Fleece vs Flannel: Differences and Comparison (With Table)

There are various types of fabrics for chilly winter, such as cotton, linen, wool, fleece and flannel. Fleece and flannel are known for being warm and comfortable in winter. But when it comes to fleece vs flannel, do you know the differences?

The main difference between fleece and flannel is that fleece fabric is made of synthetic polyester fibers while flannel is natural and made of wool or cotton. Besides, fleece and flannel have different structures, fleece is loosely woven, while flannel is a thicker knit structure. Both fleece and flannel are popular in clothes, bedding sheets, and blankets.

Comparison between fleece vs flannel fabric
fleece vs flannel fabric

In the following part, you will get more details about the comparison and differences between fleece and flannel fabrics, as well as their popular uses, such as bedsheets, pants, and pajamas.

Fleece vs Flannel: Comparison Chart

The following table shows the basis and properties of fleece and flannel.

Fabric ContentSynthetic fabricMade of cotton, wool, or synthetic fibers
Nickname/Flannelle, flanell
Fabric TypesPolar fleece, Coral fleece, Microfleece, Anti-Pill plush fleece, Blizzard fleece, Luxe fleeceWool flannel, cotton flannel, Synthetic or mixed flannel, Flannelette, Baby flannel, Diaper flannel
Fabric PropertiesSoft, warm, windproof, breathable, durable, and wear-resistant. Easy to care for, resistant to mold and moisture. Excellent insulationSoft, warm, moisture-wicking, breathable, durable,medium-weight, wrinkle-resistant, etc.Easy to care for.Excellent insulation.
Popular UsesClothes and accessories: windbreakers, bottoming shirts, pajamas, sweaters, hats, gloves, scarves, etc.
Homewares: bedding sheets, blankets, throw pillows, cushions, etc.
Winter clothing: jackets, coats, pants, shoes, sweaters, pajamas, sleepwear, etc.
Home uses: blankets, drapery, upholstery, bed sheets, and other home decor.
fleece vs flannel

What Is Fleece

Fleece is a type of synthetic fabric that is made of 100% polyester. And it is designed as an alternative to the natural wool fabric for the first time in the 1970s because fleece has a fluffy surface that looks like a sheep’s coat, which is where its name comes from.

Various types of fleece have double-pile, which shows they have very soft fuzziness on two sides of the fabric. This characteristic forms due to its special textile process. First, the polyester is woven into yarns and knitted into fabric. And the machine will scrape finner fibers and other machines will weave these finer polyester fibers into a soft pile fabric. Sometimes, the production of fleece will add some natural materials such as wool and hemp to make the fleece more comfortable to wear.

Fleece is soft and has an excellent ability to keep warm, making it popular among winter clothes. Though fleece is a synthetic fabric, it also has great moisture-wicking properties due to its fluffy structure, which allows it also shines for athletic wear.

What Is Flannel

Flannel is another type of fabric being known for warmth. Flannel is mainly made of cotton, or wool, sometimes also synthetic fibers. Its softness comes from a special textile technic called “napping”. When the fibers are woven together, the fabric is brushed on both sides to raise fine piles, and make the flannel even softer.

Flannel has a longer history than fleece. The origins of flannel can reach back to even the 17th century. The textile workers used soft wool to make fabric for shirts. Due to its soft, warm, and moisture-wicking, the flannel fabric gets popular in clothes.

Actually, flannel is just a name for a special fabric. This fabric stands for soft, warm, and comfortable. And the popular plaid flannel is one of them. In today’s market, flannel and plaid flannel is a classic fashion, and widely used in grunge, outdoors, and winter apparel.

Fleece vs Flannel: 6 Main Differences

We have known the key difference between fleece and flannel lies in that fleece uses synthetic fiber, and flannel mainly uses cotton. Due to this, the fleece and flannel fabric also have their own unique characteristics. Let’s walk through to get more details.


Which is warmer, fleece or flannel? Many people are curious about it. Usually, fleece is able to retent heat, because its pile can trap heat very well and does not let heat escape quickly. While flannel also can help to trap air, it still allows air to circulate and won’t keep the heat for a long time. Therefore, fleece is often warmer than flannel.


Both fleece and flannel have a soft feel on one or two sides. In most situations, fleece is softer than flannel. Because fleece has a thicker and longer pile than flannel. But you may still feel uncomfortable with fleece if your skin is sensitive. Since fleece is a pure synthetic fabric and may cause a slightly plasticky feel. So, flannel made of cotton or wool may be more comfortable in such a condition.


Generally speaking, fleece is more durable than flannel. The key factor is that the fleece polyester fibers outlast and can not biodegrade. But for long-term use experience, durability may not the first consideration.

Fleece fabric does not pile and shrink after repeated wash. And it won’t get softer too. On the contrary, flannel is easy to pile and shrink during washing. But it will become softer after repeated washing. Therefore, if you pay more attention to the lifespan of fabric, fleece is a nice choice. And if you prefer to a softer fabric during long-term use, flannel will be a good choice.


Fleece is more breathable than flannel fabric. Fleece has a thicker pile and man-made polyester fibers, allowing a little amount of air to pass through. While flannel has a more loose structure, short pile, and cotton material, making air easy to circulate.

But what you should pay attention to is, that both fleece and flannel are more used to make fall or winter clothes or bedsheets. One of the considerations to buy such clothes is the ability to keep warm. So whether the fabric is breathable does not very important. After all, no one wants to let the body heat escape easily.


As mentioned above, fleece is a synthetic fabric made from 100% polyester, and flannel fabric mainly uses natural materials such as wool and cotton. Both two fabrics have side impacts on the environment to some degree.

Polyester derives from petroleum which is a type of limited natural resource. Any behavior to consume those resources is not sustainable. Some plastic bottles are also great sources to make fleece fabric, which is beneficial for the environment and limited resources.

As for flannel, cotton is one of the important materials. As we know, no matter to grow cotton plants or process cotton textiles like flannel, it needs a large amount of water or pesticide, which impacts the environment a lot.

However, it doesn’t worry about those impacts too much as more and more manufacturers and consumers pay much attention to our living environment.


Generally speaking, it’s difficult to judge the cost of fleece and flannel. Because there are lots of factors to affect the product price you buy. For example, flannel bed sheets often cost more than fleece sheets. But the flannel overshirts cost less than the fleece hoodie. Besides, the product brand also plays a vital role in pricing.

In simple terms, fleece often costs less than flannel fabric in view of synthetic materials because synthetic polyester is cheap than natural materials. But if take other factors into consideration, the cost of fleece and flannel is hard to tell.

Fleece vs Flannel: Which is Better


For fleece vs flannel bedsheets, how to choose them depends on your personal sleeping habits. For cold winter nights, you can choose warm fleece bedsheets to help you have a nice and cozy sleep. But if you are easy to sweat at night, flannel bedsheets will be more suitable for you. Because flannel bedsheets will keep you warm and help the moisture to evaporate quickly, so you won’t feel slimy.


Fleece and flannel jackets are popular among young people. Those jackets are great, but usually for different purposes. In most cases, fleece jackets are able to keep you warm and have a good ability to protect you from cold weather. And it also can keep you from being rainy and snowy to some degree due to its thicker and longer pile. On the other hand, flannel jackets offer a great fashion look and warmth in the fall.


Both fleece and flannel are wonderful materials for blankets. The blankets made of them are ultra soft and warm to the touch. And there are a variety of blankets with different sizes and colors in the market, so you can buy what you love.

When it comes to which one is better, fleece or flannel blanket. It depends on where you use it. If you want to buy blankets for a baby, then flannel blankets will more suitable. Because the main material of flannel is cotton, which does not cause allergic problems. And if you want to buy blankets for your pet dogs, you should consider the temperature and habits of your dogs. Fleece blankets will help your pup keep warm better. But if your dogs love to bite clothes, then a flannel blanket will be better due to its material being more friendly.


Both fleece and flannel are soft and warm. Fleece has thicker piles than flannel, and it is warmer than flannel. While flannel is more breathable than fleece due to its loose woven structure and natural material.

The 6 main differences between fleece and flannel mentioned above have shown the details, helping you guys know more about those two fabrics. So which fabric do you prefer, fleece or flannel?

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