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What Are the Pros and Cons of Microfiber Underwear?

Erin J. Hill
Erin J. Hill

When choosing between microfiber vs cotton underwear, comfort and functionality are paramount. Microfiber underwear is renowned for its breathability and moisture-wicking properties, making it an excellent option for athletes. However, it's worth noting that microfiber's thickness might not be ideal for sleek silhouettes. 

Moreover, the environmental impact of synthetic fibers is a growing concern, with the European Environmental Agency highlighting that the shedding from washing synthetic textiles accounts for 35% of microplastic pollution. Natural fibers like cotton may be more suitable for those with sensitive skin, as they are less likely to cause irritation. We’ll explore the pros and cons of microfiber underwear to help you make an informed decision.


Athletes prefer microfiber underwear because it is breathable and wicks moisture.
Athletes prefer microfiber underwear because it is breathable and wicks moisture.

The term “microfiber” is somewhat broad, but in the underwear context it typically indicates that the garment is soft and highly breathable. The yarns and threads used to weave these types of fabrics tend to be designed for performance, and often allow for good airflow. This means that people wearing them stay cool even in warm climates, or while exercising or engaging in other strenuous activity.

Moisture-Wicking Properties

Microfiber underwear offer more support than cotton.
Microfiber underwear offer more support than cotton.

Most of the time, the fabric fibers also repel water. This is usually by design, but is also sometimes a factor of the threads’ chemical structure. Unlike cotton or other plant-based fibers, the majority of which absorb moisture, most synthetic strands push water molecules away. As a result, microfiber underwear tends to repel sweat and other moisture, leaving the skin in the sensitive genital and groin region dry. These wicking properties tend to reduce odors, too, since many of the smells that build up in cotton or other underwear are related to bacteria that thrive in moist, wet environments.

Sweat, which is absorbed by most traditional materials, mixes with bacteria on the skin and causes unpleasant odors.
Sweat, which is absorbed by most traditional materials, mixes with bacteria on the skin and causes unpleasant odors.

These water-repellant characteristics also mean that the material dries relatively quickly after washing. Travelers often find this helpful when doing laundry on the go, and it also saves energy when it comes to using electric clothes driers. In most cases, the garments will drip-dry in as little as an hour.


The comfort of micofiber underwear can be either a pro or a con, depending on the audience. Many people find this sort of garment to be very comfortable because of its sleek, cool feel, while others find its slickness somewhat unpleasant. Most underwear in this category is very smooth, sometimes to the point of being almost slippery to the touch.

Much of the debate relates to cut and style. Underwear that is too loose, too tight, or poorly fitting may be uncomfortable no matter the material, and whether microfiber is a pleasant fabric often has to do with individual taste.

Visibility and Layering

It is often the case that this sort of underwear is thicker than cotton or other alternatives, which can be a pro or a con depending on the context. People who are looking for undergarments that provide shaping and support often find the bulk to be helpful, but it can also make lines and contours more visible under tightly-fitting clothes.

Concerns Over Fiber and Manufacturing

Some people choose not to use underwear made of microfiber because they prefer more natural products, whether for personal or ethical reasons. People with skin sensitivities or allergies to various plastic or other polyester compounds are usually best served looking for cotton or linen-based materials, since plant particles aren’t as likely to trigger reactions.

The micofiber manufacturing process almost always uses a variety of chemicals to both produce the yarns and fuse them together. People who are concerned about the environmental impact of these reactions, whether it be from possible run-off to the mining of fossil fuels, often shy away from microfiber products unless they are made by companies that certify their processes as “green” or environmentally-friendly.

FAQ on Microfiber Underwear

What are the benefits of wearing microfiber underwear?

Microfiber underwear offers several benefits, including superior moisture-wicking properties that keep the skin dry and comfortable, especially during physical activities. The fabric is also known for its softness, providing a smooth feel against the skin, which reduces the risk of irritation and chafing. Additionally, microfiber is highly durable and retains its shape and color well after multiple washes, making it a long-lasting wardrobe investment.

Are there any drawbacks to microfiber underwear?

While microfiber underwear has many advantages, there are a few drawbacks to consider. Some individuals may experience skin irritation due to the synthetic materials used in microfiber, particularly if they have sensitive skin. Also, microfiber is less breathable than natural fabrics like cotton, which might not be ideal for those who prefer more airflow. Lastly, microfiber can hold onto odors more than natural fabrics, requiring more thorough washing.

How does microfiber underwear compare to cotton in terms of comfort and hygiene?

Microfiber underwear is often considered more comfortable than cotton due to its softness and stretchiness, which conforms well to the body. In terms of hygiene, microfiber's moisture-wicking ability keeps the skin drier, potentially reducing bacterial growth. However, cotton is more breathable and may be preferable for those with sensitive skin or for wear in hotter climates. Ultimately, the choice between microfiber and cotton depends on personal preference and intended use.

Is microfiber underwear environmentally friendly?

Microfiber is a synthetic material, typically made from petroleum-based products like polyester or nylon. The production of these fibers can be energy-intensive and contribute to pollution. Additionally, during washing, microfiber garments can shed microplastics that end up in waterways, posing a threat to aquatic life. However, advancements in textile recycling and sustainable manufacturing processes are being developed to mitigate these environmental concerns.

Can microfiber underwear be a good choice for sports and workouts?

Yes, microfiber underwear is an excellent choice for sports and workouts. Its moisture-wicking capabilities help to keep the body dry by drawing sweat away from the skin, which is essential during physical activity. The fabric's stretchiness provides a comfortable, non-restrictive fit, and its durability means it can withstand the frequent washing that sportswear often requires. For athletes or fitness enthusiasts, microfiber underwear can enhance comfort and performance.

Discussion Comments


When I go to the gym I always wear microfiber underwear because it makes me feel better when I am sweating a lot. I find it absorbs enough moisture that I can still feel fresh and dry even after playing basketball for an hour or more.

The only downside of microfiber is that it seems to be a bit thicker than most other materials usually chosen for underwear. While it is still thin, I honestly find it bunches up easier than regular old cotton underwear. The only way I have been able to prevent the bunching is buying the underwear a size to small. It seems the extra snug fit keeps them in place better.


Microfiber underwear is a great idea for traveling because it dries incredibly fast. If you are in a bind when you are in a hotel with overpriced laundry services you can easily wash your underwear in the sink of your room, then hang it to dry. Usually microfiber dries in just under an hour from my experience, which makes it ideal if you are in a rush.

Another great thing I find about microfiber underwear when I travel is that the material is strong and really holds up well. I find my clothes go through a lot of abuse when I move from country to country, so it is nice to have quality things.


@ElizaBennett - I find the same thing. I never exercise in *anything* cotton.

Another advantage of microfiber underwear for exercise is that quality microfiber won't "ride up." I have yet to find a pair of 100% cotton panties that can say the same thing. I usually get boy short-style because those stay down the best.


In my experience, cotton underwear doesn't so much keep moisture away from your skin as prevent it from building up. It really only works if you're going to be staying relatively cool anyway.

Because once cotton panties get wet, they sure stay wet! It's important to change out of wet underwear right away because leaving it on encourages the overgrowth of yeast.

With that in mind, if you're going to be sweating a lot, I personally find that it's better *not* to wear cotton panties. A synthetic like microfiber will dry faster and keep moisture from building up.

So for sleeping, cotton is your friend. And if you're prone to yeast, you should wear them whenever possible during the day. But not for exercise! If you're going for a three-hour hike, for instance, you probably aren't going to change into dry cotton underwear every time the first ones get wet.

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    • Athletes prefer microfiber underwear because it is breathable and wicks moisture.
      By: Shariff Che'Lah
      Athletes prefer microfiber underwear because it is breathable and wicks moisture.
    • Microfiber underwear offer more support than cotton.
      By: Artistic Endeavor
      Microfiber underwear offer more support than cotton.
    • Sweat, which is absorbed by most traditional materials, mixes with bacteria on the skin and causes unpleasant odors.
      By: HamsterMan
      Sweat, which is absorbed by most traditional materials, mixes with bacteria on the skin and causes unpleasant odors.