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How to Care for Cotton Clothes

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How to Care for Cotton Clothes

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Cotton is a natural plant fiber that is widely used in clothes and linens - everything from delicate baby onesies to denim blue jeans. The fibers can be woven or knit to produce comfortable, breathable fabrics. Cotton clothes are durable but must be handled correctly.

Cotton fibers can be weakened by chlorine bleach. Undiluted bleach should never be applied directly to the fibers. Dilute solutions can be used safely on cotton or cellulosic fibers for stain removal and whitening. However, even dilute solutions will weaken fibers causing them to rip and wear out if used too often.

High temperatures - like boiling water or high dryer temperatures - can cause cotton fibers to shrink. The amount of shrinkage depends upon the weave of the fabric and how the fabric was finished and sized at the textile plant. Cotton fibers will relax and stretch during wearing. So, unless the cotton garment is worn close to the body - like underwear - warm or cold water is the best washing temperature to prevent shrinkage. Bed linens should be washed in hot water to remove body soil and fluids.

Extremely high temperatures when ironing can scorch cellulosic fibers. The scorching or yellowing occurs as the fibers begin to burn. Burned fibers cannot be revived. Follow these guidelines for selecting the correct ironing temperature.

Fibers in garments each react differently when treated with stain removal products and during laundering. Always read hang tags and labels before attempting to remove a stain.

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