What is "Mercerized Cotton" - Definition & Explanation
Last Updated on: 18-Feb-2023 (7 months, 6 days ago)
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Mercerized Cotton

Mercerized cotton is a specialized type of cotton fabric that undergoes a treatment process called mercerization. It is widely used in the textile industry due to its enhanced properties, luxurious appearance, and increased durability. This advanced textile treatment method involves treating cotton fibers with a caustic soda solution and subsequently neutralizing them with an acidic solution. The process alters the chemical structure of the cotton fibers, resulting in improved strength, luster, and dye uptake capabilities.

Meaning and Definition

Mercerization is a process named after the British chemist John Mercer, who discovered it in the 19th century. It involves the treatment of cotton fibers or fabric with sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), followed by a neutralization process. The treatment causes the cotton fibers to swell and increases their roundness and smoothness. This results in a fabric that exhibits enhanced strength, improved luster, increased color vibrancy, and reduced fabric shrinkage.

Characteristics and Types of Mercerized Cotton

Mercerized cotton fabric possesses several distinctive characteristics that set it apart:

  1. Enhanced Luster: Mercerization gives cotton a luxurious sheen, similar to silk, making it visually appealing and suitable for high-end garments and textiles.
  2. Increased Strength: The mercerization process strengthens the cotton fibers, making them more resistant to breaking or tearing. This results in durable and long-lasting fabrics.
  3. Improved Color Absorption: Mercerized cotton has a higher affinity for dyes, allowing it to absorb and retain colors more effectively. This results in vibrant and long-lasting shades.
  4. Reduced Fabric Shrinkage: Mercerized cotton exhibits minimal shrinkage during washing and drying due to the structural changes in the fibers, ensuring the garment retains its original size and shape.

There are different types of mercerized cotton fabrics available, including:

  1. Mercerized Cotton Knits: Knitted fabrics made from mercerized cotton are soft, comfortable, and have a beautiful sheen. They are commonly used in garments such as t-shirts, underwear, and loungewear.
  2. Mercerized Cotton Shirting: Mercerized cotton shirting fabrics are crisp, smooth, and have a subtle luster. They are often used in formal shirts and blouses, providing an elegant and refined appearance.
  3. Mercerized Cotton Sateen: Sateen fabrics made from mercerized cotton have a satin-like finish and a soft, smooth touch. They are frequently used in bedding, drapery, and luxurious apparel.

Tips for Handling Mercerized Cotton

When working with mercerized cotton fabrics, it is essential to keep in mind the following tips:

  1. Washing Instructions: Follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer for washing mercerized cotton garments. Usually, they can be machine washed on a gentle cycle or hand washed with mild detergent.
  2. Ironing: Iron mercerized cotton fabrics at a medium temperature setting. It is advisable to iron them while slightly damp to achieve a smooth and wrinkle-free finish.
  3. Avoid Bleaching: Mercerized cotton is prone to damage from bleach, so it is important to avoid using chlorine bleach or any harsh bleaching agents.
  4. Storage: Store mercerized cotton garments in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight, to prevent color fading or damage to the fabric.

Top International Users and Manufacturers

Several renowned international brands utilize mercerized cotton fabrics in their collections. Here are a few top users and manufacturers:

  1. Lacoste: Known for its polo shirts, Lacoste often incorporates mercerized cotton to enhance the fabric's appearance and durability, providing a luxurious touch to their iconic designs.
  2. Ralph Lauren: Ralph Lauren incorporates mercerized cotton in their high-end menswear and womenswear collections, offering garments with an exquisite sheen and superior quality.
  3. Hugo Boss: Hugo Boss utilizes mercerized cotton in their range of formal and casual shirts, elevating the fabric's elegance and ensuring long-lasting comfort.
  4. Tommy Hilfiger: Tommy Hilfiger incorporates mercerized cotton in various apparel lines, showcasing the fabric's refined aesthetic and exceptional durability.
  5. Polo Ralph Lauren: Polo Ralph Lauren utilizes mercerized cotton in their sportswear and casual collections, offering a combination of style, comfort, and durability.
  6. Brooks Brothers: Brooks Brothers incorporates mercerized cotton in their formal shirts, enhancing the fabric's luster and overall quality.


Mercerized cotton is a specialized type of cotton fabric that undergoes a treatment process to enhance its properties, durability, and aesthetic appeal. Through mercerization, cotton fibers are transformed into fabrics with enhanced luster, increased strength, improved color absorption, and reduced shrinkage. This makes mercerized cotton highly desirable for a range of applications, from high-end garments to luxurious home textiles. Top international brands in the fashion industry, such as Lacoste, Ralph Lauren, and Hugo Boss, utilize mercerized cotton to create exquisite and long-lasting apparel. By following proper care instructions, mercerized cotton garments can maintain their beauty and durability over time, providing a luxurious and comfortable experience for the wearer.

Mercerized Cotton
Mercerized cotton is cotton thread (or cotton-covered thread with a polyester core) that has been treated with sodium hydroxide (NaOH). The thread is given a caustic soda bath that is then neutralized with an acid bath. This treatment increases strength, luster, affinity to dye and resistance to mildew, and also reduces lint. Long staple fibre lengths respond best to mercerization.

Mercerized Cotton
A wet finishing process for cotton yarn or fabric, which results in a stronger and more lustrous yarn that takes dye better with brighter, deeper colors.
Mercerized Cotton
A treatment using heat and streatching to increase luster, strength and ability to dye. Usually the yarns are soaked in concentrated sodium.

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