Polyester vs. Nylon Difference – In-Depth Comparison

Last Updated on March 16, 2023

Two of the most common fabrics that we use on a daily basis are nylon and polyester. But they have very different properties that make them unique. You should understand in more detail about Polyester vs. Nylon, which one is better.

Polyester vs. Nylon
Image: Walmart, Canva

The difference lies in the characteristics, composition, and method of manufacture. Fabrics are durable and resistant to mechanical damage. The main differences and features will be considered on the example of products and accessories for different cases.

Here we will look at how Polyester and Nylon compare regarding durability, comfort, price, maintenance, and environmental impact. We’ll also talk about which fabrics are best for which applications, so you can make the right choice when buying or using fabrics made from either of these two fabrics.

In Addition – The Nylon vs. Polyester Carpet Comparisons may be helpful to you.

A Brief History of These Two Fabrics

Polyester has been around since the 1930s and is a synthetic fiber derived from coal, air, water, and petroleum. It’s incredibly lightweight and features great washability and resistance to shrinking. 

It’s also quite affordable compared to other fabrics. Meanwhile, Nylon was created in 1939 by DuPont researchers to develop a more durable material than silk. It combines strength with flexibility, making it perfect for close-fitting clothing or even ropes and cables for camping.

Are Polyester and Nylon the same?

No, polyester and nylon are not the same. Although they are both synthetic fibers, they have distinct differences. Both Polyester and Nylon fabrics are used in apparel, but it’s important to know the differences so you can choose the right fabric type for your needs.

What is the Main Difference between Polyester and Nylon?

The main differences between Nylon and Polyester are:

  • Appearance. While Nylon has a smooth and lustrous finish, Polyester has a matte, rough surface.
  • Tactile sensations. Nylon is smooth, while Polyester feels more like wool.
  • Weight. Polyester is slightly heavier than Nylon.

And finally, you need to compare the main qualities of Polyester and Nylon.

Polyester vs. Nylon – Some Key differences?

Nylon fibers are obtained through a chemical reaction. Polyamide, with the help of heating and solvents, becomes resistant to mechanical damage.

Polyester, unlike its analog, is produced from petroleum products. To change the characteristics, woolen cotton threads are added to the composition. 

Image: Walmart, Canva

A comparative table is compiled bellow on the main properties to understand which is better, Polyester or Nylon.

StrengthThe material withstands mechanical damage, is not afraid of chemicals.The fabric is resistant to stretching and compression, does not deform, quickly takes its original shape.
SafetyUsed in the industry for children, safe operation.It is used for the top of the jacket, other clothes. Recyclable material, does not decompose.
FlammabilityIt starts to melt first, and then combustion occurs.Without special impregnation, it quickly ignites.
Ultraviolet radiationThere is medium UV protection.Protects well from sunlight.
Comfortable usePleasant to the touch, warm and light fabric.Dries quickly, lightweight, practical material.
CareEasy to care for, can be washed, treated with chemicals. The nylon lining does not wrinkle.Easy care, can be steamed, machine washed.

So, the differences between Polyester and Nylon can be significant in manufacturing certain clothing types, as shown in the table.

Advantages and disadvantages Nylon and Polyester

Nylon and Polyester are similar in appearance, but the materials are different in characteristics.

Advantages of Nylon  

  • The fabric is not affected by the fungus and the appearance of mold.
  • It Withstands mechanical stress in tension and compression.
  • High resistance to moisture and chemicals.
  • The lightness of the fabric allows you to use clothes under challenging conditions.
  • All things dry quickly after getting wet; they are easy to care. 

Disadvantages of Nylon  

There are also disadvantages in material properties. 

  • The fabric changes appearance when exposed to the sun. With extended use causes discomfort because. 
  • Poor breathability. 
  • It may cause static stress on the surface.

Advantages of Polyester

  • After loading, it takes its original form and does not deform.
  • Washable in automatic and manual modes.
  • High strength and wear resistance during long-term operation.
  • Clothes do not require ironing because the material does not wrinkle over time.

Disadvantages of Polyester

  • Resistant to fire when chemically impregnated fabric.

Where Nylon and Polyester Are Used?

Nylon and polyester have a wide range of applications. Even though the biggest use of nylon and polyester is in the production of woven fabrics, this does not mean that they are used only in one industry. Automotive, biomedical applications, and the clothing industry are industries where nylon or polyester can be found.

Where Polyester is Used?

Polyester as a material feels comfortable both in the form of a swimsuit, and as underwear or bed linen. And also it is used for the manufacture of special equipment, insulation, filler, tops, sportswear, jackets, tents and much more.

100% polyester is rarely used in production, but more often you can find it in combination with cotton, polyamide, elastane and spandex. When polyester is mixed with different threads, some characteristics may be lost, but new ones are often acquired. It is difficult to say what is not made from polyester.

Synthetic fiber is very durable, which makes polyester excellent for the manufacture of workwear, from which they expect maximum durability and wear resistance.

Where Nylon is Used?

Nylon is not far behind polyester and has an equally impressive list of uses. Tights, stockings, T-shirts, trousers, curtains, shirts, blouses and many other products for adults and children. Since nylon is very similar to silk, its use is often in the decorative industry. Elegant bedspreads, tablecloths, furniture covers – nylon is perfect for all this.

How Can You Tell if the Material is Nylon or Polyester?

Many people do not know the difference between Nylon and Polyester synthetic materials, but they can tell the difference by reading the fabric composition on the product label. 

But you can identify these fabrics by some external signs. 


  • Nylon is a smooth material that resembles silk, while Polyester is rougher and has a texture similar to cotton and wool.
  • When you drop water on Nylon, the drop will roll off, but Polyester is less moisture resistant and more likely to absorb water.
  • Polyester is heavier than Nylon, so fabrics made from Polyester tend to be heavier than those made from Nylon.

So What Fabric Should You Choose?

It is impossible to answer this question unambiguously. Nylon and Polyester have their uses, which should be considered when choosing a fabric. But there are some silly differences by each product these are:

Which is Best – Nylon or Polyester Jacket?

Polyester would be a better option for a jacket. Polyester is suitable for retaining heat for a long time, providing comfort, and is often used for down jackets. The fabric is easy to care for and ideal for everyday use.  

Nylon, on the other hand, is better suited for jackets in the off-season or warmer weather due to its beautiful, neat appearance and ability to repel water. However, it turns out that exposure to ultraviolet exposure is less suitable for prolonged sun exposure.

So, here we find:

FeaturePolyester JacketNylon Jacket
AppearanceNot as neatBeautiful
Heat RetentionGoodPoor
Water ResistancePoorGood
UV ExposureResistantBurns out
Everyday UseSuitableSuitable
Recommended SeasonWinterOff-season
Antistatic AgentRecommendedRecommended

Overall, the choice between a Polyester or Nylon jacket depends on the intended use and weather conditions. Polyester would be the better choice for winter jackets due to its ability to retain heat and provide warmth and comfort during cold weather.

Using an antistatic agent on outerwear is recommended to get rid of static electricity.

Polyester vs. Nylon Thermal Underwear

For underwear, 100% Nylon or 100% Polyester can be used. Underwear should be comfortable and pleasant to the touch. There is no significant difference between the materials. Thermal underwear made of Polyester retains heat better.

The fabric repels moisture and remains soft, thanks to impurities. It is practical to use as it does not deform during long-term use. Wool and cotton in the composition extend the life of the product.

Nylon vs. Polyester Sportswear – Which Is Better?

Products are selected depending on the operation and climatic conditions. Sports equipment for training and hiking is made of synthetic material. 

For a swimsuit, it is preferable to use products made of Nylon. Swimming trunks repel moisture, conform to the body’s shape, and dry quickly when wet.

To determine whether a nylon or polyester windbreaker is better for hiking conditions, keep in mind that Polyester is preferable with strong winds and cold temperatures.

Polyester retains heat better but will be more comfortable in the warm season in similar clothing.

Is Polyester or Nylon Good for Hiking Accessories?

The Polyester fabric for backpacks can be chosen carefully. They are resistant to mechanical damage and difficult climatic conditions. But, Nylon is easy to clean and can be used to make a tent. 

Many people also wonder if Polyester or Nylon breathes. Both materials do not allow air to pass through, so long-term use is not recommended. An umbrella and other useful accessories are also used for hiking.

Polyester and Nylon Fabric for Baby Clothes

The synthetic matter is used for clothes of children of different ages. Knowing this is helpful. Safety considerations are taken into account when making products for kids.

During production, adhere to the rules and regulations. The use of synthetics for a child is permissible in outerwear. 

Choosing natural fabrics that do not cause allergies are better for tights and underwear. The winter jacket does not come into contact with the child’s skin, so it is safe to use.

Nylon or Polyester Which is Better for Bags?

Durable and wear-resistant synthetics are used for laptop bags, and backpacks. When sewing, the condition is also taken into account whether Nylon and Polyester get wet. When wet, it dries quickly.

Is Polyester Warmer Than Nylon? 

In terms of warmth, Nylon is considered warmer than Polyester because it tends to be more insulating. Nylon is also naturally water-repellent, making it a great choice for cold weather and wet climates. 

Polyester may not be as warm as Nylon, but it does offer some advantages; it’s lightweight, breathable, and quick-drying. 

So when deciding which fabric is best for your needs, consider the climate in which you’ll be wearing the garment and whether you need insulation or extra breathability.

In Addition – The following articles may be of interest to you: “Is Polyester Warmer than Fleece & Cotton“.

Is Polyester or Nylon More Waterproof?

The answer to this depends on the specific polyester or nylon fabric. However, polyester and nylon are waterproof materials commonly used in outdoor clothing and equipment like tents and backpacks.

Both polyester and nylon are highly water resistant, but nylon is considered more waterproof. Unlike polyester, nylon fibers have greater tensile strength and durability, which makes them better suited for repelling water. Also, with proper treatment, nylon can be made waterproof, whereas polyester is only water-resistant by nature.

Image: Indiamart, Canva

However, some polyester fabrics may be more waterproof than others, depending on the weight of the fabric and other features like coatings.

For example, since heavier polyesters tend to have a denser weave that can help repel water better than lighter-weight fabrics, they will often provide better waterproofing performance.

Similarly, some nylon types may be treated with a polymer coating that makes them even more waterproof than untreated nylon fabrics.

So, when assessing two different types of material for waterproofing performance, it’s important to take into account factors such as fabric weight, type of weave, or coating applied.

Which is More Comfortable to Wear Nylon or Polyester?

The comfort of nylon or polyester really depends on the individual’s preferences. Both fabrics are lightweight, durable, and comfortable to wear.

 Nylon is often more breathable than polyester, which makes it a good option for warm climates. It also has a softer feel than polyester and is usually less expensive.

 Polyester can have a slightly smoother feel than nylon and holds its shape better over time. It also tends to be more wrinkle-resistant and is generally easier to clean.

Which is Stronger Polyester or Nylon?

Each fabric has its own strengths and weaknesses. But nylon is more stronger than polyester because it has better abrasion resistance and higher tensile strength. However, it is less resistant to UV rays or chemicals than polyester.

Polyester is slightly more flexible and less expensive than nylon, so it may be a better option for specific uses. So, the best material for any given purpose should be chosen based on its specific characteristics.

Is Nylon or Polyester Better for Hot Weather?

Both nylon and polyester fabrics have their advantages for hot weather. Nylon is lightweight and breathable, making it a great option for those looking for maximum comfort in extreme heat.

Polyester is also a popular choice because it is wrinkle-resistant, durable, and lightweight as well. Ultimately, the decision of which fabric to use really depends on your personal preferences and needs.


The material for clothing and accessories is selected depending on the conditions of use. You should study the characteristics and understand how Nylon differs from Polyester. There is no significant difference, and the difference exists in characteristics. Polyester is dense and protective. Nylon products are comfortable to use.

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