Cotton is a natural cellulose-fiber (the main components of textiles are plant fibers) made from cotton wool. Cotton fabrics are used for a wide variety of purposes in our daily lives, including clothes, underwear, dishcloth, bedding, curtains, towels, and napkins. And this fabric has high utilization to be used throughout all four seasons. As such, cotton is a familiar fiber to us, but we often don't know what features it has and what points we need to be careful of. So, let’s take a look at some things to know about cotton.
Cotton gives a comfortable feeling because it doesn’t irritate the skin. You can feel soft and pleasant texture with cotton unlike synthetic textiles. So, cotton is used for not only clothes but also underwear, bedding and handkerchiefs. It doesn’t even irritate the delicate baby’s skin so all baby products such as baby clothes, cloth diapers, cloth toys are all made of 100% cotton fiber.
Cotton is the second strongest fiber after hemp fiber. Cotton is not damaged by alkaline, so it can be washed by synthetic detergent or soap. It is also safe to use bleach and to dry clean, and has relatively good heat resistance, enabling washing, ironing or boiling at high temperatures. However, if it’s a dark colored dye, it is appropriate to set the temperature below 30 degrees Celsius when washing, considering stain or discoloration.
Cotton fiber quickly absorbs moisture and sweat through hollows. Therefore, it is essential for clothes, towels, handkerchiefs, and underwear that require absorbency. And it is a fabric that is used in summer season because it provides a pleasant and cool feel with excellent thermal conductivity.
Cotton contains a lot of air layers that have been stopped due to natural twist and hollow, so they are excellent for keeping warm. That’s why cotton is used not only in summer but also in winter.
Cotton has great features like these, but it has things that you have to keep in mind. These would help when you use and take care of it.
Because cotton fibers don’t have good elasticity or resilience, it wrinkles easily when washing or wearing. Wrinkles occur more often in textiles than in knitted fabrics. And it less occurs in file fabrics such as corduroy, denim, and velveteen. Most of the cotton-woven clothing on the market is finished by permanent press to secure wrinkles or mixed with synthetic fibers like polyester fiber.
A textile material or garment made of 100% cotton is greatly contracted by the first wash if it is not processed by non-shrink treatment. This is because the fabric stretched by the tension received during the manufacture is returned to its original state by washing. Thus, if you are cutting with cotton, you can prevent size fluctuations if you wash and shrink cotton fabrics before the foundation. Most of the recent cotton products on the market have been sold either after shrink-proofing or washing-processing, almost solving this problem. But if you don’t want any size fluctuation, it would better check if the product you are buying is preshrunk.
Cotton is highly absorbent but are vulnerable to bacterial and fungal reproduction because they tend to be slow in drying. So, if it’s left wet or not properly dried, it will smell or discolor due to bacterial and fungal reproduction. To prevent this, it is recommended to use naphthalene ball when taking care of cotton fabrics.
In the next part 2, we will then look at the types of cotton.
By Sue Kim