Is fleece biodegradable? (7 properties of fleece) 

This article shall answer the question of the biodegradability of fleece.

In addition, it shall cover other areas such as:

  • Definition of biodegradation.
  • Components of fleece.
  • Properties and uses of fleece.
  • Eco-friendliness of fleece.

Is fleece biodegradable?

No, fleece is a non-biodegradable material that is made from the synthetic plastic polymer of polyester.

Polyester is a polymer of ester monomers that are obtained from crude oil. Polyester plastic is non-biodegradable because microorganisms can not break it down into small and non-toxic molecules.

What is biodegradation?

Biodegradation is the process by which naturally occurring organic materials are broken down by microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi into small particles which are not harmful to the environment.

Biodegradation is carried out by different agents such as UV radiation, light, wind, and water but the most effective agents of biodegradation are bacteria and fungi.

Biodegradation occurs in three distinct stages: biodeterioration, bio-fragmentation, and assimilation.

The biodeterioration process loosens up the structure of the organic substance. For instance, the cell wall of plants is weakened by light, wind, water, and UV radiation.

Bio-fragmentation involves the breakdown of organic matter into smaller, nontoxic particles by bacteria and fungi, releasing water and carbon dioxide in the process.

Assimilation is the last stage of biodegradation and it involves the microorganisms taking up the products of bio-fragmentation into their biological machinery to be used to make energy.

Biodegradation can either involve the microorganisms using oxygen, aerobic biodegradation or it can involve the microorganisms which do not use oxygen, anaerobic biodegradation.

Aerobic biodegradation breaks down organic matter into small biomass, producing carbon dioxide and water.

Anaerobic biodegradation breaks down organic matter into small biomass and in the process carbon dioxide and methane gases are produced.

Aerobic biodegradation occurs at a faster rate than anaerobic biodegradation whereas anaerobic respiration is more efficient and produces more gases and other products.

What is fleece?

Fleece is a synthetic material that is derived from polyester plastic. It should not be confused with the fleece coat of the sheep.

Fleece has a fuzzy touch in addition to being super soft, warm, and breathable.

Polyester fiber.

Polyester is a polymer of ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid 

It is one of the most used plastic polymers in industries and homes.

Properties of polyester.

The properties of polyester include the following:

  • It is inert.
  • It is a strong and highly durable material.
  • It is resistant to microbial degradation.
  • It is lightweight and therefore easy to carry.
  • It is fully recyclable.

Uses of polyester:

The uses of polyester include the following:

  • Used to make cans for carrying beverages, water, cooking oil, and milk.
  • Used to make air filters.
  • Used to make carpets and ropes.
  • Used to make fishing nets.
  • Used to make pianos.
  • Used to make liquid crystal displays.
  • Used to make phone cases.
  • Mixed with natural fiber to make fabrics.

The polyester fibers are woven into a light fabric that is brushed to help the fibers increase in volume.

Other natural fibers are mixed with the fleece to make fabrics. Such fibers include:

  • Wool.
  • Hemp.
  • Rayon.

Mixing of fleece and these fibers help to improve the texture and vibrancy of the fabric.

Properties of fleece.

The fleece contains the following properties:

  • It has a pile surface on both sides of the fabric; each side has a layer of fiber.
  • The fleece is extremely warm.
  • Fleece allows air to flow through it and hence it is breathable.
  • It is highly durable.
  • It is good for extreme weather conditions.
  • It is preferred for sportswear.
  • It is lightweight.
  • It keeps sweat odors away by absorbing them.

Applications of fleece.

Fleece fabric is used in the following ways:

  • It is used to make ear-warmers for baby calves.
  • It is used to make underwear for astronauts.
  • It is used to make sportswear.
  • It is used to make winter garments such as coats, gloves, scarves, and blankets.

As mentioned earlier, fleece is sometimes confused with wool due to its name and appearance, but the truth is, they are nothing alike.


This is a textile fiber obtained from sheep and other wooly animals such as goats, bison, and rabbits.

Wool contains a mixture of proteins and lipids.

Characteristics of wool depend with:

  • Breed of animals.
  • Chemicals used in processing.
  • The tensile strength.
  • Color used in processing.

Properties of wool.

The following are the properties of wool fabric.

  • It is elastic.
  • It readily absorbs moisture.
  • It ignites at a higher temperature.
  • It does not melt or drip.
  • It can cause allergic reactions depending on the user’s immune system.

Uses of wool textile.

Wool fabric is put under the following uses:

  • Making clothes.
  • Making blankets.
  • Making horse rugs.
  • Making wool carpets.
  • Making insulators and upholstery.
  • Making cloth diapers.
  • Making soil fertilizers since it produces nitrogen.

What is the comparison between fleece and wool fabrics?

There are several uses for wool but generally, fleece fabric is preferred over wool fabric because it is lighter and softer.

Some people have allergic reactions toward wool fabrics but polyester fabrics do not trigger any allergic reactions.

The advantage of wool over fleece is that it is biodegradable and therefore does not pollute the environment.

Fleece is non-biodegradable and can lead to environmental pollution if it’s not made from recyclable plastics.

Is fleece made from other types of fabrics?

There are other types of fabrics other than wool and fleece which are used to produce different products.

Different fabrics have different advantages and disadvantages, and combining these fabrics with polyester forms an even better fleece.

The fabrics include:


This is a soft fluffy fiber that grows in a boll around the seeds of cotton plants.

It is mainly made of cellulose but can have small amounts of fats, pectins, wax, and water 

Properties of cotton.

The following are the properties of cotton.

  • It has a high luster.
  • It has high tensile strength.
  • It has low resilience to chemicals.
  • It decomposes under high temperatures.
  • It is non-irritating to the user.
  • It is hypoallergenic.

Uses of cotton textile.

Fabric made from cotton has the following uses.

  • Making bath towels and robes.
  • Making denim for blue jeans.
  • Making socks and underwear.
  • Making bed sheets.
  • Making embroidery thread for crochet and knitting.
  • Making fishing nets.
  • Making coffee filters.
  • Making tents.
  • Making cotton papers.


This is a semi-synthetic fiber made from natural cellulose from wood and animal products and other chemical substances.

Properties of rayon textile.

These are the properties of rayon textile.

  • It is more slippery than natural fibers.
  • It has the same texture as silk, wool, and cotton depending on the chemicals used to process it.
  • It is easily dyed into different colors.
  • It is smooth, soft, and has high adsorbent properties.
  • They have low durability as compared to other fibers.

Uses of rayon textile.

Rayon textile is used in the following ways.

  • Used to make bedsheets.
  • Used to make clothes such as sarees, blouses, dresses, and socks.
  • Used to make curtains.
  • Used to make blankets.
  • It is used to make carpets.
  • It is used to make bandages and surgical dressings.

What are the properties of fleece made from a combination of polyester and other fabrics? 

The polyester, cotton, and rayon fabrics have their respective advantages and disadvantages but combined, they form a fleece with these properties:

  • Highly breathable.
  • Highly durable.
  • Resistant to abrasions.
  • Highly flexible.
  • The fleece is more expensive.

Is fleece eco-friendly?

Fleece is made from non-biodegradable polyester plastic and therefore it pollutes the environment when it’s not properly disposed of.

According to an article on fleece fabric, fleece is recyclable when it is made from recyclable plastics, when it is made from non-recyclable plastics it pollutes the environment by filling landfills and water bodies.

Fleece is made from non-renewable plastics that emit toxic emissions to the environment. These fumes, such as chlorofluorocarbons and bromides are skin and eye irritants.

The fumes also are capable of causing global warming.


This article has answered the question of the biodegradability of fleece.

It has also covered other areas such as:

  • Applications and properties of fleece.
  • Comparison between fleece and wool.
  • The combination of fleece with other fabrics.

For any questions or comments please use the comment section below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): is fleece biodegradable?

Is fleece a renewable resource?

No, fleece is made from non-renewable sources such as polyester plastic. This makes fleece a non-renewable resource.

Which fabric is more environmentally friendly?

Fabrics made from natural sources such as wool, silk, rayon, cotton, and hemp are highly biodegradable and therefore environmentally friendly.

Is fleece natural or synthetic?

Fleece is a synthetic fabric. It is synthesized from synthetic petroleum products such as polyester.


Solene Rauturier. (13 July 2020). Material Guide: How Sustainable is Fleece?. An article on fleece fabric.

Retrieved from:

Justin Harrington. ( 17 December 2021). About Eco-friendly Fleece Fabric. An article on SFGATE.

Retrieved from:

Simmons, Paula (2009). Storey’s Guide to Raising Sheep. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing. pp. 315–316.

Beckert, S. (2014). Chapter one: The Rise of a Global Community. In Empire of Cotton: A global history. essay, Vintage Books.

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