Pieces of cotton clothing are as essential and staple to an Indian wardrobe as salt to food. Blame it on 365 days of sun! But we aren’t complaining.
The most wonderful quality about cotton is that it’s incredibly versatile. On the days when the sun shines strong, or days when the clouds turn grey and the humidity gloves you good, a soft cotton dress or a cotton kurti is just what the weather demands. Wear it to work or on vacations, cottons can take you from mornings to midnight looking fresh and effortless.
And as versatile and adaptive cotton is, if you really want to get a few good months, or even years out of your favorite pieces, attention to care is essential.
In this post, we share our go to tips for on taking the best possible care of your cottons.
- Gentle wash, best when done with hands
Because there’re many different kinds of cottons, there’s no thumb rule about how you should be washing them. Always refer to the garment label for appropriate care instructions for the best results. However, in our experience, the way to handle any kind of cotton clothing – printed or not, dyed or otherwise - is to gently wash them in cold water (30°C or less) with hands and using moderate amounts of organic detergent, cottage soap or a handful of wild berry (Ritha) powder.
Note that fabrics that are dyed in natural pigments will bleed. And that’s because natural dyes don’t take to the fabric as evenly as synthetic ones. Against what popular notions will tell you, soaking such a fabric in salt water is not effective in ‘setting’ the color and could lead to more color leaching.
- Avoid drying cottons in direct sunlight
Due to direct hits of UV rays, drying your cottons in direct sunlight will fade the colors over a period of time. And while direct sunlight will help with keeping your whites looking white, your colored pieces will lose their luster over time. Best to line dry them in shade or on medium heat in the dryer.
- Dry clean not essential
Contrary to popular belief dry cleaning isn’t a best practice when it comes to cotton care. The chemicals used in the process can result in color bleeding and loss of luster. If you must, dry clean as infrequently as possible.
- And neither are fabric softeners
It’s a common practice to soak thick cottons, such as khadi, in softeners. But in our experience, they do very little to make a temperamental piece more ‘wearable’. Softeners lend perfume and keep the clothes feeling fresh, but they tend to stain if used carelessly. We strongly advocate using modest amounts of organic soaps in place of softeners since they naturally keep the fabric soft and colors bright, adding years to a piece of cotton garment.