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How to Take Care of 100% Cotton Sweatshirts

by M.H. Dyer, studioD

Soft, warm, comfortable and durable,100 percent cotton sweatshirts have matured from loose-fitting garments reserved solely for working out at the gym or relaxing around the house. Today's stylish sweatshirts, available in a nearly endless selection of colors and styles, are often dressed up enough for the office or a casual evening out. Although 100 percent cotton is an easy-care fabric, cotton sweatshirts require particular handling to prevent shrinking and wrinkling.

Turn your cotton sweatshirt inside out and then wash the sweatshirt on your machine's gentle setting. Use cool water and regular laundry detergent. Wash your sweatshirt with similar colors to prevent dyes from bleeding from dark garments to light garments.

Add nonchlorine, all-fabric bleach to the water if the sweatshirt is badly soiled or stained. Use the product according to the directions on the label -- usually one capful of liquid or one scoop of dry product is sufficient. Fill the machine with water and mix nonchlorinated bleach and detergent thoroughly into the water before adding the sweatshirt.

Tumble dry the sweatshirt on low heat. Remove the sweatshirt from the dryer as soon as it is dry to prevent wrinkles.

Iron a wrinkled sweatshirt on the wrong side of the fabric, if needed, using a warm iron.

Items you will need
  •  Laundry detergent
  •  All-fabric, nonchlorinated bleach
  •  Iron


  • Read the garment care tag before laundering your sweatshirt. Although 100 percent cotton is usually suitable for machine washing and drying, some manufacturers may recommend dry-cleaning.
  • Treat stains promptly and never dry your sweatshirt while a stain is still visible. Heat may set the stain and make it impossible to remove.


  • Regular chlorine bleach may brighten a pure white sweatshirt, but nonchlorinated bleach is safer, less toxic and easier on the fabric. Never wash a colored sweatshirt in chlorinated bleach because the bleach may fade the colors and weaken the fibers.

About the Author

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision/Digital Vision/Getty Images