What man made fabric is the closest to cotton for cotton clothes? The real answer is there is not one. Cotton has specific characteristics that cannot be man made. It is a breathable material that absorbs moisture and becomes stronger when wet. It can even be made fire proof.
The reason this question has been repeatedly asked is because of the rising prices of cotton on the open market. Because of the high prices of raw cotton, textiles made of man made material are set to sell more in quantity than cotton products for items that are being imported this year.
This movement in the market place is not eliminating cotton from being used, but a reduction in 100% cotton cloths. The common replacement is the cotton blended items. Polyester and rayon are the most common synthetic fibers that are being combined with cotton to make clothes today. Spandex and nylon are also being woven into blends with cotton for even more application in clothing lines.
Most consumers are only worried about the feel of the clothes next to their skin and not generally what they are made out of. This is what has made it possible for the blended cotton fabric to gain such a foothold in the American market.
There are some cotton blends that are considered and labeled all natural. These are the blends that use rayon. Rayon is made from regenerated cellulose fibers that are found in wood. Most experts consider rayon a semi synthetic fiber but aggressive marketing professionals do not always agree with the experts.
Rayon does absorb moisture which mostly resembles linen in its appearance and in its pure form should be dry cleaned. When woven with cotton, the blend with rayon still requires the owner of the clothing item to have it dry cleaned. The danger of washing it with water instead of dry cleaning solvents is that rayon has a tendency to shrink.
The use of cotton blends use to be reserved for the low cost budget apparel that hit the American market years ago from foreign sources. Today with the rising process of cotton, synthetic materials are making inroads to designer clothing that were exclusively made of cotton in the past. Because of this all clothing items should have their tags read by the person purchasing them so they will know exactly what they are buying. Luckily by law the tag on each garment sold in America has to be accurate and truthful.
There are many different types of synthetic material today that are spun into cloth for Americans to wear. As of this date there is no substitute or material that even comes close to the characteristics of the all cotton weaves. The cotton boll is made by Mother Nature and cannot be duplicated no matter what the scientist attempt to do with synthetic fibers.