Some form of cotton can be found in most homes globally because it's such a durable fabric and has remained one of the most popular fabric choices for millennia.
Cotton blankets are soft, warm, and comfortable, but there is a kink in their durable armor when it comes to washing and caring for them.
The characteristics of cotton make it a preferred fabric choice in most households, and using cotton blankets begins with our most precious gift – our newborn babies.
When we think about babies, we are immediately reminded of the constant cleaning and washing of anything our little ones come into contact with; This includes those little cotton baby blankets used to swaddle and wipe up all the fun mess that comes with kids.
The cleaning and washing of blankets don't end there but continue into adulthood and old age. Cotton blankets have consistently stood the test of time and, if treated with care, will last a lifetime or beyond.
It is incredible to think that something as simple as cotton can be woven into the fabric that makes us myriad different products, like blankets, clothes, curtains, bath towels, beach towels, face cloths, nappies, shoe uppers, and much more, with all these products that cotton makes, it is without question that learning how best to care for cotton is a necessary discussion.
Cotton blankets are mostly four-season blankets, but this depends on whether the blanket in question is 100% cotton or a blended cotton blanket and, naturally, the thickness of the blanket.
The characteristics of pure cotton make it the most breathable fabric, second only to wool, and this factor plus its softness and lightweight features are why cotton is so popular.
Cotton blend blankets may have different washing instructions to 100% pure cotton blankets. Still, the blend usually enhances the quality of the blanket, making it less prone to shrinkage when washed in warm or hot water.
Where cotton is the main fabric in a blend, the general characteristics like breathability will still benefit. Still, the blend percentage may influence its hypoallergenic and other factors that may swing slightly on both ends of the scale.
Polyester is a typical blend choice, and with excessive use and frequent washes, the breathability may be reduced by clogging and breaking of the fibers.
Blends also influence the thermoregulation that makes 100% cotton a four-season fabric.
100% cotton is prone to shrinking when washed. Shrinking is the biggest concern among cotton lovers, and it is also why blended cotton has become so sought after.
Blended cotton dramatically reduces the possibility of shrinking, but if you insist on 100% cotton, there is a trademarked process that pre-shrinks the fabric.
Sanforized is a word that appears on many 100% cotton fabric labels. The fabric has gone through the Sanforized process and is pre-shrunk making it safe to be washed and dried without further shrinkage.
It is essential to read the label on any cotton item you purchase as it will give you valuable information on the fabric plus the washing (caring) instructions. However, there are a few tricks of the trade not mentioned on labels that will improve the longevity of your cotton blanket.
The label on your cotton blanket may indicate that it's safe to machine wash in cold/warm water and tumble dry on low heat, which is all fine and well, but the drying process can be altered slightly to improve longevity.
Instead of completely drying the blanket in the tumble dryer on the lowest heat setting, dry it until it is free of moisture but still a little damp, and then air dry it outside until completely dry. This easy hack will make a big difference in the long run.
Washing your cotton blankets will not reduce the expected lifespan, but this is on the condition that you stick to the washing instructions printed on the label.
Washing helps maintain the hypoallergenic quality of your blanket, but if there are no liquid spills or severe dirt stains from pets or children, then vigorous shake and air your blanket outside for a couple of hours work very well.
Cotton will still shrink by about 5% over time, but it also stretches when wet, which accounts for the blanket's shape distorting if the washing instructions are not adhered to. Cotton is highly absorbent and can absorb twice its weight in water.
Hanging a soaking wet 100% cotton blanket on a single strand washing line will draw the water to the bottom of the blanket, and this may result in your blanket stretching under the weight of the water. It's best to remove most of the water using towels and not by ringing the blanket out before placing it flat on an elevated grid to air dry.
The best storage for a cotton blanket is on a bed, but if you must pack your cotton blankets away, it's best to use breathable cotton storage bags and store them in a dark, dry place to protect against mold and UV rays. Storage bags reduce the risk of damage from fish moths and other critters that thrive on natural fabrics.
As mentioned earlier, it is important to follow the washing instructions on the label of your cotton blanket.
Hot water equates to shrinking, so stick to washing your cotton blanket in cold or slightly warm (room temperature) water.
A cold-water wash helps to prevent shrinkage and also keeps colors vibrant. Here are a few washing tips:
Just a side note on liquid and other stains; deal with them the moment you see them because cotton is highly absorbent, and time will allow the stain to set.
For pet or child urine stains, soak the blanket in warm water and white vinegar overnight or until the stain is no longer visible, then wash the blanket with a mild detergent in your washing machine.
Hand washing your cotton blanket is more time-consuming than a conventional machine wash but see it as a labor of love.
A bathtub is ideal for hand-washing blankets as you have control of water coming in and going out.
Treating your 100% cotton blanket with care will increase its longevity and maintain its new look as well as its natural characteristics.
Cotton blankets are soft, very comfortable, and easy to care for; following the care instructions on the label will ensure that you get the maximum beneficial use out of your blanket.
This is especially important for people prone to allergies that stem from pets and dust.
Regularly shaking out and airing your cotton blanket will limit the build-up of pet dander and household dust.
Washing your blankets once or twice a month is great from a hygiene perspective, and people sensitive to dust mites will find it comforting to know that cotton blankets can be washed weekly or biweekly if need be.
Occasional warm water washes may be necessary to deal with stubborn stains or dirt build-up. Still, if you have a regular care routine, cold water washes will ensure clean, great-looking cotton blankets become a trademark of your home.
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