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Egyptian Cotton vs. Pima Cotton: What Is The Difference?

When it comes to cotton, we often see two labels describing our materials - Egyptian cotton or Pima cotton. But what's the difference between these fabrics?

Egyptian cotton is often found on lining while Pima is normally found on pajamas for women, and there is a reason for this typical divide. Let's jump into the details.

Egyptian Cotton Explained

As you can expect from the name, Egyptian cotton is grown in Egypt. They are normally sown and harvested along the Nile River which is a considerably rich and fertile land. It’s this bountiful landscape that gives the cotton the nutrients it needs to be one of the best kinds of cotton in the world.

Egyptian cotton is a high-class cotton due to its soft texture, high strength, and long strands. All of these characteristics make it highly desirable and entirely luxurious.

This is also why you may expect Egyptian cotton on bedwear or bed sheets. The softness of the fabric is perfect for any material that needs to feel smooth. However, because the material is also natural, it can breathe with the body. This means you won’t end up waking up in a pool of sweat like you would if using synthetic cotton.

Unfortunately, many products pretend to use Egyptian cotton and mislabel their products. To make sure you’re actually buying the correct fabric, look out for a symbol of a cotton plant inside a black triangle.

This is the true label for Egyptian cotton grown on the Nile.

Pima Cotton Explained

Pima cotton is just as soft as Egyptian and just as long. This length is what prevents the material from splitting down the middle, as it doesn’t need to be connected to additional strands.

The main difference between the two is the location of growth. Pima cotton is grown in the United States of America, specifically in Arizona. Because of its United States origins, Pima cotton is often cheaper than Egyptian cotton for manufacturers based in the US. The distance of travel is much shorter, which allows for less money funneled into traveling costs.

Although Pima is normally cheaper than Egyptian it is also used to mix with synthetic low-grade cotton. This means that some products might be correctly labeled as Pima cotton but only use 5% in the cotton blend.

The Unexpected Third Type Of Cotton - Upland

Upland cotton is made in Mexico and is the most commonly used cotton fabric in the world. Around 90% of all cotton used in the world is Upland cotton, and the biggest buyer of this fabric is the United States which buys almost 95% of the production.

With numbers as high as this you can guess where most of the blended cotton comes from. Upland is used to blend with most kinds of cotton to add in the additional softness of Pima or Egyptian cotton while not needing to spend as much money on a high-brand fabric.

There are also different types of Upland cotton. Some are long staples and others are short staples. Long staples are more expensive than short staples, as they are less likely to fray.

However despite short staples being the cheapest, long-stapled Upland cotton is the most popular.

Which Is The Best?

When it comes to texture, Egyptian cotton wins the race. It is the softest cotton on the market which adds to its expensive price tag. However, in all other regards, Pima and Egyptian are very similar.

They are both strong, have resistance to fading, can be dyed easily, and will keep their color through multiple washes.

Both kinds of cotton will also remain wrinkle-free as long as they are well cared for. The real question is where are you shipping the cotton to, and do you want top-tier softness, or are you happy with high-tier softness?

These will tell you which cotton to buy, as those are the only real difference between the two.

Of course, we haven’t mentioned Upland cotton yet, but that’s because they are nowhere near the quality of Pima or Egyptian. Yes, they are soft, and yes they are breathable, but not to the same degree as Pima or Egyptian cotton.


So what’s the verdict? How do these two kinds of cotton differ? The answer isn’t very satisfactory. Pima cotton and Egyptian cotton are very similar to each other. However Egyptian is slightly softer and a lot more expensive.

Remember, to find real Egyptian cotton you need to look for a black triangle with a cotton plant on the inside.


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