moisture wicking t-shirt

How Do Moisture Wicking T Shirts Work?

If you’ve shopped for high-tech activewear lately, there’s a good chance you’ve come across the word “moisture-wicking.” This apparel buzzword is used to describe everything from high-tech foul-weather gear to your basic gym tees. Moisture wicking shirts can keep you dry while you’re active, and can also help ward off the smelly gym clothes blues. And, let’s face it, nothing can harsh your athletic mellow quite like excessive sweat and body odor. Here’s some insider info on how moisture-wicking gear actually works.

But first, some background. Moisture-wicking apparel first came onto the scene about two decades ago, when clothing manufacturers began using a polyester finish to help better absorb moisture and regulate body temperature. DuPont Textiles developed the branded moisture-wicking fabric Coolmax in 1986 using breathable polyester to keep wearers cool and dry. Eventually, new iterations came onto the scene. Hydrophobic (water-adverse) fabrics made of natural materials like wool and cotton were developed later.

Top apparel brands like Gildan, Champion and Hanes now produce next-generation moisture-wicking tees and apparel that have seriously improved since those early days. For example, Champion Moisture Wicking T Shirts are made with a Double DryÒ finish that blends breathability with moisture control, while Hanes Cool Dry T Shirts are known for their super-lightweight feel that doesn’t compromise on comfort or performance.

The Science Behind Moisture Wicking Shirts

The best moisture-wicking garments are made of 100 percent polyester. This material is preferred for its unique ability to wick moisture away from the body, effectively keeping you cool and dry. Essentially, wicking fabrics draw the moisture into the top layer of the shirt so that they don’t sit directly on your body. Pulling moisture away from the skin and into the fibers of your clothing helps prevent bacteria buildup that can contribute to body odor. Breathable fabric also helps regulate body temperature by improving airflow and minimizing moisture that can cool you down when temps are low.

couple wearing moisture wicking t-shirt while working out

Polyester is still the preferred choice in moisture-wicking garment production because it’s much more breathable than most natural fibers, and this material helps ensure that the body dries quickly after exposed to sweat and moisture. Synthetic fabrics also don’t retain moisture as much as say, cotton or wool, so they’re an obvious choice for excessive sweaters and athletes. Polyester only holds about 0.4 percent moisture, whereas cotton can hold up to 7 percent. Moisture-wicking shirts and pants are also generally made with a more breathable weave to keep you cool during excessive heat.

What Moisture Wicking Shirts Do

  • Keeps You Dry — Did we mention that moisture-wicking shirts are pretty amazing for those of us who regularly deal with constant sweat? The fibers in wicking fabrics channel moisture through what’s known as “capillary action” (the technical term for liquid’s ability to flow through narrow spaces without gravity) or by drawing out liquid with the help of a hydrophilic (water-loving) layer. The key to a good-quality wicking fabric is to find one that’s simultaneously breathable — so it helps moisture dry quickly — and water-resistant.
  • Wards off Bacteria — Because it helps minimize sweat, moisture-wicking apparel is also naturally antimicrobial, which means it can keep your gym clothes smelling fresh and can help you better manage body odor. What’s more, many moisture wicking T shirts are made with anti-microbial treatments to help them further resist bacteria buildup. These odor-fighting shirts can also help keep you healthier by limiting the body’s exposure to bacteria found in the environment.
  • Regulates Temperature — Cooling fabrics have been proven to lower your body temperature. In one study, participants’ body temperature was found to be significantly lower when wearing a synthetic, moisture-wicking shirt compared to a participant who wore a 100 percent cotton shirt. But you shouldn’t limit your moisture-wicking workout gear only to the summer months, since it can also help to keep you warm in the winter. Moisture-wicking polyester is the preferred material for activewear base layers because it draws moisture and sweat away from the skin and provides a slim base.

man stretching with moisture wicking shirt

Looking for some good-quality moisture-wicking gear to add to your stash of activewear? ShirtMax has a huge variety of 100 percent polyester wholesale moisture wicking shirts that will help you take advantage of this cutting-edge textile technology. You can use these low-cost tees to make custom moisture-wicking shirts for your business or special event or simply stock up so you’re always fresh and dry after a day of exercising. We offer moisture-wicking long-sleeved shirts, V-necks and classic crewneck shirts by brands like Gildan, Hanes and Champion.