Polyester fabric Clothing label with laundry instructions

How Do Moisture-Wicking Shirts Work?

If you have ever gone shopping for t-shirts or athletic wear, you’ve likely seen products that are advertised as being made using moisture-wicking fabric. These products promise to wick away moisture, which sounds great, but you may not be exactly sure what that means or how it works. Fabric technology has advanced a lot in recent years, and manufacturers are now able to produce clothing that keeps wearers dry. Let’s look a little bit closer at moisture-wicking shirts and how they work.

What Is a Moisture-Wicking Shirt, Exactly?

Before we talk about how a moisture-wicking shirt works, it’s important to address what one is. You’ve undoubtedly seen firsthand how the wick in a candle draws wax up to the flame. The same basic principle exists in moisture-wicking clothing. The fabric pulls moisture (in the form of perspiration) away from the body. While natural fabrics like cotton absorb a great deal of sweat, moisture-wicking shirts made from the synthetic fiber polyester pull the moisture to the exterior surface where it can quickly evaporate. This helps you stay cool and comfortable while giving all that excess moisture somewhere to go.

How Moisture-Wicking Shirts Work

moisture being wicked away

As previously mentioned, moisture-wicking shirts are most commonly made of polyester. This material quickly pulls moisture away from your skin, keeping you cool and dry. It is also much more breathable than many other types of natural and synthetic fiber, which makes it easier to stay cool and comfortable during strenuous physical activity.

The wicking fabric pulls moisture away from the skin through a process known as capillary action. The fabric contains small conduits, which are similar to your body’s capillaries, that pull sweat away from the body. They direct the moisture to the outside layer of the fabric where it is then able to spread out and evaporate more quickly.

Traditionally, cotton was the fabric of choice for athletic wear because it does a great job of absorbing moisture. In fact, it is better at absorbing sweat than polyester. While that sounds like a positive thing, though, it’s actually a problem. Cotton absorbs up to 7 percent of its own weight in perspiration or water, which polyester only absorbs 0.4 percent. Because the cotton can retain more liquid, it takes longer to dry and simply is not as breathable as polyester. Polyester moisture-wicking shirts pull the sweat away from your skin and allow it to evaporate quickly rather than becoming saturated.

Benefits of Moisture-Wicking Shirts

Moisture-wicking shirts are easy to care for, and they offer several benefits for wearers. Obviously, they pull perspiration away from your skin, which helps keep you cool and comfortable. That’s not the only benefit, though. Moisture-wicking apparel is antimicrobial and helps keep bacteria at bay. That means that your favorite gym shirt is less likely to smell bad at the end of a long workout. It will protect you from bacteria and help control body odor.

In addition to keeping you cool during the summer months, moisture-wicking shirts can help you stay warm during cooler weather. Polyester is a preferred base layer for winter athletes because it helps keep you dry.

Shopping for Moisture-Wicking Shirts

When you are shopping for shirts to keep you comfortable and dry, look for ones that are both moisture-wicking and breathable. Those made from 100 percent polyester are the best option because they combine both of these properties exceptionally well.

At ShirtMax, we carry high-performance moisture-wicking shirts from a number of leading manufacturers. Our selection includes products from Gildan, Jerzees, UltraClub, Hanes, Champion and more ranging in size from S through 6XL in certain styles. Our shirts come in several different colors, so finding ones that fit your style perfectly is a breeze!

Gildan Adult Performance Core T-Shirt


Moisture-wicking shirts are must-have items. We all sweat, so we all would benefit from shirts that pull moisture away from our skin once in a while. Whether you are an athlete, enjoy daily workouts at the gym or are just looking for a high-quality base layer that will help you stay comfortable and dry all day long, you can’t go wrong with a high-tech moisture-wicking shirt.

At ShirtMax, we are proud to offer a huge assortment of blank moisture-wicking tees that are perfect for any application. Pick up a few to wear to the gym or order in bulk to create customized shirts for an entire team. Whatever your need, you can fulfill it at ShirtMax!