It is not news to anyone that cotton is hugely important to the
clothing and textile industry. The majority of fashion worn
on the planet is made from cotton or cotton blended fabrics.
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective
case, around the seeds of the cotton plants of the genus Gossypium
in the family of Malvaceae. The fiber is almost pure cellulose.
The fiber is most often spun into yarn or thread and used to make
a soft, breathable textile.
modified (GM) cotton was developed to reduce the heavy
reliance on pesticides. Organic cotton is generally
understood as cotton from plants
not genetically modified and that is certified
to be grown without the use of any synthetic agricultural chemicals,
such as fertilizers or pesticides. The cotton industry relies
heavily on chemicals, such as herbicides, fertilizers and insecticides,
although a very small number of farmers are moving toward an organic
model of production, and organic cotton products are now available
for purchase at limited locations. These are popular for baby clothes
and diapers. Under most definitions, organic products do not use
Don't forget the latest and greatest news about cotton. The
news is that you should recycle as much and as often as possible.
Cotton recycling prevents unneeded wastage and can be a more sustainable
alternative to disposal. Let's try not to waste our resources.
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Additional information and resources to help you learn more
about this subject:
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Cultivation of Cotton:
Successful cultivation of cotton
requires a long frost-free period, plenty of sunshine, and a moderate
rainfall, usually from 60 to 120 cm (24 to 47 in). Soils usually
need to be fairly heavy, although the level of nutrients does not
need to be exceptional. In general, these conditions are met within
the seasonally dry tropics and subtropics in the Northern and Southern
hemispheres, but a large proportion of the cotton grown today is
cultivated in areas with less rainfall that obtain the water from
irrigation. Production of the crop for a given year usually starts
soon after harvesting the preceding autumn. Cotton is naturally
a perennial but is grown as an annual to help control pests.
Planting time in spring in the Northern hemisphere varies from the
beginning of February to the beginning of June. The area of the
United States known as the South Plains is the largest contiguous
cotton-growing region in the world.
How to harvest cotton:
Most cotton in the United States, Europe and Australia is harvested
mechanically, either by a cotton picker, a machine that removes
the cotton from the boll without damaging the cotton plant, or by
a cotton stripper, which strips the entire boll off the plant.
Some of the many uses of cotton:
Cotton is used to make a number of textile products. These include
terrycloth for highly absorbent bath towels and robes; denim for
blue jeans; cambric, popularly used in the manufacture of blue work
shirts (from which we get the term "blue-collar"); and corduroy,
seersucker, and cotton twill. Socks, underwear, and most T-shirts
are made from cotton. Bed sheets often are made from cotton. Cotton
also is used to make yarn used in crochet and knitting. Fabric also
can be made from recycled or recovered cotton that otherwise would
be thrown away during the spinning, weaving, or cutting process.
While many fabrics are made completely of cotton, some materials
blend cotton with other fibers, including rayon and synthetic fibers
such as polyester. It can either be used in knitted or woven fabrics,
as it can be blended with elastine to make a stretchier thread for
knitted fabrics, and apparel such as stretch jeans. Cotton can be
blended also with linen as Linen-cotton blends which give benefit
of both plant materials which wrinkle resistant, lightweight, breathable
and can keep heat more effectively than only linen. These blends
are thinner and lighter, but stronger than only cotton.
What is Egyptian Cotton?
The name Egyptian cotton is broadly associated with quality products,
however only a small percentage of "Egyptian cotton" products are
actually of superior quality. Most products bearing the name are
not made with cotton from Egypt.
What is Pima Cotton?
Pima cotton is often compared to Egyptian cotton, as both are used
in high quality bed sheets and other cotton products. It is considered
the next best quality after high quality Egyptian cotton by some
authorities. Pima cotton is grown in the American southwest. Not
all products bearing the Pima name are made with the finest cotton.
The Pima name is now used by cotton-producing nations such as Peru,
Australia and Israel.
What is Cotton Lisle?
Cotton lisle is a finely-spun, tightly twisted type of cotton that
is noted for being strong and durable. Lisle is composed of two
strands that have each been twisted an extra twist per inch than
ordinary yarns and combined to create a single thread. The yarn
is spun so that it is compact and solid. This cotton is used mainly
for underwear, stockings, and gloves. Colors applied to this yarn
are noted for being more brilliant than colors applied to softer
yarn. This type of thread was first made in the city of Lisle, France
(now Lille), hence its name.
What is mercerised cotton?
Mercerisation is a treatment
for cellulosic material, typically cotton threads, that strengthens
them and gives them a lustrous appearance. The process is less frequently
used for linen and hemp threads. The process was devised in
1844 by John Mercer of Great Harwood, Lancashire, England, who treated
cotton fibrers with sodium hydroxide. The treatment caused the fibers
to swell, which in Mercer's version of the process shrank the overall
fabric size and made it stronger and easier to dye. The process
did not become popular until H. A. Lowe improved it into its modern
form in 1890. By holding the cotton during treatment to prevent
it from shrinking, Lowe found that the fiber gained a lustrous appearance.
Mercerisation alters the chemical structure of the cotton fiber.
The structure of the fiber inter-converts from an alpha- and beta-cellulose
mixture to a thermodynamically favorable cellulose II polymorph.
The modern production method for
mercerised cotton, also known as "pearl" or "pearle" cotton,
gives cotton thread (or cotton-covered thread with a polyester core)
a sodium hydroxide bath that is then neutralized with an acid bath.
This treatment increases lustre, strength, affinity to dye, and
resistance to mildew. On the other hand, it also increases its affinity
What is a cotton gin?
A cotton gin is a machine that quickly and easily separates cotton
fibers from their seeds, allowing for much greater productivity
than manual cotton separation. The fibers are then processed
into various cotton goods such as linens, while any undamaged cotton
is used largely for textiles including clothing. Seeds may be used
to grow more cotton or to produce cottonseed oil. Although simple
handheld roller gins had been used in India and other countries
since at earliest 500 AD, the first modern mechanical cotton gin
was created by American inventor Eli Whitney in 1793 and patented
What is calendering? You may want
to read the textile news article
about calendering cotton and other textile fibers.