Polyethylene vs. Polypropylene: What You Need to Know



We are proud to be a source of knowledge and information to help our customers find the right products for their customers. One question we are often asked is about the difference between polyethylene and polypropylene. Consider this a quick guide to both types of fibers that you can return to and reference as needed.




Polyethylene and polypropylene look similar and have some shared properties, like a long life, high quality, and the versatility to be used in a number of different applications. They are also both made up of fibers known as olefin, which are chemicals that form oily liquids when combined with other substances. Both fibers have a low specific gravity and will float in water. They are also resistant to damage caused by insects and mildew.


Ethylene, the base substance for polyethylene fiber, is a flammable gas derived from natural gas and petroleum. Propylene, while also a flammable gas, is derived from petroleum hydrocarbon cracking. Polypropylene provides more coverage per pound, while polyethylene has a lower melting point and is more elastic than polypropylene.

More about polyethylene

Polyethylene is more pliable, giving the manufacturer the choice of weaving or knitting. Polyethylene fibers have low moisture regain and they exhibit the same tensile strength under both wet and dry conditions.

More about polypropylene

Polypropylene tends to be the more popular of the two, at least in North America, because of availability and price. Polypropylene has a high melting point, meaning it does not heat-seal well, and due to its bending characteristics (i.e. its stiffness), it is not typically used when knitting.

We are here to help you find the right materials for your products and your customers’ needs. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.