Clothing companies mix cotton and spandex fabrics to get the softness of cotton and the flexibility and durability of spandex. Cotton is a natural fiber; spandex is a man-made fiber. Together, they create a hybrid that is comfortable and easy to clean. However, as the spandex increases, the fabric becomes less breathable.
Cotton comes from the cotton plant, which humans have used for over 7,000 years. Cotton is a natural material that feels soft and lets the skin breathe. Cotton is easier to care for than most fabrics; it wards off smell and is long-lasting. Spandex, also known as Lycra or elastane, is a man-made substance. It is formed from a synthetic chain of polymers that contains at least 85 percent segmented polyurethane. Spandex can be stretched to twice its size and then return back to its original shape.
The cotton/spandex hybrid combines softness and breathability with elasticity and durability. The combination works for body-hugging clothes, such as exercise outfits and tight dresses. The higher the spandex content, the greater its flexibility and durability. However, as the percentage of spandex increases, the breathability of the fabric decreases. Polyurethane is not a porous substance; it prevents air flow. A cotton/spandex hybrid works well when spandex is used in smaller amounts.