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Ask Dr. Laundry

Fabric Differences: Cotton and Cotton Blends

By Dr. Laundry June 1, 2010

Q. I’m in the market of buying a large quantity of polo shirts and noticed that one style that I was considering was made out of 100% cotton, and the other 60% cotton and 40% polyester. Which is the better fabric, and which would most likely fade more quickly?

A. Great question. Not quite sure what “better” fabric means, but there should be differences between the cotton and poly/cotton.

If there is a dark color involved (red/black, etc.), you are much more likely to have potential issues with the cotton and dye bleeding/transfer. This should be checked BEFORE large quantity purchase. I have done a lot of commercial demos and I know not every striped shirt is the same. I would even check the poly/cotton ones for bleeding too. It has to do with the dye type used and the process used to apply them. Unfortunately, where they are produced matters almost as much as the colors.

A general rule of thumb is P/C blend should be easier to remove stains from and keep clean. The only exception is greasy/oily stains that have a greater affinity for polyester; if they don’t get totally removed and are dryer-dried, the remaining oily stain can be set and may never come out.