Q&A: Are there different types of Egyptian cotton?
Between the Sheets

Q&A: Are there different types of Egyptian cotton?

 Au Lit Q&A

Q: Are there different types of Egyptian cotton?

A: As the term implies, "Egyptian cotton" is used to describe cotton grown in Egypt. The fertile Nile River valley of Egypt has long been considered the most desirable setting for growing the finest cotton in the world. It has the perfect climate to produce cotton with extra-long fibers; the valley is sufficiently humid and the soil is rich in nutrients. This reputation is precisely what makes the term “Egyptian cotton” so meaningful to consumers.

It is important to recognize that Egypt grows a variety of different types of cotton, which are categorized by the length of the cotton fiber (known as staple.) There is Extra-Long Staple (ELS), Long-Staple (LS), and regular cotton, and there are significant differences between these varieties. 

The ELS fibers allow the cotton to be spun into much finer, softer, and stronger yarns. And fabric woven with ELS cotton is more breathable, providing greater comfort. It also produces less lint and has less of a tendency to pill. And as an added bonus, it becomes softer with every laundering. 

Unfortunately, most products labeled "Egyptian cotton" are not made with ELS cotton yarns. Only a small percentage of the Egyptian cotton production is ELS, and within the ELS category, the finest varietals are not being grown in any significant quantities. Therefore, it is best to be somewhat wary when “Egyptian cotton” is listed as the fiber content.

During 2011, China, India, and the United States collectively produced over 75 million bales (480-pounds) of cotton. In contrast, Egypt produced just under 750,000 bales, less than 1% of the production of the top three cotton-producing countries. 

The good (and most important) news here is that we, and our suppliers use only superior-quality ELS Egyptian cotton in weaving our Italian-woven luxury bedding collections. When you consider that Egyptian cotton makes up such a minute share of the worldwide cotton production, and less than 20% of Egyptian cotton is ELS, and only a small percentage of ELS is actually the varieties with superior quality, authentic luxury linens can be seen in their proper context.

You can read more about cotton and threadcount in out Handbook.

Information provided by one of our favourite brands Sferra.