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Types of fabrics used for underwear

A list of various fabrics commonly used in the manufacturing of underwear, specifically chosen for softness, breathability, moisture-wicking properties, and hypoallergenic characteristics and their suitability in producing comfortable, functional, and hygienic undergarments.
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Buying or making your ideal undergarment involves more than just getting the size and style right. As something that stays very intimate on you, you have to dwell a little more carefully as to what fabric your underwear is made of.

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The ideal material for undergarments is one that is supple, breathable, soft, and absorbent. This usually translates to natural fabrics. These are the ideal option if you want underwear that is comfortable on your body. Natural fabrics offer smoothness, breathability, moisture wicking and may be even antibacterial qualities.

Synthetic textiles, especially those with lycra added, are widely popular because they are very easy to care for, stretch on your body to accomodate all body shapes, are less expensive, as they are simpler to mass-produce but they may not necessarily be the best choice if comfort is a top priority. But they have some advantages which make them suitable, depending on the need. 

Blended fabrics that combine synthetic and natural fibers may also be soft on the skin and inherit the advantageous characteristics of both natural fibers and synthetic fibers.

Materials suitable for underwear

100% organic Cotton jersey

Cotton jersey fabric is a medium-weight, 4-way stretch knit fabric made of 100 percent cotton fibers; this can be the softest of all fabrics for making underwear. The knit fabric composed of natural fibers gives enough breathability and softness to be the perfect option for making underwear.

Qualities of Cotton Jersey fabric

  • Stretchable
  • Absorbent
  • Breathable
  • Soft
  • Thin but opaque enough

How to Care for underwear made of cotton jersey

Cotton jersey is easy to maintain. Fabrics should be pre-washed before sewing, as cotton jerseys have a propensity to shrink. Spin dry on medium after washing the jersey in cold water. As long as you take your clothes from the dryer as soon as possible, an iron is typically not required.

Cotton fabric made of extra-long staple fibers

High quality Cotton fabrics like Pima cotton, Egyptian cotton and supima cotton are some of the best fabrics for making underwear, if you do not want the stretchability of knit fabrics. These cotton fabrics are made of extra-long staple cotton fibers which makes the fabric strong, durable and very soft. They also are color fast. Out of the cotton fabrics made of long fibers, combed cotton is the best. 

How to care for cotton underwear

Cotton underwear can be machine washed at high temperature. High quality cotton fabrics wear well. 

Bamboo Jersey fabric

All the different textiles made from the bamboo plant are collectively referred to as “bamboo fabric.” A bamboo jersey fabric is most frequently used to make underwear due to its soft texture, stretchiness, and durability. Another quality that makes it a favorite is its anti-microbial feature (still debatable).

It usually has a two way stretch, but when blended with elastane fibers, you will find it stretches more.
Bamboo Jersey fabric Characteristics

  • Soft
  • Smooth
  • Breathability
  • Anti-static.
  • Durable.
  • Stretchable
  • Maybe anti-microbial

How to care for underwear made of bamboo jersey fabric

It is advisable to machine wash and dry your bamboo jersey underwear in very low heat conditions.  Use a mild soap powder or liquid detergent and use the gentle wash cycle or wash by hand.

Rayon Lycra Jersey

This is a very fine knit fabric that is super soft and very comfortable. It has a four-way stretch which gives it great stretch. It is also thin enough for summer wear.

  • Thin
  • Soft
  • Supple

Micro-modal fabrics

Modal is a semi synthetic, semi natural fabric which is almost as soft  as silk and as breathable as cotton.

Nylon spandex 

Nylon spandex is a material with a great deal of stretch, more than any other material listed above. Due to its own exceptional stretch, this material is perfect for plus-size underwear sewing and for men’s underwear. Nylon is soft to touch and light weight and very easy to wash and dry.

Nylon spandex Qualities

  • Lightweight.
  • Durable
  • Drapeable.
  • Withstands shrinkage and wrinkling.
  • Quick dying
  • Stretchable

How to care for nylon-spandex underwear

Put spandex clothing in a mesh laundry bag to avoid overstretching. Use a gentle detergent and avoid chlorine bleach. Make sure to wash on the “delicates” cycle, which is a cold, soft cycle, and to set the machine for a low heat spin to dry. Avoid ironing nylon material in high heat but you may not need to, as wrinkles maynot set in. Spandex should not be exposed to sunlight for long. 

Performance fabrics

Performance fabrics are specially made fabrics that may be made as a blend of elastane or lycra, and polyester fibers with cotton, which increases the fabric’s overall quality.

The spandex may increase stretch without reducing the cotton’s natural coziness, breathability, and other properties. Even if you do not consider this as the best choice for daily wear underwear, you may consider the material for active wear under wear because of the extra qualities that are built into these fabrics. Some performance fabrics may even have qualities of UV protection, moisture wicking and anti microbial properties built into them. 

Performance cotton (with spandex) Qualities

  • Stretchable
  • Soft
  • Breathable

How to Care for underwear made with performance cotton:

Cold, gentle machine wash. Do not tumble dry. Dry cleanable. Hand washable. Warm iron.

Stretch satin 

Stretch satin is a soft, delicate fabric with a small stretch and it is used to make delicate lingerie. This gorgeous fabric has a shiny sheen and a lovely touch and drape.  The satin weave produces a lustrous, silky feel  with a lovely drape. Satin has a smooth, glossy sheen on one side and a duller surface on the other. Due to its lack of breathability, it works well for luxurious lingerie but less so for everyday underwear.

Stretch satin Qualities

  • Shiny, lustrous front
  • Drapable
  • Durable.
  • Slight Stretchable

How to care for underwear made of Stretch satin

Keep satin away from direct sunlight to keep it looking good. Always use cold water to wash satin fabrics. To maintain its softness, use a gentle detergent. After washing, avoid squeezing satin to prevent wrinkles and form distortion.

Stretch lace

Lace is a fragile, web-like fabric that may be created by textile manufacturers using a variety of methods. Different forms of lace come in a wide range of intricacy and are frequently used to complement or adorn garments and for making lingerie. Stretch lace is used to make luxury underwear.

Stretch Lace Qualities

  • Slightly stretchable
  • Soft

How to care for underwear made of stretch lace

Always put the clothing in a “delicates” wash bag and use a moderate, cool wash cycle when cleaning lace items in the washing machine. Use a detergent made specifically for sensitive fabrics.

So, take some time the next time you go shopping for underwear to consider the type of fabric it is made of, how it looks, and how it fits. Decide what you value more – comfort and breathability or sheen and luxurious looks.


Which material is the most comfortable for underwear?

Organic Cotton jersey fabric is the most comfortable material for underwear as it is one of the most cost-effective natural fibers. Cotton is an excellent choice for undergarments. When and whenever you wear it, your body can breathe and maintain a constant temperature owing to its outstanding temperature regulation.  Since cotton is manufactured from a plant that can be cultivated again, it is a sustainable alternative to many synthetic materials that are made using petroleum, making cotton underwear a more ecologically friendly choice.
Choosing organic cotton or other organic fabrics may be beneficial if you have sensitive skin or have been struggling with recurring, chronic infections or irritation.

Best fabric for sports/workout underwear?

The Best Fabric for sports/workout underwear is a Polyester-spandex blend. Polyester has excellent tensile strength, is wrinkle-resistant, and wicks away moisture.

Best fabric for thermal underwear.

One of the most popular materials for thermal underwear is merino wool. It is made of natural materials, wicks off excess moisture, and doesn’t add a lot of weight to your clothing. It is a very durable material. The maximum level of comfort is provided with merino wool of natural quality. Additionally, it perfectly balances the control of body temperature. This material is resistant to temperatures below zero degrees Celsius. Even if the setting is just moderately chilly, it will feel right, as wool self-regulates to all temperatures.

What material is bad for daily use underwear?

Synthetic materials like nylon and polyester can be considered disadvantageous for daily wear underwear as they are not breathable. Instead, they serve as a great breeding environment for yeast infections by trapping heat and moisture.

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Author: Sarina Tariq
Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.
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