Cleaning & Laundry

Fabric Basics

Fabric Basics

Clothing selection is determined by many factors such as age, gender, body type, occasion, occupation, season, income, fashion and personality. What our clothing is made from also plays a role in what we choose. There are two different types of fibres: natural, which are made from plant or animal-based fibres, and synthetic, also known as man-made fibres, which are made from chemical compounds. Some garments are made using a combination of the two. 

  • Natural Fibres

    Plant-based fibres are known for their durability, comfort, moisture absorbency, and drape ability. These types of fabrics are perfect for the spring and summer months or warm climates. Some common plant fibres include:

    • Cotton 
    • Bamboo 
    • Jute  
    • Hemp
    • Linen (flax) 


    Animal-based fibres are known for their durability, comfort, warmth and soft textures.  These types of fabrics are perfect for the fall or winter or cooler climates. Some common animal fibres include: 

    • Wool
    • Leather 
    • Hair 
    • Fur  
    • Silk 



    The biggest advantages of natural fibres are that they are more environmentally friendly, comfortable, and have odour-fighting properties. Also, you can often wear them more in between washings, they are breathable and biodegradable.



    Some disadvantages are that they tend to be more expensive, have the potential to shrink, they wrinkle and can become baggy. Production of some natural fibres can be affected by the weather and the environment. There is a possibility of damage from insects, such as moths and some natural fibres cannot be cleaned at home and require professional dry cleaning.

  • Synthetic or Man-Made Fibres

    Natural polymer fibres are a blend of natural polymers, such as silk, cellulose or collagen, combined with synthetic polymers to produce fabrics such as: 

    • Viscose 
    • Acetate 
    • Rayon
    • Modal
    • Triacetate 


    Synthetic polymer fibres are made of all synthetic fibres and include: 

    • Polyester
    • Nylon 
    • Spandex 
    • Acrylic  



    Synthetic fibres have many advantages in that they are strong, can stretch for movement but retain their shape, can cost less and are lightweight. Clothing made from synthetic fibres is a great choice for sportswear. 



    Common disadvantages are that they are nonbiodegradable (containing microplastics), absorb odours and so may require more washing in between wearings,  and are not breathable so may not be comfortable in hot weather. They are also flammable, can pill or form fuzz or lint balls on fabric, and can cause skin reactions in some people.