Khadi is mainly woven in pure cotton, but it can also be woven in silk and wool or in a mix of fibers. The making of khadi is eco-friendly since it does not rely on electric units and the manufacturing processes do not generate any toxic waste products.
Cotton is first hand-picked and the fibers are separated from the seeds by a sharp comb-like object. It is then ginned into slivers. These are spun into yarn on a spinning wheel. It was this hand-cranked spinning wheel called charka that became a symbol of a free India. The spun yarn is wound onto reels which then go to the weavers. Handlooms are used to weave the yarn into fabric.
It is light and soft, making it comfortable to wear. Its weave creates air pockets which make it cool in summers and warm in winters. It has a handcrafted self-texture making each khadi cloth unique and expensive. Its inherent strength makes it highly durable. Certain fine khadi, such as mulmul has a translucent quality. Khadi silk which had upto 50% silk is priced for its richness and sheen. Different Indian states produce different varieties of khadi. In colder northern states woolen khadi is produced whereas in Madhya Pradesh special weaves such as Tussar Silk are made. The fabric is dyed in a variety of colors and decorated by block prints or it is tie-dyed. In Gujarat, Khadi is embellished with embroidery and mirror-work.
Khadi has to be dry cleaned or washed in cold water with mild soap. It has to be starched to prevent it from crumbling. Dark colors tend to run, so have to be washed separately.