Pros and cons of cotton clothing

Cotton is one of the most common natural materials in use today. Made out of fibres obtained from the cotton plant, the soft, durable and hardwearing material has been made into clothes, bedding and other goods for centuries.

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According to the National Cotton Council of America, the world uses more cotton than any other fibre, and it has hundreds of different uses, from sheets and face flannels to socks and shoe laces.

Cotton clothing has many advantages and just a few disadvantages. Here are the main ones:


Cotton is one of the softest materials on the planet, so it is extremely comfortable worn next to the skin. Its ability to stretch, too, means it is ideal for items of clothing such as underwear, which may need to ‘give’ somewhat while being worn.

The fact it is a natural fabric is, of course, another advantage. As no chemicals are used in its manufacture, cotton will not irritate even the most sensitive skin, and is therefore fantastic for baby clothes or for those with skin conditions. This is also why you will find most bandages and other medical materials made out of cotton.

Cotton is also breathable, which means it will absorb sweat and allow it to evaporate naturally – synthetic fabrics sometimes trap sweat, causing odours and itchiness. It is for this reason most clothing designed for use during exercise is made of cotton – the material is also ideal for sleepwear and underclothes.

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Despite being breathable, cotton is surprisingly strong, which means it will last a long time, despite being washed often. It is also stain-repellent, versatile – denim, chino, corduroy, calico and gingham are just a few variants – and has insulating properties, meaning it keeps you cool in hot weather and warm in the cold.


Despite being durable, cotton clothes may shrink over time in the wash. If you are making an item of clothing using cotton fabric, such as that available at, you are advised to wash it once before stitching, to allow for this to happen.

Cotton clothes are also liable to wrinkle, so need ironing more frequently than synthetic clothing, and the colours can bleed in the wash – so be careful to wash similar colours together, or give cotton clothes their first wash alone.

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