Care Properties of Cotton
Though cotton is globally used for various and assorted needs, it still needs extra precise steps when being cared for. Cotton's elasticity allows it to withstand high temperatures, has high washability and is very susceptible to dyes. It has an affinity for dyes yet some of the colors like turquoise blue, shocking pink and black always bleed and require special precautions when washed at home (Sarees, "How to Care your Cotton Clothes). To prevent bleeding, similar colors should be washed together on the specific heat setting that color family needs. There is also cleaning instructions on every cotton garment which calls for a specific washing regiment to ensure that item stays in the best condition possible.
Some cotton applications may require to be dry cleaned only and therefore should not be washed in the household washing machine. Others may need to be hand washed, line dried, or simply soaked. The downside to dry cleaning is that the most effective solvent is also highly toxic. Dry cleaning customers should take their garments out of the plastic bags and air their garments after dry cleaning to air out any lingering toxins.
It is also recommended by the Cot'n Wash company to not use fabric softener. When asked about this, Jonathon Propper answered,"Cotton is a hollow vegetable fiber. Commercial detergents flatten this hollow fiber and prevent it from bouncing back into shape - leaving you with stiff, shapeless clothing. When you add fabric softener, cotton's natural softness is suffocated under a film so it can't breathe. (Propper,"Frequently asked Questions")"
Fabric softener has long been a household staple and is mainly used as an odor additive to attain that desired clean laundry sent.
Another process used in the treatment of cotton garments is starching. The basic function of starch is to stiffen the garment. Incidental use is to prevent stains from penetrating the fiber. However, starch leaves little crystals in the fiber and can often wear the garment out faster than a garment that has not been starched. The choice is then appearance versus longer life for your garment. For customers with 100% cotton shirts who like a heavy starch content, a larger concentration of starch will give the stiffness they desire. (Schiff, "All about Starch").
Though cotton is highly washable, it has a tendency to wrinkle easily. Ironing is the most effective way to get the wrinkles out. There are many tricks and tips to make ironing easier yet the best tip is iron cotton clothing on the "wrong" (reverse, inside out) side, while it is still slightly damp. This will allow for any finish on the cotton to not be harmed and still achieve the crisp look. Doing this process while the cotton is damp allows the added strength of the cotton to help get the wrinkles out and eliminates most friction that would combat the heat when wet. Cotton's high washability, affinity for dyes, and ability to withstand high temperatures are all factors that make it one of the most usable and wearable textiles in the world.
Propper, Jonathan. "Frequently Asked Questions." Cot'n Wash: Superior Cleaning & Long Term Care for ALL your Laundry. 21 Sep 2008 <http://www.cotnwash.com/faq.htm>.
Sarees, Utsav. "How to Care your Cotton Clothes." Articlebase 26 06 2007 21 Sep 2008 <http://www.articlesbase.com/clothing-articles/how-to-care-your-cotton-clothes-171489.html>.
Schiff, Nathan. "All About Starch." Schiff-Consulting 21 Sep 2008 <http://www.schiff-consulting.com/LAUNDRYSTARCH.htm>.
By Sharon Kramer
Care Properties of Cotton
Cotton is the most important apparel fiber. It is important because of its many favorable properties. One of these properties is the care of cotton. When we use talk about care we are referring to the measures required to keep the cotton's or any other textile's original appearance. One reason for cotton's popularity is its easy care properties.
Cotton is very easy to care for. Cotton can withstand a range of temperatures (Care). It can be washed and dried with no special treatment. It is advised to wash colors in hot water and others in cold water (Utsav).
Cotton is a hydrophilic fiber is very absorbent. This absorbency allows cotton to be dyed very easily. Some dyed cotton colors are known to bleed easily and should be given special attention (Utsav). To retain the product color it is recommended that you turn the product inside out. Another benefit of its hydrophilic nature is that can withstand repeated washings (Care).
Cotton has a poor resiliency which means that it wrinkles very easily. This is one reason that cotton/polyester products have become popular (Aguirre). Cotton products can be dried using a dryer. It is important to look at the label in order to use the proper drying temperature (Care). To lessen the wrinkling of the cotton it is important to remove the cotton from the dryer immediately. Also, cotton should not be over-dried because cotton products can shrink or the wrinkles may stay (Care).
Finely woven cotton requires slightly more care. Unlike normal cotton products that can be washed in the washer, finely woven cotton should hand washed with a small amount of detergent. Instead of using a dryer, it is recommended that dry on a clothesline to prevent the product from stretching. Also, you should only put these cotton products in the dryer to restore the softness (Care). Cotton is resistant organic solvents, which means that it can be dry-cleaned. If you have fancy cotton shirts or something they should be dry-cleaned (Utsav).
Aguirre, Sarah. "Cotton." About.Com. 22 September 2008. http://housekeeping.about.com/od/fabricglossary/g/fabric_cotton.htm
"Care for Cotton." Laurea Collection - A 100% Cotton Masterpiece. 18 April 2008.
22 September 2008 .http://laurea-collection.blogspot.com/2008/04/care-for-cotton.html
Utsav Sarees. "How to Care your Cotton Clothes." Articlesbase Free Online Articles Directory. 27 June 2007. 22 September 2008. http://www.articlesbase.com/clothing-articles/how-to-care-your-cotton-clothes -171489.html
By Neal Krueger
Copyright © 2008 Department of Textile and Apparel Management
University of Missouri
137 Stanley Hall, Columbia, MO 65211
Telephone: 573.882.7317 Fax: 573.882.3289