Cotton makes up the greatest part of the fabrics used in textile manufacturing, and some estimates place it at 75% of all textiles used for clothing and other household items. However, most of the cotton produced is regular cotton with very admirable qualities; about a small portion of all produced cotton falls under a special category- long-staple cotton.
Long staple cotton fabrics like Pima cotton and Egyptian cotton are considered luxurious. They make up only 10% of all cotton produced worldwide and are softer, more comfortable, and more expensive than regular cotton. However, there are some differences between all three. Read on to find out these differences and which of them is the best cotton ever produced.
What is Pima Cotton?
Pima cotton is an ultra-soft cotton fabric with an extremely silky and luxurious feel. Unlike regular cotton from plants with short fibers, Pima cotton is produced from a specific cotton plant, the G. barbadense plant, which has very long cotton fibers. It is usually classified as ELS, which stands for Extra Long Staple cotton.
Pima cotton has an incredible softness and texture richness, making it more prized than other cotton fabrics. The longer fibers of Pima cotton also make it more durable than most fabrics, and Pima cotton is also more fade and wrinkle-resistant than regular cotton. The fabric is very breathable and comfortable.
What is Supima Cotton?
Supima Cotton, also known as Superior Pima, is ultra-soft cotton that is extremely breathable and has a soft, luxurious texture. Like Pima, Supima cotton is also extra-long staple cotton. However, Supima is the most expensive cotton fabric produced in the textile industry; It is so rare that it accounts for only 1% of cotton produced worldwide. Supima cotton is certified as the finest cotton produced in the world.
Like another long-staple cotton, Supima is very breathable, has an extremely comfortable and luxurious feel, and is very durable. It lasts longer than Pima and Egyptian cotton. In addition, Supima cotton does not shrink and wrinkle as much as regular cotton.
What is Egyptian Cotton?
Egyptian cotton is similar to Pima cotton because it is produced from the special G. barbadense plant, which has special long fibers. The only difference between Egyptian cotton and Pima cotton is where they are produced. While Egyptian cotton refers to cotton grown exclusively on the Nile Delta in Egypt, Pima is grown only in the United States, Peru, and Australia.
Like another long-staple cotton, Egyptian cotton is extremely soft and breathable. They are also incredibly durable, have good drapability, and have a luxurious feel. They are also more expensive and rare than regular cotton.
Similarities Between Pima and Supima and Egyptian Cotton
Pima, Supima, and Egyptian cotton are high-quality fabrics from long staple fibers. As such, they have many similarities. Here are some of them:
All cotton is famous for being breathable, but extra-long staple cotton takes breathability to another level. These high-quality kinds of cotton are extremely breathable and comfortable on the skin, and there is no known difference between the three.
Care and Ease of Maintenance
Supima, Pima, and Egyptian cotton are highly strong and durable fabrics, surpassing their shorter staple counterparts. Hence, they are relatively easier to maintain, although some care still has to be taken when caring for them. However, how you care for them seems to be no distinction.
Uses and Applications
Supima, Pima, and Egyptian Cotton are all used similarly. They are used to create dress shirts, dresses, T-shirts, hoods, and various other types of clothing. Because of their extra fluffiness and softness, they are also used to make household items like towels. Egyptian cotton, however, tends to be coarse but quickly becomes softer after several washes. However, Supima clothing remains the best and most expensive option.
Differences Between Pima, Supima, and Egyptian Cotton
Despite being high-quality cotton fabrics, Pima, Supima, and Egyptian cotton have some differences in their properties. Here are just a few:
Texture and Softness
Because of their extremely delicate feel, Pima, Supima, and Egyptian cotton are called ultra-soft cotton. The extra softness of these cotton fabrics comes from their extra-long fibers; however, they are not all soft to the same degree.
Supima fabrics have a fluffier and silkier feel than Pima and Egyptian cotton. Like most cotton fabrics, it is hypoallergenic, so it doesn’t trigger any reaction to the skin. In addition, it isn’t coarse at first like Egyptian cotton.
High-quality kinds of cotton are durable because their long staple fibers make them stronger than regular cotton. However, Supima cotton is far more durable than Pima and Egyptian cotton and would withstand more washes than the other cotton fabrics, and they are also fade-resistant. Similarly, Egyptian cotton is more durable than Pima cotton.
Location of Growth and Cost
Another major thing that separates Pima, Supima, and Egyptian cotton is where they are grown. Supima is grown exclusively in the United States, with Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas being the only states with a suitable climate to grow them. They are also the most expensive cotton fabric available in the market.
Egyptian cotton, as the name implies, is grown exclusively in the Nile Delta of Egypt. The hot climate and the slightly saline water of Egypt are especially suitable for the unique species of the G.barbandese cotton plant. Although in recent times, some cotton labeled Egyptian cotton is grown in China or India.
Despite being of the same species as Egyptian cotton, Pima cotton is not grown in Egypt but several countries such as the United States, Australia, and Peru. However, Egyptian cotton is more expensive than Pima cotton.
Care and Maintenance of Supima, Pima, and Egyptian Cotton
Extra-long staple kinds of cotton are highly durable fabrics that are relatively easier to maintain than regular cotton. However, you should still take certain precautions:
Caring For Supima Cotton
Here are a few Precautions you need to take when taking care of your high-quality Supima cotton:
- Always check the fabric care label for the best way to wash and dry the fabric.
- You can choose how to wash your cotton, either by hand washing or using a washing machine. Both options are fine as long as you are using cold water. Cold water will prevent shrinking.
- Use a mild detergent when washing, and set the machine to a delicate setting. Avoid fabric softeners; they are unnecessary, as Supima is extremely soft.
- To prolong the life of your Supima cotton, avoid putting them in the dryer. Air dry them as much as possible.
- Address stains as soon as possible. Dab at stains with a damp paper towel and rinse with cold water. You can use stain removals, vinegar, or baking soda to remove stains if you don’t wish to throw them in a washer.
Caring For Pima Cotton
Here are some ways you can take proper care of Pima cotton:
- Handwashing is the best way to take care of Pima cotton, but you can also use a washing machine in a delicate setting. Ensure that you are washing with cold water.
- Air dry Pima cotton or use a dryer at a low heat setting.
- You may iron Pima cotton if it is set to a low setting; this reduces shrinking.
- Avoid using fabric softeners on Pima cotton. Use a mild detergent when washing.
Caring for Egyptian Cotton
To prolong the life of Egyptian cotton, here are some precautions that you can take:
- Different types of Egyptian cotton require different washing patterns. It is best to hand wash Sateen Egyptian cotton, but you can wash other types of cotton in a washing machine.
- Avoid chemicals like fabric softeners and conditioners. Although Egyptian cotton tends to be coarse at first, they quickly become soft after one or two washes.
- Air dry or tumble dry Egyptian cotton at a low setting. Remove the cotton once the cycle is over and iron while the fabric is still damp.
- Store in a cool, dry place.