How To Wash Cotton Clothes

How to wash cotton clothes
How to wash cotton clothes

Table of Contents

You love the comfort of cotton clothes, especially during the summer. But they often don’t last long. This plight is not yours alone, a lot of people complain that cotton wears off very easily. And, they blame the short lifespan of cotton clothes on the fact that it is a natural fibre. People don’t really acknowledge the real mistake – poor laundry practices. Cotton clothes often don’t last long because people often do not wash them properly.

If you don’t want to commit laundry mistakes, then you should go through this article. We have explained how to wash cotton clothes in the right way and give them the right care.

Here is what we will explain:

  • How often to wash cotton clothes
  • How to wash cotton clothes in a washing machine
  • Some tips to take care of cotton clothes
  • When you should not wash cotton clothes at home

Under these main headings, you will get to some tiny yet crucial tips that will keep your cotton clothes in a good condition. So, keep reading till the end.

How Often To Wash Cotton Clothes

How often to wash cotton clothes
How often to wash cotton clothes

How frequently you should wash cotton clothes depends on the type of garment. From baby onesies to denim, and bed linens, different items have different wash intervals. However, the key is to avoid frequent wash cycles as much as you can. 

Try to wear a garment at least two times before washing it. Bed linens can last a week long without a wash. Whereas, undergarments must be washed regularly to maintain hygiene. When it comes to thick garments like denim and trousers, you can wear them 4-5 times before washing them. However, this again depends on the humidity in your area, and how much you sweat. If you like a hot or humid climate, you might have excessive sweat. In such cases, you cannot really wear a garment 2-3 times without washing it. 

However, if the climate is ideal and you can make a garment work multiple times, do it at all costs. You will definitely increase the lifespan of your cotton clothes by washing them less frequently.

How To Wash Cotton Clothes In A Washing Machine

How to wash cotton clothes in a machine

Sort your laundry

Separate white clothes from coloured clothes. Dyed cotton often leaves a colour that can cause colour-bleeding stains. Not just whites, you should separate light-coloured clothes like pastels, and light greys from dark colours like black, navy blue, deep red, etc. as well. 

Load your washing machine

Put one load (coloured or white clothes) at a time in the machine. Also, you should not overload the washer. Make sure there is enough space for the garments to move around or else the dirt and dust will settle again in the clean clothes. 

You can sink your hand in the loaded drum, if it doesn’t fit or feels too tight, you should take some clothes out from the washer.

Put detergent & laundry additives in the dispenser or tub

You can use any mild or heavy detergent on cotton clothes. Because cotton can generally tolerate all sorts of detergents. However, it is better to go for mild detergents. Make sure you add just 1-1.5 tablespoons of detergent in the dispenser to wash 5-10 clothes. 

The key is to use less detergent than prescribed. Because extra detergent can make your clothes feel rough. 

You can also add fabric softener or bleach in a separate dispenser if you want extra softness or brightness. 

Set the machine on ideal settings and run it

Set the machine on a “regular” cycle. This setting generally has a fast spin cycle and cool or lukewarm water. However, it depends from machine to machine. You should prefer cool water as is the most gentle and ideal option for washing cotton. And, it should be the only option if you are washing coloured cotton clothes. Hot water may fade the colour.

Here’s an exception

If you are dealing with dull or yellowed white cotton clothes, you can use hot water. However, there will always be a risk of shrinkage. A better way would be to try a professional laundry service. Experts can actually make dull, yellowed or heavily-stained white clothes back to normal again. 

Air-dry cotton clothes

How to dry cotton clothes after wash
Air drying cotton clothes

Heat can shrink cotton. Hence, it is best to air dry or line dry your cotton clothes, bed linens, etc. Make sure you don’t twist or wring the garment with force. It will leave excessive garments on the fabric. 

Hang the wet garment/linen etc. in a place where there is no excess dirt or dust exposure. In case you don’t have enough space in your courtyard, balconies, etc. you can simply place a drying rack indoors as well. The place should have proper air circulation. The best is to hang wet garments under the fan or near windows. 

What if we say you can get rid of the toughest stains from clothes instantly? 

Some Tips To Take Care of Cotton Clothes

  • Using hot water can cause fading in cotton clothes faster than any other fabric. Hence, avoid hot water while washing cotton clothes.
  • You should wash cotton clothes less frequently to keep them in a good state for a longer period, especially denim.
  • If you dry cotton clothes in a clothes dryer machine, you can completely skip using dryer sheets. Because cotton does not have static cling (when clothes cling to your body after a wash is called static cling) unlike synthetic fibres. 
  • It is better to use fabric softeners while you wash cotton clothes at home. You can choose gentle commercial softeners, baking soda or vinegar as well. It is completely optional but your clothes will definitely feel a lot softer. 
  • Iron your cotton clothes on a permanent press setting.
  • Sometimes ironing is not enough to give cotton clothes a crisp look, you should consider starching in such a situation. 

When You Should Not Wash Cotton Clothes At Home

Even though 100% cotton is washable, it may not be ideal to wash certain clothes. 

  • Clothes with linings or interfacings: If a garment has materials that provide structure or shape, such as linings and interfacing, it should not be washed in the machine. For example, corset tops, blazers, structured jackets, etc. 
  • Clothes that are fragile: Some cotton clothes are extremely fragile and it is mentioned on their garment care label. They are often marked “dry clean only”. You should always read the garment care label carefully.
  • Dark or faded clothes: Dark-coloured cotton clothes are prone to fading with frequent wash cycles. Even if you use the mildest detergent and most gentle cycle, they might fade in a long run. Dry cleaners have special colour-restoring chemicals. They can not only prevent your cotton clothes from fading, but they can also restore the faded colours of a garment. 

You can send such clothes to a laundry store near you and ensure that they stay in their best condition forever. 

Meanwhile, you can also check our articles based on washing different clothings: 


For more such articles, check out

Can’t get wrinkles out of cotton clothes easily? We can do it for you.

FAQs on washing cotton clothes at home

If you will set the temperature of the drying cycle too high, your cotton clothes may shrink. Hence, line drying or air drying is one of the best ways to dry cotton clothes.

Raw cotton is spun into thread to stretch the fibres. This creates a tension which is required to weave the fibres into the cotton fabric. But when this fabric is heated (Washed in hot water or tumbled in a dryer) the fibres lose that tension. This is why clothes cotton shrink. 

It is simple, you only have to use cold or lukewarm water to wash cotton clothes and avoid using a clothes drying machine.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not necessarily purport to reflect the values or views of Tumbledry.

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