Modal Fabric Vs Cotton: Differences Explained
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Modal Fabric Vs Cotton: Differences Explained

You’ll discover how modal fabric is created in this blog, along with its benefits and drawbacks in comparison to cotton.

Modal and cotton, two materials highly valued for their adaptability, are frequently contrasted in terms of various attributes. Because of their softness and breathability, they are frequently used for household items like bedsheets as well as intimates like undies. However, they are very different from one another. Cotton and modal fabrics differ in that cotton is warmer and more permeable, while the modal is softer and silkier.

And in this article, we will uncover the main differences between modal and cotton and determine which one of the fabrics comes out on top. We have compared Modal Fabric Vs Polyester before.

What is Modal Fabric?

Activewear frequently uses the semi-synthetic fabric known as modal. To add more stretch, it can be blended with elastic fibers like spandex and elastin. Even after numerous wash and dry cycles, it feels twice as soft as cotton.

In industrial, domestic, soil and marine environments, standard modal fibers are biodegradable and compostable. Since modal contains some natural cellulose fibers and is biodegradable, many brands advertise it as a sustainable fabric; however, this is not true for all natural fibers. To get the full picture, you need to look at the chemicals used during the manufacturing process.

Modal Fabric Vs Cotton: Differences Explained

What is Cotton Fabric?

One of the most popular organic fabrics that date back to 5000 BC is cotton. It is taken from cotton plants and processed to make yarn. The yarn is colored and woven to create a wide range of clothing, including robes, blankets, t-shirts, denim jeans, and undergarments.

Cotton is a very breathable and absorbent fabric that provides excellent comfort for all skin types in all weather conditions. This type of fabric has endured the test of time thanks to its superior softness, skin-friendliness, and breathability.

Differences Between Cotton and Modal

Though it originated as a replacement for cotton, modal, and cotton have quite a few different features. Additionally, they are produced in remarkably various factories and come from various sources.


Modal fabric is softer and silkier than regular 100% cotton, though luxury types of cotton such as Pima and Egyptian may rank as even softer. The texture of cotton can be affected by a variety of factors, such as its ringspun status and the length of its staples.

The softness of the modal, on the other hand, doesn’t vary a lot. This fabric is exceptionally soft due to the chemical procedures used to transform wood chips into fibers that can be spun into yarns. Nevertheless, the sheen or texture of particular products may vary slightly due to various weaving structures.

You might discover that some of your favorite and softest underwear contains a significant amount of modal fibers if you read the labels on your garments! This fabric’s softness makes it perfect for any garment that touches your skin.


Modal Fabric Vs Cotton: Differences Explained

Modal clearly outperforms all other fabrics in terms of durability, which is defined as how long a type of fabric can withstand use, care, and cleaning. It is extremely durable and has strong fibers that last a long time without wearing out because it is a man-made fabric.

The chemical process used during the dyeing of the modal keeps the fabric’s color fastness. As you wash it repeatedly, unlike cotton, it won’t fade. Additionally, because of how long it lasts without pilling, it’s a smooth surface!

Cotton has a fairly long lifespan as well with proper care. It isn’t super durable, though, because it does deteriorate and grow softer every time you wash it. However, if you wear your nice cotton t-shirts a lot, they should last about a year and cotton bedding should last about three years.

Cotton ages more quickly the more you use and wash it. Your favorite t-shirts may have faded and lost their allure over time, as you have probably noticed. In the long run, cotton is also prone to pilling.


Unlike cotton, the modal fabric is excellent at wicking away moisture. Despite this, cotton has a good ability to absorb liquid due to its porous fibers and loose weave. But surprisingly, unlike many man-made fabrics, modal is even more absorbent than cotton! It has countless undetectable micropores that can quickly absorb moisture.

Additionally, it can maintain a balance between the moisture on the fabric’s two sides, enabling liquid to wick away and evaporate into the atmosphere. Cotton lacks this capability; after absorbing moisture, it retains moisture for a very long time.

Because of this, modal fabric might be more appealing to you if you experience night sweats for bedding or workout clothing! Nobody wants clammy fabric clinging to them in awkward places.


Compared to modal, cotton is much more breathable. Although it might have appeared that cotton had fallen short in each of the preceding categories, cotton actually triumphs here over almost all other materials! Typically, natural fabrics are more breathable than synthetic fabrics, and you will notice this for sure with cotton.

Modal Fabric Vs Cotton: Differences Explained

Compared to some fabrics, like 100 percent polyester, the modal offers greater breathability. Nevertheless, because of its semi-synthetic nature, it is slightly more plasticky than cotton’s natural fibers. In order to achieve its silky surface, it also has a tight weave that restricts airflow less than cotton’s typical loose grid-style weave.

You will often find both materials as blends that combine several different types of fiber to create a more breathable material, as well.


Cotton wins the warmth contest, too! Since these fabrics are better suited for cooling items like running shirts, undergarments, and bedding, neither material really stands out in the winter clothing categories.

Nevertheless, cotton typically has a denser weave and retains more body heat in its porous weave than modal. For this reason, cotton might be a good option to think about when buying winter undergarments.


Which is more sustainable, cotton or modal? That is a tough question to answer. Choosing which fabric is more environmentally friendly depends on the production methods used to make them.

Without going into too much environmental science, modal is rightfully praised for its cutting-edge methods of producing textiles. In comparison to viscose or polyester, it uses fewer hazardous chemicals. Additionally, for manufacturing and dyeing, it uses about ten times less water than cotton.

It also lasts a long time and produces less waste because it is so tough. It can achieve complete biodegradability despite having human-made origins, depending on the manufacturing processes.

You probably consider cotton to be a more environmentally friendly fabric than a man-made one since it is a natural and completely biodegradable material! Sadly, cotton’s production process involves massive water consumption. All of that water becomes contaminated during the process with hazardous chemicals and dyes, which are then released back into the environment.

Modal Fabric Vs Cotton: Differences Explained

Therefore, neither fabric provides perfect sustainability. Researching the manufacturer of your preferred brands is your best bet for promoting environmentally friendly textile practices. Learn where they get their fabric from and how the clothes they sell are made.


Cotton manufacturing costs a lot because of its growing time and the way it is harvested. Massive amounts of water are also used. However, the intricate textile manufacturing needed to make the modal is more expensive.

Because of this, you will typically see modal garments priced a bit higher than a similar cotton item, though this depends on brands and the style of an item as well. Although there is a small price difference here. An average set of modal sheets, for instance, might cost $45, while a typical set of 100% cotton bedding might cost $40.

But you should also take replacement costs into account. Cotton is prone to fading and pilling after prolonged use, whereas modal lasts longer. You will need to replace cotton items more frequently as a result.

Conclusion: is Modal Better Than Cotton?

When it comes to softness and durability, modal is superior to cotton in some ways. However, it is more expensive and less breathable than cotton. Ultimately, you should choose a fabric based on your preferences and your needs. If you want silky-soft apparel, go for a modal!

On the other hand, you may want to select cotton items that will provide more breathability if you love cool airflow through your bedsheets or t-shirt.

If we look a little further then we’d strongly recommend considering TENCEL™ Lyocell and even Modal above other types of modal and regular cotton as it has all the great qualities modal can offer but it’s produced with sustainability and the environment in mind. There is always organic cotton, though, if neither of these is available.


Is Modal Healthy to Wear?

Modal fabric has many health benefits because it is so soft and smooth against the skin. When you work out or exercise in a warm environment, it absorbs moisture and keeps your body dry and cool. Additionally, the fabric is very breathable, enabling quick evaporation of sweat.

Is Modal Good for Hot Weather?

Modal fabric is more absorbent than cotton by 50%, warmer, shrink-, pill-, and fade-resistant, and it keeps its shape after each use. It drapes well and is easy to wear, even in hot, humid climates. As a result, modal ought to be your first choice if you’re looking for a fabric that is more durable and will last for many years.

Is Modal Softer Than Cotton?

A superior silky feel can be found in modal, a type of rayon. Compared to regular cotton, its softness and strong fibers mean that it is far less prone to shrinking, wrinkling, and pilling—a win for any fashion lover.

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