How to check if fabric is 100% cotton

How to check if fabric is 100% cotton

If you are well-known about fabrics, you will know that cotton and cotton blends look quite similar. However, they do not have the same properties, and to take care of 100% cotton properly, it is extremely important to know that the fabric you have is made entirely of cotton. If you want to know how to check if fabric is 100% cotton, you are exactly at the right place.

What is 100% cotton?

Before we move on to check if the fabric is 100% cotton or not, let's first know all the necessary information about 100% cotton. Cotton fabric is a breathable, soft, and hypo-allergenic fabric, and it is biodegradable because of having natural properties. The cotton fabric is woven in three different weights, which include:

  • Lightweight cotton that includes lawn, gingham, etc., and is suitable for summers.
  • Medium weight cotton that is used in house textiles, including quilts, etc.
  • The last one is heavy-weight cotton, including flannel, canvas, and denim, etc.

However, the cotton fabric is mostly blended with other materials like polyester, lycra, etc. Additionally, most of the time, the fabric is labeled with a tag mentioning 100% cotton and can be tested using different methods. To know about them, we have covered all the possible ones under one roof.

Why should you test fabric?

If you are not sure about the importance of knowing if the fabric is 100% cotton or not, this one is for clearing all your doubts. There are various reasons why you should be testing your fabric prior to using it for different applications, and they are mentioned below:

  • The first and foremost reason is the wear-ability. If you are concerned about the fabric that doesn't irritate your skin and is delicate to wear, you should definitely get your hands on 100% cotton fabric. However, to make sure you have got the right fabric which is made using entirely cotton material, you are supposed to test it.
  • Additionally, if you want to use the fabric for applications where stretching isn’t required, it is extremely important that you don’t get your hands on cotton fabric made with lycra blend. This is where you will need to test the fabric too.
  • Cotton blends require different care instructions as compared to the 100% cotton fabric. Therefore, knowing how to take care of the fabric is yet another reason why you should test the fabric. Since 100% cotton can withstand more heat as compared to poly-cotton, before ironing your cotton shirt with the highest heat setting, you should know it is entirely cotton and not a blend.
  • If you are concerned about your carbon footprint and want to get hands-on 100% cotton for environmentally-friendly purposes, you should definitely get your hands on 100% cotton fabric and should test to confirm it.

How to check if the fabric is 100% cotton?

Now that you have known why it is important to test the fabric, you can test if the fabric is 100% cotton or not in two ways. Here they are:

Test 100% cotton with burn test:

One of the most common and easiest ways to check if the fabric is 100% cotton is by burning it. The way the cotton fabric burns will tell you if it's 100% cotton or not. Here is what you have to do is:


  • Take a matchbox or lighter in one hand and the piece of fabric to burn in another hand. Once the flame is on, hold the corner of the fabric near the flame.
  • You have to notice three things, including how it burns, the smell that comes out, and ashes.
  • The smell will be like the paper on fire. Additionally, when you put out the flame, it will give orange afterglow.
  • Check how it burns. The 100% cotton will burn quickly and not melt, unlike the blends.
  • Notice the ashes of the fabric once the fabric is burnt to its last ashes. The ashes from 100% cotton are very brittle; as such, they will crumble to dust with just one touch. When you punch the ashes, they will bind together. Additionally, the ashes from 100% cotton will dissolve in water.
  • If you can green-tick all the points like did the fabric melt, did the ashes feel brittle, and did they dissolve in water, then your fabric is 100% cotton.

Check 100% cotton by washing it:

You can also wet the cotton fabric to know if it's 100% cotton. Due to the structural properties of the cotton fiber, it can hold more water and doesn't try as quickly as silk or polyester. Additionally, when first time washed using hot water, the cotton fabric can easily shrink. You can also know by the look of the cotton fabric after it is washed because the 100% cotton fabric can get wrinkled and crooked.

Test 100% cotton without burn test:

If you don't want to indulge in something, including fire and test the cotton without burning it, you can do it by touching the fabric. The feel of 100% cotton can be very stiff. The stiffness that 100% cotton makes the fabric crease easily and holds a folding line on it. Even when you press the fabric using your fingers, it is enough to mark it. Although the 100% cotton fabric softens after washing still, it can be easily creased.

Additionally, the cotton fabric having polyester blend will feel smoother against your skin as compared to the 100% cotton fabric. It can easily slide against your skin, while the 100% cotton will feel coarser and scratchy.

You can also check by stretching the fabric. The 100% cotton fabric will not stretch even when you try to stretch it. This fabric is a rigid material and gives structure to the garment. So in simpler words, if the fabric you have got hold of is stiff when touched, can easily be creased, is coarser, doesn't slip easily against your skin, and doesn't stretch, then chances are you have 100% cotton fabric.

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