This post might contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of these links, we might earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn More

Rayon vs. Spandex: Which is Better?

If you are looking for a stretchy material that can also last for years, you could find yourself torn between rayon fabric and spandex fabric. Because they are both great fabrics in their unique way and thus are extensively used today, it is difficult not to compare them. So, the dispute “Rayon vs Spandex” is born, and I will make sure to provide you with all of the necessary information, clearing up any misunderstandings and revealing the finest fabric.

In case you want a direct honest opinion about which fabric has better traits and is overall a better choice its spandex. Spandex has better durability and in general more good qualities than rayon fabric. It is an ideal material for anyone active or even if you just want your item to last. Perfection is impossible though even with spandex having a disadvantage to rayon in the environment department, it easily outperforms rayon in every other category.

Rayon vs. Spandex: Comparison

Rayon Thread

First discovered in the late 1800s rayon’s main goal was to imitate silk but with half its cost. This price reduction was widely beneficial for the producers and the purchasers.

To achieve this ability of mass production of an artificial silk-like thread wood pulp was used. Due to this, rayon knit fabrics reached popularity quickly, and the soft shiny fabric became available to everyone who desired it. Adding to its greatness rayon threads are also very lightweight, breathable, and flexible, making them ideal for active wear gear too.

Some may think less of rayon fabrics since it is trying to mimic an already existing fabric, silk. But that is not the case, rayon gives a luxury feel for half the expense and without making the wearer feel cheap. Now it does have its downsides, just like any other piece of cloth, but it is not to be underestimated.

Spandex Thread

Known for its elasticity, the synthetic thread of spandex is well-used throughout the fabric world. Some may be surprised to learn that, in addition to being the fabric of many clothing items, spandex is also used to manufacture elastic bands and hoses.

Massively used in any way possible spandex was an innovation introduced in the 1950s. With a shorter time on the market than rayon, it has conquered exactly as much. Its popularity can be traced to qualities like breathability, elasticity, smoothness, and exceptional durability.

Spandex is created by chemically modifying polyamide, a component derived from nylon that gives it its elasticity. This does not make spandex harmful at all. In fact, it is used a lot in athletic clothing, especially in swimwear. Its use in swimwear is due to spandex being comfortable and lightweight while at the same time not becoming overly heavy when wet.

To be frank, comparing spandex and rayon is not easy. This is because have such great qualities and are so similar the line of distinction is quite thin. Nonetheless dividing the comparison into topics will help with the understanding of both.

Fabric Durability

Because rayon and spandex are both elastic materials, the next thought that comes to mind is one ‘s durability. What is the sturdiness of a fabric that stretches for its longevity?

Rayon thread is acknowledged for its durability. The wood pulp used to generate rayon is known to make it flexible, especially when bamboo is used. When stretched, rayon’s elasticity allows it to quickly return to its initial form. One significant disadvantage of rayon in terms of sturdiness is its vulnerability to water. Because of rayon’s sensitivity to water, it is easily torn by slight intentional or unintentional forces.

Spandex also is great for its durability. Its fibers are known for being able to stretch without breaking and return to their previous forms. For this reason, spandex finds use in a lot of costumes, swimwear, dance costumes, and any place elsewhere flexibility and longevity are important. Its durability to liquids, such as lotions or detergents, is a significant advantage, resulting in a long-lasting item.

To conclude the sturdiness debate between rayon and spandex, if you want a sturdy elastic material, spandex is the best choice.

Aftercare of the fabric

What a large majority of buyers find annoying is the tiresome maintenance of a textile, due to this, the aftercare of fabric is always an important point that should not be skipped when choosing your ideal fabric.

Regarding rayon the feedback for its care is split, some find it a natural process while others see it as an unnecessary route. Rayon can be washed only in a cold setting no matter if it’s hand-washed, or machine-washed. If somehow you do end up washing rayon at a high temperature you will encounter shrinkage. The high heat sensitivity does not end there though. While drying rayon the ideal situation is to air dry it out of the reach of sunlight, if that is not possible tumble try on the lowest setting available to the machine. High heat is an enemy to rayon, it can also cause color bleeding which damaged other items as well.

Because spandex is heavily used for active wear aftercare is important. I mean after you experience physically draining workouts a mentally draining maintenance process is not needed. The good news is spandex is not tiresome. You can handwash it or machine wash it, the only essential thing you need to memorize is to use lukewarm or cold water. Stretching is not a big issue since that is the purpose of this thread as well. Drying is also easy since spandex is known to dry quickly. If you try to remove any stains just make sure to use minimum detergent since a big amount might damage the threads and reduce the article’s life span.

The maintenance of the fabric depends on the owners’ personal preferences. Spandex has its easiness for care, but some may say a longer routine is worth it for the feel of rayon.


If you are trying to be environmentally conscious, I recommend staying away from spandex material. Due to the components present in spandex, it does not degrade in nature, more specifically, it takes up to 200 years to do so.

Rayon is the ideal choice since it decomposes thoroughly and quickly. It only takes up to three weeks for it to biodegrade, and the creation process is also not harmful since the main element is natural.

Final Thoughts

The final decision is specifically personal. Both rayon and spandex are great materials to use, having a lot of good qualities and not as many bad ones; you can’t go wrong with either. The only big cruel aspect is the biodegradability of spandex. That characteristic of spandex is enough to drive anyone away from purchasing it.

Further Reading

You can do some further reading; there is an excellent comparison blog between Rayon and Linen and a blog that explains if the sewing thread goes bad.

If you wonder which fabric for applique is the best, you can find that out too.

There’s also a list of the best irons for AirBnB.