Caring for African (Ghanaian) Cotton Batik Fabric

Sometimes I get asked the care instructions for the batik fabrics I sell. Because they haven’t come from a big factory, there is soem uncertainty about how they will hold up when laundered. They makers don’t supply any but from using Ghanaian cotton batik over many years I find the following work:

The Fibre:

The batik is made of cotton, which is a natural fibre known to shrink.  However, due to the repeated cycling of printing, washing, and drying, they come pre-shrunk and in some cases slightly creased.  A 12 yard bundle of cloth, when ready for sale as batik print, usually shrinks to about eleven-and-a half yards.

Unless you want to be more than certain, there is no need to wash it again to shrink them before your project.  Please see washing instructions below.

Excess Wax:

You might sometimes find small amounts of beeswax on your beautiful batik.  Simply scrape off with a blunt instrument, such as back of a table knife.

If there is only a small residue you might get away with just ironing it; otherwise washing might be a better option.

Test for Colourfastness:

I do my best to source only colour-fast batiks.  When I started to buy from another maker, I had my hand in my mouth when I did the colour fastness test as follows:

  1. Wet a small area of the cloth and wrung  out the water.
  2. Placed on plain, light coloured piece of cloth and ironed it at cotton setting.
  3. Relief! There was no colour transfer, indicating the dye did not run.


Whether as your finished project or prior to making it, machine wash at 30°Celsius, with mild detergent. And spin no more at no than 1200 rpm.  Handwashing with mild soap works well too.


I like them to feel soft, so I don’t over-dry them. Low to medium setting is recommended. Alternatively, if you have a chance to line dry, it’s best to take them off the line before they are too dry.


Iron on cotton setting.  Your work will be a bit easier if the fabric isn’t crisp dry to start with.