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Cotton Vs. Hemp: Pros and Cons Revealed (2024)

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cotton vs hemp pros and consAre you looking for a way to be more eco-friendly with your fashion choices? Hemp and cotton are two popular materials that have been used by people for centuries.

To help you find the answer, this article will break down the pros and cons of both hemp vs cotton so that you can make an informed decision when it comes to choosing fabrics.

We’ll look at their environmental impact, durability, breathability, and other factors when comparing them side-by-side.

Key Takeaways

  • Historically, hemp and cotton have both been important crops. Hemp cultivation dates back thousands of years, while cotton has been grown in America since the colonial era.
  • Cotton is a very thirsty crop, requiring vast amounts of water for irrigation. It also tends to be heavily sprayed with pesticides and insecticides.
  • In contrast, hemp is typically grown using more sustainable practices. With the legalization of hemp in the U.S. in 2018, hemp farming is undergoing a resurgence. Hemp’s lower water requirements and pest resistance make it an eco-friendly alternative to cotton.
  • From a durability standpoint, hemp has some advantages over cotton. Hemp fiber is generally stronger and more abrasion resistant.

The Environmental Impact of Hemp Vs. Cotton

The Environmental Impact of Hemp Vs. Cotton
When weighing sustainability, the historical context of hemp stands out compared to conventional cotton. Since ancient times, hemp was a staple crop across civilizations, but it declined as cotton cultivation spread in the 19th century.

Conventional Cotton Vs. Organic Cotton

You all thought those pretty white balls grew so fluffy and pure, but conventional cotton will suck the life right out of the soil without batting an eye.

  1. High water usage
  2. Heavy pesticide reliance
  3. Soil depletion

Organic cotton is a sight better – it will treat the earth a little gentler without all those nasty chemicals.

Historical Context of Hemp

Once legalized in 2018, hemp has returned to American farms as a sustainable, diverse crop with a long, globe-spanning history. Ancient Chinese texts extol hemp’s virtues, while evidence suggests Vikings spread it as they voyaged.

Hemp reigned supreme in fabric and rope until the 20th century, when competition from cotton, legal restrictions, and lingering prejudice diminished its use. The 2018 Farm Bill removed barriers to hemp production, enabling its resurgence as both an economic engine and sustainable fiber source.

Hemp’s Historic Highlights Hemp’s Modern Moment
– Ancient Chinese texts praise it – Legalized in 2018 Farm Bill
– Used in Viking ships – Returning to US farms
– Dominated textiles for centuries – Fashion and textiles resurgence

Durability: Hemp Vs. Cotton

Durability: Hemp Vs. Cotton
You’ll find your hemp clothing withstands wear and tear far longer than cotton. Hemp’s incredible fiber strength means it is four times tougher than organic cotton. This remarkable toughness translates into superior wear resistance and longevity for hemp fabrics.

Over time, the same cotton t-shirt will develop holes and fraying while a comparable hemp tee remains intact. Tests measuring fabric endurance also demonstrate hemp’s superiority over cotton in withstanding repeated stresses and abrasion without breaking down.

For long-term value in clothing that can endure years of use and washing without losing its durability, hemp offers unmatched material toughness and endurance that cotton simply can’t compete with. Ultimately, hemp’s exceptional sturdiness gives it a clear advantage over cotton when it comes to the durability of finished textiles.

Breathability: Hemp Vs. Cotton

Breathability: Hemp Vs. Cotton
You’ve got a choice for breathability between cotton and hemp. Hemp can be very breathable, depending on the thickness.

The breathability of organic cotton makes it a more comfortable choice in summer heat. Its moisture management allows sweat to evaporate, keeping you cool. Hemp’s breathability varies. Thicker, tightly woven hemps may trap heat. Lighter hemp varieties can help manage moisture.

For hot months, breathable organic cotton or lightweight hemp clothing is ideal. In cooler weather, thicker hemp’s insulation provides warmth. The moderate breathability of hemp also makes it suitable for year-round wear.

So for consistent, lightweight breathability and sweat management, cotton excels. But with choices in weave and weight, hemp can be a breathable, versatile option. Consider your climate and wardrobe needs when deciding between cotton and hemp’s breathability.

Pros and Cons: Hemp Vs. Cotton

Pros and Cons: Hemp Vs. Cotton
As you build out your sustainable wardrobe, consider the differences between hemp and cotton fabrics. Hemp’s strengths lie in its durability, moisture-wicking abilities, and eco-friendly farming requirements.

However, cotton’s soft feel initially and absorbency make it preferable for many clothing items.

While both fabrics have environmentally-friendly options like organic cotton, hemp uses less water overall. Hemp fabric production can be limited based on legality and regional availability. When it comes to price, hemp clothing tends to be more expensive than comparable cotton items.

For ultimate sustainability, look for hemp product options like eco-friendly t-shirts, shorts, and socks. With the right blend, hemp and cotton together can provide an optimal sustainable textile.

Eco-Friendly Hemp Clothing Brands

Eco-Friendly Hemp Clothing Brands
Volani’s smooth bedding invites supreme slumber after exploring sustainable hemp fashion brands like Outerknown’s Sur Hoodie, blending organic cotton and hemp for ultimate durability.

Promoting environmental awareness through fashion choices, eco-conscious clothing brands utilize hemp’s benefits. Compared to standard cotton attire, options like Anonymousism’s moisture-wicking hemp socks and Taylor Stitch’s quick-drying hemp shorts showcase hemp’s functionality.

Seeking both comfort and sustainability, ethical labels such as Pistol Lake and Jungmaven integrate organic cotton with hemp for quality, versatile fabrics. Choosing eco-friendly brands not only supports businesses committed to environmental responsibility but also allows customers to integrate their values into tangible lifestyle choices.

Eco-Friendly Organic Cotton Clothing Brands

Eco-Friendly Organic Cotton Clothing Brands
Let’s give PACT organic cotton basics a try for quality, ethically made wardrobe staples.

  • Durable and breathable tees
  • Comfy and stylish underwear
  • High-quality socks made for all day wear

PACT is a leader in sustainable fashion, providing eco-conscious choices like organic cotton clothing. Their staples are made using certified organic cotton that’s grown without harmful pesticides and GMOs.

As an ethical brand, PACT’s committed to fair labor practices across their supply chain. Choosing their organic cotton pieces supports sustainable practices while giving your wardrobe an upgrade. Compared to conventional cotton, organic reduces environmental impact. With quality construction and classic designs, PACT organic basics deliver comfort and character to your everyday style in an eco-friendly way.

Understanding Hemp Fabric

Understanding Hemp Fabric
Coming from eco-friendly brands utilizing organic cotton, hemp fabric offers another sustainable and ethical textile. Unlike cotton, hemp fabric provides inherent benefits from the fast-growing and pest-resistant hemp plant.

The fabric boasts durability with four times the strength of cotton and maintains soft comfort through modern treatments.

By choosing hemp over cotton, you reduce water usage and land impacts for a lighter carbon wardrobe footprint. The natural antimicrobial quality also eliminates odor in socks and base layers. As brands expand hemp offerings, consumers gain affordable access to a high-performance sustainable fabric.

Benefits of Hemp Fabrics

Benefits of Hemp Fabrics
Hemp fabric offers impressive eco-friendly properties along with remarkable strength and durability. The Cannabis sativa plant produces versatile hemp textiles like clothing, ropes, and building materials that require less water and fewer pesticides than other fibers such as cotton.

Hemp’s eco-friendly properties

You must cherish hemp’s natural ability to thrive with minimal pesticides and fertilizers. Hemp’s sturdiness and versatility make it an ideal eco-friendly choice. Its strength withstands frequent use while softening over time.

Without chemicals, hemp restores soil quality. The plant’s innate sustainability empowers your green lifestyle through moisture-wicking clothes, antimicrobial socks, and more.

Strength and durability of hemp fabric

Hemp fabric is approximately four times stronger than cotton, ensuring you don’t have to replace your eco-friendly clothes as often. The strength and resilience of hemp fabric contributes to the product’s longevity and sustainability.

Comparing hemp and cotton, hemp has superior fabric strength and durability due to the plant’s fibrous nature. This strength comparison demonstrates hemp fabric’s advantage of resilience over cotton alternatives.

Opting for hemp leads to less waste and a smaller environmental footprint through the fabrics’ extended use.

Versatility of hemp textiles

You can’t just slap hemp into anything and expect it to work. Hemp’s versatility arises from its strength, durability, absorbency, and breathability.

  1. Clothing like jeans, t-shirts, dresses
  2. Home goods like bedding, towels, table linens
  3. Industrial uses like rope, netting, canvas

Innovators find new ways to utilize hemp daily. Its environmental benefits position it as a fabric of the future across industries.

Disadvantages of Hemp Fabrics

Disadvantages of Hemp Fabrics
Though hemp fabric has many sustainability advantages over cotton, its durability comes at the price of initial scratchiness that softens over time with washing.

Disadvantage Explanation Mitigation Strategy
Initial scratchiness The texture of hemp fabric can be rough and irritating against skin when it’s new. Washing a few times softens hemp fabric considerably.
Limited availability Hemp production is still recovering, so hemp fabric costs more and has limited style options. Seek online stores specializing in hemp clothing.
Staining Compared to cotton, stains like wine or food may permanently set into hemp fabric. Pretreat stains immediately and wash in cool water.

Hemp fabric provides impressive strength and durability, yet first-time buyers should set expectations around its unfamiliar texture. With proper care and persistence in finding items, the advantages of hemp can outweigh these temporary disadvantages.

Comparing Hemp Fabric Vs. Organic Cotton

Comparing Hemp Fabric Vs. Organic Cotton
Once you feel the difference between those fabrics, organic cotton’s softness starts looking real good! While cotton is known for its softness and moisture-wicking abilities, hemp has some distinct advantages in terms of strength and sustainability:

  • Hemp is 4 times stronger than cotton, so it lasts longer
  • Hemp is naturally pest-resistant and uses less water
  • Hemp detoxifies soil while growing

However, cotton’s softness and versatility make it the preferred choice for many types of clothing. Cotton works well for moisture-wicking activewear as well as delicate undergarments. And innovations like organic cotton address some of the environmental downsides.

At the end of the day, consider your priorities – softness vs. strength, moisture-wicking vs. durability. With the right processing, both natural fibers can meet your needs in an eco-friendly way.


Choosing between hemp and cotton for your wardrobe is like choosing between a trusty steed and a reliable car. Both fabrics have their advantages and disadvantages, and ultimately, the decision comes down to personal preference and budget.

From an environmental perspective, hemp is typically the winner due to its fast growth, low water use, and pest resistance.

Cotton, on the other hand, is more versatile, softer, and better at retaining color. Whether you prioritize sustainability, durability, or comfort, hemp and cotton can provide it—it just depends on what you need.

Ultimately, both fabrics have a place in the eco-friendly wardrobe. It just depends on your needs and preferences.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a site dedicated to those passionate about crafting. With years of experience and research under his belt, he sought to create a platform where he could share his knowledge and skills with others who shared his interests.