Cotton is such an important textile in summer: it’s light, it’s breathable and, what’s more, it’s often described as ‘easy to look after.’ While, generally, this is the case, if you want your summer cotton essentials to last you through this season and into next, you will absolutely want to take steps to make sure you care for them well. With a little extra attention, and some careful washing and storage strategies, you can keep you summery garments fresh, strong and crisp for longer: to help you with this project, I’ve done some research and put together a list of 7 tips to care for cotton clothing.
Cotton is a super-comfy fabric and a lot of its ‘breathability’ comes from the fact that it is a very porous textile. This makes it light and easy to wear, but it also means that it absorbs sweat and naturally secreted oils very easily. Over time, if left untreated, your cotton garments might come to retain body odours or discolour in certain places (under the arms, around the collar). It is for these reasons that this kind fabric needs a little special care: with the right treatment, you can keep your cottons smelling great and unstained.
Using a colour safe stain remover, it is a good idea to pre-treat your cotton garment in certain areas. Focus on the regions that are exposed to the most sweat and the heaviest products (like antiperspirant or perfume, for example): the fabric under the arms and along the neckline should get the most attention. This will help you to prevent staining, and, if you use the right fabric treatment, should go some of the way towards combating odour as well.
3. Check for Pre-Shrinking
Cotton is notoriously prone to shrinkage. Because the last thing you want to do is take your clothes out of a hot wash several sizes smaller than they were when they went in, it is always a good idea to check whether your cotton garments are sanforised (or pre-shrunk). If they are, you should be able to wash at whatever temperature is right for the stain and colour situation; if they’re not, however, stick to cold water. This will help to keep your items the right size.
4. Don’t over-Dry
As we’ve established, un-sanforised cotton items tend to resize themselves if they aren’t very carefully washed and this risk of shrinkage is equally as present when you are drying your garments. Experts suggest that we never leave cotton clothing in the tumble drier until it is completely dry; instead, make sure you remove yours while still a little damp and allow the moisture to evaporate gradually.
5. Hot Iron
Cotton is a fairly tough and durable textile and, because of this, it can be hot ironed without the risk of shininess or burning. Take care that you don’t set persistent stains into the fabric by ironing over them, however, and, if you are concerned about embellishments, turn your garment inside out and iron like this.
Pure cotton will crease quite easily and because of this is always better to store your cotton garments by hanging them up rather than folding them. Remember to use thick, shaped hangers rather than thin wire ones; this will help your clothes to keep their shape in storage.
Because cottons tend to absorb sweat and natural oils from the skin very easily, they often become the particular prey of moths and silver fish. These little pests are drawn to the traces of organic secretions which linger, undetectable to us, in our shirts, dresses and skirts. In order to ensure that you favourite cotton tee isn’t gradually eaten during a winter in the cupboard, you will want to invest in some natural moth repellents.
Cotton is a real staple fabric; it’s natural, light and easy to wear, however it does require a little extra attention if you are keen to keep yours going over time. These 7 tips to care for cotton clothing should get you on the right track; do you have any suggestions or hints of your own to contribute?
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