There is nothing more important for your well-being than a quality night’s sleep, and there is definitely nothing that compares to that ‘new bed sheet’ feeling! New bed sheets and towels should last for years, meaning that when it comes time to shop for new ones it is worth spending the extra time to understand the different types of cottons and the varying qualities between them.
A common question people ask when looking at different linen products is what the difference between cotton and Egyptian cotton is. There are so many types available, so it’s important to know what they are and how they compare.
Whether your priorities for buying new sheets are focussed around finding something comfortable, something within a specific price range, good quality, easy to wash, long lasting, or that luxurious feeling from soft sheets – knowing the difference between standard cotton and Egyptian cotton sheets will help you find your perfect fit.
WHAT IS COTTON?
Cotton is a natural resource that has been grown and harvested from the earth for thousands of years for things like fabric production, paper, cooking oils, animal feed and more. It is one of the world’s largest agricultural crops and is a sustainable resource that is relatively inexpensive to grow.
The cotton fibers produced by the cotton plant are extremely versatile and can be processed and turned into a wide range of fabrics – from types as delicate as lace, as silky as sateen, through to others as thick as velvet or as course as carpet. Cotton fabrics for linen also include staple, upland, Egyptian and pima cotton.
There are three main categories cotton can be put in based on the length of the plant’s fibres:
1. Long length, luxurious type
The long length of the fibres means there are less joins or ‘splices’ between them, and the threads can be finer, resulting in a soft, silky, smooth feeling fabric. The average fibre lengths range from 2.5-6cms. The variation of plants that grow these types of long fibres are much more difficult to grow, and the process is much more involved, so these tend to be more expensive. For example, authentic Egyptian cotton is hand picked. These types of luxurious cottons include those considered the ‘best’, such as Egyptian cotton and pima cotton (known by its trademarked name ‘Supima’ cotton (rights reserved)).
2. Medium length, standard type
If something says it is 100% cotton but does not claim to be a luxurious type like Egyptian or pima cotton, chances are it is a regular medium length, staple cotton. The fibres average lengths from 1.3-3.3cms and include types like staple and upland cotton.
3. Short length, course type
These shorter lengths range from 1-2.5cms and are used for coarse products like carpets and blankets or are blended with other materials.
WHAT IS EGYPTIAN COTTON?
From the luxurious category of cotton, Egyptian cotton is considered among the best of the best for quality sheets. High thread count Egyptian cotton sheets have long been considered a superior bedding material to other types, but the quality labeled Egyptian fabric has more to do with the way it is grown than where it comes from. You can find links to our top rated Egyptian Cotton Sheets with complete reviews here.