It would certainly be nice if cotton came to us purified. Unfortunately, that’s simply not a reality. Freshly picked cotton has roughly 650,000 colony-forming units (CFUs) within it; this means natural cotton, straight from the field, is filled with molds, fungi, bacteria, etc. It has to be purified.
It’s also critical to comprehend what “bleaching” really means. Total Chlorine Free (TCF) bleaching is actually “oxygen bleaching.” Hydrogen peroxide is used to purify and whiten raw cotton, which is important since the process is safe for the environment, too.
Overall, bleached cotton has a variety of advantages over unbleached:
It Has Lower Microbiological Counts: As mentioned above, unbleached cotton has a much higher microbiological count than bleached and purified cotton does.
It’s Much Purer: Bleached cotton meets USP, EP and JP criteria for purity, while unbleached does not.
It Has No OSHA Dust Standards: Facilities running unbleached cotton must meet the OSHA cotton dust standards, which are not applicable for bleached cotton.
It’s More Absorbent: Bleached cotton is far more absorbent in fiber form, while unbleached cotton fiber is nonabsorbent.
It’s Much Whiter: Bleached Cotton is extremely white and clean, giving an immediate impression of purity.
It Has No GMOs: No Genetically Modified (GMO) DNA is present in bleached and purified cotton—but unbleached cotton contains GMO-DNA.
There are many misconceptions about bleached cotton, mostly due to the word “bleached.” When the advantage of bleached cotton is considered, there’s really no true alternative. Now, with consumers armed with the knowledge that the process is completed with hydrogen peroxide (a product found in the cabinets of most American households), hopefully the negative connotation associated with the term—as it applies to cotton—will slowly start to disappear.