What is spandex?

Spandex is a lightweight synthetic fiber used to make stretchable fabric. What do we mean by synthetic fiber? Unlike cotton which comes from a plant, spandex is a purely man made product. The making of spandex was first underway during World War II when there was a need to find a replacement for rubber..

Spandex threads are lighter, but also more durable and supple than conventional elastic threads. Spandex doesn’t suffer deterioration from oxidation like the fine sizes of rubber thread, and it is not damaged by body oils, perspiration, lotions, or detergents. However high heat say from a wash machine or dryer on high can and will damage the spandex fibers. Spandex is never used as 100% of any fabric construction.

Over the years of selling spandex fabrics I have realized that there is a bit of confusion when it comes to spandex and what people call it so let’s try and clear that up a bit. The term spandex is a generic term for the long-chain synthetic polymer comprised of at least 85% of a segmented polyurethane. Confusing? A bit but we really don’t need discuss the chemistry behind it. But you should know that Lycra® is just the brand name for the elastane fiber manufactured by DuPont®. Elastane is just another term for spandex, mostly used in countries other than the USA. For whatever reason most people in the US use the term spandex while the rest of the world calls it elastane.







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