How to Care for Cotton Batik Fabric

Written by lisa parris
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How to Care for Cotton Batik Fabric
Batik fabrics are used to create a wide variety of colourful, comfortable garments. (Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Cotton batik fabrics are created by coating pieces of cloth with removable wax and applying dye to the wax-free portions of the fabric. In areas where the wax has splintered or cracked, the fabric dyes seep into the resulting crevices, causing the colours to feather. When the wax is removed, the finished product bears an intricate crackled pattern. Proper cleaning methods keep batik fabrics looking their best by removing dirt and grime while maintaining the vibrant colours of the fabric.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Mild washing powder
  • Iron
  • Pressing cloth
  • Airtight box
  • Acid-free paper

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  1. 1

    Wash batik fabrics in cold water, either by hand or in a washing machine using the gentle cycle. Though cotton is a sturdy, natural fibre, batiks tend to be made from lightweight weaves that cannot endure the agitation of a regular wash cycle.

  2. 2

    Add a detergent specifically designed for hand washing or delicate fabrics. Alternatively, add 1 tbsp of hair conditioner to a sink full of cold water. Submerge the item, let it soak for 10 minutes, squeeze the fabric gently to remove any dust or dirt, then rinse in cold water and hang to air-dry. Do not wring or twist batik items, as this can damage the fabric.

  3. 3

    Place freshly washed batik items in a dryer set on low or fluff. Allow them to tumble until they are almost dry; remove items promptly and hang them in a well-ventilated area, out of direct sunlight, to allow the fibres to dry fully. Items with embellishments should not be placed in the dryer, as this can harm the adornments; simply hang these items and allow them to dry in the open air.

  4. 4

    Press batiks with a warm iron to remove any unwanted wrinkles. Cover the item with a press cloth to prevent unintentional heat damage. A man's handkerchief, a tea towel or any piece of lightweight fabric will do, as long as it insulates the batik and protects it from the surface of the iron.

  5. 5

    Store seasonal batik items in waterproof, airtight boxes. Fold the fabric carefully, then wrap each piece in acid-free paper to help reduce the possibility of condensation and moisture damage, seal the container and set it in a dark, dry location.

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