Cotton is one of the most popular textiles in the world, and archaeological evidence shows that the cotton plant has probably been cultivated for 5,000 years in India, Pakistan, Mexico and Peru. Cotton grew well in the southern parts of the United States. When woven into fabric, cotton has several advantages and a few drawbacks.
Cotton's natural fibers can be spun into a very strong and durable yarn. It can withstand very high temperatures and can be easily dyed with different colors. White cotton clothing can be bleached with chlorine to restore whiteness and garments can be boiled and sterilized without fear that the fabric will disintegrate. Cotton is so soft that it works well as a fabric for baby clothes and for people with allergies, sensitivities or skin conditions.
Cotton comes from a plant, making it a renewable resource and environmentally friendly. Many farmers cultivate organic cotton without the aid of harsh chemical fertilizers. Cotton is a breathable fabric that keeps the wearer cool, making it a good choice during hot summers. It can soak up to 20 percent of its weight before the garment begins to feel damp.
Drawbacks in Wearing Cotton
One major negative quality of cotton fabric is its tendency to wrinkle and lose its shape, making it a poor choice for suits and other professional clothing. Cotton clothing absorbs perspiration and retains it, so it's not comfortable for strenuous sports that make you sweat. Wet cotton often sags and stretches out of shape.
Drawbacks in Care and Maintenance
Cotton's tendency to wrinkle means it needs to be ironed, making it inconvenient for dress shirts and professional attire. Cotton also shrinks, even with a manufacturer's claim that it has been preshrunk. This happens because the cotton fibers contract when doused in water. High heat then sets the fibers and the garment shrinks. Drying on low heat helps to alleviate this problem.
Beverley Burgess Bell has been a professional freelance writer since 1986. She has worked for Medigram, a medical poster and Rodar Publications. She also was editor of "Epilepsy," Canada's national newsletter and wrote for various publications including "Future Health." She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Concordia University in Montreal.