Cotton in general is the most popular sheeting material in the world for many reasons. It has a soft hand that feels even better over time. It’s durable, and can withstand repeated laundering, keeping it looking crisp and fresh. And, it has the natural ability to adjust to body temperature, so the sleeper doesn’t get too warm or cool.
Why Is Egyptian Cotton the Best Material for Sheets and Duvets?
To understand what makes Egyptian Cotton so special, let’s decode some of the terminology you’ll find during your search for the perfect luxury sheet collection.
STAPLE: Refers to the length of an individual strand of cotton fiber in its natural state. Extra-long staple (ELS) cotton is a minimum of 1-3/8” long, but can grow to a length of 2” or more. Short-staple cotton is less than an inch, with a tendency to work loose from the weave to ‘pill,’ making the sheet feel rough to the touch and ultimately tear.
EGYPTIAN COTTON: The term has come to be used in a generic sense for any cotton grown in Egypt or any high quality cotton, but in reality, the true meaning of Egyptian cotton in luxury bedding is the extra-long staple varietal farmed in the Nile Valley, benefitting from the heat and humidity of the region.
PIMA: A fine, medium to long-staple cotton with a soft feel grown in hot, humid environments like the American South, Peru, and Australia. Supima is the brand name used for cotton exclusively grown 100% in the US.
AMERICAN UPLAND: The most common variety of cotton used for sheets and clothing, characterized by a shorter staple and rougher feel. If the label only says ‘100% cotton’ or is a cotton-polyester blend, this is likely the varietal used.
THREAD COUNT: Denotes the number of warp and weft yarns per square inch in a textile—range 100 to 1200 for cotton sheets. Thread count has been used as a marketing method to communicate quality, but the reality is, a higher thread count doesn’t necessarily translate to a higher quality fabric with a softer and more luxurious the feel. As we explained in a prior blog post, “The Truth about Thread Count,” there are a variety of factors to be taken into account such as origin of the cotton, type of fiber, weave of fabric and finish of textile.
A Note on Thread Count: luxury Italian bedding made from Egyptian Cotton with a thread count of 300 to 600 offers a median price range that still is supremely soft for sheets and gives a heightened luxury to quilts and coverlets.