Acrylic is lightweight, soft, and warm, with a wool-like feel. It can also be made to mimic other fibers, such as cotton, when spun on short staple equipment. Some acrylic is extruded in colored or pigmented form; other is extruded in “ecru”, otherwise known as “natural,” “raw white,” or “undyed.” Pigmented fiber has highest light-fastness. Its fibers are very resilient compared to both other synthetics and natural fibers. Some acrylic is used in clothing as a less expensive alternative to cashmere, due to the similar feeling of the materials. Some acrylic fabrics may fuzz or pill easily, which is why it’s important to look for acrylic that is treated for non-pilling, or is blended with another fabric such as wool or cotton.. Acrylic takes color well, is washable, and is generally hypoallergenic.

Acrylic is resistant to moths, oils, chemicals, and is very resistant to deterioration from sunlight exposure.

Acrylic is the “workhorse” hand-crafting fiber for crafters who knit or crochet; acrylic yarn may be perceived as “cheap” because it is typically priced lower than its natural-fiber counterparts, and because it lacks some of their properties, including softness and the ability to felt or take acid dyes. The fiber requires heat to “kill” or set the shape of the finished garment, and it isn’t as warm as alternatives like wool. Some knitters also complain that the fiber “squeaks” when knitted, or that it is painful to knit with because of a lack of “give” or stretch in the yarn. On the other hand, it can be useful in certain items, like garments for babies, which require constant washing, because it is machine-washable and extremely color-fast.