Fabric softener should not be used on COOLMAX® products.
COOLMAX is often used in activewear.
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  • Written By: Karen E. Spaeder
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 08 January 2015
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COOLMAX® is the brand name for a type of polyester fabric that is specially designed to wick moisture away from the body. For athletes who perspire heavily during their workouts, the product keeps them dry by providing breathability and allowing perspiration to evaporate quickly away from the fabric. COOLMAX® is a trademark of INVISTA Apparel and has been available in the marketplace since 1986.

Known as a performance or technical fabric, COOLMAX® products are primarily designed for use during activities that require a high level of exertion, such as running, bicycling, and aerobics. Its makers also tout other benefits, such as resistance to fading, shrinking, and wrinkling. When worn during an intensive workout, the fabric absorbs moisture and spreads it across the fabric, providing for rapid evaporation. At the same time, air moves in to keep the body cool and dry.

COOLMAX® is machine washable and dryable, and the fabric dries quickly once washed. Fabric softener and chlorine bleach, however, are not advised. Specific care instructions in individual garments provide a more detailed look at how to care for each garment based on its style.

INVISTA is not alone in the performance apparel industry. Other brands have entered the market with fabrics that also tout a garments’ ability to wick moisture away from the body and keep an athlete cool. Bamboo fiber is one example of such an innovation – and one that also has been marketed for its environmental sustainability.


Other textile manufacturers have answered consumers' calls for environmental sustainability through the use of organic cotton fabric. Cotton, however, is not known for its moisture-wicking properties. Athletes who perspire heavily often avoid cotton, as the fabric tends to hold in moisture rather than letting it evaporate.

In response to the demand for sustainable fabrics that are also designed for high-exertion activities, INVISTA introduced COOLMAX® EcoMade fiber, which is made from recycled plastic bottles. The fabric is said to offer the same performance capabilities as traditional COOLMAX® fabric while also helping to keep plastic bottles out of landfills. To create the fabric, post-consumer plastic bottles are cleaned and transformed into a polyester yarn to be used in apparel products.

INVISTA is comprised of a number of global consumer brands aside from COOLMAX®. Among them are LYCRA®, COOLMAX® freshFX™ for use in socks and activewear, rugged CORDURA® fabrics, silky-feeling TACTEL® fiber and smooth-feeling SUPPLEX®. INVISTA products are available in a variety of retail outlets in North America, as well as internationally.



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Post 7

I am really interested in the COOLMAX garments made from recycled plastic bottles. This is an awesome way to use plastic, since it doesn't biodegrade. I can also vouch for this kind of fiber.

I've actually used yarn for knitting that was made from recycled plastic, and it felt exactly the same as any other yarn! So I think a garment made from recycled plastic would feel the same as any other kind of processed, synthetic fiber. I'm going to look for this next time I'm shopping for athletic wear!

Post 6

@sunnySkys - That's interesting about bamboo. I guess that just goes to show that you should really do your research before you purchase something just because it's advertised as "environmentally friendly."

Anyway, I think it's kind of amazing that polyester fabric can be made to keep you dry. I feel like polyester is usually a heavy, sweater kind of fabric. I remember wearing cheap pants made of polyester when I was younger, and they made me sweat a lot! It's crazy how far textile technology has come in just a few years.

Post 5

I have never tried Cool Max fabric before, but I have tried other moisture wicking brands of workout clothing. I've been generally happy with the results, so I imagine this type of moisture wicking gear works just fine.

I did want to point out a few things for environmentally concerned people though. I know bamboo has been touted as an extremely environmentally friendly fiber. It is, but only to a point. Bamboo plants are sustainable, but bamboo goes through a ton of processing just to become a fiber that is basically rayon.

So the growing bamboo is ok on the environment, but processing the fiber really isn't.

Post 4

I have seen a lot of bikers wearing COOLMAX clothing in the summer. I drive up the Natchez Trace toward Nashville a few times during this season, and I encounter many cyclists along the way at rest stops.

I have seen the COOLMAX logo on their gear while talking to them. The cyclists have told me that when it comes to wicking away sweat, this is the best type of material they have found.

I know that they can get pretty hot while pedaling uphill on this road. In fact, most of the journey is uphill, so they really benefit from the COOLMAX clothes.

Post 3

I wear COOLMAX socks, shorts, and a sleeveless top while running. I like to go for long runs, and I can’t stand to stay wet with sweat the whole time.

The special fabric keeps me from feeling icky, and this makes me able to run longer. I don’t get as hot when I’m wearing it, either, because the material can breathe more easily than even cotton can.

I love the fact that the material doesn’t wrinkle, too. I recently packed up all my COOLMAX garments to take on my beach vacation, because I intended to go for a run along the shore every morning. The fabric stayed totally wrinkle-free, and I didn’t even have to take it out of the suitcase and hang it up once I arrived.

Post 2

@StarJo - If you use fabric softener on COOLMAX fabric, then you will destroy its ability to keep moisture off the body. Fabric softener is designed to leave residue on clothes, and this clogs up the open weave of special moisture-wicking fabric.

I made this mistake once, and my COOLMAX shirt never worked again. I bought another one, and this time, I make sure to hang it up to dry instead of putting it in the dryer with fabric softener. The spin cycle gets it almost completely dry, anyway, so it really doesn’t need to go in the dryer.

I don’t know if you know this, but you should also avoid washing COOLMAX garments with fluffy items like towels. The fuzz will cling to them and keep them from working to their full capacity.

Post 1

My husband wears COOLMAX clothing to work. He has to do heavy lifting for eleven hours a day in a refrigerated warehouse, so he has to wear a couple of layers of clothing to stay warm.

However, he does sweat from all the physical labor, and having sweat trapped against your body in a cool environment is not a good thing. This is why he wears the COOLMAX underneath his sweatshirt and sweatpants. It keeps him dry all day long.

I have never used fabric softener on these garments, but it is a pain to have to dry them separately. Just out of curiosity, what would happen if I did put a fabric softener sheet in a load with COOLMAX garments?

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