Before the 20th century, the fabric used to make clothing came from natural sources. People wore clothes made from wool, from cotton or from silk, all of which came from either animals or plants.
In the 1930s, scientists at DuPont developed nylon fabric, then known as fiber 66. By 1940, fiber 66, aka nylon, became available to the public. The first use of the fabric was to create women's stockings. Today, nylon is used throughout the fashion industry as well as in other products. The material has plenty of advantages as well as a few disadvantages.
Look at an umbrella or a water-resistant windbreaker. The odds are high that it's made from nylon. Unlike other types of fabric, such as silk or cotton, nylon doesn't absorb moisture or water. Instead, any moisture tends to rest on its surface, where it quickly evaporates.
Nylon's water-resistance not only makes it a terrific choice for umbrellas and clothing where moisture wicking is important. It also makes it better able to resist the growth of mold and mildew compared to other types of fabric.
The creation of nylon stockings came about at a time when stockings were in demand, and the price of silk was high. During the first year that nylon stockings were available, they earned DuPont $9 million.
Even in modern times, nylon remains a more affordable alternative to fabrics such as silk and wool. It can be spun and woven in a way that makes it look and feel like natural fabrics, but for a fraction of the cost.
It Has Many Uses
Even if you didn't set out to purchase items made of nylon, the material is likely in abundance throughout your home. You'll likely find it in much of your clothing, from socks and underwear to jackets and dresses. Nylon blends well with other fabrics and is often used together with other synthetics or with natural materials to create durable, easy-care clothing.
Nylon also has uses beyond fashion. Your toothbrush likely has nylon bristles. If you have a dog, their leash is most likely made from nylon. It's also the primary material used to make certain kitchen utensils, guitar picks, dental floss, toys, and fishing line.
It Can Melt Easily
For all of its advantages, nylon does have some drawbacks. One disadvantage of the material is that it can melt easily if exposed to heat. You don't want to dry nylon clothing on the hottest setting in your dryer. If you're going to iron your clothes, you want to be careful if they're made of nylon. An iron on the hottest setting is likely to melt or otherwise damage something made from nylon.
It's a Type of Plastic
Another disadvantage of nylon is that it is a type of plastic. Some people might be interested in reducing their use of plastic for environmental reasons. If that's a concern for you, you might prefer to wear clothing made from natural fibers rather than synthetic materials such as nylon.