Textile fiber. The third oldest after linen and wool, but first in terms of diffusion: cotton covers 47% of the world’s needs. It is the only fiber whose resistance increases when wet, and therefore also the most easily washable. It withstands high temperatures, even boiling, and it tolerates alkaline detergents. It doesn’t felt and is anti-allergic, hygroscopic, and not electrostatic. It comes from the fruit of the plant of the same name (Gossypium Herbaceum), and is cultivated on a large scale in the former Soviet Union, the U.S., China, India, Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, and the Sudan. Cottons are classified according to counts, while fiber length determines the quality (from less than 20 mm to more than 40 mm). The most precious cotton is the famous Sea Island from the British West Indies (“West Indian Sea Island Cotton”), already appreciated by Edward VII, whose fibers reach 60 mm in length. Cotton fabrics are mainly used in the manufacture of household linen, in sterilized environments, and in clothing, where they cover all the ranges of use, from underwear and trousers to jackets and coats. Among the best known types are denim, canvas, velvet, fustian, drill, gabardine, poplin, seersucker, and madras.