rough usageIdeal for long-term rough usage
Climate TypeWarmer and Tropical ClimatesCold climates
ShrinkingExhibits the tendency to shrink or have wrinklesResistant to shrinks and formation of wrinkles
DrapeDrapes extremely wellQuite a tough task to drape
TypesRegular Rayon, High Tenacity Modulus Rayon, High Wet Modulus Rayon, Cuprammonium RayonPolyethylene Terephthlate (PET), Poly-1, 4-cyclohexylene -dimethylene-terepthlate (PCDT)
TextureSuper silky and smooth with a lustrous appearanceRelatively stiffer and harder
After-careDifficultComparatively easier
PriceExpensive, based upon its purityQuite cheap

Final Thoughts

Thus, in the battle of Rayon Vs Polyester, there is no ultimate winner. Rather both of these fabrics are advantageous in their own ways and thus depending upon one’s individual requirements, the decision should be made.

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