What are Hydrophilic Textiles ?

From the Greek hydros (water) and philos (friend), hydrophilic describes water loving tendencies. The opposite is hydrophobic treatment.

To compensate the lack of affinity with water, synthetic yarns such as polyester and nylon, can be extruded into tripod shapes. This, in fact, is the case with a yarn from Dupont called Coolmax. The yarns’ cross-section is profiled to favor the escape of moisture.

There is no need for a microscope to determine whether or not a material is designed with hydrophilic properties. A simple test consists of gently placing a drop of water on the surface of a cloth. The quicker the water drop spreads over the fabric, the more hydrophilic the material. A drop of water that stays on the surface without wetting the fabric indicates no hydrophilic characteristics whatsoever. In fact this behavior is, in some cases, desirable. For impermeable fabrics, a finish applied on the fabric prevents water or oil penetration. Textile engineers can select the level of repellency by adjusting the surface tension. Allowing a low surface tension makes it easier for the liquid to diffuse through a larger surface area resulting in quick evaporation, thus a higher comfort sensation.

For underwear applications, the fabric must be hydrophilic to move away moisture for the skin interface and spread the limit on the largest possible area to favor evaporation. Often to help this phenomenon, a "brushed" fabric is used causing a considerable increase in surface area thus enhancing the comfort level.

See Surface-Tension

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