What is Polyester?


Polyester, a well-known fabric, is one of the most well-liked choices for apparel, interior design, and furnishings. Polyester fabric has some characteristics that make it an excellent material for garments. It is an artificial fabric rather than a natural option like silk, cotton, or wool, so it has a slight stigma in fashion. It has some advantageous traits, though, despite not being natural. Polyester is frequently linked to cheap clothing from quick fashion manufacturers and vivid power suits from the 1980s. This type of fabric should be avoided wherever possible due to its negative environmental impact. However, it’s vital to understand the details of materials to make better decisions when we purchase polyester. 

Synthetic textile fiber polyester will be discussed thoroughly in this article. Since its creation in the 1940s, polyester has been a mainstay of the fashion industry. This article will investigate the characteristics of polyester and how it’s used in polyester fabric, which is well-liked for being heat-resistant, lightweight, soft, breathable, and quick-drying. However, because polyester is made from various plastics, which can harm the environment, its use is under more scrutiny because of growing environmental concerns. This article will review potential solutions and give all the crucial details required regarding polyester.

What is Polyester?

Polyester fibers are artificial coal, air, water, and petroleum fibers. The chemical reaction of an acid and an alcohol creates them. In this process, two or more molecules join to form a giant molecule with a repeating structure. Very long, stable, and strong molecules can form in polyester fibers. Any fabric or textile created using polyester yarns or fibers is generally referred to as polyester. The term is an abbreviation for polyethylene terephthalate, a synthetic, manufactured polymer most frequently used in clothing. 

Both terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol are combined to create it. Although it looks pretty technical, polyester is just a type of plastic. The fibers can be transformed into polyester fabric, which can then be utilized to make textiles, apparel, and other products. On the clothing label, you may see the percentages of the material if polyester and natural fabrics are combined.

Because polyester fibers are thermoplastic or heat-sensitive, they are a common material choice for clothing. This implies that 100% polyester fabrics can have permanent pleats and decorative forms and patterns laser-cut into them. They are also exceptionally stain-resistant and, therefore, easy to clean. You may have noticed that 100% polyester clothing is more prone to static buildup. Polyester is frequently combined with more durable fibers, such as cotton, to eliminate this static buildup.

It is common for polyester clothing to feel slick and nearly velvety to the touch. The fabric can be made from woven or knitted fibers; however, knitted fibers have the most flexibility. It is a naturally brilliant fiber and easily adaptable for many uses.

The History of Polyester in the Fashion Industry

Wallace Hume Carothers, an American chemist, inventor, and head of the organic chemistry department at DuPont, first ‘stumbled’ upon Nylon in the middle of the 1930s when he realized he could make fibers by combining carboxylic acids and alcohols. Later on, two scientists from Britain, W.K. C. G. Birtwhistle and Co. Ritchie, continued Carothers’ research. By 1941, Terylene, the first polyester fiber, had been created. The two scientists sold their rights to DuPont, who later developed their polyester fiber known as Dacron. Unlike organic textiles like cotton and wool, polyester was developed via scientific study and sold as such. 

The key selling point of polyester, introduced to the American public in 1951, was that it could be “worn for 68 days straight without ironing and still look presentable.” The women who were then the principal homemakers found this to be quite appealing, which caused the cloth to skyrocket in popularity. Those who adopted polyester in the 1950s and the early 1960s continued to enjoy its affordability and ease. 

However, double-knit polyester fabric developed a bad reputation since teens and college students believed it was cheap and uncomfortable. Despite efforts to revive its appeal, the polyester era ended in the 1970s, and material sales fell precipitously. However, a group of designers in the 1980s, including well-known figures like Calvin Klein and Oscar de la Renta, chose to work on developing a range of goods made of polyester and polyester blends. As a result, polyester’s reputation regained some of its former glory. In the 1970s, it gained popularity, although it has always been the subject of debate. The flashy, shiny, and slightly plastic-looking outfits of the 1970s helped polyester get a reputation as a low-quality and unpleasant fabric. But it changed when celebrities were seen sporting a polyester-made outfit on different occasions. 

While it is still possible to get double-knit polyester clothes these days from various merchants, particularly those who mass-produce inexpensive items, polyester has undergone a complete makeover because of technological advancements. Today, polyester microfiber can be found that resembles actual silk in both appearance and feel. Some designers even recycle plastic bottles to create warm, comfortable, and unbelievably soft fleece that will last years. Polyester isn’t simply used for garments but in flooring, home decor, sleeping bags, and umbrellas.

Characteristics of Polyester Fabric

Thanks to its strength, durability, and adaptability, polyester is the perfect material for various applications across sectors. Polyester’s qualities constantly change and expand, making it a flexible material that may be used in a wide range of industries and applications. Due to its distinctive blend of qualities that may be adjusted to fit needs and requirements, polyester is a preferred choice in many industries.

  1. Stretchability – Polyester fibers have stretch properties, making them ideal for use in athletic and performance wear. Polyester fibers have a high tensile strength, meaning they can withstand tension without breaking or stretching out of shape. This makes them ideal for use in products that require strength and durability, such as ropes or seat belts.
  1. Resilience – Polyester fibers are highly resilient, can withstand repeated use, and maintain shape and appearance. Polyester fibers are resistant to pilling, which is when small balls of fabric form on the surface of a garment after repeated use or washing. This makes polyester fabrics long-lasting and durable.
  1. Quick-drying – Because polyester fibers repel water, they also dry quickly, making them ideal for use in outdoor gear like rain jackets and hiking pants.
  1. Resistance to mildew and mold – Polyester fibers naturally resist mildew and mold growth, making them a good choice for use in humid environments.
  1. Chemical resistance– Polyester is resistant to many chemicals, including acids and alkalis, making it a good choice for industrial applications.
  1. Easy to care for – Polyester fabrics are easy to care for and maintain, as they can be machine-washed and dried without losing their shape or color. This makes them popular for everyday clothing and household items like bed sheets and curtains. In addition to being machine washable and dryable, polyester fabrics also resist wrinkles and are easy to iron if necessary. This makes them convenient for busy lifestyles where time is limited.
  1. Lightweight Polyester fibers are lightweight, making them ideal for use in outdoor gear like backpacks and tents and in clothing items that require a lightweight feel.
  1. Static-free – Polyester fibers are naturally static-free, which means they do not cling to the body or attract static electricity. This makes them comfortable and ideal for clothing items like skirts and dresses.
  1. UV-resistant– Some types of polyester are UV-resistant, meaning they can protect the wearer from harmful UV rays from the sun. This makes them suitable for outdoor clothing items like hats and swimwear.
  1. Softness – Polyester fibers can feel soft and comfortable, making them suitable for clothing items like pajamas and loungewear. This is achieved through various treatments such as brushing or blending with other materials like cotton. 
  1. Versatile finishes – Polyester fabrics, such as water-resistant or anti-microbial coatings, can be finished with various coatings to enhance their performance. This expands the range of applications for polyester in industries like healthcare and outdoor gear.
  1. Excellent printability– Polyester fabrics have excellent printability, allowing for high-quality printing of designs and patterns. This makes them a popular choice for custom apparel and promotional items.
  1. Low shrinkage– Polyester fabrics have low shrinkage rates, meaning they maintain their original size and shape after washing or drying. This makes them a reliable choice for clothing items that require consistent sizing.
  1. Wide availability–  Polyester is widely available in various forms, including fiber fabrics. It blends with other materials like cotton or wool. This makes it accessible for designers and manufacturers across different industries. The properties of polyester can be customized to meet specific needs through modifications in the manufacturing process, such as altering the fiber diameter or adding additives like flame retardants.

Types of Polyester Fabric

In 1940, DuPont introduced various kinds of polyester fabrics to the market in the USA following British chemists’ introduction of these materials. In the 1970s, polyester fabric gained popularity for suiting and other sewing projects as a low-cost cloth. The most widely used manufactured fabrics worldwide are polyester fabrics and polyester blends. A different production technique is used depending on the type of polyester fabric being produced. The industry offers numerous varieties of polyester fabric. Here are a few polyester fabrics that are sold by the yard.

1. PCDT Polyester

The chemical compound known as poly-1, 4-cyclohexylene dimethylene terephthalate is used to make these kinds of polyester fabrics. Despite not being widely used, PCDT is a standard polyester fabric because of its superior flexibility and resilience. For heavy textile uses like furniture covers and drapes, PCDT polyester is ideal. Dimethyl terephthalate and ethylene glycol are combined to create PCDT polyester, and various production techniques are employed to create these variations. Spin melt is the chemical reaction that happens when chemicals are mixed with an acid.

2. Ethylene Polyester (PET)

One of the most widely produced forms of polyester fiber is PET. The primary component of PET is ethylene, which comes from petroleum. As a primary polymer, ethylene interacts with other substances to form a fibrous substance. PET is the same material used to make disposable water bottles and soft drink bottles. The fact that PET polyester fabrics can be recycled speeds up the manufacturing process and is one of their main advantages. There are four basic techniques to create PET fabrics, each with a different production procedure.

  1. Staple – One type of staple utilized in the production of cotton yarn is polyester. They undergo the same processing as cotton staples and are spun into a substance resembling yarn.
  2. Filament – Continuous fibers called polyester filaments are used to create supple, smooth fabrics.
  3. Fiberfill – Continuous filaments make up fiberfill. Still, they are designed to add bulk volume to various products, including jackets, cushions, and stuffing for stuffed animals.
  4. Tow – Like a filament, polyester tow has a loose arrangement of the filaments.

3. Plant-Based Polyester

Ethylene glycol can be used to create a variety of plant-based polyesters by reacting it with dimethyl terephthalate. Polyesters made from plants get their ethylene from sources like sugar cane.

4. Yarn

This kind of polyester is used to make a variety of fabrics that are sold on the market. These polyester fabrics look just like natural fabrics because they are made of spun, filament, and textured yarns that go through a unique process known as “spinning the yarns.”

Disadvantages of Using Polyester Fabric

Cotton, cashmere, silk, wool, and other natural fibers are the only ones that specific individuals adore using or wearing. They typically have the advantages of being breathable, hypoallergenic, and robust. They may also cost more than synthetic fibers and require more attention during washing and drying.

1. The fabric is not breathable.

Polyester and other synthetic textiles’ inability to breathe is their biggest drawback. It can be uncomfortable for some people to experience sweating or a feeling of dampness when wearing it. This is due to polyester’s extremely low moisture absorption rate compared to natural materials like cotton. However, more moisture-wicking polyesters, which are perfect for workout and leisurewear, are currently being produced by modern manufacturing.

2. It can cause skin allergies to those with sensitive skin.

People with susceptible skin may experience a mild response when wearing synthetic textiles, but this is less likely to happen when the fabric is a blend.

3. The material is flammable.

Take caution, especially if wearing or using 100% polyester before an open flame. Pure polyester is highly flammable.

4. It can harm the environment.

There is debate over polyester’s environmental impact because it is made from plastic. Although it comes from an unsustainable source, it’s still fascinating to think that plastic bottles can be recycled into polyester fabric. On the other hand, since plastic cannot be composted, it decomposes poorly in soil.

Uses of Polyester

One of the most popular polymers is polyester. It is widely used in fabric form, particularly in apparel and commercial textiles. Here are some typical applications for polyester and the explanations for why each one is so beneficial.

  1. Clothing – Polyester fabric is breathable and stain-resistant, making it perfect for use in apparel. Polyester threads or yarns are used to weave a variety of garment kinds. Examples are polyester clothing items, including shirts, coats, slacks, and hats.
  1. Home Furnishings – Polyester is an excellent material for furniture coverings since it resists stains. They have a high tensile strength and are used to cover furniture. This is especially true when they are woven into dense fabrics. They are utilized in tablecloths because of how stain-resistant they are. They are also used in mouse pads and to make a variety of household furnishings, including bed linens, curtains, blankets, and pillowcases.
  1. Tires- Polyester served as a reinforcing substance strategically positioned throughout the tire, playing a crucial part in the production of several types of tires.  
  1. Conveyor and Seatbelts- Polyester is employed in the conveyor belt’s carcass reinforcement because of its tensile strength and longevity. Excellent tensile strength can be found in polyester, especially when it is woven into dense fabrics.
  1. Sports gear and Sportswear Polyester is used to make products frequently used outdoors, such as sports gear, due to its strength and stain resistance. Additionally, its lightweight material makes it an ideal choice for making sportswear. 


Polyester fabric can be used in various productive ways and many industries. Although reactions can happen with any synthetic material, they are rare, especially when polyester is combined with other fibers like cotton. Although there is always a chance that some materials or textiles could cause adverse reactions, polyester can generally be used to great advantage. Polyester has a bad reputation since it was once fashionable but fell out of favor because of its unpleasant double-knit fabric in the 1970s. However, contemporary polyester has advanced significantly and is now considered a higher-grade fiber.

Polyester now feels drapes and looks far better thanks to technology, blending in seamlessly with more expensive and natural textiles. For anyone with hot flushes, excessive body heat, or who lives in a humid area, polyester might not be the most excellent fabric option for you because, like all synthetics, it will continue to be relatively impermeable. Modern polyesters can feel and appear as lovely as genuine silk and wool. Still, you must choose a high-quality version or the proper combination. Several high-end manufacturers incorporate polyester into their collections to boost durability, ease of care, and thrilling effects.