Organic Clothing vs Organic Cotton: What’s the Difference?

Organic Cotton or Organic Clothing?

The word “organic” has become so widespread that it seems to be losing its essence. Unquestionably “organic” has real significance when we talk about organic meats, organic vegetables, organic drinks, and even organic clothing. But we are now hearing the term associated with other products and services that are completely out of definition. A few recently examples floating around are “organic hair salon”, “organic nitrogen” and “organic shapes.” The significance seems to be losing effect. However, when it comes to organic clothing, the word is completely appropriate. Organic clothing, most frequently cotton, has the same farming requirements as organic foods. Colors and dyes in organic clothing are natural organic vegetable products that do not stand up well to laundry detergent and hard water washing. Organic cotton is probably the most common of the organic clothing, although other plant-based fabrics such as linen, hemp and jute are increasingly becoming available as organics. These beautiful fabrics are naturally soft and comfortable to wear, but they require a more specialized laundering process than non-organic clothing.

Non-organic clothing is often processed with various chemicals and fillers to ensure garments maintain their shapes and colors. Non-organic garments and linens can survive many harsh-detergent washings with varying water temperatures and hardness, often with only minor degradation of color, shape, and size (shrinkage). And this is not necessarily a bad thing. Synthetics allow manufacturers to mass produce inexpensive and long lasting garments. The special dyes used with these synthetics are frequently resistant to fadiOrganic Cottonng throughout numerous washings.  This process makes non-organic mass-produced clothing a popular choice for people that are looking for low-cost, low maintenance clothing.

Clothing made from organic cotton is a safe and often preferred alternative to processed fabrics. In fact, baby clothing is now more frequently being manufactured with organic cottons as the chemical free process is gentler on a baby’s skin.

When shopping for organic clothing, be sure to pay close attention to labels. “100% organic” is not the same as “made with 100% organic cotton.” “100% organic clothing” means no inorganics or synthetics were used in the manufacturing process. Conversely “made with 100% organic cotton” means some or all of the cotton was organic, but the garment may be chemically treated and contain many non-organic materials such as threading, sizing, dyes and more.

Caring for Organic Linens and Clothing

Although most people do not have negative reactions to chemicals used in the manufacturing of clothing, organic clothing is becoming more popular. A drawback to fully organic clothing has typically been the lack of longevity and wearability of these garments. Organic clothing typically shrinks more, loses its shape, and fades faster than their chemically treated counterparts. However, with proper care, organic cotton clothing can actually maintain shape, size, and color for as long as non-organic clothing.

Organic fabrics may not require dry-cleaning, but they do require special washing and drying. Never wash any organic garment in warm or hot water. The heat will slowly destroy the fibers and cause rapid color fade. Most organic clothing is made with vegetable dyes which mean the colors may run and damage other items being washed in the same load. It is recommended that these garments be washed separately or with like fabric and color in cold water, delicate cycle, with mild soap.  Drying should be flat dry or hang dry. Machine drying is not recommended – and if used, these organic garments should only be dried to 50% in cool air and then hang-dried or flat-dried.

There’s a better way. Specialty Green Certified businesses such as Wooven Dry Cleaning provide the expertise to properly wash and care for organic clothing. The Wooven green eco-friendly service never uses harsh chemicals and uses only purified water for wet washing applications.

To find a Wooven Dry-Cleaning location near you or to schedule a home-pickup, go to or call Wooven at (954) 716-8668.

Also published on Medium.