How to Tell if Your Fabric is Cotton or Synthetic

How can I tell if this piece of fabric is 100% cotton or not?

Compare the piece with something you know is cotton. In good light, hold the two next to each other and look at the surface. Cotton has a dull finish (unless it has been specifically finished with a slick glassy finish) while poly blends will have a slight glitter or reflectiveness to them. The poly blend may have a rougher surface, while the cotton will be smooth to the touch. Finally, the blend fabric will be much easier to iron to a perfect smoothness if it is wrinkled. Cotton, once dried with wrinkles can be a bear to get smooth again.

If you are still unsure, you can do a burn test. In an ashtray or similar fire-proof dish, burn a small piece of the suspicious fabric. (A 1x2 inch piece will work fine) Examine what you have left after it has burned. Cotton will leave a soft, powdery fine grey ash. Synthetics will leave a hard, usually black, melted grit. If you need to, burn a small piece you know is cotton to compare with your sample.

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