I have been obsessed with Mud Cloth since the first time I learned about it in my History of Textiles class. If you know me personally, you know I have a deep love for bold black and white designs, but especially geometric shapes. I grew up surrounded by my mother’s abstract art, her color palette: black, white and red. There is no doubt this style would become so engrained in my design DNA.
Mud Cloth has been around for centuries but in the last couple of years it has dominated the design world. It can be found anywhere from amazing upholstered chairs to bathing suits and phone cases. If you are unfamiliar with Mud Cloth, below is a brief overview of it along with instructions on how to care for your Mud Cloth.
Mud Cloth or Bògòlanfini is one of the most well known African textiles. Mud cloth is made of cotton strips traditionally woven by men and stitched together to form a larger cloth. Women then decorate the cloth with mud from the seasonal rivers in Mali. Mud cloth patterns are rich with meaning for the Bamana people of Mali; they symbolize the use of the cloth or convey messages to the wearer.
If you would like more information on how Mud Cloth is made, check out this amazing interactive activity from The Smithsonian.
How to Care for Your Mud Cloth
All Mud Cloth sold in our shop has been Pre-washed. You want to try to wash your Mud Cloth as little as possible since every wash will make the color fade. I understand life happens and you may need to clean your textile, so I included some easy steps to show you what to do.
Fill up a tub with cold water and mild soap. I used Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap. I like this soap because it is fair trade and made with organic oils. You need to remember that Mud Cloth is dyed with natural organic materials, and you don’t want to use harsh chemicals on it. You can certainly use other soaps but make sure to soak a small area of the cloth to make sure there isn’t a strange chemical reaction, and the color does not fade drastically.
Place your Mud Cloth in the tub and gently stir it. Make sure that the textile is completely soaked. Let your Mud Cloth sit in the water for about 5 minutes. During this time you can stir the textile and water occasionally but it is not necessary. It is completely normal if the water turns yellow or brown. Some of the color will run, however your Mud Cloth should not change in color drastically.
*Do not scrub your cloth, any scrubbing should be done on the wrong side of the fabric.
Remove the cloth from the soapy water and rinse under running cold water to remove any excess dirt and soap.
Gently ring any excess water from your cloth. Do this GENTLY, I cannot stress that enough! You don’t want to put stress on the cloth. At this point you may want to use a towel and pat your cloth to remove any excess water.
Lay flat or hang dry. It is safe to iron your Mud Cloth using cotton settings.
I took advantage of a sunny day in Columbus and let these dry outside for a while.