Lyocell VS. Cotton Polyester

Compared to polyester and cotton, Lyocell transports moisture directly into the fiber and releases it just as quickly into the environment.

The nano-fibrillar fiber structure of Lyocell and the resulting ability for perfect moisture management, the smooth surface and the purity of the fiber, which is due to the environmentally friendly production process, result in superior wear-physiological properties.

Lyocell, due to its natural structure and associated properties, meets the requirements for temperature regulation of the human body, skin sensitivity and hygiene compared to other fiber materials.

Source: Lenzinger AG (2004): Higher Performance with Natural Intelligence

Fibril structure of Lyocell

Source: Lenzing AG (2020): Physical properties of active sportswear with TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers

Illustrates water absorption
Lyocell vs. Polyester
Source: Lenzinger AG (2004): Higher Performance with Natural Intelligence

The following microscopic images illustrate how the moisture (blue) accumulates in the respective material.

It is easy to see how Lyocell draws moisture into the fiber, which is only partially the case with cotton and not at all with polyester. This property of increased moisture absorption is called hydrophilicity. 


Bacterial growth on textiles

Source: Lenzinger AG (2004): Higher Performance with Natural Intelligence


Bacterial growth is thus reduced in Lyocell in a natural way and completely without chemical additives.

Any moisture that arises is immediately transported away to the inside of the fiber (see above) and thus the formation of bacteria is prevented with Lyocell right from the start. There is no film of moisture on the fiber, which is a breeding ground for bacteria. The following chart shows that bacterial growth on synthetic materials is higher than on Lyocell by a factor of 100 to 1000. For cotton, growth is even higher by a factor of 10.

In this comparison, Lyocell has a significantly higher water absorption capacity and, above all, a much higher absorption rate than cotton and polyester.

Due to the homogeneous distribution of moisture over a large area, Lyocell can ensure optimal evaporation on the surface of the textile material and thus leads to excellent temperature regulation.

Within 20 seconds, the Lyocell fabric reaches a maximum moisture absorption capacity of 380%, while cotton and polyester only reach 16-18%.


Comparison of the water absorption or uptake of Lyocell, cotton and polyester

Source: Lenzinger AG (2004): Higher Performance with Natural Intelligence

In addition to good moisture absorption, the ability to release the absorbed water during drying is also an important parameter, especially for sportswear.

Polyester is known as a material that has better drying properties than cotton. That is why polyester is often used for sports jerseys. However, the situation is completely different with Lyocell.

Although with Lyocell the moisture from the fibre has to be released from the inside of the fibre to the surface and then to the air, no significant difference in drying speed can be observed between Lyocell and polyester.


Comparison of the drying properties of Lyocell and polyester.

Source: Lenzinger AG (2004): Higher Performance with Natural Intelligence