When creating linens, numerous types of fibers can be used. With abundant materials, synthetic and natural fibers have become two very different but critical ingredients in various types of linens including sheets, towels, blankets, and more. Synthetic and natural fibers are the two primary types of materials, each having unique characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages. What are natural and synthetic fibers, and what are the pros and cons of using them? The answers to these questions will be found below.
Synthetic fibers are made of chemical materials such as nylon, polyester, and polypropylene. Those chemicals are used during production, and unlike natural fibers, they are created from non-renewable sources. Different synthetic fibers include polyester, acrylic, rayon, fleece, lyocell, and microfibers.
- Durability: Synthetic fibers are more durable and can withstand wear and tear better than natural fibers.
These fibers are robust and can last longer than most natural fibers. By being soft, strong, elastic, and lightweight, these fibers can be easier for most people to purchase. They can withstand chemical abrasions, are stain-resistant, can hold up to high heat, and some are more water-resistant than some natural fibers.
- Wrinkle-resistant: Many synthetic fibers, like polyester, are wrinkle-resistant, making them low-maintenance.
- Quick drying: They tend to dry quickly, which can be advantageous when laundering.
- Cost-effective: Synthetic fibers are often more affordable than natural fibers, making them a budget-friendly option.
- Environmental concerns: Most synthetic fibers are not biodegradable and will contribute to microplastic
pollution when they break down. Synthetic fiber can take anywhere between twenty years to two hundred to break down completely, which can damage the environment.
- Breathability: Synthetic fibers are less breathable than natural fibers, holding in heat and moisture, making them less comfortable for sleeping. Our bodies naturally lower our core temperature a couple of degrees in order to sleep, and sleep is disrupted if it is not maintained. This is also why it’s important to frequently monitor room temperature to make sure guests are comfortable.
- Sensation: Some people find the texture of synthetic linens less pleasant and less natural compared to natural fibers. They are a cheaper material due to mass production, which can affect the linens’ feel.
- Heat retention: Synthetic fibers can trap heat, making them less suitable for hot weather. Heat retention is incredibly similar to breathability; however, heat retention focuses on the ability of the fabric to survive the changes in heat. The changes in heat, either through our body’s natural temperature changes, hot washes, ironing, or weather, cause synthetic fibers to become more prone to heat damage than natural fibers. Heat retention can also cause electrostatic charging, which may become an issue creating more lint and pilling for linens.
Natural fibers come from natural materials in two different categories: plant-based fibers and animal-based fibers. These natural materials are then spun into threads and yarns that are woven or knit to create natural fabrics and linens. Plant-based fibers include cotton, bamboo, sinew, abaca, and linen fabrics. Animal-based fibers include wool, silk, mohair, and cashmere.
- Biodegradable: Natural fibers are biodegradable, making them environmentally friendly. They come from renewable sources, causing them to be easier to recycle than synthetic fibers or other materials.
- Breathability: Natural fibers are more breathable, allowing air to circulate and keep the linens cooler and more comfortable.
- Comfort: They often have a soft and comfortable feel, making them pleasant to touch and use. Like the InnStyle 600 Wrinkle Free Sheets, known for their soft, buttery feel.
- Moisture Wicking: Many fibers, like cotton and linen, have good moisture-absorbing and wicking properties, which helps keep guests comfortable. Their high absorbency makes natural fibers great for towels and bed sheets.
- Hypoallergenic: Some natural fibers, like bamboo, have hypoallergenic properties, making them suitable for people with sensitive skin or allergies.
- Luxury: Natural fiber fabrics are considered to be high-end due to their luxurious feel and breathable qualities. Luxury hospitality properties are more likely to use natural fibers in their linens.
- Durability: They can be less durable than synthetic fibers and may wear out more quickly.
Synthetic fibers are less likely to be ruined by insects because they are not made of fibers that are digestible to bugs.
- Wrinkling: Linens made from certain natural fibers, like linen and cotton, are prone to wrinkling.
- Shrinkage: Some natural fibers, especially cotton, tend to shrink after washing.
- Cost: High-quality linens made from natural fibers can be more expensive than synthetic alternatives.
Synthetic or Natural: The Choice is Yours
Choosing between these two fibers depends on individual preferences, budget, and intended use. Each fiber has its advantages and disadvantages, and many linens on the market today are blends of natural and synthetic fibers.
InnStyle is Here
InnStyle is here to help customers and hospitality business owners find the products that fit their needs. InnStyle offers a wide selection of linens made with natural and synthetic fibers. If you have any questions, please call InnStyle and speak with one of their account managers. They are always happy to help! InnStyle can be reached at 267-354-6020 or 800-877-4667. Their website is https://www.innstyle.com/.