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Caring for Organic Cotton Kids Clothing

Ting-Yi Shih

You've chosen to buy Organic Cotton for your children, and that’s good for your kids both now and tomorrow. Perhaps you only wanted to put them in something comfortable and good for their skin, but you’re also leaving them a better, safer environment in the future. Whatever your motivations, now that you’ve purchased, you may wonder how to take care of it. It’s true that Organic Cotton is more delicate, but before you stress out, I’m here to assure you that simply being mindful when laundering will go a long way.

1. Always use all natural detergent.

The process of making Organic Cotton clothing is distinctively different from conventional cotton. Organic Cotton is free of chemicals and flame retardants, which means the inks and dyes were applied to the fabric a little differently. Therefore, giving it a little more extra care will lock in the colors and prevent them from fading. In other words, if you do things right, they can look beautiful for a longer period of time.

All natural detergents are typically fragrance-free, and that means there are no abrasive chemicals like you’d find in scented options. The popular detergents can wear out the inks and dyes—damaging your clothes. When it comes to washing your Organic Cotton clothes, nature is your best friend. All natural detergent and other natural cleansers can be just as effective without chemicals when used properly.

If you have regularly used a strong detergent at home, you will want to do a few cycles of washing with all natural detergent to rinse it off before putting your Organic Cotton clothes in the wash. Even residual chemicals in the washer can cause damage.

2. Pay attention to how it should be washed and dried.

An item may need to be washed differently because of its dyes, prints, or embellishments—even its cuts! You should always refer to the instructions. Dyes and inks will stay on just as long, but they may bleed or fade in the first few washes since they don’t go onto Organic Cotton fabric the same way as with conventional cotton. The care instructions on that specific piece of clothing are there to ensure its longevity, especially for the very first wash.

Conventional Cotton is typically sprayed with harsh chemicals to prevent it from shrinking, whereas Organic Cotton is not. If it does not specify that it has been pre-shrunk, assume that it will shrink. You’ll want to use air dry or low heat drying if you are using a dryer.

Some of the clothing may require you to line dry, drip dry or dry flat, depending on how that piece of clothing is made, so be sure to follow the instruction carefully. It is no mystery that high heat ruins clothes over time. This is especially true when it comes to Organic Cotton. Since the dyes and inks on them are not abrasive chemicals, they will fade with high heat or direct sunlight. When you do line dry, make sure you place it in the shady area outdoors instead of direct sunlight. Drying flat on a rack is recommended because hanging on a line may cause some clothes to lose their shape.

As a general rule, you want to do cold water wash, do the washing inside out using a delicate cycle and then air dry, whenever possible.  

Softeners, both liquid and dryer sheets, are packed with fragrances. People with sensitive skin could experience a reaction. Dryer sheets carry loads of chemicals which rub off onto our laundry in the drying cycle. That’s the coat of softness we feel on our clothes afterward: chemicals! It merely provides a false sense of freshness by coating it with an artificial scent that actually makes our laundry dirty all over again. As I’ve already mentioned, chemicals can easily damage Organic Cotton clothing, so using dryer sheets is a big no-no.

Wool dryer balls are your saving grace if you can’t live without dryer sheets because they help reduce static, get rid of wrinkles, and even save energy. I’m allergic to conventional wool, and these dryer balls are felted wool wrapped around a fiber core. I was quite worried about the possible effects of using them. However, tests show that allergies related to wool dryer balls are extremely rare—only about 6% of those tested turned out positive. I started using wool dryer balls two years ago and never looked back.

3. How to remove stains.

Staining a child’s favorite piece of clothing seems to happen a lot more often than we anticipate, but they’re kids, so it’s bound to happen. We just need to be prepared. The most important thing is to know what caused the stain so you can treat it accordingly. As in medicine, treatment is only effective if the diagnosis is correct. We also don’t want to use over-the-counter stain removers. There are plenty of natural stain removers you can try.

My favorite way of removing stains from my daughter’s dresses are a two-step solution: Baking Soda + Distilled Vinegar, followed by a washing cycle. First, I rub baking soda on the stain, pour some vinegar on top of it, and let it soak for a while. I then rub the stained area trying to work it out of the fabric. Sometimes the stain comes off entirely at this stage, but sometimes the remainder will need to be washed off in the washer. In my experience, this combination works best for fruit stains, juices, chalk marks, and who-knows-what from the playground.

If a stain has already dried, you might want to soak it in a bowl of lukewarm water to see how much it comes out on its own. You can also add some soap to the water, then follow up with treatment using these natural stain removers.

Organic Cotton care may seem troublesome just because it’s different. But all it will take is the right products and a little attention to detail, and you’ll ensure your child’s clothing looks great, fits well, and lasts as long as it fits.



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