Modal vs Cotton: Differences (Better Fabric for Bedding & Clothes)

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Modal vs Cotton

Cotton has stood the test of time as one of the most durable and breathable fabrics available. Modal, being relatively new, is a patented fabric that looks to dethrone cotton’s comfortable top tier status. So in this article, we will ask, modal vs cotton: what are the differences and which one is better?

Let’s see how both of these top contenders compare in terms of durability, price, breathability, warmth, and stretchiness. We will also compare them to the modal cotton blend, in addition to understanding which material is more suitable for bedding, underwear, shirts, towels, socks. On we go!



Difference Between Modal and Cotton

Modal is a moderately new form of semi-synthetic rayon fabric, although, unlike conventional rayon, it’s produced exclusively using beech-wood pulp. If you’re looking for the best quiet box spring, have a look at this box spring that doesn’t squeak

It also needs less chemical treatments for its production, giving it some significant eco-friendly attributes.

Modal manufacturing processes and improved molecular alignment, allows this fabric to be stronger and more water-absorbent than normal rayon. 

Cotton, being one of the most used fabrics in today’s world, is a naturally occurring fiber that comes from the perennial cotton plant.

Its fibers are found growing outside the plant’s protective seed casing. This gives cotton, especially if grown organically, impressive sustainability rooted within its manufacturing process.

Cotton, in its standalone or blended form, is used extensively on the production of most of the world’s textile goods from bedding to clothes to pretty much anything.


Modal is the winner here, even when cotton is regarded as one of the softest fabrics around. Modal has a very smooth and silky feel, very characteristic of rayon fabrics.

It also enhances softness and sturdiness, making its characteristics resemble those of a cotton rayon blend.


Cotton might win this one in terms of affordability. Modal price point is generally higher than cotton, and given the impressive characteristics of this new material, it comes as a no brainer.


Even though both of these materials are highly breathable and water absorbent, modal is about 50% more permeable than cotton, dethroning cotton as the go-to fabric in terms of breathability and lightness.

This is why modal is incredibly popular as sportswear, it allows you to perform your exercise routine without much worry; as trapped sweat and heat inside your outfit will no longer be a problem.


Modal has got a reputation as a luxury textile commodity, especially its Lyocell variant, making it a really popular material within the high-end fashion industry.

It’s also widely used in sports clothes, conventional clothes, and for making high-end fabric accessories like mantles, luxury bed sheets, pillow covers, and dresses.

Cotton is used to produce almost anything. Its versatile and rugged nature makes it a perfect candidate for the production of bed sheets, comforters, mattress pads, t-shirts, socks, blue jeans, towels, mattresses, table and cleaning cloths.

Cotton is also regularly blended with other fabrics, usually because of its strength and softness.


This round goes to modal. This fabric is stronger than cotton due to its long, and tightly woven fibers.

Modal superior moisture-wicking properties also give it a slight edge over cotton. This doesn’t mean that cotton isn’t a durable material, on the contrary, its strength and breathability make it one of the most sought after fabrics in the market.


Cotton is less porous than modal and it has a slight advantage in terms of keeping you warm. So if winters are not as aggressive where you live, yet you still want to purchase a soft and airy fabric, we recommend cotton over modal.

Washing and Drying

Both of these materials are very comparable. Efficient and proper washing and drying for both is recommended.

Modal dries a bit faster, but it needs to be ironed regularly to conserve its rich properties. Cotton doesn’t require that much maintenance to be well-kept, although it is recommended to iron cotton fabrics after washing as well.

Modal Cotton Blend Characteristics

Surprisingly, Modal is not blended into other fabrics as much as cotton, mainly due to its steep price. A way to circumvent this; is to produce modal cotton blend fibers. This gives pure modal enhanced strength and durability, combining the natural with the semi-synthetic.

A modal cotton blend is cheaper than pure modal, keeping all of its intrinsic characteristics. A modal cotton blend is durable, stretchy, water-absorbent, silky, soft, and breathable; it also drapes smoothly and perfectly around the body.  

Are Modal and Cotton Stretchy?

Modal and cotton in their pure form are not very stretchy materials. They both need to be treated or blended to enhance their stretchy characteristics. That’s why they are almost always processed to attain highly elastic features.

Modal is also inherently stretchier than cotton, as it is a semi-synthetic fabric made from reconstituted natural plastics.

For this reason, modal is used far more in the underwear and sportswear markets. We all need our underwear to stretch around our groin while we wear it, and most yoga enthusiasts know the importance of a strong, and stretchy fabric.

Modal vs Cotton Bed Sheets: What’s Better?

It all depends on what you are looking for.

Cotton sheets are high quality, soft, durable and airy; they are perfect for warm weather thanks to their breathability.

Modal sheets are considered to be a step up in quality.

They are lighter and more breathable than cheaper cotton sheets, and they have a silky, smooth, and cool finish; amplifying one’s comfort significantly.

However, high-quality Egyptian cotton can feel even better than Modal.

But it’s also quite expensive.

Best Selling Modal Sheets in 2024

Best Rated Cotton Sheets

Modal vs Cotton Underwear

Modal is considered to be the best fabric for underwear.

This luxurious, silky, breathable, and stretchy material fits all characteristics for making ideal underwear.

Used around the world for the production of both men’s underwear and women’s underwear, there couldn’t be a more comfortable material to wear around our most sensitive body parts.

Top tier women’s underwear brands regularly use modal or modal blends as a fabric for their luxury lingerie. Cotton is also considered a good underwear material because of its breathability and soft feel.

Best Selling Modal Underwear

Top-Rated Cotton Underwear

Modal or Cotton Shirt?    

If you are looking for durable and affordable shirts that guarantee a light, and breathable softness then cotton is your best bet.

For those occasions where you need a shirt to look and feel high-quality, whilst retaining cotton’s durability, we recommend a modal cotton blend shirt.

Modal-only shirts are also excellent alternatives to cotton ones, because of their soft and silky feel. 

Best Modal Shirts

Cotton Shirts

Modal vs Cotton Towels

Cotton and cotton blends are by far the most common fabrics used to make towels, mainly because of their excellent price-quality relationship.

If you’re looking for a towel that gravitates towards elegant, silky features, we recommend a high-quality fabric like a modal cotton blend.

Best Selling Modal Towels in 2024

Best Rated Cotton Towels

Modal vs Cotton Socks

Cotton or blended cotton socks are the most common type of socks you can find. This doesn’t mean that modal doesn’t have a few aces up its sleeve; the main one being its amazing texture, strength, and breathability.

We recommend cotton socks for everyday use, and modal socks for those occasions that require a bit more elegance. 

Modal Socks

Cotton Socks here

difference Modal Cotton


In this article, we have concluded that both of these materials have excellent characteristics and are suitable for sheets, comforters, underwear, shirts, towels, socks and much more.

Cotton has a time tested stamp of quality and reliability, while modal has crept into the luxury market with no plans of going back.

If you want a reliable material for your everyday needs that holds up in terms of quality, look no further than cotton.

If you want to upscale the fabrics you use, while still keeping some of cotton’s age-old characteristics, modal is the fabric for you.

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