The most important characteristics of cotton is the length and fineness of the individual cotton fibres. The longer and finer the cotton fibre- the softer, smoother and more lustrous (shiny) the fabric will be.
There are a variety of different cotton plants and each has their own traditional growing areas. The local climate and growing conditions also influence the quality of the cotton harvested.
The Short Guide To Different Types Of Cotton:
Combed cotton is cotton which has gone through a process to remove shorter, spikey fibres and any other impurities, which creates a smoother and softer fabric.
Egyptian cotton is a type of long-length cotton grown only in Egypt. It enjoys worldwide renown as the strongest, most beautiful and lustrous (shiny) cotton produced. Its extraordinary quality is partially due to the long growing season in that country. Sheets made of Egyptian cotton with a high thread count are considered very luxurious.
Pima cotton bed sheets have a silky, soft feeling. Pima Cotton is a superior quality cotton grown only in Australia, Peru and in the United States (in Pima Arizona, where its name came from).
"Supima" is higher quality Pima cotton. It is the trademark name for 100% pima cotton, which has been grown only in the United States.“Supima” is the short name for superior pima.
More Technical Info On Different Types Of Cotton:
Egyptian cotton, known the world over for its superior quality, is grown only in the Nile delta in Egypt where it has been cultivated for centuries.
With an established reputation of being the "best" cotton in the world, Egyptian cotton’s softness, strength and superior characteristics, have positioned products made of Egyptian cotton as the world's finest.
Egyptian cotton "is" the world's finest cotton and the following characteristics are what sets it apart from other natural fibres:
a) The long cotton fibres makes it possible to make the finest yarns without sacrificing strength.
b) The strong fibres make fabrics stronger and more resistant to “pilling” or fluffing.
c) Its ability to absorb water, makes it cooler to sleep under.
d) Fabrics made of Egyptian cotton carry designs or colours better.
e) The long, fine fibres makes a beautifully soft fabric.
Egypt enjoys a longer growing season, which contributes towards the growth of longer and finer cotton fibres.
Egyptian cotton is hand picked which guarantees high levels of purity. In addition, hand picking puts no stress on the fibres - as opposed to mechanical picking - leaving the fibers straight and intact. All these factors have resulted in Egyptian cotton being the best cotton in the world. Fabrics made of Egyptian Cotton are softer, finer and last longer than most other cottons in the world.
It is better to buy Egyptian cotton only from brands you trust, so you can ensure you are really getting 100% Egyptian cotton. Egypt is not currently regulating the use of the “Egyptian Cotton” name. Cheaper products labelled “Egyptian cotton” are unlikely to be using real Egyptian cotton, or they may be using a blend (some may have only 5% Egyptian cotton content, and the rest might be normal cotton). Egyptian cotton is genuinely much more expensive, and this additional cost would be expected to be reflected in a significantly higher price tag.
Pima cotton is a generic name for extra-long staple (E.L.S.) cotton grown in the U.S., Australia, Peru and in very limited production in a few other countries. Pima is from the gossypium barbadense cotton species, compared to gossypium hirsutum, which is the normal (or “upland”) cotton plant.
"Supima", is an extra-long fibre length (“staple length”) American cotton, and is one of the finest cotton yarns in the world.
The name "Supima®" is a licensed trademark, and it’s used for Superior Pima cotton. The Supima name is used to promote textile and apparel products made of American Pima cotton, and the use of the name is strictly controlled by the U.S. cotton grower’s organization. Therefore you can trust that “Supima” labelled products are indeed made of superior US grown Pima cotton.
Normal Cotton Vs Pima Cotton
The primary differences between Pima (ELS growths) cotton and normal cotton is the long fibre/staple length, the strength of the fibre and the fineness of the fiber. In the U.S., cotton is considered to be ELS or American Pima if the fibre length is at least one inch and 3/8 long. Its strength and uniform measurements are considerably higher than normal cotton, meaning that any fabric made from Pima or Supima cotton will be superior to normal cotton fabric.
(image credit: www.cotton-source.com)