Genuine & Proven: Acrylic Fabric Advantages And Disadvantages

acrylic fabric advantages and disadvantages

Last Updated on December 14, 2023 by Wahid

In the autumn, my favorite thing to do is wear a large, fluffy sweater and enjoy a cup of tea. In fact, until recently, I wasn’t aware that most of those sweaters were made of 100% acrylic fibers. When you’re anything like me, you’re probably wondering, what exactly is the Acrylic fabric? What are acrylic fabric advantages and disadvantages?

Yes, you’ll discover what it takes to make acrylic fabric in this article. Its advantages, disadvantages, and key characteristics will also be discussed. Last but not least, you’ll learn more about modacrylic!

Characteristics Of Acrylic Fabrics

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  • Acrylic fabric is made from a synthetic material and is an affordable alternative to wool. 
  • Compared to other synthetic materials, acrylonitrile monomers account for a greater percentage of acrylic fabric. 
  • Acrylic fabric is commonly used for socks, sweaters, and several kinds of cold-weather items.
  • Polymers such as nylon and polyester are made of acrylic cloths. 
  • A typical application of their materials is the wool spinning business, especially for the manufacture of artificial wool. 
  • Fabrics made of wool are costly, so most people cannot afford them, whereas acrylic fibers are made to be similar to wool and affordable as well. 
  • The characteristics of acrylic fiber are similar to those of wool, so acrylic textiles can serve as a substitute for wool to some extent. 

Acrylic Fabric Advantages And Disadvantages: Brief Overview

Acrylic, like any kind of fabric, has its pros and cons. It is our goal to make sure everybody understands acrylic fiber, so in this article, we will go over and break down all. While buying clothes and bedding online, it is essential to consider the fabric. Cotton is a fabric that we are more familiar with, while acrylic fiber is not as familiar. Can you tell me what acrylic fabrics are made of? Do acrylic fabrics pill? In the table below, you will find the answers to these questions.

1.In terms of physical properties, the acrylic fabric is similar to wool, but it is more elastic, so it is more resilient in the event of a large stretch.Fabrics made of acrylic fiber have their own shortcomings as well. Although acid-resistant, acrylic fiber does not resist alkalis.
2.Acrylic fiber has a fluffy texture, is soft to the touch, as well as retains heat well. It is also known as “synthetic wool”.You can’t wash with alkaline detergent, & acrylic fiber doesn’t absorb moisture well and is uncomfortable when worn.
3.The fabric is also known for its high strength. Despite this, acrylic fiber maintains a strength between 22.1~48.5cN,/dtex, which is greater than that of wool.Additionally, acrylic fabrics tend to pill easily, resulting in severe changes in the fabric’s appearance.
4.Acrylic fabric is capable of withstanding long-term sun exposure without deterioration. This material’s characteristics are determined by its structure.Fabrics made of chemical fibers do not have good air permeability, and neither does acrylic cloths. After wearing them, they become boring. 
5.In the laboratory, it was discovered that acrylic fabrics lose 20% of their strength when held up to sunlight. Thus, acrylic fabrics have a relatively long life.Acrylic fiber isn’t alkaline resistant. It is therefore recommended that acrylic fabrics be washed first with a neutral detergent.
6.Aside from its light resistance, acrylic also resists acid & oxidation, making it easier to clean and maintain as well.Acrylic fabrics are poorly hydrophilic, have a tendency to stain, and seem stuffy to wear.
7.A fabric made from acrylic has a high strength, which is more than twice as large as wool.Their alkali resistance is also poor. A washing with alkaline cleaning products will soften the acrylic fabric.
8.Acrylic fabrics have good sunlight resistance and are relatively fast to light. In comparison with wool, the material is 1 time more resistant to sun damage, although exposure to the sunlight doesn’t affect the fabric’s performance.
9.Lightweight and soft to the touch, the acrylic fabric is an excellent material for clothing, retaining heat well, and being comfortable to wear.
10.Fabrics made of acrylic are resistant to corrosion, so they are not generally affected by acid attacks.
11.Easy to wash and can be thrown in the washing machine. On the other hand, it dries best when air-dried.
12.Dye-fast, which means the color won’t fade and won’t bleed through other clothing when washed.
13.Hydrophobic, which means it does not easily absorb moisture and provides safety protection from the weather.

What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Using Acrylic Instead Of Wool When Making An Afghan/Blanket?

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Do you need to know Acrylic vs. Wool Blankets? Actually, using acrylic yarn instead of wool for making an afghan or blanket has its own set of advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages Of Acrylic:

  • Cost-effective: Acrylic yarn is generally less expensive than wool, making it more budget-friendly for larger projects like afghans or blankets.
  • Ease of care: Acrylic is machine washable and doesn’t require special care like wool, which can be sensitive to temperature and agitation.
  • Hypoallergenic: Acrylic is generally hypoallergenic and suitable for those with wool allergies or sensitivities.
  • Color variety: Acrylic yarn comes in a wide range of vibrant and long-lasting colors, which is great for creating visually appealing designs.
  • Durability: Acrylic is less likely to shrink or stretch over time, making the blanket maintain its shape well.

Disadvantages Of Acrylic:

  • Less warmth: Acrylic doesn’t provide as much warmth as wool does, which might be a consideration if you’re looking for a cozy and insulating blanket.
  • Less breathable: Acrylic tends to be less breathable than natural fibers like wool, which could lead to discomfort in warmer weather.
  • Less softness: While acrylic yarn has improved over the years, it might still be less soft to the touch compared to natural fibers like wool.
  • Pilling and fuzziness: Acrylic yarn is more prone to pilling and developing a fuzzy surface with prolonged use, which might affect the blanket’s appearance.
  • Environmental impact: Acrylic is a synthetic material derived from petroleum, so it’s not as environmentally friendly as natural fibers like wool.

In the end, the choice between acrylic and wool depends on your priorities for the blanket. If you’re looking for affordability, easy care, and a wide range of colors, acrylic might be a good choice. However, if warmth, softness, and environmental considerations are important, wool could be a better option.

*Lynn Steinhauer*

Wool is warmer, but it is itchy. If you are allergic to it it will drive you crazy. Wool will shrink too. I don’t think it is washable.

Acrylic is cheaper, softer, and washable. Acrylic might pill or shed its fibers. Acrylic sweaters always pill.

*Georgene Wickstrand*

Is it better for the life of an afghan to knit or crochet with acrylic or natural fiber yarn?

In my own personal experience, I have found wool to hold up much better in use than acrylic. Both form pills during use, but wool can be de-pilled much easier and can last for years.

Care must be taken in laundering wool so that it pills less, but for the time, effort, and money involved in knitting or crocheting an afghan, making it using wool yarn is worth it.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Knitting With Acrylic Yarns Vs Wool Yarns?

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Acrylic Yarn Pros:

  • Affordable: Acrylic yarn is usually cheaper than wool.
  • Low Allergenicity: It’s less likely to cause allergies or sensitivities.
  • Easy Care: Acrylic yarn is machine washable and less prone to shrinking or felting.
  • Color Variety: It comes in a wide range of colors and is less likely to fade.
  • Vegan-Friendly: Suitable for those who prefer animal-free products.

Acrylic Yarn Cons:

  • Less Warmth: Acrylic yarn doesn’t provide as much warmth as wool.
  • Pilling: It can be prone to pilling and looking worn over time.
  • Less Breathable: Acrylic fibers don’t breathe as well as natural fibers.
  • Synthetic Feel: Some people find it less soft and pleasant to the touch.
  • Environmental Impact: It’s made from petroleum-based products, raising environmental concerns.

Wool Yarn Pros:

  • Insulation: Wool is highly insulating and provides excellent warmth.
  • Natural Fiber: It’s a renewable resource and biodegradable.
  • Breathability: Wool allows air circulation, making it comfortable to wear.
  • Durability: Wool yarn is long-lasting and resistant to pilling.
  • Elasticity: Wool has natural stretch and resilience, making it great for shaping.

Wool Yarn Cons:

  • Cost: Wool yarn tends to be more expensive than acrylic.
  • Allergies: Some individuals are allergic to wool.
  • Shrinkage: Wool can shrink or felt if not properly cared for.
  • Maintenance: It often requires more delicate washing and care.
  • Limited Colors: Natural wool colors are more limited compared to acrylic’s variety.

Ultimately, the choice between acrylic and wool yarn depends on your budget, preferences, and the intended use of the finished project.

What Is It? How Does Acrylic Fabric Work? 

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  • Acrylic fabrics are made of acrylic fibers. Acrylic was first produced by DuPont. The manufacturer of acrylic fabric no longer exists, but it’s produced all over the world.
  • During the process, acrylonitrile is chemically produced, which can also be used to make plastic. However, acrylonitrile is prone to decompose in the environment. 
  • A warm material made with acrylic yarns is called acrylic fabric, which is typically knitted or woven into a thick fabric. 
  • It provides excellent insulation and warmth, which is why it’s the popular choice for coat linings, sweaters, and outdoor clothing. This fabric is more affordable than wool.
  • However, since the acrylic fabric is one of the ingredients in other fabrics, it disintegrates quickly, so it is eco-friendly.
  • The material is widely used for knitted products, fabrics, and carpets. Generally, the acrylic fabric is thought- it is soft and lightweight, making it a great alternative to wool.

Acrylic Fabric: What Is It Made Of??

Do you wonder how acrylic fabrics are made and what the materials are that make them up?’ We will answer your questions shortly.

  • Acrylonitrile is a strange chemical derived from petroleum or coal.
  • In a water-based solution, acrylonitrile is converted into polyacrylonitrile, a polymer. 
  • Therefore, manufacturers use radical polymerization as a reaction technique.
  • After that, the chemical is dissolved with a powerful chemical solvent, resulting in a gel-like substance. 
  • Then, it’s fine to extrude this product through the spinner that produces acrylic fiber.

Coagulation of the solution is then accomplished by using the same solvent, a process known as wet spinning. Manufacturers who desire a better environmentally friendly & efficient process use a step called dry spinning. During dry spinning, a gas stream evaporates the solvent.

The fibers are then subjected to the following steps:

1. Washing→ 2. Stretching→ 3. Crimping

When the fibers are crimped, they become thin & long, making them suitable for spinning. Afterward, manufacturers use this yarn to weave apparel and carpets. 

List Of A Variety Of Acrylic Fabrics

1. Pure Acrylic Fabric: 

Made from 100% acrylic fiber. It has a loose and supple structure, a bright color, and an elastic feel and does not feel loose or rotten. The fabric can be used to make women’s clothing of medium and low grades.

2. Acrylic Bulked Yarn: 

By using 100% pure acrylic bulked yarn for the plain raw material, a twill woven coat can be made with acrylic bulked yarn. These fabrics have the quality of being warm, relaxing, and full of feeling. This makes them ideal for spring coats, autumn coats, and winter coats. They are also suitable for casual wear.

3. Acrylic Blended Fabric

The term acrylic blended materials refer to the blend of wool, viscose, medium-length acrylic fibers, and polyester. Including Viscose/Nitrile Gabardine, Viscose/Nitrile Ladies, Polyester/Nitrile Tweed, etc. Polyester/Nitrile Tweed combines 40% to 60% nitrile & polyester, resulting in a flat appearance, a firm feel, and no need for ironing. Unfortunately, it is not as comfortable, so it’s used mostly for mid range suits, outerwear, etc.

What Is Modacrylic?

An acrylic fabric called modacrylic has a number of unique characteristics. The word modacrylic means “modified acrylic!”

In general, acrylonitrile is found in smaller amounts in this fabric than in regular acrylic fabrics. Depending on the technical definition, the amount can range anywhere from 35% to 85%.

Compared to regular acrylic, modacrylic is more heat & flame resistant. This is because the chemical composition of modacrylic differs from regular acrylic. It is also more durable & lasts longer as well.

There are many uses for modacrylic, including making fake fur, paint rollers, and fleece fabric. Besides toys and clothing, it also appears in stuffed animals.

Acrylic Vs Cotton: Which Is Better?

Acrylic is either better or worse than cotton depending on its application. Cotton offers more breathability, softness, & moisture absorption than acrylic. While acrylic is warm and insulates better, it does not regulate temperature and lacks softness.

Furthermore, cotton is a natural fiber, not pure plastic, and comes from a plant. Natural fibers might feel softer and less plasticky to you.

In general, though, the fabrics are capable of handling various tasks. You’ll be unable to stay warm wearing cotton. It is more suitable for summer clothing such as t-shirts made of jersey knit. Due to cotton’s airy weave, it is commonly used for bedding as well.

Alternatively, acrylic can be too hot! Wear acrylic socks when shoveling snow for a few hours. It will keep your toes warm for hours, keeping them dry even if the boots are filled with snow.

However, knitted projects made with cotton will be much softer, of course. However, you might prefer to save money if you need lots of yarn. In short, cotton feels better in warm weather, while acrylic has a better hold in cold weather.

Acrylic Vs Polyester: Which Is Better?

The versatility of polyester is greater, although acrylic is warmer. Due to its poor level of breathability, acrylic is not suitable for bedding. Your body heat would not be able to escape into the air at night, so you would feel smothered!

In contrast, polyester can be woven into thousands of different kinds of materials to suit hundreds of different applications.

When it comes to cold-weather clothing, acrylic takes the lead. A sweater made with 100% polyester can be better for air circulation, whereas 100% acrylic is much more warming!

Is Acrylic Fabric Itchy?

Basically NO. Acrylic fabric is usually not itchy. Scientists have developed methods to produce acrylic fibers that are soft, comfortable, and super fine. They even claim that this material is not as itchy as wool. When compared to all-natural wool, it may have a slight plasticky tinge.

When you wear an acrylic fabric sweater and feel a rash, you obviously have a synthetic fiber allergy. It is possible for this material to trigger allergies, so you may want to consider wearing natural fibers instead.

Acrylic usually feels soft and cozy. Try to think of your hand sinking into a skein of yarn. That’s how acrylic feels!

Is Acrylic Stretchy Fabric?

It is possible for the acrylic fabric to have a lot of stretches according to its weave. Many sweaters have a knitted structure as opposed to plain weave ones. By this, it means the threads cross over each other at right angles instead of looping around each other.

Fabrics that are knit have almost always greater give than fabrics that are woven. In particular, sweaters usually feel stretchy as they are tugged.

In any case, a single acrylic thread does not feel elastic. After all, acrylic fiber is 100% plastic. Therefore, fabrics with a plain over-under weave will have less give than those with a plain weave.

In general, acrylic won’t feel stretchier than cotton unless it is blended with Lycra or spandex.

How Can Acrylic Fabric Be Used?

Wool is a more expensive alternative to acrylic. Acrylic is commonly used in clothing such as sweaters, fleece wear, socks, hats, etc. Acrylic fabrics are commonly seen in these applications.

You might not even realize that acrylic is used in so many different ways!

  • Outdoor Applications: Boat covers, outdoor furniture, car tops, awnings, etc.
  • Household Applications: Blankets, carpet, upholstery, pile fabrics, area rugs, etc.
  • Industrial Applications: Filtration materials, construction reinforcement materials, car batteries, and more.

Not only that, you can easily find acrylic used in the creation of hair extensions and wigs that look realistic. The fact that it holds colors well makes it perfect for making faux fur as well, and it comes in a variety of funky colors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q-1: Is Acrylic fabric natural or synthetic?

Answer: It is synthetic. Since acrylic isn’t a natural material, it is made by dissolving polymers in a variety of solvents. A large percentage of this fabric is acrylonitrile. A large percentage of this acrylic fabric is used for clothing purposes. 

Q-2: Is Acrylic toxic?

Answer: YES, acrylic fibers contain acrylonitrile, a mutagen, and a carcinogen. Health problems can be caused by these substances, anything from headache, nausea, dizziness, difficulty breathing, limb weakness, and more. Therefore, wearing acrylic fabric puts you at risk of absorbing harmful toxins.

Q-3: Is Acrylic fabric breathable?

Answer: No. Acrylic fabric is incredibly insulating because it is not breathable. As a result, acrylic is the best material for coats, jackets, linings, and any cold-weather clothing, as it retains heat extremely well.

Q-4: Is Acrylic fabric waterproof?

Answer: Basically, NO. Acrylic fiber is water-resistant and quick-drying, but it isn’t water-proof. In other words, acrylic fiber isn’t the best fabric for protection against rain and snow, but it does provide a reliable, low level of protection.

Q-5: Is Acrylic warmer than cotton?

Answer: Yes obviously. During the winter, acrylic keeps you warmer compared to cotton yarn. Neither cotton nor acrylic is the best choice for a pullover or heavy sweater, although acrylic is lighter and warmer than cotton. 

Q-6: I am going to crochet an afghan, I have not used cotton yarn, is it more difficult than acrylic?

Answer: A crocheted cotton yarn afghan will be VERY heavy. Like, maybe too heavy to sleep under! And if you ever have to wash it, I worry about the results; both for the blanket and your washer and dryer.

Are you thinking of the Lily-type yarn used for dishcloths as your yarn? I recommend making a dishcloth and using it a lot so you realize how much water it holds and how the yarn wears. Imagine that 400 times bigger being twisted and pulled by your washing machine and going through multiple dry cycles in order to get all of the damp out.

Q-7: Is it in poor taste to knit a baby blanket with acrylic? I’ve heard it can be very flammable.

Answer: Actually, it’s not that it’s flammable, is that it’s meltable. The acrylic is treated so as not to be flammable. But, it will melt and burn the baby. Because it is plastic. Wool is self-extinguishing and is a much better choice. This means, that if it catches fire, it puts itself out. This is why fire blankets are made of wool.

Plus, wool is temperature regulating. If you’re too cold it keeps you warm, if you’re too warm it can keep you cool. It doesn’t get cold when wet like cotton, it stays warm. They make washable wools, look for the term “super wash”. Which means you can put them in the washing machine and even the dryer. Although, the piece will look better and last longer if you lay it flat to dry.

Q-8: Is it possible to use acrylic yarn instead of wool when making scarves and other items like that (for example, amigurumi)?

Answer: Yes, definitely. The only caveat is if the amigurumi are to be felted, then non-superwash wool must be used.

Q-9: Should you buy merino wool clothes that have 30% acrylic?

Answer: I would not. Merino wool has a purpose, soft/warm. The acrylic is a cheap way to make it “durable”, but the fiber differences are contrary, it stretches strangely. Not to mention you get endless static. I would stick to wool-polyester blends or wool-cotton blends.

Q-10: Is acrylic wool safe to use for mice? I’d like to make ropes and nets etc.

Answer: No, it is NOT safe, unfortunately! Anything that has visible/accessible threads or similarly long fibers must be avoided for rodents. They love to chew and shred anything around them, and can then get tangled in the strings. I’ve heard some sad stories about rats losing circulation after getting tangled in thread from woven fabrics, and acrylic yarn would be even more dangerous. It doesn’t disintegrate when pulled on and could cause serious harm if wrapped around an animal.

Side note: If your mice have a tendency to consume anything they chew, I would not use any kind of polyester fabric at all, including fleece. Polyester/acrylic is just made from very small pieces of plastic.

Q-11: Which fabric is better to wear, wool or acrylic?

Answer: Wool will keep you much warmer than acrylic, usually costs more, requires more care, such as dry cleaning and protection from moths, and it can be itchy against the skin. Some of the most classically elegant clothing is made of wool and wool blends. The new acrylics are getting better all the time though, and can be just as attractive, and more practical for people who live in warmer climates, or just don’t want the commitment issues of wool clothing. I live in Texas. I probably spend more time caring for my beautiful cashmere sweaters than I do wearing them, but I love wearing them when I can. I have acrylic and acrylic blends too, and appreciate that they’re affordable, easy to launder, and not as warm. Why choose? Everyone can use both.

Q-12: Can you felt with acrylic wool?

Answer: Yes, but it’s a pain in the butt and won’t tighten down right. Natural wool has tiny little barbs on the fiber that help it snag and create the item you’re felting. Acrylic wool is a LOT smoother fiber and does not want to snag.

A Quick Guide To Everything

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Before we wrap up this blog, let’s recap. 

  • Acrylic is a completely synthetic fabric composed of coal-based or petroleum compounds. 
  • Simply put, acrylic comes from fossil fuels. 
  • It is generally used in clothing, such as sweatshirts, gloves, sweaters, boot liners, and athletic apparel, because of its excellent thermal properties. 
  • Additionally, it is used for outdoor upholstery. 
  • So now, you are familiar with acrylic material completely.

I appreciate you taking the time to read this 🙂

Final Words

Congratulations! You now have a detailed understanding of acrylic fabric advantages and disadvantages. Like everything else in the world, acrylic fiber is also not without its few downsides.

Now that you know what they are, it will be easier for you to decide whether or not acrylic clothing is for you. To have a little fun, look at the labels on your sweaters & winter coats. Is the fiber composition high in acrylic? Share your thoughts below and let us know!