Properties of cotton fabric

What is cotton fabric?

Cotton fabric is made of short, thin, staple and wooly fibers that are a little twisted around themselves. It is a solid and lasting material, but very soft and breathable. It can withstand very high temperatures, up to 284 Fahrenheit, it’s water absorbency level is 18-20%.  However, cotton is prone to wrinkling and wearing and it dries slowly.

Advantages of cotton fabric:

  • Soft and light

  • Breathable

  • Easy to dye

Disadvantages of cotton fabric:

  • Prone to wrinkles

  • Prone to shrinkage

  • May develop yellowish tint if subjected to direct sunlight

Cotton fabric is used widely in textile manufacturing. It is most commonly used to make underwear, bed sheets and kitchen textiles. Since cotton fabric is breathable, it is widely used to make t-shirts, skirts, dresses and especially infant and baby clothing. Cotton kitchen textiles(link to cotton kitchen textiles) look better than their synthetic counterparts and they last much longer.

A little on cotton history…

Cotton is one of the most ancient fiber produced by humanity. The use of cotton for fabric is known to date to prehistoric times; fragments of cotton fabric dated to the fifth millennium BC have been found in the Indus Valley Civilization. The plant itself is a shrub native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world, including the Americas, Africa, Egypt and India. The greatest diversity of wild cotton species is found in Mexico, followed by Australia and Africa.Cotton was independently domesticated in the Old and New Worlds.

Although cultivated since antiquity, it was the invention of the cotton gin that lowered the cost of production that led to its widespread use, and it is the most widely used natural fiber cloth in clothing today.

How cotton is made

Cotton grows in a boll, or protective case, around the seeds of the cotton plants. Cotton fabric manufacturing consists of several stages.

  1. When cotton pod is mature enough it opens and it gets snapped manually or with the use of special equipment. Collected cotton fiber with seeds is called raw cotton.

  2. All collected raw cotton is then transported to a specialized plant where cotton is weighed, measured and kept in dry place.

  3. Then raw cotton is transferred to a special plant where special equipment “cotton jin” separates cotton fibers from cotton seeds and sorts cotton fibers by its length.

  4. Cotton fibers are pressed into white piles and are kept in clean dry warehouses. These piles of cotton are used to make long threads – cotton yarn. Cotton yarn is then weaved into fabric and then fabric is dyed and used to make cotton textile items.

The fabric can be manufactured from pure cotton or sometimes other fibers are added. In this case, mixed cotton fabric properties are different than those of pure cotton. The most common additives are linen, viscose, polyester, acetate, etc. Synthetic fibers are added to make the fabric more solid, long lasting, less susceptible to wrinkage and to make it look better, more refined.

How to take care of cotton fabric

Cotton care instructions(link to care instructions page on blog) depend on the type of the fabric. White cotton can be washed with hot water, colorful cotton should be washed in warm or lukewarm water. You can use delicate setting on your washing machine – this will make cotton fabric last longer.

You should never use bleach when washing pure cotton or mixed cotton fabrics. It is better to use mild detergents or special detergents for delicates.

Cotton textile items can be tumble dried, only on a very low setting. If you would like to ensure your cotton item will not shrink, it’s better to hang dry it, away from direct sunlight.

If you need to iron a cotton item, it is better to do it when the item is still a little damp. If the item is very dry, always use steam on Cotton/Linen setting.

Normally, cotton textiles are very easy to take care of, they are soft, smooth and breathable. No wonder cotton is number one choice when making infant and baby clothes. If you have any allergies, it is better to use cotton clothing and cotton underwear.

Kitchen textiles(link to kitchen textiles) made of cotton or cotton/polyester blends look great, last longer and create the flair of expensive fabric. They add cozyness to any kitchen and dining room, making these areas nice and comfortable to spend time in.


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