Promotional Products Home Promo University® Promo Products Sciences What's Better, 100% Cotton OR 50/50 Blend T-Shirts?

50/50 vs. 100% Cotton T-Shirts

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa Mertes

Promo Expert

Published: April 22nd, 2019

When it comes to materials, I'm more than a little biased – I obviously think polyurethane's the best. Most people probably don't want their clothing made from it, though, even if we could stitch it together. So what is the best material for your custom t-shirts? Is it pure cotton or some kind of cotton blend? That's what we're here to find out!

How do you know when to use 100% cotton and when to use 50/50 blended cotton for your promotional t-shirts, towels, and other fabric items? Well, you could just flip a coin – or you can make an educated decision with the help of your fine friends at Quality Logo Products.

It’s All in the Technique

Your choice of fabric should depend on the budget you have available, how you want to use your item, and the decoration technique your product requires. In particular, screen printing results can vary from material to material, so it may not be the right choice for every kind of fabric. You should know which fabric best suits your needs before making a purchase.

Mixing it Up with a 50/50 Cotton Blend

Many promotional items are made from 100% cotton, but there are also some products that are considered a 50/50 cotton blend. When we talk about items made from a 50/50 cotton blend, we’re most often talking about items that are half cotton, half polyester. This combination of a breathable, natural fabric with an affordable, industrially made material is one of the most common in the textile industry.

Cotton and Printing

When it comes to printing your design, some may claim that you'll get the best screen printing results using 50/50 cotton, though not everyone agrees. If your item can be printed with digital sublimation printing (a process used for full color imprints), it works best with polyester. Digital sublimation printing involves printing an image onto a high-release paper substrate and transferring the image with heat and pressure. The transferred ink adheres better to polyester than to cotton, which is why even a cotton blend isn’t as good for digital sublimation as 100% polyester.

So why would anyone purchase an imprinted t-shirt made with a 50/50 cotton blend? Plenty of reasons!

Polyester is generally more affordable than cotton, making a 50/50 blend a good compromise between polyester’s price and cotton’s feel.

A shirt made from a cotton blend is easy to care for. It’s less likely to shrink or wrinkle than a shirt made from pure cotton, and it’s often easier to clean.

Some people argue that cotton blends are more environmentally friendly because they use less cotton, which is a crop that requires a lot of water to grow.

Since we are talking about custom printed garments, we have to go back to the look of the imprint. Cotton is soft, but cotton blends are durable. Some t-shirt designers caution against using 100% ringspun cotton because the texture can lead to a fuzzy imprint after numerous washes.  

Screenprinting & cotton

Because cotton is a natural fiber with texture (as opposed to smooth, manufactured polyester), it can easily hold on to ink that’s applied through a screen, helping your design retain its original appearance.

Whether you choose 100% cotton or a cotton blend, we've got the know-how to print your logo. Whichever type of cotton you prefer, make sure you understand the pros and cons of each fabric. Still aren't sure which one's best for your products? Give the nice folks at Quality Logo Products a call, and they'll point you in the right direction!