Nylon vs Polyester: Differences and Comparison (With Table)

Nylon and polyester are two common fabrics of outdoor apparel or gear. If you’re looking for hiking clothes or workout attire, you’d better make sense of what is nylon and polyester fabric, and what’s the differences between nylon and polyester fabric, which can help you make the wise choices to get what you need.

The big difference between nylon and polyester fabric is that nylon fabric looks brighter than polyester, and nylon is softer and stronger than polyester, which makes it popular in many applications. Polyester is rougher, more water-resistant and easier to dye, and less expensive to produce than nylon. Both of them are lightweight synthetic fabrics.

Nylon vs Polyester fabric

This article will explore the key differences between nylon and polyester fabrics and the products made of nylon and polyester.

Nylon vs Polyester: Comparison Chart

The following chart shows the basic properties and uses of nylon and polyester fabrics.

Chemical namePolyamidePolyethylene Naphthalate
AppearanceNylon is bright and feels smooth, softnessPolyester isn’t light as nylon and is a little hard to the touch
PropertiesStrong resistant to stretch, chemicals and aging, hard to the touch, good elasticityHigh strength, good elasticity, heat and wear resistance, preservative
ManufactureProcessing in the form of liquid then spun and dried into individual fibers.Melt spinning to form POY and become yarn after stretching and texturing.
UsesHiking clothes, winter clothes, carpet, industrial uses like tire cords, hoses, and conveyor beltsOutwear apparels, decorative filaments, industrial use such as various filaments

Nylon Definition

Nylon is also called polyamide or polyamide fibre. It is the largest synthetic fiber in the world and is widely used due to its excellent performance and abundant raw materials.

Nylon is a polymer that comes from petroleum. It’s made by combining individual monomers into a long, distinct polymer. Nylon is made out of the monomers adipic acid and hexamethylenediamine. Nylon polymers are melted into long strings extruded through industrial nozzles to form filaments, then become a thread and fabrics.

Nylon fabric is widely used in women’s apparel and is also used as a replacement for silk fabric due to its lightweight and silky properties. And its weatherproof features make it a popular fabric for outdoor clothing as well.

Polyester Definition

Polyester is an important type of synthetic fiber. It is a fiber-forming polyester prepared from purified terephthalic acid (PTA) or dimethyl terephthalate (DMT) and ethylene glycol (EG) through esterification or transesterification and polycondensation reaction – Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), fibers made by spinning and post-processing.

Polyester is a polymer or plastic. It’s made by using heat and pressure to combine monomers into a larger and stronger polymer. In the past time, this kind of fiber is not friendly to the environment because it was hard to degrade. But now as fabric technology develops, more environment-friendly materials like recycled plastics have been used to produce polyester, which reduces the side effect on the environment.

Nylon vs Polyester Fabric: 7 Key Differences

Nylon and polyester fabric are very similar, so many people easily feel confused about them. Here are 10 key differences between nylon and polyester fabric, which are helpful to tell between nylon and polyester.


Polyester is bright, silky, and soft to the touch, it has a glittering effect. Nylon is brighter and softer than polyester, silkier to the touch. And nylon fabric is lightweight and has good resilience and wind resistance, so nylon fabric is popular in women’s stockings, swimsuits, yoga clothes, sportswear, windbreakers, and down jackets.


Nylon fabrics have excellent wear and corrosion resistance. It can resistant to corrosive substances such as gasoline, alcohol, and salt. Due to its good wearability, clothes using nylon fabrics are strong and not easy to be damaged.

The abrasion resistance of polyester fabrics is second to nylon and is better than other natural fibers and synthetic fibers.


Nylon fabric has very good abrasion resistance, which is higher than all other fibers, for example, 10 times higher than cotton and 20 times higher than wool. If one fabric needs to improve its abrasion-resistant, adding some nylon fibers will be a good choice. For this point, polyester gets a slightly lower mark than nylon.

Breathability and Confortness

Breathability and confortness are two key points to consider when buying clothes. Both nylon and polyester fabrics get lower marks at this point of breathability. But nylon fabric has good water absorption, so the clothes made of this fabric are comfortable and won’t be sultry. Due to these features, nylon fabric is common to see in mountaineering clothes and sportswear.

Polyester fabric doesn’t have such good water absorption as nylon, so you may feel very stuffy if you wear clothes made of polyester fabric. Therefore, polyester is not suitable for close-fitting clothing in summer, but it is a good choice for sun protection jacket products due to its light resistance and sun protection.


Though nylon and polyester fabric have good wear resistance, they need careful maintenance to keep themselves in good status. Here are the washing and maintenance tips for nylon fabrics.

● The temperature of water to wash nylon-made clothes is better at low 40 degrees, so as avoid the physical damage due to the high temperature.
● Do not rub too hard when washing to avoid small hairballs.
● Rinse several times light-colored clothes after washing, otherwise they will easily turn yellow over time.
● Nylon-made clothing should be dried in the shade.
● Nylon-made clothing should be ironed at low temperature with steam, not dry ironing.
● Polyester fiber fabric can be safely washed with higher temperature water. It’s better to wash it frequently if there are oil stains and odors.
● It’s better to use neutral detergent to wash polyester-made clothing.
● Polyester fabric supports dry cleanable and machine wash. It’s better to use a laundry bag when machine washing.
● Do not expose the polyester fabric to the hot sun.
● Larger clothes made with polyester fabric should not be folded for a long time.

Common Use

Both nylon and polyester are widely used in clothing and industrial applications. Usually, nylon fabric is used for blouses, dresses, base clothing, socks, underwear, bodysuits, raincoats, ski suits, windbreakers, swimwear, and cycling wear. For industrial use, nylon can be made into tire cords, hoses, and conveyor belts. Other uses of nylon include harnesses, parachutes, racket cords, ropes, nets, sleeping bags, tarpaulins, tents, line, monofilament fishing line, and dental floss.

Polyester fibers are more widely used in clothing and exist in almost all kinds of clothing. Lots of apparel are made with this type of fabric due to its good elasticity and ease to wash. Polyester is also used in some industrial applications such as hoses, power belts, tire cords, and floppy disk liners. And it also can be used for fiber filling in ropes, nets, threads, car upholstery, sails, and a variety of products, including pillows and furniture.


The widespread use of polyester in the garment industry is largely attributed to its relatively low production cost compared with nylon and cotton. In most cases, the price of nylon is higher than that of polyester. Because its production process needs more investment.

Of course, when buying clothes or other items, the cost is also related to the brand name, design, and kind of product, which will affect the price of nylon and polyester products.

Nylon vs Polyester: Which Is Better?

As two commonly used fabrics, nylon and polyester are easy to find in daily clothes and necessities. It’s hard to say whether nylon or polyester is better. Here comparing several common uses to tell which fabric is better to some degree.

Nylon vs Polyester Clothing

Both nylon and polyester fabrics have good ability of water resistance, so they are widely used in outdoor apparel such as hiking clothes or pants. Polyester fabric does not absorb water due to its chemical properties, while the nylon-made fabric will absorb a small amount of water. At this point, polyester clothes are better than nylon ones.

Nylon vs Polyester Carpet

Both nylon and polyester fibers can be used for carpets, but they have differences due to their different features. Usually, nylon carpets are more durable than polyester ones because of their strong and high resilience. Therefore nylon carpets are more expensive than polyester carpets.

Polyester carpets provide good stain resistance and durability than wool carpets. So if you consider the carpet price, polyester carpets will be a good choice.

Nylon vs Polyester Jacket

As mentioned above, nylon and polyester fabric are widely used in clothing. But for different apparel, these two fabrics are used differently. For example, jackets made of nylon are noisy and dry less quickly. And jackets made with polyester are cooler than nylon ones due to their good ability of UV resistant and can withstand more prolonged exposure to the sun than nylon.

How Can You Tell Nylon From Polyester?

Apart from telling nylon from polyester by their appearance, there are two other methods to tell nylon fabric from polyester.

The first one is to use your finger to scrape the two types of fabrics, the one with obvious traces is polyester, and the one with no or fewer traces is nylon.

The second method is to burn them and see the burning reaction. Burning polyester will emit strong and black smoke, while nylon emits white smoke. And the residue of polyester will easily be broken, while the nylon residue will become plastic when pinched.


Do you make sense of the differences between nylon and polyester now? Understanding the properties of nylon and polyester will make you a more informed consumer. The differences between nylon and polyester lie in a variety of aspects mentioned above. When buying a fabric, keep in mind that nylon is softer but not often used in clothing. And polyester is known as water-resistant and affordable.

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