7 Things You Need to Know about Cotton

LISTICLE | 08/03/2021

Cotton is one of the oldest and most important raw materials in the textile industry. The natural fibre is used in more than a third of our textiles and is therefore grown in large quantities all over the world. Due to its properties, cotton is only suitable to a limited extent for outdoor fabrics and active wear. Nevertheless, it also plays a major role in this sector: in treated form, coated or as part of blended fabrics. Find out here what the advantages and disadvantages are and why it's especially important to look for the organic label when it comes to cotton.


The Natural Fiber Has Many Good Properties

Cotton is a natural, renewable raw material. The delicate fibres found in the cotton boll are very fine and soft and therefore provide a pleasant feeling on the skin. In addition, cotton fabrics are very absorbent - a decisive factor for the textile industry, because this makes them very easy to dye.


Textiles made of cotton are relatively easy to care for

Fabrics made of cotton fibres are quite robust. They do not get dirty as quickly or develop unpleasant odors and therefore need to be washed less often than synthetic textiles. The best example of this is jeans. When washed, pure cotton fabrics can withstand temperatures of up to 90°C, but can shrink by up to 10 percent during the first boil wash.


Cotton Is Only Suitable for Outdoor Fabrics to a Limited Extent

A cotton fabric is more tear-resistant when wet than when dry. This property gives the natural fibre an advantage over all others. However, it also robs the fabric of elasticity: cotton is not stretchy and is therefore almost always mixed with synthetic fibres. If a garment is declared as 100% cotton, it may still contain up to 3% synthetic fibres. In addition, cotton fabrics dry very poorly and are not breathable - a criterion for exclusion in the sportswear sector.


It's All in the Mix

A lot of experimentation is going on in order to use the robust advantages of cotton for sportswear as well: Material mixes with synthetic fibers create elastic cotton blends, and a coating of beeswax makes pure cotton jackets water-repellent. The label Klättermusen has managed to make organic cotton water-repellent and breathable with heat and pressure. There are even already modified cotton textiles that give off citrus aromas when you sweat!


Cotton Cultivation Requires an Extremely Large Amount of Water

According to the WWF, the extraction of raw materials for one pair of cotton jeans consumes up to 29,000 litres of water. This is extremely high and causes soil erosion, dehydration and salinisation all over the world. Although the water consumption of organic cotton is also not insignificant, it is significantly lower than that of conventional plants. The reason is that alternate planting allows the soil to stay healthy and store more water. In addition, rainwater is often used for watering in organic farming.


Conventional Cotton Contains Many Pesticides

In conventional agriculture, no other crop uses as many chemicals as cotton. It is treated with pesticides to fight pests and increase yields. Because demand is high. This not only harms soils and biodiversity, but also workers and consumers: The chemical-synthetic agents from the raw material production remain in the finished clothing and end up in doubt so directly on the skin.


There Are Reliable Seals for Organic Cotton

When growing organic cotton, not only is the use of chemicals prohibited, but also genetically modified seeds. This protects both the environment and health and makes it essential to look for reliable organic seals during production and ultimately when buying cotton textiles. The most meaningful are the GOTS seal, the IVN seal or the "kbA" (controlled organic cultivation) label.

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