Cotton yarn vs Acrylic

Cotton yarn vs Acrylic

You might have observed that yarn is created from various materials if you’re a fan of crocheting, knitting, or engaging in other craftsmanship activities. Yarn is made from multiple materials, including wool, cotton,  nylon, bamboo, silk, and other compounds.

Due to extensive diversity, you probably have the special yarn that you adore for its feel and texture. However,  have you ever considered the characteristics of acrylic yarn in comparison to cotton yarn?

What distinguishes cotton and acrylic yarn from each other? The key contrast between acrylic and cotton yarn is that acrylic yarn is a synthetic polymer, while the cotton yarn is a natural fiber derived from plants. 

Additionally, cotton yarn is relatively softer, more long-lasting, and a widely used natural fiber alternative to Acrylic. Acrylic yarn, on the other hand, is famous because it’s cheaper and simple to get in various colors.

When it comes to yarn, all sorts of different materials are practical. Each type of yarn has its benefits and drawbacks, so choosing the right yarn for your project is essential. 

Learn more about the differences between cotton and Acrylic yarn, their benefits and drawbacks below.

Cotton yarn vs Acrylic

Cotton Yarn vs. Acrylic Yarn: Comparison Table

Cotton Yarn Acrylic Yarn
Beginners find it challenging to knit with cotton yarn Easy to knit, especially for the beginners
It can be overloaded with pesticides if you don’t opt for the organic variant It has petrochemicals 
Have a super smooth texture Feels rough on the touch
Have strong absorbent properties  Poor absorption properties and it can holds on water and sweat for long
Highly breathable making it ideal for baby apparel Not breathable 
It’s manufactured from natural fibers. Therefore, it’s eco-friendly Synthetic product that is unfriendly to the environment and it’s based on petroleum
Offer great results  Produces low-quality results in case the yarn is not of superior quality 


What is Cotton Yarn?

Cotton yarn is a processed and improved product from cotton fiber. Cotton is a natural fiber that is soft and absorbent, making it a good choice for projects like dishcloths and baby blankets. One downside of cotton yarn is that it can shrink when washed in hot water, so be sure to read the care instructions carefully before starting your project.

What is Acrylic Yarn?

Acrylic yarn is a product of synthetic fibers, typically less expensive than natural fibers like cotton or wool. Acrylic yarn is also easy to care for since it can be machine washed and dried without fear of shrinking. However, some people find acrylic yarn less comfortable because it can be stiffer than other types.

Cotton vs. Acrylic: Pros and Cons

Cotton Yarn Pros 

  • Cotton is a natural fiber, so it is biodegradable and eco-friendly. 
  • Cotton yarn is very strong and durable. 
  • Cotton yarn is absorbent, making it a good choice for summer garments that will see a lot of sweat or for dishcloths and other cleaning projects. 
  •  Cotton yarn comes in various colors and thicknesses (or ply). 

Cotton Yarn Cons 

  • Because it is absorbent, cotton yarn can be heavy for larger projects like blankets. 
  • Cotton yarn can shrink, so wash it carefully according to the label instructions. 
  • As a natural fiber, cotton yarn is subject to damage from insects. 

Acrylic Yarn Pros 

  • Acrylic yarn is made from petroleum products, so it is not biodegradable. However, it’s cheaper than natural fibers like cotton. 
  • Acrylic fiber is antimicrobial and resists bacteria and other microbes that can cause odors. That makes acrylic yarn ideal for baby items or winter clothing worn close to the body where sweat can accumulate. 
  • Acrylic fiber doesn’t absorb water, so it dries quickly and doesn’t shrink like cotton. Therefore, Acrylic is nicer to work with because your hands won’t get wet while crocheting or knitting. 

Acrylic Yarn Cons 

  • Acrylic yarn tends to pill or shed more than other fibers like wool or cotton. Pilling happens when little balls of fuzz form on the fabric’s surface from abrasion during wear or washing. Shedding occurs when individual fibers work their way loose from the main body of the fabric. Both pilling and shedding can be minimized by using a mild detergent on a delicate cycle when washing acrylic items and storing them carefully when not in use. 
  • Moths also enjoy eating holes in acrylic sweaters just as much as they make holes in wool sweaters.

Cotton vs. Acrylic: Features Comparison

  • Texture

Cotton and acrylic yarn is available in various textures, from super soft to rough and rugged. 

That said, cotton yarn tends to be softer than acrylic yarn, making it a better choice for projects like baby clothes or blankets. 

Acrylic yarn, on the other hand, is more durable and easy to care for—two qualities that make it ideal for projects like afghans or winter gear.

  • Absorbency

Cotton yarn is a natural fiber that’s highly absorbent, making it ideal for projects like dishcloths or bath towels. 

Acrylic yarn is synthetic and not as absorbent as cotton—though it will still hold up well in projects that require some absorbency, like hats or mittens.

  • Durability

When it comes to durability, Acrylic wins hands down. Thanks to its synthetic fibers, acrylic yarn is much less likely to break or fray than cotton yarn. Therefore, you can use acrylic yarn for projects with a lot of wear and tear, like sweaters or throws. 

While still quite durable, cotton yarn is not as tough as Acrylic and may not hold up to heavy use. 

Cotton vs. Acrylic: Which One is better?

Generally, the decision on whether to use cartoon or acrylic yarn for your project depends on the application of the final product. Acrylic yarn is lightweight and affordable, while cotton yarn is flexible and breathable.

Use organic cotton yarn rather than acrylic yarn when knitting baby blankets. Your kid will feel comfortable with blankets made from cotton yarn since they are constructed of 100% cotton material, which is gentle to the touch.

Both cotton and acrylic yarn have their advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, your project’s best type of yarn will depend on your specific needs. 

If you need an eco-friendly option that won’t pill or shed, cotton might be the way to go, even though it’s more costly than acrylic. On the other hand, if you need something budget-friendly and quick-drying, Acrylic could be a perfect choice, even though it’s less biodegradable than cotton. Happy crafting.

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