It’s been around for thousands of years and is the most widely used textile fibre on the planet. Time to find out more about cotton and, most importantly, how to look after it.
Clued up on cotton
Cotton is a natural fibre that comes from the cotton plant. The fibre (the fluffy boll) is spun to make thread that’s then woven into fabric. How many threads per inch is what gives cotton its thread count. The more the softer (and usually the more expensive).
Seeds dating back to 450 BC were found in Peru so we know cotton’s been around for a very long time. It’s now grown all over the world with the biggest producers these days being India, China and the US.
Types and uses
There are loads of forms of cotton fabric including cotton jersey, denim, poplin, seersucker, drill (we’re not making these up), Dot Cotton (ok, maybe that one) and cottagora. Take at look at this list, there’s a staggering 135+ varieties.
This super versatile weave has many uses including clothing (everything from underwear to outwear), household linens, medical supplies and industrial stuff to name a few.
While it’s a natural fibre, cotton isn’t always good news for the planet. In fact, it’s had plenty of bad press because of negative farming practices like pesticides and artificial fertilizers. It’s also been linked to the poor treatment of workers.
What can you do? Check where your cotton comes from and look out for organically produced cotton and other certified varieties. It’s also a good idea to look after the cotton you’ve got to make it last longer. So here’s how…
Caring for cotton
While washing instructions will depend on the type of cotton (check the care label), there are some general guidelines for cotton. If it’s not too dirty, wash at 30ºC, give garments a gentle stretch after washing to keep in shape and air dry whenever you can.
Because it’s a natural fabric, cotton easily absorbs sweat and oil from the skin so moths and silverfish love it. Keep pests at bay by staying on top of your laundry and check out our cupboard love tips.
Cotton is fairly easy to clean, which makes stains less of a problem than with some other fabrics. For best results, it’s a good idea to act on a stain or spillage as soon as possible. Always use cold water (warm or hot water can set the stain) and dab, don’t rub.
Stubborn stain on a white cotton garment? Try a shake of salt and a squeeze of lemon (hold the tequila) then leave in the sun to dry before washing. Or take a look at these tips for specific stain culprits.
From where to care, that’s cotton sorted!