By: Katie Lemon
These days, there are so many factors that come into play when you’re choosing underwear. I know I’m usually so focused on the underwear style, like whether I’m going to pick boy shorts or bikinis. But there’s one factor that might be more important than any other if you want your privates to stay healthy: breathability.
Breathable underwear makes all the difference in protecting you from funky smells, uncomfortable moisture, and worst of all, painful infections. The first thing to know is that natural fabrics make the best underwear for women’s health: they’re the most breathable and can give your privates much-needed air without using harmful chemicals or toxic dyes.
And for women going commando, please know that extra airiness isn’t keeping your privates safe—you’re actually putting yourself at a higher risk of infection. With that in mind, let’s check out the 7 best fabrics for breathable underwear. Starting with my favorite...
The 7 Best Fabrics For Breathable Underwear
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It’s no secret that hemp is the all-around best breathable underwear option. It’s even more breathable than cotton, and wicks away moisture expertly. Hemp fabric is eco-friendly: from an agricultural standpoint, growing hemp improves soil and prevents crop erosion. Meanwhile, manufacturing hemp fiber produces much less waste than more traditional fabrics.
Hemp also makes for antibacterial underwear, and becomes softer with every wash. When you wear hemp underwear, you can say goodbye to funky odors and discomfort down there.
Why You'll Love Hemp Underwear
- Breathable nature wicks moisture away
- Antibacterial properties keep your privates healthy
- Super durable and won’t wear out
Where to Buy Breathable Underwear Made from Hemp?
WAMA Underwear: Whether you’re looking for the most breathable panties or nice and airy boxers, WAMA has got you covered. Added bonus: you get free shipping within the US and free returns and exchanges on your first pair to make sure you get the perfect fit.
Linen is another great option for breathable underwear. That’s because linen can absorb up to 20 percent of its weight in water without feeling damp or uncomfortable. Better yet, it's an all-natural fiber that’s environmentally-friendly.
Linen is one of the finest fibers on this list, so any underwear made from this fabric will be beautifully breezy.
Why You'll Love Linen Underwear
- Super lightweight, so you’ll feel nice and airy all day
- Softer than many other breathable fabrics
- A sustainable fabric, completely biodegradable and recyclable
For more information about linen’s sustainability, check out our deep dive into hemp vs linen.
Where to Buy Breathable Underwear Made from Linen?
Life Giving Linen: Underwear from Life Giving Linen is made right here in the US. They promise breathability, odor elimination, and curiously enough, that “wearing linen underwear heightens positive emotions.” You can’t say you’re not curious!
3. ORGANIC COTTON
Cotton is the tried-and-true option for breathable underwear. It’s recommended by health professionals as one of the best underwear for women’s health because it can absorb up to 25 percent of its weight in moisture while still letting your skin breathe.
While not all cotton is created equal, organic cotton is kinder to the environment than standard cotton. Organic cotton is a natural fiber, so it’s a great choice if you’re in search of breathable women’s underwear.
Why You'll Love Organic Cotton Underwear
- Many gynecologists recommend this fabric for breathability
- Available at all price points, so can be budget-friendly
- Still kind to the earth, especially more so than regular cotton
And if you want to know more about how cotton stacks up against hemp, check out our post on hemp vs cotton.
Where to Buy Breathable Underwear Made from Organic Cotton?
Knickey: This breathable underwear brand supports sustainable efforts by using only Oeko-Tex standard materials. They also offer a recycling program to rescue textiles destined for the landfill.
4. MERINO WOOL
Merino wool’s superior ability to retain and wick moisture makes it one of the best breathable underwear fabrics. Merino wool fibers are porous, so moisture and sweat can escape as vapor, leaving you comfortable and dry all day.
Merino wool is loved by travelers and outdoorsy types especially. The natural fiber can regulate body temperature well, keeping you cool in warm weather and cozy in lower temps.
Why You’ll Love Merino Wool Underwear
- One of the softest natural fibers available
- Unique temperature-regulating abilities
- Completely natural and friendly to the earth
Where to Buy Breathable Underwear Made from Merino Wool?
Icebreaker: This sustainable company was founded in 1995 and makes all sorts of clothing from merino wool, including both men and women’s breathable underwear.
Another top contender for the most breathable underwear fabric is Tencel, a regenerated fiber made from eucalyptus trees. Tencel is composed of nanofibrils, super small fibers that absorb moisture very effectively while still letting your body breathe.
While not completely natural like some other options on this list, Tencel is more durable than other options like merino wool and linen.
Why You’ll Love Tencel Underwear
- The perfect mixture of comfort and durability
- Wicks moisture expertly for breathability
- Made using a revolutionary closed-loop process that produces almost zero waste
If you’re curious to know more about how Tencel is made, check out our comparison of hemp vs Tencel.
Where to Buy Breathable Underwear Made from Tencel?
Proclaim: Based in LA, Proclaim is a great choice if you value both sustainability and inclusivity in fashion. Their breathable women’s underwear comes in a wide range of sizes and gorgeous nude skin tones.
Much like Tencel, Modal is a regenerated fiber that makes for some of the best breathable underwear. The weave of Modal fabric leaves plenty of room for your skin to get fresh air, and the micropores inside the fabric quickly absorb any lingering moisture.
Modal is made from beech trees, so it’s good for the environment too. While not a totally natural fabric, Modal is a great option for breathable panties.
Why You’ll Love Modal Underwear
- Long-lasting fabric that stands the test of time
- Great for all activities, form lounging on the couch to climbing a mountain
- Some Modal is made using sustainable processes (just do your homework first!)
Where to Buy Breathable Underwear Made From Modal?
TomboyX: TomboyX makes modal breathable underwear for women in a wide variety of cuts, so you’re covered no matter your style preference.
7. BAMBOO VISCOSE
Bamboo viscose, also known as bamboo rayon, is highly absorbent. No matter how much you sweat, bamboo viscose effectively removes water and heat from the surface of your skin to keep you cool and dry.
That being said, it’s not the most sustainable breathable underwear option available.
Why You’ll Love Bamboo Underwear
- Super popular breathable underwear material, so you’re sure to find a pattern and cut you like
- Makes for very soft underwear fabric to keep you comfortable
- It’s made using natural bamboo fibers, which is a step above most synthetic materials
Why You Won’t Love Bamboo Underwear
I have to make a caveat, though.
While made from the bamboo plant, bamboo viscose isn’t completely natural. It’s a regenerated fiber that loses many of the miraculous properties that bamboo naturally has once it’s produced.
Many manufacturers try to play off bamboo fabric as sustainable, but the world is catching on to how harmful producing bamboo viscose is. Basically, you should heavily reconsider buying something if it’s made with any kind of viscose or rayon.
Check out our comparison of hemp vs bamboo if you want to know more about the environmentally-harmful viscose process.
Where to Buy Breathable Underwear Made from Bamboo?
Aimee-Cherie Intimates: This Australian brand makes super sleek bamboo underwear. They pride themselves on being fair trade and using ethical production processes.
Whether you’re looking for breathable underwear for women or men, you’ll find something you love in at least one of these 7 fabrics. If you want your privates to be healthy and happy, underwear made from natural fabrics is the way to go.
Here’s my final ranking (from best to worst) for breathable underwear, when also considering durability, sustainability, and comfort:
- Organic cotton
- Merino wool
- Bamboo Viscose
With hemp as the breathability winner, you probably want to stock up on a few pairs. Browse our selection of organic underwear to find your favorite style.
Now that you know the most breathable underwear fabrics, which ones are you adding to your shopping cart? Do you prefer natural fabrics or synthetic ones? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!