Interesting Cotton Facts

  • The word ‘cotton’ is derived from ‘qutun’ or ‘kutun’, an Arabic word used to describe any fine textile
  • In an average year, Australia’s cotton growers produce enough cotton to clothe 500 million people 
  • Cotton is produced in more than 100 countries in the world, but six of them – China, India, Pakistan, USA, Brazil and Uzbekistan – contribute about 80% of production 
  • Cotton and its by-products are used in the production of a huge range of products including bank notes, margarine, rubber and medical supplies  
  • There are 43 species of cotton in the world and some cotton grows on trees  
  • Australia and Egypt produce the highest quality cottons in the world  
  • The fibre from one 227kg cotton bale can produce 215 pairs of jeans, 250 single bed sheets, 1,200 t-shirts, 2,100 pairs of boxer shorts, 3,000 nappies, 4,300 pairs of socks or 680,000 cotton balls  
  • Cotton can absorb up to 27 times its own weight in water  
  • The cotton plant requires about 180 – 200 days from planting to full maturity ready for harvest 
  • Cotton is a unique crop in that it is both a food and a fibre 
  • China is the world's largest cotton importer and is also the biggest producer 
  • Chambray is a type of cotton popularly used in the manufacture of blue work shirts, and is where we get the term "blue-collar" 
  • Cotton dates from at least 7,000 years ago making it one of the world’s oldest known fibres
  • Archaeologists found 5,000 year old cotton fabric at Mohenjo Daro, an ancient town in the Indus River Valley of West Pakistan 
  • Ancient Greek and Roman civilisations used cotton for awnings and sails as well as clothing 
  • The Aztec civilisation used naturally coloured brown cotton as a principal form of payment 
  • Denim fabric was initially produced in Nimes, France and denim derives its name from ‘serge de Nimes’ (‘fabric of Nimes’) 
  • In the 16th Century, sailors from the Italian port city, Genoa, began to wear denim 
  • Naturally coloured cotton varieties in South America have come in shades of red, yellow, beige, chocolate, pink, purple, green, striped like a tiger and even spotted like a leopard 
  • Ancient Peruvians made fishing nets and lines from darker shades of cotton to be less visible to fish
  • The first light bulb manufactured by Thomas Edison in the late 1800s used a cotton thread filament
  • American ‘paper’ money is a blend of 75% cotton and 25% linen

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© Cotton Australia 2016. This material is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0 International License (CC BY CC BY-NC 4)