You’ve probably heard about Egyptian cotton, but do you know why this fabric is so sought after? Egyptian cotton does, in fact, have many outstanding qualities. However, seeing the word “Egyptian” isn’t enough to ensure the very best material and production. Take a closer look at what Egyptian cotton is, where it’s sourced from, and how it’s made. This will help you understand what matters most on the label, so you can pick out which Egyptian cotton products are truly extravagant and which only seem to be so.
How Egyptian Cotton Is Made
Egyptian cotton is the most luxurious type of cotton available. This cotton is made from the Gossypium Barbadense plant, which is also used to make Pima cotton. True to its name, Egyptian cotton traditionally comes from the Nile River Valley, though it is now grown in other locations as well. The cotton is hand-picked to keep the fibers intact. This creates a long-staple cotton, meaning the individual fibers are longer than what you’d find in American Upland cotton or Pima cotton.
Egyptian cotton plants produce the finest cotton fibers found on the planet. These extra-fine threads allow for a higher thread count than you’d find with other types of cotton. Egyptian cotton is widely recognized as the best and most luxurious cotton available, and it has a high price tag to match its exclusive feel.
Egyptian cotton is almost exclusively used for sheets, though you may also find it in other types of bedding. Egyptian cotton sheets are considered one of the finest options for an opulent night’s sleep.
Egyptian Cotton Weaves
Many shoppers confuse fabric materials and weaves. Fabric weave refers to the weaving method used to create the product. Egyptian cotton sheets typically come in one of two weaves: percale or sateen.
Percale produces particularly crisp sheets with a matte finish. Sateen fabric has a shiny, luminous finish and a soft, silky feel. While percale sits flat, sateen drapes smoothly. If you like the look and feel of flat bedding with perfect hospital corners, choose percale. If you like supple sheets that feel light and breathable, you’re after sateen. Don’t forget to check the weave of your cotton to make sure you’re getting the exact finish you’re looking for.
Cotton Thread Count
Thread count is an important factor to consider when you’re purchasing Egyptian cotton. Thread count refers to the number of threads woven into 1 square inch of fabric. Both horizontal (weft) threads and vertical (warp) threads are included in the count. The best sheets contain only weft and warp threads. However, some manufacturers will stuff pick threads in as well. These are added to the finished weave to bump up the thread count, and they don’t really add to the comfort or quality of the finished product.
For comfortable, quality cotton sheets, you should look for a thread count of at least 200. Quality increases up to an 800-thread count. Beyond this, however, you’re typically dealing with pick threads and inflated numbers. Don’t discount the importance of technique. Italian fabrics are known for having the most masterful weave. Thus, most consider the very height of bedding to be a product made with Egyptian cotton and woven in Italy.
For more information on thread count view our ‘What Does Thread Count Mean’ guide.
Comparing Egyptian Cotton Products
Not all Egyptian cotton comes from Egypt today. If you want true Egyptian cotton that still comes from this country of origin, look for Giza 45 cotton. This is produced in a small region of the Nile delta. This limited area is capable of producing only a moderate amount of cotton each year, so products with the Giza 45 label are rare and expensive.
If you’re looking for a more accessible form of Egyptian cotton that’s still extremely soft and supple, make sure the label reads 100-percent Egyptian cotton. There are many blends on the market that will highlight their Egyptian cotton content while keeping the percentages better concealed in the labeling. These may contain only a small amount of Egyptian cotton combined with other cottons that aren’t as luxurious. Though this is a bargain way to get a bit of Egyptian cotton on your bed, it doesn’t come with the same level of quality you’ll get from a pure Egyptian cotton product.
How to Care for Egyptian Cotton
Proper care and storage are important to make sure your Egyptian cotton sheets enjoy a long life span. Avoid any type of bleaching agent when you’re washing Egyptian cotton. Bleach is a harsh chemical that will break down the fine fibers in your sheets or other bedding products. Opt for a gentle detergent that will help preserve these fibers.
Wash Egyptian cotton in cold water and use a low drying temperature to best preserve the fabric. This material doesn’t need a fabric softener because it’s naturally soft. A fabric softener will only create a sticky buildup between the fibers that will cause them to feel stiff and uncomfortable over time. Tossing tennis balls or dryer balls in the dryer will give you a natural softening effect that doesn’t damage your Egyptian cotton sheets in the process.
If you’re looking for a light, breathable bedding option that’s supremely soft and comfortable, Egyptian cotton sheets are a winning choice. These sheets aren’t a cheap option, and most experts recommend opting for a set that’s upward of $100 to ensure quality production. If you’re up for the investment, Egyptian cotton sheets are a long-lasting choice that will offer a five-star feeling in the comfort of your own home.