Difference between Polyester and Rayon

Polyester and Rayon are different types of fibers used in the manufacture of different materials in the fashion industry, pharma industry, and several other industries. Globalization has caused rapid growth in the fashion industry and has led to excess demand-supply of polyester and rayon.

It is vital for us to know 'what is fiber?' before we move forth to know 'What are Polyester and Rayon?'. Fibers are minute thread-like materials used to make yarns, and later on, these yarns are used to make fabrics. Let’s dive deeper into this matter to get a broad spectrum of these topics.

What is Polyester?

The word polyester is a combination of two words polymer and ester where polymer means a chemical compound consisting of large molecules which are made from multiple smaller molecules, and ester means a natural or organic compound that is formed by the reactions of acid and alcohol.

Polyester is a synthetic fiber. They are made from petroleum. A scientific method called polymerization is followed to make polyester. It is also referred to as Polyethylene terephthalate or PET.

Polyester is popular in the textile industry. They are used by many reputed fashion lines such as Zara, Shien, and Urbanic. They are used in making clothes to a great degree, furniture, bed-sheet curtains, stationery items, and many more. The reasons are strong material and can be stretched extensively. They do not require special care, like in the cases of cotton, silk, and many more. They are more robust than cotton and have strong water resistance.

Merits and Demerits of Polyester

Following are the merits of using Polyester −

  • It is durable, and its material is vital.

  • It’s pretty stretchable.

  • It has high water resistance and high heat resistance.

  • It can be easily dyed.

  • It does not require high maintenance and care.

  • Low-cost manufacture. It costs cheaper than manufacturing cotton and wool.

  • It is affordable for middle-class families.

Following are the demerits of using Polyester −

  • Due to its vital matter, it does not allow air diffusion, making it highly uncomfortable to wear. And this can lead to many skin problems.

  • It is not eco-friendly. It is primarily plastic, a second petroleum product. The production of polyester involves a lot of energy transfusion, which will contaminate the atmosphere and affect greenhouse gases, increasing global warming.

  • It is not biodegradable. It takes more than 50 years to get degraded in the soil.

  • It releases nasty chemicals such as phthalate into the air and causes skin damage by inducing hormonal imbalance and causes other health problems.

  • It does not readily absorb water.

What is Rayon?

Rayon is derived from the French word ‘Bayonne,’ which means shine or glimmer. It is a semisynthetic fiber made from regenerated cellulose. It is made from wood pulp. Rayon is called artificial silk since it resembles silk by its characteristics, such as softness, shininess, and absorbent-rayon fiber’s chemical properties are twin to cotton’s chemical properties.

Rayon is cheaper than Silk as rayon is produced in factories in bulk and does not require a lot of man labor like in the case of manufacturing, while silk is obtained from caterpillars or silkworms and requires more man labor. Rayon is used in the textile industry to make materials, tire cords, carpets, surgical dressings, and many more.

Merits and Demerits of Rayon

Following are the merits of using Rayon −

  • It is affordable compared to natural silk.

  • It can be easily draped.

  • Its sleek texture is appreciated.

  • It resembles silk and has a soft, sleek, and lustrous texture.

  • It is comfortable to wear as it is breathable because its matter is not tightly packed and highly absorbent.

  • It is easily dyeable and primarily amiable.

  • It blends easily with other fibers.

  • It is high resistance to dilute Alkalis.

  • Its production cost is less.

Following are the demerits of using Rayon −

  • It is opposite to Polyester as it is not stretchable.

  • The fabric should be dry cleaned as its material becomes weak it is wet.

  • Carbon disulfide is used in its manufacture. It is highly toxic and harmful to the environment. It causes land, water, air, and soil pollution.

  • If it is water-resistant, it takes the exact time to decompose.

  • It is not sustainable.

  • It can quickly get wrinkles.

  • It can quickly get damaged.

Differences between Polyester and Rayon

The following table highlights the differences between Polyester and Rayon −

Type of Fiber
Polyester is a synthetic fiber.
Rayon is a semi-synthetic fiber.
Polyester is produced by a scientific process called Polymerization.
Rayon is made from generated cellulose from wood pulp.
Polyester is more complex compared to rayon and has a rough texture.
Rayon is soft and has a sleek surface.
Polyester is more durable compared to rayon.
Rayon is less stable compared to Polyester.
It requires less maintenance.
Need extra maintenance as rayon material becomes weak when they are wet. It should be dry-washed.
When to wear
Polyester is comfortable to wear in cold weather.
Rayon is comfortable to wear in hot weather.
Not eco-friendly.
More Eco-friendly compared to Polyester.


Both Polyester and Rayon are fabrics. They fall under the synthetic fiber category. Both have apparent differences. Due to fast fashion and the increasing population, there is extensive use of Polyester and Rayon everywhere. They are not environment friendly as they produce more waste because polyester is not biodegradable, while rayon takes many decades to degrade in soil.

The production of these fibers is causing environmental damage and impacting global warming infamously. The reason for this is straightforward they are not sustainable. The fast we switch to a sustainable lifestyle, the better it is. They are not suitable for our overall health and lifestyle. It causes more damage than is helpful. I hope this article has given you a clear insight into polyester and rayon.

Updated on: 13-Jul-2022


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