How to Care for Cotton: 5 Easy Steps


Let’s get back to laundry basics and learn how to care for cotton.

Cotton is one of the most reliable and commonly used fabrics in your closet. Caring for it is fairly simple, and for this we are grateful! This fabric may not be complicated, but it’s great to review the best steps for how to care for cotton from time to time so that every tee shirt or pair of jeans that you adore can last for years and years.

How to Care for Cotton

Cotton is a popular fabric that is easy to care for as it is comfortable! We have the ultimate guide to how to care for cotton, from stain fighting to long term storage.

Step 1: Pre Treat Stains

Did you spill something on your favorite shirt? Don’t worry–we have two options for how to get rid of a stain on cotton.

-Pre Treating Stains with Oxi Booster Pods

Fill a clean sink or basin with warm water and drop in one Oxi Booster Pod. Once it’s dissolved you can dunk the stained part of your garment in and let it sit until the stain loosens.

-Pre Treating Stains with Ultra Concentrated Detergent

Apply 1 pump of Ultra Concentrated detergent directly to the stain. Gently rub the detergent in and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes, or until the stain loosens. Once the stain has lifted, rinse the area with cool clean water. The stain should wash away, and you can move on to washing the garment.

Adding Oxi Booster Pod to sink

Step 2: Select Water Temperature

Cold water is the best for most cotton items to prevent shrinkage, stretching, and color bleeding. However items worn or used in close contact to the body (underwear, socks, pajamas, bed linens, bath towels) should be washed in hot water to remove bacteria, body soil, and bodily fluids. If the item is made from 100% cotton, elect for a cold or warm cycle instead of hot water to prevent shrinking.

Choosing water temperature on washing machine

Step 3: Choose Wash Cycle

Cotton can be washed on just about any cycle. Normal works well for most garments and linens. If the cotton garment is made of lace or embellished, it’s best to choose the gentle cycle, or to wash by hand. Add a laundry pod and you're ready to go!

Hand placing laundry pod in the drum of the washing machine

Step 4: Ironing

If your cotton is excessively wrinkly, use a medium hot iron and always iron on the wrong side of the cotton fabric.

Ironing a white cotton t-shirt

Step 5: Storing Cotton

Though airtight plastic containers work short-term for cotton items (and carpet beetles can't get into plastic), these items do need to breathe longer term, so choose fabric storage containers and place them in cool, dry, dark spaces, or hang them in your closet. Avoid storing cotton items in attics and basements where temperatures and humidity fluctuate.

White cotton t-shirts hanging on hangers

Frequently Asked Questions

Have more questions about how to care for cotton? We’ve got answers.

Can you put 100% cotton in the wash?

Always check the care label before washing a new item. In most cases, items made from 100% cotton can be washed by hand or in a washing machine. Avoid high temperatures in both the washing machine and dryer to prevent shrinking and to keep your cotton items looking as good as new for as long as possible!

Is cotton easy to maintain?

Cotton is one of the most low maintenance fabrics, making it an excellent choice for clothing, bedding, and other linens.

Is cotton hard to care for?

It’s easy to care for cotton! Always check the care label for specific instructions, but most cotton items can be washed without any specific requirements.

How can I make my cotton items softer?

Try our Fabric Softener Pods to make the cotton fibers softer–naturally. Dropps Fabric Softener Pods are made up of tiny minerals that flow through fabric, naturally softening without reducing absorbency–so you can use them on your towels without a problem.

How can I prevent cotton from fading?

To prevent your favorite cotton items from fading, try the following tips.

  • Wash cotton less frequently, especially jeans and other denim garments
  • Wash garments inside out
  • Use cold water when possible to prevent fading (bonus: it’s better for the planet, too!)
  • Don’t overstuff your washer

How do you preserve cotton fabric?

Do you have a treasured vintage or heirloom cotton item that you wish to preserve? We can help you care for cotton treasures for years to come. First, be sure that the item is as clean as possible. For older items, we recommend hand washing with a gentle detergent, like our Ultra Concentrated Sensitive Skin Laundry Detergent. Store the fabric in a cool, dry location that allows the item to breathe. You may consider hanging it at the back of a closet, or laying it flat and storing it in a trunk or box.