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How to clean and care for cotton clothes

  • October 4, 2019
  • HobyClean Customer Service

Cotton fabric is made from natural plant fibers and is widely used in clothes and table linens and everything from delicate baby onesies to denim blue jeans. The fibers can be woven or knit to produce comfortable, breathable fabrics. Cotton clothes are affordable and durable but should be handled correctly to keep them looking their best and lasting for years.

One hundred percent cotton fabrics are washable. However, always check the care labels in garments before tossing clothes in the washer. While cotton is washable, some clothes or accessories may have materials that provide structure and shape― like interfacings in structured jackets and blazers―that are not washable. So, if you are a novice at doing laundry and see a dry clean only tag, pay attention. Cotton garments should be washed every two to three wears, depending on how soiled the item gets.

What is required for best results

Detergent                    High performing detergent

Water Temperature     Cold for colored cottons, hot for bed linens and undergarments

Washer Cycle             Normal

Drying Cycle               Permanent press for clothes, regular cycle for linens

Special Treatments     Pre-treat stains

Ironing Setting            Cotton setting or 400 F/ 204 C

What we use

    Laundry detergent

    Stain remover

    Chlorine or oxygen bleach

    Laundry starch or sizing

    Fabric softener or dryer sheets (optional)


    Washer or large sink for hand washing

    Automatic dryer, outdoor clothesline or indoor drying rack

Iron or clothes steamer

The process of cleaning your cotton fabrics;

We Find and Pre-treat Any Stains

If your cotton item has stains, we pretreat them with a stain remover before tossing them into the water. The amount of time for letting the item set will depend on how fresh the stain is.

We Choose Detergent and Fabric Softener

Selecting a heavy-duty, high-performing detergent is our best option for removing body soil, odor, and most stains. However, if the clothes are only lightly soiled, any detergent is safe to use on cotton fabrics.

Fabric softeners will make the cotton fibers feel softer and may reduce some wrinkling. However, it is not essential to the care of cotton clothes and the use of fabric softener is optional.

Select the Water Temperature

Unless the cotton garment is worn close to the body, like underwear, socks or sleeping attire, warm or cold water is the best washing temperature to prevent shrinkage and stretching. Cooler water temperatures will also help prevent fading in bright or darker colors.

Select the Drying Time

Overdrying not only causes some cotton clothes to shrink from the high temperature, but it also causes excessive wrinkling. Select the permanent press setting for cotton clothes or use a lower dryer temperature setting. Sheets, towels, and kitchen linens can be dried at a higher temperature to speed up the process. Drying time depends on the size of the load.

Most cotton fabrics need very little ironing if the clothes are removed from the dryer while slightly damp. Hang clothes to finish drying to prevent excessive wrinkling. 

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