Why Cotton Is Used in Clothing

by Melissa Worcester ; Updated September 28, 2017

Cotton has been used for clothing for thousands of years, and has many qualities that make it good for all types of garments. It is favored by those interested in environmental issues, and it is often combined with other types of material to get the benefits of both.

History

Cotton has been found by archeologists digging at sites that are many thousands of years old, so no one knows where cotton was first used as clothing. It was made into cloth in Pakistan as early as 3,000 B.C. Merchants from Arabia brought it to Europe around 800 A.D., but Columbus found natives growing it when he landed in America. Cotton became an important crop in the Americas and became even more available after the invention of the cotton gin in 1793.

Function

People in many warm climates grow cotton, especially in the U.S., China, India and Uzbekistan. White puffy cotton is picked from the plants, often by machines. It is stored in large modules until it can be ginned. The gin removes the seed and other particles. The seeds are made into cottonseed oil or meal, while the cotton itself is spun into threads and woven into fabric.

Features

Cotton is a fabric that becomes stronger when wet. It is also breathable and makes good clothing for warm weather. Dyes are readily absorbed by cotton cloth, so it's popular for all types of clothing.

Benefits

Cotton is a natural fabric and is good for people with sensitivity to certain chemicals. It can be grown organically, and it can be recycled. Fabric can be made out of the cotton that is otherwise wasted during the process of making it into cloth. Anyone concerned with ecology will appreciate these benefits.

Considerations

Cotton can easily be blended with other fabrics, including polyester and Lycra. It is suitable for under garments, because it is soft and breathable, and also for work clothes, because it is strong. It can withstand high temperatures, so it can be cleaned and sanitized, which makes it good for diapers and hospital sheets.

About the Author

Melissa Worcester is a mom, freelance writer and graphic designer. She has been writing professionally for over 18 years and earning a part-time income writing for various websites since 2007. She writes about technology issues, business and marketing, home improvement, education and family topics and assists in her husband's home remodeling business. Worcester has a Bachelor of Arts in communications and psychology from Syracuse University.