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Satin vs Polyester Fabric: Guide & Comparison Table

Polyester or satin – which is best? How does the synthetic ‘polyester satin’ measure up against natural silk satin? Let’s take a look:

Silk satin is a soft, smooth, and lightweight with a fluid drape. In contrast, polyester fabric is not as soft and has a stiffer drape. However, polyester is stronger, more durable, and has better breathability than silk with a satin weave. It’s also easier to care for polyester and it tends to be considerably cheaper than silk satin, at the cost of being less luxurious.

Check out our full comparison table below to compare satin and polyester, then continue reading for more information about differences between them:

Satin vs Polyester Comparison Table

Property Satin Polyester
Other names - PET (polyethylene terephthalate)
Made from Satin is a fabric weave typically associated with silk fibres, although it can also be made using polyester or nylon. The below values are for satin made from silk. Polyester is a synthetic fabric made using petroleum products, although it is increasingly made from recycled plastic bottles.
Uses Fashion, particularly wedding dresses and other luxury items. As a fabric, polyester is used widely in apparel and furnishings. Other uses include bottles and LCD displays.
Natural or Synthetic Natural Synthetic
Woven or Knitted Woven Either
Thread Count Up to 600 200-1000
Washing Safest to dry clean only. Hand washing may leave to fading. Do not put in the washing machine. Typically fine in the washing machine, but watch out for blends that need to be hand washed or washed in cooler water (always check the label first)
Drying Air dry only Normally fine in a tumble dryer with a low heat setting (check the label first)
Ironing Do not iron. Satin should be steamed. Can be ironed, typically on warm settings. Turn it inside out and use a covering cloth and steam to reduce direct heat. Too much heat can melt the garment.
Wrinkle Resistance Don't tend to wrinkle Don't tend to wrinkle
Heat Retention Poor Medium
Moisture Wicking Good Good
Breathability Good Very Good
Stretchability Low Medium
Flammability (untreated) Very High High (tend to melt rather than burn)
Water-Resistance (untreated) Poor Medium
Color-Fastness Poor Good
Strength Good, but weaker when wet Very Good
Durability Medium Excellent
Drape Fluid Stiff
Softness Very Good Medium
Advantages Satin is smooth, silky and lightweight with a nice drape. This makes it perfect for loose fitting luxurious garments. Very high durability, with good breathability and moisture wicking makes polyester a very practical fabric. Can be mass produced at low cost.
Disadvantages Dry clean only, not suitable for many types of garments. Difficult to sow and prone to snagging. Significant environmental concern.
Environmental Impact Score (A is best, E is worst) Satin using Normal Silk = C, Satin using Organic Silk = B Virgin Polyester = D, Chemically Recylced Polyester = B, Mechanically Recycled Polyester = A
Sustainability Issues Satin is typically made from silk. Silk production is relatively low impact, and does not require too many fertilizers or pesticides. Organic silk is best, and readers may also want to look for humane silk which harvests after the moths have left (instead of with the pupae inside). Polyester is a plastic. It does not degrade and requires significant energy, chemicals, and waste to create. We recommend only using recycled polyester products.
Vegan Not when made from silk Yes

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