Polyester Vs Acetate

Updated on October 2, 2022 by Sarina Tariq

Polyester and Acetate are both man-made fabrics with a lot of similarities. But there are several differences too. 

Polyester & Acetate – comparison

Manufacturing process

Both fabrics are made from manufactured fibers but polyester fiber is a synthetic fiber and acetate a regenerated fiber.  Acetate is one of the first manufactured fibers (1927). Polyester was introduced in the 1950s.

The manufacturing of polyester is a more straightforward process than the manufacture of acetate fabric, as the latter involves a lot of chemical processes. Polyester fabric is a manufactured synthetic fiber made from polyester filaments. It is a polymer commonly referred to as polyethylene terephthalate.

Acetate fibers are regenerated fibers manufactured from treating wood pulp, cellulose, or cotton linters with acetic acid. 

Acetate fabric is blended with silk or cotton for better stability and durability. Polyester is blended with cotton, wool, acetate, rayon, and linen to add a lot of qualities inherent in polyester.

Qualities as a dressmaking fabric

Acetate is a very popular dressmaking material in the fashion industry. Acetate fabric is very soft and pleasant to touch. It is  used in making affordable gowns that also look good. It is also used to make cheap linings – most of your store bought jackets may be lined with acetate.

Polyester is not as appreciated as a fashion dressmaking material, though it is one of the most versatile fibers of all. When polyester fiber is blended with other fibers, it becomes more suitable as a dressmaking fabric.

Since Acetate looks a little like silk, it is often used as a cheaper alternative to silk.  Acetate has good draping quality. You will find many inexpensive gowns in shops made of Acetate – they may not last long, but if you are short on cash but still want to get a good enough gown, choose one made of Acetate.

You will find polyester and acetate fabric in all colors. Initially, Acetate was difficult to dye. But since then, scientists have found a solution for it; acetate fabrics are now easily dyeable and resist fading. Now it is available in a variety of deep colors. Polyester fabric is also easily dyeable. Both are dyed with disperse dyes. 

Polyester fabrics may pill. Acetate fabrics usually do not pill.

Strength and durability

The fibers of polyester are always strong, whether wet or dry. It does not get damaged easily – whether by stretching or shrinking. But Acetate fibers are not as strong. Polyester is far more durable than Acetate.

Both fabrics resist mildew and moth infestation. Acetate fabric can be damaged by silverfish or chemicals like acetone. Polyester fabric is resistant to most chemicals.

Water absorption

Both polyester and Acetate are synthetic fabrics, so both do not absorb water the way natural fabrics do. But compared to other synthetic fabrics, Acetate has more moisture-absorbing qualities. Hence it is often used as a comfortable lining material. Polyester has a tendency to absorb and retain perspiration odor.


Polyester is an easy-to wash fabric. It can be hand washed or machine washed in cold water/warm water and even tumble dried. But usually, acetate fabrics fare better if they are given for dry washing. It can be hand washed in cold water. But you have to squeeze out the water from the cloth gently. Wringing of material is not advisable as it can leave permanent wrinkles, and the fine fabric may tear. 

The acetate fabric is susceptible to heat, and this does not make it ideal for uses where heat needs to be applied to set pleats and creases. While ironing this material, it’s always better to use a press cloth. The polyester material is also susceptible to heat but not as much as acetate fabric. It can be heat-pressed to set pleats and creases. 

Polyester is somewhat resistant to wrinkles, especially if you take care of some things like hanging the clothes immediately after washing. Infact you may not have to iron polyester clothes at all if you are a little careful. But not so with Acetate. It wrinkles a lot.

Related posts : Polyester fabric; Acetate fabric; Fabric dictionary with details.

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