fabrics icon

Organic cotton

All you need to know

How does this guide work?
The non-profit association Vesti la natura provides several free guides specially created to promote the use of low environmental impact materials among consumers and entrepreneurs

Do you want to buy the organic cotton fabric?
Ecological textile fiber cover

Content index

What is Organic Cotton?

Il organic cotton (or organic cotton) is the eco-friendly alternative to standard cotton. Cotton is the most widely used natural fiber in the world, while organic cotton still struggles to conquer a slice of the market with less than 1% of the total cotton production.

Organic cotton is grown following the standards of organic farming exactly as it happens for food products and, as for food products, it needs certification to be defined as "of organic origin".

The advantages of the certification of organic origin of cotton are the exclusion of pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides and over 1000 toxic substances harmful to the environment and to human health, substances that are commonly used both in the cultivation of cotton and in subsequent steps. production (spinning, weaving, dyeing, etc.).

The cultivation of organic cotton it is therefore more environmentally sustainable than standard cotton, but even more ethics from a social point of view, organic farming imposes standards on workers' rights.

While standard cotton, despite being a natural fiber and therefore associated with something "positive", turns out to be one of the main causes of environmental pollution, as well as a serious social problem.

Synthetic substances such as pesticides, resins, heavy metals and toxic solvents, are used in the cultivation and production of standard cotton. These persist in the fabric even after washing and over time a part of these substances is absorbed by the human body and another part is released into the waste water from our washing machines.

Furthermore, the cultivation of cotton and its processing take place mainly in underdeveloped countries, where large multinationals exploit cheap labor. Child labor, discrimination, human rights trampled. The farmers and communities of these places still live in a situation of "colonialism".

The environmental and social impact can only decrease by reducing the production of standard cotton, in favor of an increase in production of organic cotton.

When is fashion sustainable?

How to recognize it?

Where to buy it?

Start your journey!


Logo Vesti la natura Verde

The Cotton Plant

La cotton plant it has a height that can reach 1,5 meters depending on the country of origin: Asia, Africa, America are the favorite places for this type of cultivation.

Organic cotton plants

Il cotton it is a great resource for human civilization, but unfortunately in recent years it has created a status of forced occupation and impoverishment of land, exploitation of cheap labor, waste of energy resources and pollution of the aquifers.

If all this were not enough to reduce the cultivation of standard cotton, we insert in the negative notes all the subsequent production phases (spinning, weaving, washing, dyeing, etc.): they use a disproportionate amount of water, waste energy, make extensive use of more harmful toxic substances.

There are so many downsides to cotton, but most of them fall apart when it comes to organic cotton.

Cultivation of Organic Cotton

The cultivation rules of the organic cotton are very strict: in addition to excluding thousands of toxic substances and polluting manufacturing processes, these rules protect the social aspect of workers, especially in those countries where workers' rights do not exist, or where they are superficial.

Il organic cotton it is certified by international organizations such as GOTS - Global Organic Textile Standard, a certification that plays a key role when it comes to sustainable fashion, and that we can also find on others natural fabrics: linen, silk, hemp e organic wool.

Besides cotton there are others textile certifications which attest to the biological origin of cotton such as OCS - Organic Content Standard, but this has less impact, since it bases its foundations exclusively on the verification of the biological origin of the raw material (cotton), but not on the social aspect of production.

In addition to reducing the use of chemicals and respecting the rights of workers, one of the primary aspects in the cultivation of organic cotton it is the rotation of agricultural land: the land contains a limited quantity of nutrients (minerals), but in intensive cultivation the land is exploited until these resources are exhausted.

The Organic Cotton Revolution (video)

The environmental pollution caused by the cultivation of standard cotton is clearly more felt in developing countries, where disinformation reigns, in addition to the scarcity of national laws to protect the environment and workers.

Farmers are forced to pollute their own land, the land that provides them with food and water. Pollution causes disease and death due to long exposure to toxic substances, mainly used in cotton cultivation.

As you can hear in the video they spend money to buy fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals, and what leftover they use to heal themselves or their family from the problems caused by these substances.

Human health is heavily affected by daily exposure to these harmful substances, especially where masks or other safety tools are not used, but it is good to know that these problems are highlighted in theintensive agriculture in general, not only in the cultivation of cotton.

The cultivation of organic cotton protects millions of workers (especially farmers) who work in this sector, only thanks to the standards dictated by organic farming.

The advantages of organic cotton:

  • Substances harmful to the environment and human health are banned.
  • The land is not exploited and abandoned, but enters the rotation regime.
  • The rights and minimum wages of fair work are guaranteed.
  • Farmers are protected against forced labor, child labor, discrimination.
  • The physical and mental health of the workers is taken into consideration.

Differences between Organic Cotton and Traditional Cotton

Organic Cotton

  • No GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms).
  • Healthy soil due to the spraying of organic matter.
  • Land always alive thanks to crop rotation.
  • Natural defoliation due to atmospheric agents.
  • The dyes used have a low environmental impact.
  • Guarantee of fair work throughout the textile supply chain.

Standard Cotton

  • Treated with fungicides and insecticides, often GMOs.
  • Polluted soil due to the use of synthetic fertilizers.
  • Dead land after several years of intensive use.
  • Defoliation induced with synthetic chemicals.
  • Dyes with a high percentage of heavy metals and sulfur.
  • Exploitation of cheap labor.

Organic Cotton vs Standard Cotton

Why choose organic cotton?

In comparison with the common cotton the organic cotton it is a winning product under the two aspects that interest us most: environmental and social.

The infographic we have shown you is just a small example of how organic cotton can make the difference between what we can define as “good and bad” in the textile industry.

Analyzes such as Lyfe Cycle Assessment (LCA) (here find the LCA analysis of a standard cotton t-shirt) clearly show how the organic cotton has become a mandatory choice to make fashion more sustainable, above all due to the environmental and social damage caused in the last twenty years by Fast Fashion and from low cost fashion.

Organic Cotton Textile Fiber

We have ascertained that organic cotton is more sustainable than standard cottonBut putting environmental and social benefits aside, is organic cotton softer and more breathable than standard cotton? does it offer any advantages in terms of comfort? is it better than standard cotton?

Theoretically there should be no difference, although to the touch (based on our experience) it is evident: organic cotton is softer and more comfortable than traditional cotton.

Not being treated with aggressive chemicals such as bleach and formaldehyde, and being "respected" at every stage of production, organic cotton is comparable to medium quality cotton.

Organic dressing it is a choice of life, and it is useless to wave advertising slogans like organic cotton is more breathable, as the reality is that the quality of organic cotton varies by manufacturer, just as the quality of standard cotton and other fabrics varies: you have to touch it to judge it.

Keep in mind that fashion brands have cut production costs in recent years. It is a goal of all companies to cut costs, and it is evident - compared to the 90s - the loss of quality of cotton, especially in terms of wear resistance if we have low-cost fashion products in our hands. we are used to.

Disadvantages of Organic Cotton

Among the many advantages we also want to point out some disadvantages of organic cotton, which despite being one of the textile fibers more sustainable, it still shows limits.

Among these limits is the higher production cost compared to standard cotton: it requires more time, skill and dexterity, in almost all stages of production. Then there is the certification of organic origin, which usually has a high cost.

Elements that raise the selling price oforganic clothing to the public. But on this aspect we can well hope by increasing production.

However, there is another disadvantage, which we do not believe can be easily solved: the yield of the organic cotton in quantitative terms it is lower than that of traditional cotton: organic cotton requires more arable land than standard cotton.


Characteristics of Organic Cotton

Fabric Quality:

The qualities of the fabric may vary based on its blending with other fibers. Example: with Elastan or Lycra you gain in elasticity.

  Does not shrink / discolor
  Quick drying

Ecological Characteristics:

The ecological characteristics of the fabric may vary based on textile certifications or blending with other fabrics.

  Natural - Artificial - Synthetic  
  No GMOs
  Natural raw material
  Recycled raw material
  Mechanical extraction
  Chemical extraction
  Energy saving
  Sustainability class  

Textile Certifications:

The certifications that can be assigned to the fabric, but which vary according to different factors: manufacturing company, fashion brand, blending.

Global Organic Textile Standard
Organic Content Standard
Global Recycle Standard
Second Life Plastic
Animal Free
Fair Wear Foundation

This card can only be found on www.vestilanatura.it

Organic Cotton Clothing

By purchasing garments of organic cotton clothing we contribute directly to the protection of the environment and human rights, limiting the environmental and social impact of intensive cotton cultivation.

Many fashion brands are starting to offer some pieces or entire collections of organic cotton clothing, while nuovi brands are born using exclusively this material.

T-shirts, dresses, pants, sweaters, sweatshirts, jackets. It is easy to buy organic cotton clothing for men, women and children online. It remains more difficult to find it in physical stores in our cities, as the culture of sustainable fashion is not yet rooted in Italy, nor in many other countries.

Thanks to the minimal use of chemicals, organic clothing can be defined as hypoallergenic, but we must pay attention to the labels (especially to read the amount of organic cotton in the garment).

Many fashion brands sponsor their products in organic cotton like anti sweat clothing, which is only partially true: from this point of view it is better than standard cotton, but to call it anti-sweat is excessive.

Buy organic cotton products

A showcase where you can find Sustainable, ethical and cruelty free fashion brands guaranteed by the supervision of our association:

Illustration of a green dress

Maintenance of ecological fabrics

How is organic cotton washed?

The environmental impact of laundry detergents and household cleaners is devastating to our planet, so we highly recommend using ecological detergents.

Organic cotton is a natural fiber from which garments and fabrics commonly used in daily life are produced, including sheets, towels, tablecloths and decorative cloths. To wash organic cotton garments correctly, it is necessary to carefully read the label placed on each garment or fabric, both in the case of washing by hand and in the washing machine.

Machine wash

First we will illustrate the modalWashing in the washing machine, the one that could create more than one problem, if some precautions are not observed.

White cotton items, such as sheets, towels and towels, can be washed in the same cycle if there are no items whose label recommends hand washing.

In modern washing machines, programs dedicated to cotton include a long cycle at 60 degrees and others at 30 or 40, with varying durations, from 30 to 90 minutes. For whites, not very dirty and without stubborn stains, the ideal program is at 40 degrees, using ecological detergent in the quantity indicated on the package, based on the capacity of the washing machine, considering a full load.

The detergent can be both powder and liquid, although the latter, if applied directly into the drum together with the garments, guarantees less wear on the fabric and excellent results. Instead of the softener, pour a little white vinegar into the tray dedicated to the final treatments; the laundry will be fresh, clean and super soft, ready to be folded, worn or ironed.

As for colored garments, it is possible to apply the same rule, with the additional precaution of washing in the same load those garments with stable colors and which have already been washed, without causing loss of pigment and stains that are difficult to manage.


Hand washing organic cotton garments requires the use of warm water, with the use of a neutral detergent, specific for hand washing and possibly ecological. If the garments are delicate, it will be sufficient to soak them for a maximum of half an hour, rinsing under cold running water; to avoid wasting a precious resource such as water, it is advisable not to overdo the detergent: in this way, it will be easier to remove it, using the minimum amount of water necessary.

Do you want to wash your clothes while minimizing water pollution?

  1. We have selected one of the most sustainable detergent and detergent brands click here to buy an ecological detergent
  2. You could use a Washing Ball to wash without using detergents click here to buy a washing ball
  3. You could use the nuovissimo Ecoegg, a nice ecological egg with which you can do about 720 washes click here to buy the ecoegg egg


Are you looking for more information on Organic Cotton? Ask your questions using the form below.

Ask Your Question!

Our answers:

Where can I buy organic cotton fabric?

Vesti la natura has created a table with more than 40 sustainable materials, their respective applications in the textile sector, and their suppliers (even for small quantities). To access the table we ask you to donate a small financial contribution to our association. Click here for more information.

Which cotton to choose?

Choosing to buy organic cotton clothing is certainly a conscious choice, but to be defined as such, check for the presence of the GOTS label.

Do I only find organic cotton clothing?

No, even home textiles, such as sheets, pillows, towels, tablecloths and many other products available online are made from organic cotton.

Where does organic cotton grow?

The major exporters of organic cotton are China, USA, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Brazil.

Where is organic cotton thrown away?

Organic cotton is 100% recyclable and biodegradable. To dispose of it, you can use the special separate collection containers dedicated to clothing.

Is organic cotton hypoallergenic?

As there are no scientific tests in this regard, we can define organic cotton as hypoallergenic.

Did you like the content? Share!

sustainable fashion icon

Read our free guides

Specially created to make consumers and entrepreneurs more aware

Ecological fabrics and materials
fabrics icon
Ecological fibers

If you use low environmental impact fibers and fabrics it is much easier to talk about sustainable fashion

Alternative materials to leather of animal origin
cruelty free icon
Alternatives to leather

We are talking about cruelty free materials proposed as ecological alternatives to leather of animal origin

Laboratory analysis for textile certification
certifications icon
Textile certifications

The most popular labels in fashion: organic, cruelty free, ethical, resource recycling and much more

Download the Guide to Sustainable, Ethical and Cruelty Free Fashion

Join over 15 users who have already read it from 2016 to today!

  • is in digital format
  • there is a video to see
  • and many comparison infographics
Secured by miniOrange