Polyester Vs. Cotton Socks

Woman wearing colorful stockings

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Socks date back to the 8th century B.C.E. Ancient Greeks tied matted animal hair around their ankles for warmth, while the Romans used leather or woven fabrics to wrap their feet. Today, polyester and cotton are the most common fabrics used for making socks. When considering which of the two fabrics to wear, weather conditions should play a major role in your decision.


Polyester socks are made of man-made fibers consisting of oil derivatives. Cotton socks are made of natural fibers taken from a cotton plant’s seed pod.


Socks are worn to protect your feet. Polyester socks wick away moisture and sweat, allowing your feet to stay dry and warm during the winter. Cotton socks absorbs sweat, keeping your feet cool during summer months.


Polyester socks are durable and stain resistant. Cotton socks’ natural fibers feel soft to the skin. Both fibers are machine washable and affordable.


Both polyester and cotton pose environmental issues. Polyester’s key components, coal and petroleum, promote greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere. Cotton crops are one of the most chemical-intense crops globally.

Expert Insight

Wearing cotton athletic socks with dress trousers is a huge fashion faux-pas. Instead, choose a thin polyester, polyester-blend or nylon sock.