polyester vs cotton socks


Not all socks are created equal. Different socks are better suited for different activities, temperatures, and individuals. The most important factor to consider when choosing your socks for each daily activity is the sock material. Sock materials determine how well a sock resists moisture, insulates the foot, and simply provides comfort. There are also fashion considerations to take into account when making your sock selection for the day.


Two of the most common sock materials are polyester and cotton. Each material is well suited for different situations and different types of socks. So when should you wear them? Here’s a look at what to consider when comparing cotton socks vs. polyester socks.

Polyester Socks Socks vs. Cotton Socks: Advantages and Disadvantages

Cotton Socks

Cotton is a natural fiber, harvested from the cotton plant. Cotton socks are made by tightly twisting long cotton fiber threads around one another. Cotton socks are soft and breathable, meaning they are great at preventing your feet from overheating. This means cotton socks can keep your feet from getting sweaty on hot days or during exercise. Because it’s a soft and natural material, cotton is very comfortable to wear. This is especially true for people with sensitive skin, or those who are allergic to other materials. Cotton is non-allergenic, and its soft fibers are often gentle and non-constricting as well.


One area where cotton struggles is in moisture wicking. Cotton is a highly absorbent material, which means moisture can linger in 100% cotton socks. This can be a problem if you are wearing cotton socks during exercise or in damp conditions. However, cotton socks are often made with a blend of other materials to offer better moisture transfer.


Lastly, because cotton is an abundant natural material, it is extremely easy for manufacturers to use. This means most cotton socks are highly affordable without being cheap or poor quality. A regular pair of cotton socks should be able to last a year or longer for most people.

Polyester Socks

Unlike cotton, polyester is a synthetic material. It is made from very tiny plastic fibers derived from petroleum. Well it is made from a non-renewable resource, polyester is considered to be fairly sustainable. This is due to the low amounts of petroleum needed to make polyester fabrics, as well as polyester’s durability. Polyester socks tend to last longer than cotton socks or socks made from other materials.


Polyester is a highly breathable material, meaning it is great for staying cool on hot days or during exercise. However, polyester is less thermal than cotton or wool. This means polyester socks are not ideal for cold weather. However, polyester is very soft, meaning polyester socks provide exceptional comfort.


Polyester is a completely moisture-resistant material. This means that it does not absorb moisture at all, but it is also great at transferring moisture away from the foot. This means it can protect your foot from blisters, calluses, and other injuries or infections. It also means that polyester socks do not hold odors for long, which can be a major advantage if you wear them for exercise.


When comparing cotton vs. polyester socks, polyester tends to be slightly more expensive. However, the material lasts longer, and is better suited for some purposes. Next, let’s take a look at the right times to wear polyester socks vs. cotton socks.

Polyester Socks vs. Cotton: When to Wear Them?

Cotton Socks

Choosing between polyester socks vs. cotton socks is not always as straightforward as personal preference. Each material is better suited for certain conditions or types of activity.


Cotton socks are thermal, meaning they are great to wear in cold weather. Cotton can also be good to wear in warm weather because of how breathable it is, as they reduce the amount we sweat on average.


Because cotton is so widely available, cotton socks are also simply a great everyday sock. Cotton socks are cheap, stylish, and comfortable for day-to-day use. Cotton socks are also ideal for anyone who has sensitive skin or may be allergic to synthetic materials.

Polyester Socks

Polyester socks being lightweight makes them a good choice for long days on your feet or at the office. Polyester stays cool, even when your body warms up, and is soft on the skin. However, just because polyester is a light material, it does not mean it can’t be used for heavy socks. Check out these winter polyester socks to see an example.


Polyester is also a common material for athletic socks and running socks. This is because it is lightweight, durable, and moisture-wicking, so it keeps your feet dry during exercise. 

Want to learn more about the pros and cons of different sock types? Read Wholesale Sock Deals’ guide to hosiery, or why fuzzy socks are a must-have for any wardrobe. Or see our FAQ page to learn more about Wholesale Sock Deals’ offers and products.