How to Care for Cotton Clothes in The Laundry

Cotton makes up the vast majority of many of our wardrobes, but it’s not always so simple when it comes to taking care of this everyday fabric. Knowing what to do — and what not to do — can help you keep keep your clothes in great shape for a much longer time. That means less in your clothing budget!

So in this post, we’ll briefly cover everything you need to know about caring for cotton materials. Let’s jump in:

Pre-treat stains

Stains are unavoidable for everyday wear, but they shouldn’t be a death knell for your cotton clothes. With a little know-how, you can get rid of pesky stains by pre-treating them before you throw them in the wash. 

Here’s what you do:

  • Fill a small basin about one-half full with cold water
  • Put your stained clothes into the basin without detergents.
  • Soak for 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Once soaked, gently rub the stain.
  • To remove excess moisture before washing, roll the garment in a towel
  • Wash as normal

Following these steps will help you remove stains without resorting to powerful detergents, bleach, or high-temperature washings. The color, texture, and shape of your cotton clothes will be preserved as well. 

White and Light = Warm or Hot

When it comes to caring for cotton, much of the hard work gets done in the washing machine. Specifically, it depends on the temperature you use when washing. 

You may have heard that you need to separate light and dark clothing before washing, and this reason alone is why. If you separate out your white and light-colored clothing, you can select hotter washing cycles (since it won’t make any colors run). This will ensure that they stay clean and fresh, while also ensuring you don’t make any of your colorful clothing bleeds.

Color = Cold

So we’ve covered white and light-colored clothes, now what about darker, colorful clothes? It’s the opposite side of the coin from your whites. 

Take your pile of colorful, dark clothing and select cold water in your washing machine. It will still clean your cotton clothes, but the lack of heat will prevent any colors from bleeding or fading. If you have stains, this is where you can pre-treat them as instructed above, or use a spray-on stain removal for fast results. 

Be Careful With the Dryer

Now, what about the dryer?

No matter what color your clothes, there’s basically only one rule with cotton clothes in the dryer: don’t blast the heat! Too much heat can damage the individual fibers of your clothes, causing them to weaken, your clothes to lose their shape, or possibly fade colors prematurely. Use low to medium heat, and be sure to shake out each piece of clothing so they dry evenly without twisting. 

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