How to Keep Cotton Clothes Looking Great

How to Care for Cotton Clothes
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Cotton is a natural plant fiber that is widely used in clothes and linens - everything from delicate baby onesies to denim blue jeans. The fibers can be woven or knit to produce comfortable, breathable fabrics. Cotton clothes are durable but must be handled correctly.

How To Care For Cotton Clothes

Cotton fabrics are washable. However, always check the care labels in garments before tossing clothes in the washer.

While cotton is washable, some items may have materials that provide structure and shape - like interfacings in structured jackets and blazers - that are not washable. Learn more about whether to wash or dry clean clothes.

As with any fabric, treat stains as quickly as possible to avoid permanent staining. Learn stain removal tips A to Z.

High temperatures - like boiling water or high dryer temperatures - are not friendly to cotton and can cause cotton fibers to shrink. The amount of shrinkage depends upon the weave of the fabric and how the fabric was finished and sized at the textile plant.

Cotton fibers will relax and stretch during wearing. So, unless the cotton garment is worn close to the body - like underwear or sleeping attire - warm or cold water is the best washing temperature to prevent shrinkage. Cooler water temperatures will also help prevent fading of bright or darker colors.

Bed linens should be washed in hot water to remove body soil and fluids.

Cotton fibers can be weakened by chlorine bleach. Undiluted chlorine bleach should never be applied directly to the fibers. Dilute solutions can be used safely on cotton or cellulosic fibers for stain removal and whitening. However, even dilute solutions will weaken fibers causing them to rip and wear out if used too often.

Overdrying not only causes some cotton clothes to shrink, it causes excessive wrinkling. Select the permanent press setting for clothes or use a lower dryer temperature setting. Most cotton fabric needs very little ironing if the clothes are air dried or removed from the dryer while slightly damp. Hang clothes to finish drying to prevent excessive wrinkles. Use a clothes steamer or hang in a steamy bathroom to help remove wrinkling.

Extremely high temperatures when ironing can scorch cellulosic fibers. The scorching or yellowing occurs as the fibers begin to burn. Burned fibers cannot be revived. Follow these guidelines for selecting the correct ironing temperature.

Fibers in garments each react differently when treated with stain removal products and during laundering. When using a stain removal product for the first time on colored fabrics, test it on an inside seam or hem to make sure the garment is colorfast.