Cotton VS Modal: Which Is Better?

The difference between cotton and modal is that cotton is a natural fabric obtained from cotton plants, while modal is a man-made fabric made from the pulp of beech trees.

In terms of fabric quality and comfortability, cotton is softer to feel, comfortable, and breathable while modal is smooth and silky to touch. However, Both fabrics are used for a wide variety of clothing as well as household items because of their high-quality fibers.

In this cotton vs modal article, we will discuss each and every difference and similarities between both fabrics in terms of softness, comfort, durability, sustainability, cost and more.

What Is Cotton?

Cotton is a natural fiber that is obtained from the cotton plants. It is one of the most commonly used types of fabrics in the world. This fabric is known for its smoothness, breathability, absorbency and comfort. That’s why it is often blended with other fabrics to manufacture high-quality garments.

Cotton is widely used for creating clothing and household items such as shirts, T-shirts, jeans, towels, bathrobes, bathmats, blankets, bedsheets, and more. But it’s worth noting that cotton fabric is relatively prone to shrinking and wrinkling if washed or dried without proper care. However, you can avoid shrinking and wrinkling in cotton garments to some extent if you follow the care instructions provided with your garments properly.

Cotton, being highly absorbent and breathable, is commonly used to make warm season clothing items. In addition, cotton is widely used in medical supplies and industrial threads. In summation, cotton can be used for multi-purpose because of its high quality natural fibers. 

What Is Modal?

Modal is a semi-synthetic fabric made from the pulp of the beech trees. It was developed first in Japan in 1951. This fabric is known for its softness, breathability, comfort, drape, absorbency, and durability. It is considered to be one of the best alternatives of cotton that’s why it is used to manufacture underwear, pajamas, bedsheets, tablecloths, and more.

Being silky to touch and highly resistant to wrinkling and shrinking, it is often blended with other fabrics to manufacture high quality garments. It is said that modal has 50% more moisture wicking properties than cotton. 

Modal is not considered to be more eco-friendly than cotton. However, it is technically biodegradable and can be recycled. Being highly durable, modal is said to produce less waste than cotton. 

Cotton VS Modal In Details

Cotton and modal fabrics are most widely used for garments and household items. Both fabrics have their own specialty in terms of quality. They are obtained from different plants and thus they have quite a few different features. 

In a sentence, they are not the same at all. Both fabrics may be used to create the same products but both are not same in terms of comfortability, breathability, durability, and softness. Let’s dig deep to find out the main differences between cotton and modal.

Cotton VS Modal- Which Is Softer?

Modal fabric is typically more softer to touch and wear when compared to cotton. However, luxurious cotton fabrics such as Pima and Egyptian may be softer than modal fabrics. 

The softness can vary depending upon the quality, texture, and weave of the fabrics. Modal is processed to make it soft and silky. On the other hand, cotton is naturally soft to touch. But remember modal fabrics are softer than cotton. 

Moreover, modal has a better drape than cotton due to its more slippery surface, which enhances its softness. If softness is all you need, then it’s clear that modal is better than cotton. However, you must also consider factors such as absorbency, breathability, comfortability, durability, and sustainability.

Cotton VS Modal- Which Has High Absorbency?

When it comes to the amount of absorbency, modal is 50% more absorbent than cotton. Cotton roughly absorbs 25% of its weight. That means, for hot and humid temperature modal fabrics are a better choice in terms of breathability compared to cotton. 

Modal has excellent moisture wicking properties. That means, it quickly absorbs moisture (sweat) from the skin, making you feel drier and more comfortable during warm conditions.

On the other hand, cotton is also considered to have good moisture wicking properties. That means, cotton also absorbs sweat from the skin and makes the wearer feel comfortable during warm conditions. 

But when cotton is compared with modal in terms of absorbency, it can clearly be seen that modal is quite better absorbent than cotton. In addition, modal fabrics  have better drapes than cotton which means they hang away from the skin.

Modal VS Cotton- Which Is More Breathable?

When it comes to breathability between cotton and modal, as far as we know cotton is more breathable than modal. Cotton being a natural fabric typically seems to be more breathable than modal. However, thickness and weave of the fabric may affect the breathability of the fabric.

The breathability of a fabric means it’s ability to allow air to pass through it, which helps in good air circulation to reduce sweating. Cotton fabrics have small gaps between the fibers that allows good air circulation.

On the other hand, modal fabrics are compact and have fewer gaps between the fibers, which does not provide a high amount of air circulation. This means that modal is breathable to some extent but not more than cotton.

Both fabrics are known to be a good choice for clothing items because of their comfortability, and high moisture absorption. But if you want highly breathable fabric then, cotton would be a better choice.

Modal Fabric VS Cotton- Which Is More Sustainable?

It’s a bit difficult to justify the sustainability of cotton and modal. However, as we already know that cotton is a natural fiber obtained from wooly balls of cotton plants while modal is obtained from the pulp of beech trees. 

Both fabrics go through some chemical process to get fully prepared to be used for clothing items. But manufacturers need to use more toxic chemicals to artificially produce modal fabrics as compared to cotton. This way, we can say cotton is more eco-friendly than modal.

But you must also keep in mind that modal fabrics are more durable than cotton. You can wear modal garments for a long period of time. In addition, modal needs less water while manufacturing and dyeing as compared to cotton. 

So, we can say that neither modal nor cotton offers perfect sustainability. Mostly, the manufacturing process and the company making your desired brands may affect the sustainability. Find out how manufacturers create those fabrics and how they make garments that they sell in the market.

Is Modal Cheaper Than Cotton?

The cost of any fabric depends upon the manufacturing cost, quality, durability, and brand of the fabric. Modal is typically a bit more expensive than cotton because the manufacturing process of modal is costly. However, there is no huge difference between the cost of both fabrics.

Additionally, modal is softer, more breathable, easy to care, and durable fabric than cotton. If you go shopping, you may see garments made from modal fabrics to be a bit more costly. This is because modal garments are considered to be easy to care for and durable than cotton ones. 

Moreover, the manufacturing process of modal needs more energy than natural fibers. But also keep in mind that cotton needs a huge amount of water which may increase the manufacturing cost. That’s why, there is only a slight difference between cotton and modal in terms of cost.

The different brands manufacturing the same garments with the same fabrics may alter the cost of the fabrics. Some brands use high quality fibers to produce garments while some use low quality fibers. In this way, brands may alter the cost of the garments.

In a sentence, it is believed that cotton is cheaper than modal. However, as we said earlier, the quality, the durability, manufacturing process, and the brands may alter the price of the fabrics.

Modal VS Cotton Underwear

Comparing cotton underwear with modal underwear is a bit tricky because both fabrics are better in terms of needs. If you’re looking for easy breathability and a softer feel, then you can go for cotton underwear. Cotton fibers are known to be breathable, moisture absorbent, but it is less flexible.

On the other hand, modal fabrics are known for their flexibility, breathability, and moisture wicking properties. You can go for modal underwear if you are physically active. Modal fibers also offer you a softer and silky texture.

Additionally, cotton retains moisture and body odour for a much longer time than modal. Moreover, cotton underwear seems to be more breathable than modal.

Both fabrics are known to be good at their place. It all depends on the needs of the wearer. It’s worth noting that cotton underwear fits for hot, and dry temperature while modal is best suited for humid weather. 

Tencel Modal VS Cotton Underwear- Which Is Better?

Comparing cotton with tencel is not an easy task because both fabrics have a soft texture. However, when it comes to durability it seems that tencel modal is more durable than cotton.

In addition, tencel modal has better moisture wicking properties than cotton. But when it comes to breathability, cotton is better than tencel modal. In terms of sustainability, both fabrics are better but remember it takes a huge amount of water to manufacture cotton fabrics.

In summation, tencel modal is our best fabric for underwear as it is durable, has high moisture wicking properties and also dries quickly. An eco-friendly alternative to cotton, tencel modal uses less amount of chemical materials than viscose.

Modal VS Cotton- Common Uses

There are different clothing items you will find that both modal and common are used. These clothing items include shirts, T-shirts, underwear, bedsheets, and more. You may also see clothing items that are made of a blend of cotton and modal fabrics. 


When you go shopping for a t-shirt, you may find the same t-shirt but made from different fabrics. Cotton and modal both fabrics are used to manufacture t-shirts. But which one is better? 

Cotton t-shirts are known to be better for hot and dry temperature as they are more breathable and comfortable. But it’s worth noting that cotton t-shirts may fade over time.

On the other hand, modal may be a bit less breathable than cotton but it won’t fade over time. But modal t-shirts may be more expensive than cotton ones. 

For wearing t-shirts at home, cotton may feel better but if you’re physically active, then modal may be good as modal fabrics are more flexible and durable than cotton.


Both cotton and modal fabrics are used to manufacture underwear. But they both have slightly different qualities. If you’re looking for easy breathability and a softer feel, then cotton underwear may be a better choice.

On the other hand, underwear made from modal fabrics are less breathable as compared to cotton but more flexible. However, both fabrics have great moisture wicking properties.

Cotton absorbs sweat and maintains body smell for a longer period of time than modal. But modal has higher moisture wicking potential than cotton.

In summation, if it is hot and dry then you can go for cotton underwear. On the other hand if you’re physically active and the weather is humid you can go for modal fabrics. But it’s worth noting that cotton is more comfortable, breathable, and cheaper than modal.


Both modal and cotton fabrics are used to manufacture pajamas according to the needs of the wearer. Mostly, pajamas are used when resting or going to bed.

Cotton is known for sleepwear because of its smoothness, breathability, and comfortability. On the other hand, modal makes a softer and more comfortable feel but you have to pay a bit more for it.

If you prefer natural fibers with better performance in terms of comfortability at low cost, then you can go for cotton pajamas. On the other hand, if you value softness, and want more moisture absorbency then you can go for pajamas made from modal fabrics. But if you keep both then you can wear any at a time depending on the weather conditions.

Modal VS Cotton- Final Words

We’ve already discussed above that modal is a semi-synthetic fabric obtained from the pulp of beech trees while cotton is a natural fabric obtained from cotton plants. Despite that both fabrics have some common features such as both are breathable, comfortable, and moisture absorbent. 

But note that modal is costly and less breathable than cotton. But when it comes to flexibility and durability, modal seems to be better than cotton. Also, modal has better drapes.

If you are involved in physical activities like sporting or working in humid temperature, then modal can be a better choice. On the other hand, cotton is better for hot and dry temperatures.

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Hey there, I am Sam, I have used several sewing machines in my life, so now I decided to open a blog so that I can help other people finding the best sewing machine out there in the market according to my experience & research.

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