What is Cloth Tape?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Cloth tape is an adhesive tape made with a cloth backing or core. The use of cloth makes the tape especially durable and rugged, and promotes flexibility, which can be valuable for certain projects. There are a number of different styles of this on the market which can be used for a variety of purposes. Hardware stores and specialty suppliers often stock several types of cloth tape, with the capability of ordering more as requested by customers.

Duct tape is a type of cloth tape often used in heating and ductwork.
Duct tape is a type of cloth tape often used in heating and ductwork.

Some cloth tapes are pressure-sensitive, which means that they are designed to adhere with pressure, not with an adhesive. These tapes are useful in projects where things need to be held together without leaving residue behind. Others can use a variety of adhesives, along with coatings which make the tape waterproof, fire-resistant, or otherwise distinctive.

Medical cloth tape is used to secure wound dressings.
Medical cloth tape is used to secure wound dressings.

In the medical world, cloth tape is often used for bandages, as it will bend and flex with the body, and pressure-sensitive dressings can be used to gently cover injuries. It is also used to secure intravenous lines, ventilation tubes, and other medical equipment in place, and it may be used to tag surgical scrubs and other equipment, since it is readily available and easy to mark up with pens as needed.

In crafts, cloth tape is used in bookbinding, sewing, and many other tasks. Special archival tapes are low in acid so that they will not damage the paper and fabrics that they come into contact with, while sewing tapes can be designed to be permanent, for the purpose of tagging and marking garments, or temporary, to hold a seam in place while it is sewed or for a similar task.

Construction workers use cloth tape to seal up walls, while electricians rely on it for basic rigging tasks. Duct tape is a form commonly used in heating and ductwork, while gaffer's tape is famous in the electrical community. Plumbers may also sometimes use such products for specific projects.

A range of colors are available, from classic unbleached white to hot pink. Some people like to use color-coded cloth tape as a marking tape, while tapes with special finishes may be suitable for particular environments. Plumber's cloth tape, for example, is often waterproofed.

Cloth tape is frequently used to hold sterile gauze pads in place over on open wound.
Cloth tape is frequently used to hold sterile gauze pads in place over on open wound.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


@malmal - I think the permanent kind of cloth tape is for sewing in tags and stuff like that. I haven't ever used it, but someone in my quilting group was talking about it the other week, so I recognize what you're talking about. I also learned about another kind of self adhesive cloth sewing tape called hemming tape. It's a thin kind of cloth tape that you fold over the edges of unhemmed cloth and iron in place instead of hemming, which sounds cool. Cloth tape is so versatile!


As a hobby costume maker who is quite a perfectionist, I have to say that 3M cloth tape is just awesome. I use 3M tape on my projects to secure each and every seam before sewing them, and it ensures that every stitch is exactly where I wanted it to be.

Perfectionist that I am, I'll actually seam rip out a whole seam if the stitches are crooked or anything, so you can imagine that this saves me a lot of time and frustration!

Another great thing about this kind of cloth tape is that it doesn't leave sticky residue on the clothing; I use temporary sewing cloth tape, and it stays on long enough to do what I need it to do, then comes off easy enough when I want it gone. It's win/win.

I read here on WiseGEEK that you can get permanent sewing tape, too. What is that? I've never seen it in the store before, and I'm curious if it's kind of like interfacing -- that is, it stays in the finished garment to make a certain area stiffer? Does anybody know?


@aishia - I'd imagine the room would be fire proof, but it would heat up from the rest of the building burning! It's neat to see that somebody else knows a bit about so-called glass tape, though. I use 3M glass cloth tape to make play props that are safe for my kids to use. They're like those duct tape toys that people learn to spar with before they can use real swords, only with the glass tape you can see through them. My kids love to invent stories about their "crystal" weapons as they play, and making the props is actually a pretty fun hobby. I've gotten pretty fancy with the last few, and all you really need to make them is some scissors and some tape.


Did you know that you can get something called glass cloth tape that's transparent? You can see through it, but it's super tough -- construction workers use it all the time for things like splicing together things they're building. You can even get it in a fire proof form. I wonder if a room would be fire proof if you covered all of the walls and stuff in fire proof glass cloth tape? That would be awesome.


Duct tape is considered a cloth tape, huh? I guess that must be because it has a kind of cloth weave inside. When I think "cloth tape", duct tape is the last thing that comes to mind, though. Instead I tend to imagine stuff like the white cloth tape you get with first aid kits. That stuff makes fantastic support tape if you want to wrap your hands before doing rock climbing, by the way. I use it all the time. Medical cloth tape is just as good if not better than the expensive "sports tape" they offer in sporting goods stores.

Post your comments
Forgot password?