Cotton-King Of Fibres:

Cotton production is a billion dollars industry, grown in 85 countries around the world. For 7000 years, this fibre has been cultivated across the globe. This fibres are amazingly versatile and perfectly blend with other fibres. Historically, US had been the world’s leading producer of cotton, but china is dominating the cotton industry today, producing over 7.6 milliontones of cotton annually. India is placed in 3rd position in this production.

About This:

This is a natural plant fibre. Gossypium is the botanical name given to this plant.

History Of Cotton:

The earliest evidence of using cotton can be traced to India. This was around 3000B.C. Cotton was first cultivated in India, then expanded to Egypt, China, and the South Pacific.

Processing Of Cotton:

Combing (Optional)
Opening & Blending

1- Cultivation:

  • It requires a tropical climate with equal distribution of sunshine and rainfall. It is a shrub that normally grows to a height of 1.5 meters.
  • During the flowering period, on the first day, the flower is white in color, where as on the second day it gets a slight tint of pink color. On the third day, the flower is totally pink in color and on the fourth day, the flower dries up and withers leaving a bud behind. This bud after 1& 1/2 months bursts out and This fibre is exposed. This is the indication that it’s time for harvest.

2- Harvesting:

  • Harvesting is the simple process of plucking the cotton fibre from the plant. It’s possible to accomplish it manually or mechanically.
  • After plucking, what we get is raw cotton.

3- Raw Cotton:

  • Raw cotton contains various kinds of trash, such as leaf, bark, and seed coatparticles.

4- Ginning:

  • The process of separating cotton seeds from the cotton fibre is called Ginning.For this purpose, ginning machines are used.
  • The raw cotton transported by trailers is dumped into ginning machines through pipes. The cotton is processed through various other parts, like the dryer to cylinder cleaner for removal of moisture, foreign matter, sticks and burrs. The product from this process is called lint.

5- Bailing:

  • The lint gathered from ginning process is loose which is compressed and packed into rectangular bundles called as the “bales”. Each bale weighs 500 pounds.

6- Opening & Blending:

  • Cotton from the bales are opened and put into a machine for the cleaning process to remove dust.
  • The clean and opened cotton undergoes a process of blending where different varieties of cotton fibre are mixed. The fibre is then converted into a soft roll or lap.

7- Blow Room:

  • The cotton follows through the process of cleaning and blending again in the blow room.

8- Carding:

  • It is an important phase where fibre are individualized and laid parallel to each other.
  • During this process cleaning, detaching and mixing of different fibres takes place.The end of carding process, the output is carded sliver and it consists of both long and short staple fibres.The sliver is a rope like structure with one inch diameter.

9- Combing:

  • Combing is a process of removing the short fibres from slivers and straightening of the fibre. Output is combed sliver. Combed sliver produces high-quality fabric with good texture and drape. The main objective of the combing process is to separate, the long staple fibres from the short staple fibres. Any leftover impurities will be removed to obtain a more uniformed fibre.

10- Doubling & Drawing:

  • Doubling and Drawing process makes the fibres stable and more parallel to each other. In doubling process 6-8 slivers are combined and then blended into a single sliver. Drawing process makes the fibres more stable, thinning of sliver and strengths it. Further, it parallelizes and blends the fibre in the sliver. Output is drawing sliver.

11- Roving:

  • Roving is the process to thin down the sliver by givinga slight twist. During the roving process a slight twist is given to the straight sliver to orient the fibres towards the direction of the twist.

12- Spinning:

  • Spinning is a process of thinning down the rove and twisting it. The output got is a single yarn. The bobbins containing the roves are placed on the spinning frame which consists of many rollers each of them runningat a higher speed. The roves are drawn into the yarn and required amount of twist is inserted.


Microscopic View:

Longitudinal View :

Cross-sectional View :

Physical Properties Of Cotton :

LengthShortest of all textile fibres. “- 2% “
Microscopic ViewLength wise: fibre resembles flat twisted ribbon. Cross-section: Bean or kidney shaped
LusterNot too lustrous
ColourYellowish cream – white
StrengthRelatively stronger, increases its strength by 30% when wet
ElasticityLess elastic
ResiliencyLess resilient, hence it crumples and wrinkles easily
Heat ConductivityVery good conductor of heat, therefore used for summer wear
Absorbency/ Moisture regainAbsorbent fibre 7- 11%
ShrinkageShrinks a lot
Effect Of HeatIf a hot iron remains on a cotton cloth for a long time it will soon scorch and burn
Effect Of SunlightContinuous exposure to light weakens cotton

Chemical Properties Of Cotton:

Cleanliness and washabilityAccumulates dust easily. Has to be washed frequently
Reaction to bleachCan be bleached safely at home with peroxide bleaches
Reaction to acidsCold acids attack immediately. Dilute acids will not attack if washed immediately. Organic acids have little effect on them
Reaction to alkalisCannot be harmed by alkalis
Affinity to dyeIt has good absorbency and therefore good absorbency to dyes direct, napthols, vat, sulphur and basic dyes are used.

Biological Properties Of Cotton:

Resistance to mothFairly resistant to moth
Resistance to mildewMildew damages starched cotton easily when it is stored in damp conditions.

Advantages Of Cotton:

  • Good strength
  • Abrasion resistant
  • Hydrophilic: absorbs moisture readily and dries quickly,making it cool in warm weather
  • Stronger when wet
  • Drapes fairly well
  • Soft (the feel of a fibre, yarn, or fabric to the wearer)
  • Inexpensive
  • Machine washable (unless prohibited by manufacturer due to added finishes to the fibre/fabric)

Disadvantages Of Cotton:

  • Poor elasticity
  • Poor resiliency (fabric does not return to original shape or form after being altered)
  • Little luster (reflection of light on fabric)
  • Fabric pills easily (lint forms due to short fibre length)
  • Susceptible to shrinkage
  • Wrinkles easily

Uses Of Cotton:

  • Wide range of apparel (shirts, blouses, pants, socks, underwear, denims)
  • Interior fabrics (drapes, sheets, towels)
  • Industrial uses (medical supplies, book binding, luggage, paper)


Interesting Facts:

  • The fibre from one 227 kg cotton bales can produce 215 pairs of jeans, 250 single bed sheets, 1,200 T-shirts, 2, 100 pairs of boxer shorts, 3,000 nappies, 4,300 pairs of socks or 680,000 cotton balls
  • The word ‘cotton’ is derived from ‘qutun’ or kutun’, an Arabic word used to describe any fine textile
  • Around 70 countries in the world grow cotton.

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