Modal Vs Spandex: Who Wins & Why? [Debated]

modal vs spandex

Last Updated on January 27, 2024 by Wahid

Do you ever wonder what makes luxury underwear so comfortable, soft on your skin, & slightly stretchy? Basically, it all depends on the fabric.

Modal Vs Spandex: What’s the best fabric for clothing? However, several renowned apparel & lingerie brands use eco-friendly, ultra-lightweight, and breathable modal fabric. Compared to natural fibers, man-made fabrics are becoming increasingly popular. In the garment industry, spandex fiber is one of the most popular fibers. The spandex material is a smooth, lightweight, soft synthetic fiber with unique elasticity.

For a clearer understanding of Modal and Spandex, you need to understand the composition of each. Suppose you don’t know what to pick between Modal and Spandex. There’s no need to worry, we’re here to help.

Table of Contents

Modal Vs Spandex: Comparison Chart

Made from plant-based materials such as beech tree pulpMade from synthetic materials
Soft and breathableStretchy and form-fitting
Absorbent and moisture-wickingResistant to sweat and water
Durable and long-lastingProne to losing elasticity over time
Not as stretchy as spandexMore stretchy than modal
Used in clothing such as underwear, t-shirts, and sheetsUsed in athletic wear, swimwear, and compression garments
Environmentally friendlyNot environmentally friendly
Requires special care in washing and dryingEasy to care for and maintain

Overall, modal and spandex are both useful materials for different purposes. Modal is great for soft and breathable clothing, while spandex is excellent for stretchy and form-fitting garments. Modal is also more environmentally friendly, but it requires more careful washing and drying than spandex. Ultimately, the choice between modal and spandex will depend on the specific application and preferences of the user.

Modal Vs Spandex: Who Are They?

Modal Fabric: What Is It?

What Is Modal Fabric
  • The modal fabric consists of spun, wood-based cellulose from beech trees. 
  • Modal textiles such as linen are typically more eco-friendly than cotton since beech trees need little water for their growth. 
  • Therefore, water is used about 10 to 20 times less during the production process.
  • Northern and Central Europe are home to beech forests. 
  • Since they don’t require artificial irrigation or planting, they’re a sustainable and natural source of our products. 
  • A majority of the wood we use in our materials comes from Austria & its neighboring countries.

Spandex Fabric: What Is It?

What Is Spandex Fabric
  • Synthetic fabrics such as spandex are prized for their elasticity. 
  • In spite of popular belief, spandex isn’t a brand name. 
  • However, polyether-polyurea copolymer fabrics are generally considered to be these fabrics, regardless of how they are made. 
  • All 3 terms spandex, elastane, and lycra mean the same thing.
  • The fabric has the capability to stretch 5-8 times a normal size, making it ideal for consumer apparel with a form-fitting fit. 
  • For the most part, spandex is not used directly in garments, & instead, in small quantities, it is combined with various synthetic, semi-synthetic, and organic fibers.

Modal Vs Spandex: Manufacturing Process

How Is Modal Fabric Manufactured?

  • Bio-based Modal fabric uses reconstituted beech tree cellulose to make woven fabrics. 
  • Cotton is generally considered to be the most environmentally friendly of the two materials as beech trees grow well without much water, which makes the manufacturing process more efficient.
  • Although the fabric is plant-derived, it is processed by soaking it in chemicals such as carbon disulfide and sodium hydroxide, thus making 
  • Modal is similar to rayon, although it has a higher degree of durability compared to regular rayon. 
  • Modal is a semi-synthetic fabric. It also feels softer, similar to cotton.

How Is Spandex Fabric Manufactured?

  • As a base material for spandex, it is polyurethane, a product developed in 1937 by the German company IG Farben. 
  • As soon as World War II ended, many German scientists moved to the United States and began new careers. 
  • Many IG Farben textile engineers were employed by DuPont Corporation, unquestionably the leading synthetic textile company of its time.
  • Similarly to other polymers, spandex consists of repeating monomer chains linked by an acid. 
  • Since the beginning of the spandex manufacturing process, this material has been recognized for its high heat resistance. 
  • As a result, notoriously sweat-sensitive fabrics such as nylon & polyester perform better when blended with spandex.

Modal Vs Spandex: Briefly Comparison

Modal and spandex are two different materials used in clothing production. Modal is made from plant-based materials such as beech tree pulp, while spandex is a synthetic material. Here are some key differences between the two:

  • Softness and breathability: Modal is known for being soft and breathable, making it a popular choice for clothing like underwear, t-shirts, and sheets. Spandex is not as breathable, but it is stretchy and form-fitting, making it a common material in athletic wear, swimwear, and compression garments.
  • Moisture-wicking properties: Modal is highly absorbent and moisture-wicking, meaning it can absorb sweat and keep the skin dry. Spandex is resistant to sweat and water, which makes it a good choice for swimwear and athletic wear.
  • Durability: Modal is known to be durable and long-lasting, while spandex can lose its elasticity over time, especially with repeated use and washing.
  • Stretchiness: Spandex is much more stretchy than modal, which makes it great for clothing that needs to stretch and move with the body.
  • Environmental impact: Modal is considered more environmentally friendly than spandex since it is made from natural materials. However, both materials have their own environmental impacts and may require special care in disposal and production.

In summary, modal and spandex have different properties and are used for different purposes in clothing production. Modal is soft, breathable, and moisture-wicking, while spandex is stretchy and form-fitting. The choice between the two will depend on the specific application and preferences of the user.

Regenerate response

Benefits Of Using & Wearing Modal Fabric

Actually, Modal fabric, also called HWM rayon, belongs to the rayon family of fabrics widely available in consumer clothing. There are several advantages to choosing Modal material:

Natural Stretch

Since modal is a flexible fabric, items such as athletic clothing and t-shirts can be made from it.

Drapes well

Just like rayon and various silk alternatives, modal drapes beautifully, which makes it a great fabric for products.

Soft Fabric

Modal is incredibly soft to the touch.

Water Absorbent

Modal absorbs 50% more water than cotton.

Breathable Fabric

Modal is an excellent fabric for sportswear, t-shirts, base layers, and underwear because of its breathable weave.

Eco-Friendly Fabric

Modal is produced from renewable resources and is less chemically intensive than other rayons.


Because of its tight weave & long fibers, modal is a very strong material.

Color Fast

In warm water, the dye is absorbed by the fabric and will not bleed out after laundering.

Doesn’t Pill

This fabric features a smooth finish and is resistant to pilling, making it perfect for everyday use.

Biodegradable Fabric

Basically, Modal is made from natural fibers that are completely biodegradable.

Doesn’t Shrink

As opposed to most rayon, the modal does not shrink when washed.

Doesn’t Crease

Modal fabric resists wrinkles and stays smooth even after minimal ironing.

Benefits Of Using & Wearing Spandex Fabric

Because spandex is the main material, spandex sportswear has many advantages over other sportswear. There are several advantages to choosing spandex material:

Strong & Hard-To-Damage

When spandex fabric is wetted with seawater, sweat, or lotion, the material will not easily be damaged.

Elasticity Is High

Wearing sportswear made from spandex is highly comfortable due to its stretchy and flexible nature.


Because of its high elasticity, this kind of fabric is well suited to use as raw fabric for shirts for sports.

Easy To Untangle

Wearing clothing made with spandex will prevent it from wrinkling easily. Hence, it is well suited to sports activities.

Soft & Smooth Fabric Texture

Finished with a smooth, soft texture, Spandex is a material that is frequently used in fashion.

Consider Your Body Shape

Stretch clothing conforms to the body’s curves thanks to its flexible properties. Spandex clothes also enhance your appearance.

Movement Is Unrestricted

Due to the material’s flexibility and elastic properties, the wearer will be able to move more freely. Sports enthusiasts must wear clothes that allow them to move freely.

Fading Color Is Hard

There are several advantages to spandex material, including its resistance to fading. The color is absorbed well enough into the fabric’s fibers.

Easy Maintenance

Among the types of fabrics that are easy to maintain, spandex is one. It is simple to wash spandex sports clothes with detergent after they are dirty.

Dry Faster

As a material, spandex dries quickly because it isn’t too absorbent. Thus, sunlight will be the only source of drying.

Non-Transparent Material

Generally, spandex is thin and lightweight. Despite this, spandex is fairly dense, which means that it is not as transparent as cotton.

Taking Care Of Modal Clothes: What You Should Know?

Tumble-drying and washing machines are both acceptable ways to care for Modal clothes. However, pay attention to the clothing washing instructions, as modal blends (with cotton & spandex) may need to be washed differently.

  • Cold water should be used for washing. 
  • The fabric can be cleaned at any temperature, though it is best to use cold water. 
  • In contrast to most rayons, this fabric does not require dry cleaning.
  • Make sure you use oxygen based bleach. It is best to avoid using chlorine bleach when washing fabrics since it can weaken them.
  • You should dry your clothes on medium to low heat. 
  • Remove your items from the dryer as soon as possible, or at least when they are slightly damp, to prevent wrinkles. 
  • Don’t hesitate to hang up.

Taking Care Of Spandex Clothes: What You Should Know?

In order to maintain spandex’s elastic properties, it must be washed properly. You should always follow the instructions on your clothing care label.

Washing Spandex By Hand

  • To avoid excessive stretching, spandex should be hand washed. Avoid using laundry detergents that contain fabric conditioner or chlorine bleach because they will damage your spandex.
  • When washing and rinsing, use water with a low temperature (max 30°C). Make sure the detergent you use does not contain chlorine bleach.
  • Lightly rub any stains on the garment as you gently shake it.
  • Once the item has been cleaned, rinse it thoroughly with lukewarm water.
  • Don’t wring the clothes after washing – gently squeeze them out.

Washing Spandex By Machine

  • Spandex garments should be placed in mesh washing bags.
  • Don’t use chlorine bleach when using a mild detergent.
  • Set the machine to the ‘delicates’ cycle (soft and gentle) and make sure that the machine spins slowly before turning it off.

Is Spandex Fabric Available In Different Types?

Regardless of the production method used to manufacture spandex, its chemical properties remain the same. However, a variety of terms that describe this fabric may cause confusion:


Its use is not protected as a trademark. In fact, it’s an alternate spelling of “expand.” The term “Spandex” was not intended for use as the generic term for elastane fabrics. However, consumers have stuck with the term, which is now commonly used by Americans & Canadians to describe this fabric.


This type of fabric is commonly referred to as “elastane” in Europe. To refer to this fabric chemically, it should be called elastane.


“DuPont” owns a registered trademark for this term. DuPont’s spandex is the only kind of spandex that is referred to as Lycra. However, spandex and elastane fabrics have the same chemical composition, as well as the same properties.

Production Guide: How Does Modal Production Work?

  • The pulp of beech trees is harvested, chipped, & extracted for cellulose.
  • Next, cellulose is shaped into sheets, and then sodium hydroxide is applied to them.
  • Sheets like this are broken up into smaller chunks and then soaked using carbon disulfate. In this process, sodium cellulose xanthate is produced.
  • A second soak in sodium hydroxide is performed on the cellulose xanthate.
  • Following the liquid mixture, it is spun in a spinneret, an apparatus with holes for making fibers.
  • Sulfuric acid is soaked into the fibers to create yarn. After the yarn has been washed, bleached, & dried, spools are loaded with yarn.
  • Once the yarn is woven or knitted into a material, a modal is formed.

Production Guide: How Does Spandex Production Work?

The manufacture of spandex fibers can be accomplished in four ways: reaction spinning, melt extrusion, dry solution spinning, and wet solution spinning. Whenever these methods are used, monomers are first reacted to produce prepolymers. After pre-polymerization, it is reacted further, usually in a chemical reaction, and then drawn out to form long fibers. Traditionally, solution dry spinning is the method used in over 90% of global spandex production.

  • Firstly, pre-polymer is made by combining macro glycol and mono-isocyanate monomer. Thus, the ratio must be strictly controlled. Ideally, glycol and di-isocyanate should be mixed in a 1:2 ratio.
  • Chain extension reactions occur when pre-polymers are reacted with di-amines in equal amounts. The spinning solution is produced by diluting the solution in an appropriate solvent.
  • Throughout the fiber-producing cell, polymer solutions are pumped through metal plates, known as spinnerets, which have several small holes. As a result, liquid polymer strands are aligned. 
  • To achieve the desired thickness, a specific number of solid fibers are twisted together using compressed air and a mechanical device.
  • Final finishing chemicals can include magnesium stearate and other polymers, including poly (dimethyl-siloxane). It helps the textile manufacturing process by preventing fibers from sticking together.
  • Upon loading with fiber, the spools are packaged for shipment to customers, for example, textile manufacturers. The fabrics can also be dyed to achieve the color they desire.

A Variety Of Uses For Spandex Fabrics

In the apparel industry, spandex is widely used. However, industrial and hospitality organizations can also benefit from this fabric. There is a wide range of garments that use spandex fabrics. This includes hosiery, socks, swimsuits, exercise wear, undergarments, surgical hose, cycling shorts, gloves, rowing suits, wrestling suits, specialized clothing such as zentai suits, suits for motion capture, denim, etc.

Many sports apparel & accessories items are made from spandex. An athlete’s or cyclist’s spandex garment is perfect for windy conditions since it reduces wind resistance. Competitive cyclists and runners will benefit from this garment. Sports bras are produced using spandex fabric because of their ability to provide support.

Aside from sports garments, spandex is used to manufacture a variety of sports items like soccer balls and volleyballs. As spandex is beneficial for the apparel industry, it also has many benefits in the industrial sector. It has become common to make rubber-based items with spandex. The medical industry uses spandex in place of latex to manufacture rubber tubing, knee, hosing, and back braces.

Among its uses is the production of fitted sheets & microbead pillows. Spandex is used for interior decoration & event planning, which is a lesser-known use. As an example, table coverings and chair covers made of latex are made of spandex fabric.

As an alternative to a conventional tablecloth, the dining area can look modern with a well-fitted spandex cover. Today, spandex chair bands and covers are more popular than cloth because cloth shrinks after a long time. Nevertheless, the spandex material fits perfectly and is long-lasting.

Modal Vs Spandex: PROS & CONS

Despite their popularity, both spandex and Modal have drawbacks. There are some advantages and disadvantages to the modal & Spandex fabric. Let’s take a look at their pros and cons.

Pros Of Modal Fabric

Highly Absorbent

Modal is a popular choice for sportswear, underwear, and lingerie for a reason. In addition to its 50% greater absorbency than cotton, you won’t experience clammy clothing due to excessive sweating.

Sustainable & Eco-Friendly

Modal fiber is a biodegradable, sustainable cellulosic fiber made by regenerating beech wood. A modal fabric yields ten times as much as cotton and needs less irrigation than cotton. Thus, eco-friendly and sustainable.


The modal fabric doesn’t need a lot of cleaning and bleaching agents to maintain its whiteness after washing. As a result, Modal is an energy efficient option.

Stretchy & Breathable

Fabrics made of modals are breathable due to their weave. Therefore, it is an ideal choice for sporting wear as well as everyday wear, for instance, baby clothing, T-shirts, etc.

Pill, Shrink, & Crease-Free

Ironing is not necessary because it maintains a smooth & wrinkle-free. The product is therefore ideal for everyday use.

Cons Of Modal Fabric

Heat Turns It Yellow

Modal fabric is a textile made from plant-based materials. Due to this, fabrics might become discolored when heated beyond their body temperature.

Possibly Allergenic

Modal fabric is not suitable for everyone. Among the allergic reactions caused by this substance are itching, redness, rashes, and even blistering of the skin in extreme cases.  


The cost of the modal is higher than that of cotton or viscose. Even though the modal fabric has inexpensive production costs, it has high consumer prices. 

Pros Of Spandex Fabric 

  • The Spandex elongation is large, the shape is good, and there are no wrinkles.
  • The softest hand feeling, the best elastic, the most comfortable wearing, as well as the perfect fit.
  • This Spandex fiber product is acid-resistant, anti-wearing, and anti-aging.
  • Fabrics made of spandex are able to withstand moisture, seawater, and are also durable enough to withstand dry cleaning as well as most suntan lotions. 
  • The fabric resists fading and has good dyeability.

Cons Of Spandex Fabric 

  • In terms of hygroscopic properties, it is bad.
  • When used alone, spandex is usually blended with another fabric.
  • In terms of heat resistance, it is not perfect.

What Are The Environmental Effects Of Spandex Fabric?

Overall, spandex impacts the environment negatively. There is a less negative impact from this type of synthetic fabric than from other types. Although its presence is undeniable, no practical solution has been proposed to reduce its impact on the environment.

As far as the manufacturing processes for spandex are concerned, the fabric appears to have a little environmental impact. A number of synthetic materials, including nylon, are made entirely from chemicals that are synthesized in lab settings. However, elastane is entirely made from chemical compounds synthesized in a laboratory.

Certifications Available For Spandex

Fabrics made from spandex are entirely synthetic. Certification for organic & non-GMO is not applicable to this material. Nevertheless, this fabric could qualify for certification under the Global Recycled Standard (GRS) by being 100 percent made of recycled material. The use of recycled materials in manufacturing is, however, relatively uncommon. While recycled materials are available, they do not reduce the environmental impact of spandex once it’s manufactured for consumer use.


01. What Is the Difference Between Modal and Viscose?

Answer: Modal is known as a “high wet modulus rayon,” meaning it becomes stronger after being wet, unlike viscose, which loses its shape after being wet. It is almost identical to the production process for viscose for the modal.

However, modal fibers are processed more, resulting in a product that is stronger, lighter, & more breathable. As opposed to viscose, modular is more eco-friendly in that sodium hydroxide is used in lower concentrations.

02. Why do we use Modal at Lavender Hill Clothing?

Answer: In addition to being extremely soft, beech tree fiber feels similar to silk when used in clothing. It feels amazing against your skin and is twice as soft as cotton. Fabrics made of Modal are exceptionally durable and maintain their shape & finish, regardless of how frequently they are washed. The properties of this fabric make it an ideal choice for underwear.

Furthermore, due to its silky texture, it is suitable for wearing close-fitting intimate clothes as well as being more breathable. In contrast to synthetic fibers such as polyester and nylon, Modal fabric does not retain moisture or odor. Modal absorbs up to 50% more sweat than cotton, which means clothes don’t feel sweaty or sticky.

03. What Is the Difference Between Modal and Lyocell? 

Answer: Modal shares many similarities with Lyocell, a fiber that is 100 percent organic. There is a lot of competition between the two in the luxury fabric industry.

A Lyocell product is even more environmentally friendly than a Modal product since an organic solvent is used instead of sodium hydroxide. Different kinds of trees can be used to make Lyocell, such as eucalyptus trees and beech trees.

04. Is spandex a good fabric?

Answer: This biodegradable synthetic fiber is referred to as spandex or elastane. Another wonderful synthetic fiber that offers similar wrinkle-resistant & stain-resistant capabilities to polyester. It is even more capable of providing sleek, smooth presentations because it has superior elasticity.

05. Is spandex good for your skin?

Answer: Fabrics with natural irritant properties can irritate the skin, like polyester, rayon, nylon, spandex, or rubber. Depending on your allergies, wool, for example, may cause skin irritation.

06. Which is better: spandex or Lycra?

Answer: Therefore, Lycra and Spandex have no technical differences. Neither Lycra & Spandex is different from one another. Lycra is a spandex product manufactured by DuPont. Spandex is a generic name for fiber. For Lycra products (spandex fiber) specifically intended as clothing materials, naming them Lycra is not a problem.

07. Is spandex long lasting?

Answer: Among all fibers, Spandex is one of the strongest and long-lasting textiles. Because of this, it is often used to make long-lasting, durable dresses.

08. Is spandex fabric good for summer?

Answer: Spandex is the perfect garment to wear on a warm summer day, as it is comfortable and stylish at the same time. Due to its less dense weave, spandex denim would make an excellent summer garment. Next, we’ll discuss fabric made of stretch spandex and why it’s so excellent in the summer.

09. Which is Better cotton spandex or cotton?

Answer: Despite the fact that cotton is extremely comfortable, there are still disadvantages such as low elasticity, wrinkle-prone, and difficulty to dry. Cotton material with these shortcomings was invented to resolve them. Stretchability & wrinkle resistance are two of the biggest advantages of Cotton Lycra.

Thoughts For The Day

Modal Vs Spandex: what’s the best and what to pick? In most ways, Modal and Spandex are very similar, with the exception of 2 things – the size and the thickness of the fabric. It is important to note that, although the sizes differ significantly, Spandex and Modal have similar fabric weights.

Actually, cotton and spandex are sometimes blended with Modals to increase their strength. Modal’s soft texture and high cost make it a luxurious textile and Spandex fabric has the capability to stretch 5-8 times a normal size, making it ideal for consumer apparel with a form-fitting fit. It doesn’t matter what you choose, “Modal or Spandex” – neither of them can be wrong.