Cotton is a natural vegetable fiber knitted and woven into fabrics of many textures and weights. While cotton shirts, pants and suits are wardrobe staples for both men and women, keeping cotton fabrics from shrinking when washing is an old laundry problem. Whether your cotton fabrics are voile, organdy, batiste or linen, you can wash them at home and keep these breathable materials clean and pristine.
Pretreat any stains with detergent and cold water. Place one to two teaspoons of liquid detergent on the stains before you load the clothes in the washing machine. Put your cotton fabrics in a small basin filled with cold water. After soaking the fabric for 15 to 30 minutes, gently rub the stain with a short-bristled brush. Roll your shirts, pants or blouses in a large towel to remove the water.
Machine-wash white and light-colored cotton fabrics in warm or hot water. If you are concerned with shrinking or bleeding, fill the machine with cold water and use a gentle washing cycle.
Rinse your cotton fabrics on a cool cycle. Use minimal agitation to avoid shrinkage.
Shake garments after removal from the machine to remove wrinkles.
Dry cotton fabrics at a low or regular dryer setting. Dry towels and underwear on a hot setting. To prevent shrinking, remove cotton fabrics from the dryer while still damp. Hang in a cool and well-ventilated area to dry.
Hand-wash lightweight fabrics, such as batiste, organdy and voile in a small basin filled with lukewarm water and one tablespoon of liquid detergent. Hang to dry or press damp with a hot iron to remove wrinkles.
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Mimi Abney is a lifestyle writer specializing in online content for women. Her work has appeared in NewsOK.com and "Keepsake Magazine," among other publications. With over 15 years of writing and editing experience for the web and print, Abney is also a contributor to online health, beauty and fashion publications. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Spelman College.