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Fleece vs. Polyester: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 1, 2023
Fleece is a soft, warm fabric often made from polyester; polyester is a synthetic polymer used in various fabrics, including fleece.

Key Differences

Fleece is a plush, warm fabric often made synthetically from polyester fibers. However, polyester, a versatile synthetic polymer, is used in various textiles, including the production of fleece.
Fleece is known for its soft texture and excellent insulation properties, making it ideal for cold weather. Whereas, polyester fabrics vary in texture and are not inherently insulating but are often lightweight and durable.
High-quality fleece offers moisture-wicking properties, keeping the wearer dry and warm. While, polyester is naturally hydrophobic, meaning it resists water absorption, making it quick-drying.
Fleece is commonly used in jackets, blankets, and warm clothing. Polyester is used in a wide range of garments, from activewear to formal attire, due to its versatility.
Fleece, especially when made from recycled polyester, can be more eco-friendly but can shed microfibers. Polyester is a petroleum-based fiber, raising concerns about its environmental impact, though recyclable variants are increasing in popularity.

Comparison Chart

Base Material

Typically made from polyester fibers
Synthetic polymer (plastic)


Soft, fluffy, and insulating
Can vary, often smooth and less insulating

Moisture Management

Moisture-wicking and warm
Hydrophobic and quick-drying

Common Use in Apparel

Jackets, blankets, warm clothing
Diverse, from activewear to formal wear

Environmental Considerations

Can shed microfibers, but recyclable options exist
Petroleum-based, with eco-friendly variants available

Fleece and Polyester Definitions


In colloquial terms, to fleece means to swindle or deceive.
The con artist fleeced his victims of their savings.


Polyester is a durable, synthetic fabric used in various textiles.
The polyester curtains were praised for their durability.


Fleece is a soft, warm synthetic fabric.
The fleece jacket kept her warm in the chilly weather.


It's used as an insulation material in textiles and electronics.
The polyester insulation in the walls improved the home's energy efficiency.


Historically, a fleece refers to a sheepskin or woolen garment.
He wore a fleece to protect against the cold winds.


Polyester fiber is used for its strength and resistance to shrinking and stretching.
The jacket's blend of cotton and polyester fibers increased its lifespan.


Fleece can refer to the woolly covering of a sheep or similar animal.
The farmer sheared the fleece from the sheep.


It refers to a type of resin used in plastic and fabric production.
The water bottles were made from a special type of polyester resin.


Fleece can also denote a soft or woolly covering on plants.
The soft fleece on the plant's leaves was delicate to the touch.


In manufacturing, polyester is used to create thin, strong films.
The packaging was reinforced with a layer of polyester film.


The coat of wool of a sheep or similar animal.


Any of numerous synthetic polymers produced chiefly by reaction of dicarboxylic acids with dihydric alcohols and used primarily as light, strong, weather-resistant resins in boat hulls, textile fibers, adhesives, and molded parts.


The yield of wool shorn from a sheep at one time.


A wrinkle-resistant fabric of fibers made from any of these resins.


Any polymer whose monomers are linked together by ester bonds


A material or fabric made from polyester polymer


Of, or consisting of polyesters


Any of numerous synthetic resins; they are light and strong and weather resistant


A complex ester used for making fibers or resins or plastics or as a plasticizer


Any of a large class of synthetic fabrics


Is fleece good for outdoor activities?

Yes, due to its warmth and moisture-wicking properties, fleece is great for the outdoors.

Does polyester breathe well?

Polyester is less breathable compared to natural fibers but has improved variants.

Can fleece be recycled?

Yes, fleece made from polyester can often be recycled.

Can polyester be eco-friendly?

Recycled polyester is more eco-friendly than its conventional counterpart.

How do fleece and polyester respond to washing?

Both are machine washable, but fleece may require gentle cycles to prevent pilling.

Do fleece and polyester retain odors?

Polyester can retain odors, while fleece's quality can affect its odor resistance.

Is fleece environmentally friendly?

While fleece is often made from recycled materials, it can shed microfibers.

Is fleece always made from polyester?

Most often, yes, fleece is typically made from polyester fibers.

Is polyester suitable for sensitive skin?

Polyester can be less suitable for sensitive skin compared to natural fabrics.

Can fleece be ironed?

Fleece should not be ironed as high heat can damage the fabric.

What is the lifespan of fleece garments?

Fleece garments can last many years with proper care.

Can polyester be used in athletic wear?

Yes, polyester is commonly used in athletic wear due to its moisture-wicking properties.

Are fleece and polyester water-resistant?

Polyester is water-resistant; fleece varies but generally provides some resistance.

Can polyester be dyed easily?

Polyester is more challenging to dye than natural fibers.

Is polyester flame-resistant?

Polyester is not naturally flame-resistant and can melt at high temperatures.

Is fleece suitable for summer?

Fleece is generally too warm for summer and better suited for cooler weather.

Does polyester stretch over time?

Polyester is resilient and tends to maintain its shape without stretching.

Is polyester affordable?

Yes, polyester is generally more affordable than many natural fabrics.

Are there different types of fleece?

Yes, there are various types, including microfleece and polar fleece.

Does polyester provide UV protection?

Polyester offers some UV protection but varies based on the fabric's weave.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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