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Which cotton underwear is best?

You might not think material makes much difference when it comes to underwear, but choosing the right fabric can actually make your undies much more comfortable. Cotton underwear is the preferred option for many people because it’s soft, breathable and easy to clean. 

Cotton underwear isn’t just comfortable, though. It’s available in an array of styles and colors, so it looks good too. If you’re looking for high-quality, breathable cotton underwear for women, the Calvin Klein Carousel Logo Cotton Bikini Panty is the top choice. 

What to know before you buy cotton underwear

Cotton benefits

If you’re wondering why you should opt for cotton underwear, it helps to understand the benefits of cotton undies compared to other types of underwear. 

One of the main benefits of cotton is that it breathes better than synthetic fabrics, so heat and moisture won’t sit against your skin. Cotton underwear is great for women because it lessens heat and moisture, which in turn prevents infections. Excess heat and moisture can also increase odor since bacteria grows in moist, warm conditions. Cotton is hypoallergenic too, which means it’s not likely to irritate sensitive skin either. 

Cotton is also the best option if you want low-maintenance underwear because it’s easy to clean. You can wash it in your washing machine with hot water, so it’s easy to kill germs and odors. You can also throw the underwear in the dryer on high for quick, easy drying without worrying about shrinkage. 


Cotton underwear comes in a wide range of styles for both men and women, so it’s easy to find an option that feels comfortable and suits your needs. 

For men, the most common cotton underwear styles include briefs, boxer shorts, boxer briefs and trunks.

Briefs offer the least amount of coverage because they do not have any legs. However, they also provide significant support and aren’t as prone to bunching as other underwear styles. You’ll usually find an elastic waist and a Y-shape fly. Briefs work well under tighter pants like skinny jeans, as well as low-rise styles. 

Boxer shorts have a loose fit and don’t offer much support. They have an elastic waist and a button fly. They’re an excellent option for sleeping and wearing underpants with a fuller cut. However, they can bunch up under closer-fitting pants. 

Boxer briefs offer the best of both worlds, combining briefs and boxer shorts. They generally provide the same coverage as boxer shorts but with a more supportive fit of briefs. You’ll typically find a hem that hits at the mid-thigh to lower-thigh. They work well during all types of physical activity and won’t bunch up under clothing. 

Trunks are similar to boxer briefs, but they have shorter legs, which usually hit at the top of the thigh. They work well under nearly any type of clothing.

For women, the most common cotton underwear styles include briefs, bikini underwear, boycut underwear, hipster underwear and thongs.

Briefs offer full coverage with a waistband that hits at the natural waist. They usually have fairly straight legs, though some styles have a high cut to expose some of the hips. They work well for everyday wear under most clothing. 

Bikini underwear hits below the natural waist and is cut higher on the thighs than briefs. They also work well under most outfits, but they can cause panty lines.  

Boy cut underwear offers excellent coverage and usually hits between the navel and the hips. Some pairs provide full coverage for your backside, while other “cheeky” styles expose the bottom of the cheeks. 

Hipster underwear is the middle ground between briefs and boy-cut underwear. They hit a few inches below the navel and offer full coverage for the backside. Some have legs that hit at the top of the thigh, while others have a high cut. They work well beneath low-rise pants and don’t usually cause panty lines. 

Thongs are the perfect option if you want to avoid panty lines altogether. They feature a waistband that typically falls between your navel and hips. It has a triangle section that covers your pubic area and an extremely narrow strip of cotton that runs from your crotch and over your backside, connecting to the waist at the back. Your cheeks are fully exposed, so you never have to worry about lines in snug pants or skirts.

What to look for in a quality cotton underwear

Color and pattern

Part of the fun of cotton underwear is that it’s available in various colors and patterns, so it’s easy to find options that suit your personal style. From basic neutral colors like white, black and nude to bold, bright shades like red, green and yellow, you’re sure to find something fun. You can also find plenty of pattern options, including stripes, polka dots, floral and more.


If you want truly seamless underwear, you typically need to opt for synthetic styles. However, some cotton undies don’t have any obvious seams at the waist, sides or crotch. This type of underwear is more comfortable to wear and less likely to show through snug bottoms. 


For anyone with sensitive skin, organic cotton underwear helps ensure you won’t experience any irritation from your undies. Organic cotton grows from non-GMO seeds, so there’s no exposure to chemicals like fertilizers or pesticides which might trigger a reaction. It’s also woven without any chlorine, heavy metals or chemical dyes, so the cotton won’t irritate the skin. 

How much you can expect to spend on cotton underwear

You’ll generally pay between $10-$50 for cotton underwear, depending on the quality of the cotton, the brand and the number of pairs you get.

Cotton underwear FAQ

What’s the best way to clean cotton underwear?

A. Cotton underwear is pretty easy to clean. You can throw it in the washer with your usual detergent on the warm or hot setting. Once your undies are clean, toss them in the dryer on medium or high heat for quick, effortless drying. 

How do I find the right underwear size?

A. Most underwear manufacturers offer a sizing chart to help you figure out your size. Men usually have to measure around the waist, just below the natural waistline, to figure out the correct size. For women, measure around the hips. If your measurement falls between two sizes on a brand’s sizing chart, it’s best to go up a size. 

What’s the best cotton underwear to buy?

Top cotton underwear

Calvin Klein Carousel Logo Cotton Bikini Panty

Calvin Klein Carousel Logo Cotton Bikini Panty

What you need to know: With the quality you’d expect from Calvin Klein, this well-constructed underwear offers a flexible, breathable fit that stays comfortable all day.

What you’ll love: The underwear features reinforced seams and high-quality cotton for durability. It doesn’t bunch or ride up and offers barely visible panty lines. The comfortable elastic waistband fits true to size. They’re available in both solid colors and prints, too.

What you should consider: For full backside coverage, you may need to go up a size. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top cotton underwear for the money

Iris Lilly Cotton Hipster Panty

Iris & Lilly Cotton Hipster Panty

What you need to know: This budget-friendly, hypoallergenic cotton underwear is perfect for anyone with sensitive skin.

What you’ll love: They’re made of natural, breathable cotton that has a low waistband and full backside coverage. The faux lace edge gives the underwear a more elegant look and comes in an impressive size range. 

What you should consider: The cotton is pretty thin. Some buyers were also disappointed in the coverage. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Fruit of the Loom Mens Coolzone Boxer Briefs

Fruit of the Loom Men’s Coolzone Boxer Briefs

What you need to know: This cotton underwear is comfortable enough for everyday wear and offers ideal support for vigorous physical activity.

What you’ll love: They feature a Coolzone breathable mesh fly to provide ventilation and support. The waistband doesn’t pinch or bind, and the legs don’t ride up either. This underwear can be machine-washed and dried. 

What you should consider: Some buyers complain about inconsistent sizing, so you may need to go up a size. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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