Moisture Wicking Fabrics and Clothing


A relatively recent addition to the textile industry has been the appearance of moisture-wicking material. What does the term mean and why is it worth wearing? Although there is no specific and industry-wide definition of the term there are a number of characteristics that are present in clothing made from moisture-wicking material.

Moisture-wicking means that the moisture is moved away from your body and to the exterior edge of the fabric so it can evaporate quickly.  There a lot of good materials that do this and most of them are synthetic.

Included in the category of moisture-wicking fabrics are:  polyester polypropylene, Spandex, Bamboo, Gore-tex, X-static, Nylon, Acrylic, Modal, Micro modal, Rayon.

Another label for these materials is “hydrophobic”.  While the term literally means “afraid of the water” when it is used to describe fabrics it means that the material repels water instead of absorbing it.  The water evaporates much more quickly on the exterior of the fabric and the fabrics are actually drying even as moisture (e.g., rain, snow) comes in contact. 

The other type of wicking process is the capillary action which moves moisture (perspiration) from your body to the exterior of the clothing where it will evaporate.  The material is made with tubes in it that are similar to the capillaries found in your body. These tubes are the transportation network through which the moisture travels. 

The popularity of these fabrics has resulted in a great variety of colors and patterns that the fashion industry has incorporated into their designs. Probably the greatest category of clothing that has been changed by these new fabrics are the “active wear” or “athletic wear” clothes. Whether you are perspiring because of the intensity of your indoor workout or the heat you encounter when you are outdoor, clothing made from these fabrics will keep you drier, cooler and more comfortable.

There is a form of moisture-wicking fabric called “microfiber” which is even better at pulling the moisture away from your body.  Because of that these microfiber moisture-wicking fabrics are particularly popular in intimate clothing like underwear (e.g., sports bras and pants). It is said to be 50% more absorbent than cotton and is lightweight and soft.

Clothing made from moisture wicking fabric works at keeping you dry and comfortable inside and outdoors.  You should consider using them when you do heavy workouts or participate in a lot of physical activities designed to make you sweat while you,,



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