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How to care for cotton textiles

Washing cotton properly - 10 tips for the care of cotton products.

How to wash and care for cotton textiles so that they last as long as possible? The popular material is basically very easy to clean and durable. In addition, at least with Organic cotton the environment is less polluted and animals are also spared. Nevertheless, it is a natural resource, which should last as long as possible and certainly not be carelessly wasted. The fact that we can use and admire our carrier bags, shirts, sweaters and pants from the renewable raw material for eternities, we can influence ourselves.

In this article I have collected the most important tips for you. Learn now how you can properly care for your favorite cotton textiles. Let's go!

In advance already a short Overview for you:

  1. Use natural detergent
  2. Do without fabric softener
  3. Correctly adjust the washing machine
  4. Avoid wrinkles in the fabric
  5. Do not iron too hot
  6. Dry damp cotton
  7. Wash a little less often
  8. Protect against moths
  9. Repair yourself
  10. Do not wash jeans at all if possible

How to properly wash and care for cotton?

Colorful cotton carrier bags

Cotton is probably the most important fabric in the fashion industry - each of us probably has a pair of cotton jeans in his closet. But not only clothes are made from the fabric, but also the ever-popular Fairtrade carrier bags or fruit bags made of organic cotton. You can have these printed with your own logo or similar in small runs, for example. They are also used by companies as promotional gifts and are not least among the Zero Waste Basic Equipment.

Whether Bags, pants, shirts or shirts - all want to be equally well cared for, so that we can all enjoy them as long as possible and the environment is protected. Therefore, use the following tips for truly durable cotton textiles!

1. use natural detergent

For the care of cotton you can use your Make your own detergent from natural ingredients. However, in most cases it is also sufficient to Universal or heavy duty detergentto get the fabric clean in the machine. For colored fibers, you should definitely use appropriate color detergents, so that the colors do not wear off. There are also special detergents for cotton. However, they are not really worth it and are unnecessarily expensive. 

2. do without fabric softener

When doing laundry, you should not use anything other than detergent. Consciously avoid fabric softeners, because they usually contain chemical substances that can have a negative impact on the environment. These include for example Silicones, chemicals or even Waste from the slaughterhouse. However, if you can't do without a fabric softener, consider a sustainable product free of chemicals and Animal suffering use

3. properly adjust the washing machine

Take a look at the washing instructions before you put the cotton pieces in your washing machine. It's best to follow the manufacturer's recommendations to be on the safe side. However, if the washing instructions are no longer legible or can no longer be found, you can use the following points as a guide:

  • White cotton: Can be washed frequently up to 90 degrees. 
  • Colorful cotton: Withstands up to 60 degrees.
  • Dark cotton: It remains colorfast up to a maximum of 40 degrees. 

In this way, you ensure that your cotton pieces are treated with care and still get clean. Basically, however, it is recommended that you do not wash too hot in order to Save electricity and Washing laundry sustainably

4. avoid wrinkles in the fabric

At their folds textiles usually begin bleaching or more susceptible to Cracks and holes to become. By setting your washing machine correctly, you can already avoid most of the wrinkles in the fabric. The key to this lies in the final spin cycle. It should have a maximum of 1,000 revolutions. This means you won't have to iron so intensively later.

5. iron at lower temperatures

Proper care and ironing of cotton

If you need to iron the cotton pieces at all, make sure that they are still not completely dried so that they become particularly wrinkle-free. However, do not set the heat of your iron too high. A maximum of 200 degrees should be enough for really smooth textiles.

6. Dry damp cotton

While many cotton garments are suitable for the dryer, you should still refrain from doing so if possible. On the one hand, because the Drying in the air clearly more environmentally friendly is , since the consumption of electricity and materials is avoided. Secondly, because cotton is so simple also dried more gentle on textiles will. Especially in the sun, your laundry is dry within a very short time. To do this, simply shake them out well after washing and hang them on the seam. 

7. Wash a little less often

We wash our clothes far too often, thinking that after wearing them once they are no longer fresh. However, this thought is not very sustainable and not at all as well-founded as many of us might assume. Most of the time it is quite enough if you wash the Cotton pieces at the window or outside once well ventilated. Already your shirt smells much fresher.

Another trick: You can also hang the garment in the shower and let the hot steam freshen it up. 

8. protect against moths

Natural fibers such as cotton are a favorite food for moths. However, to prevent them from eating your clothes, you should keep them in airtight clothing boxes store. There you put a piece of cedar wood. This is a completely natural anti-moth agent that will make your clothes much more durable!

9. do not wash jeans at all if possible

This is about how to properly wash cotton. but when it comes to caring for your jeans, I have a tip that may surprise you: You should pretty much never wash them. This may sound a little unhygienic and maybe even crazy at first, but believe me, it has its reasonsthat many people's jeans have never seen the inside of a washing machine. Beginning with the sich slowly washing out paint.

9. textiles repair yourself

Repair and care for cotton textiles yourself

The used look is extremely popular, but before your cotton clothing is then eventually just before the barrel, you can still have it patched by a professional or simply repair it yourself! For this purpose are so-called Repair patches perfectly suitable. They are simply ironed on and your shirt is as good as new again.

Tip: In addition to "fixing", there are dozens of other Zero Waste opportunities. In the linked article you can learn what else you can do to avoid waste.

Wash and care for cotton properly so that it lasts forever!

If you really want to enjoy your cotton pieces for a long time, you should take good care of them. Cotton is already a very robust fabric. With the right care, however, it lasts even longer. I hope that I was able to give you valuable tips for this in this article.

Do you have any questions, suggestions or further advice? Then feel free to write me a comment under this post.

Stay sustainable,

Christoph from CareElite - Plastic-free living

PS.: Under Slow Fashion you'll learn lots of other tips for an environmentally friendly approach to fashion. Have fun!

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* Links with asterisks are so-called Affiliate links. If you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with, because I get a small share of the sales revenue - and of course the product price does not change. Thank you for your support and best regards, Christoph!


Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

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