Cotton is the most popular fabric when it comes to bed sheets. But there’s so much variety when it comes to this fabric. In general, cotton is divided into 3 large groups: Egyptian cotton, pima cotton, and upland cotton. This time we’ll focus on the first kind – Egyptian cotton. Best sheets made from Egyptian cotton are considered one of the highest quality sheets available. Let’s find out, why this cotton type gets so much praise and whether it truly lives up to the hype. We also bring out the best Egyptian cotton sheets available on Amazon.
I’m absolutely sure if you look around your home you’ll find many products made from cotton. Try towels, t-shirts, socks, sheets, curtains. So you might already know quite a lot about this fabric. If that’s the case and you can’t wait to find the right Egyptian cotton sheet set for you, skip to our selection below, or choose from our best picks right here! But if you want to know more about this wonderful fabric, we’re happy to share some insight.
What Is Cotton
I’m absolutely sure if you look around your home you’ll find many products made from cotton. Try towels, t-shirts, socks, sheets, curtains. So you might already know quite a lot about this fabric. But let’s get back to the basics for a moment.
Cotton is harvested from the genus of the flowering plant called Gossypium. The plant is a shurb and grows in tropical and subtropical parts of the world. Gossypium needs plenty of sunshine, a long frost-free period, and moderate rainfall. In areas that are lacking in rain, the necessary water is obtained from irrigation. Although there are around 50 species of Gossypium, only a handful are used for commercial purposes.
- Gossypium hirsutum aka upland cotton, which includes >90% of worldwide cotton production,
- Gossypium barbadense aka extra-long staple cotton, giving 3-4% of world production,
- Gossypium arboreum and Gossypium herbaceum, together amounting to around 2%.
The biggest producers of cotton are China, India, the United States, Pakistan, and Brazil.
What Is Egyptian Cotton
Egyptian cotton belongs to the Gossypium barbadense group. The G. barbadense species also contains other varieties, such as American pima, Indian Suvin, Chinese Xinjiang, and Sea Island cotton. What distinguishes them from other cottons, is the length of the cotton fiber. Egyptian cotton has either long staple (LS) or extra-long staple (ELS) fibers. But more about than a bit later.
The Gossypium barbadense flower is a delicate yellow color, while cotton itself starts forming in the bracts that remain after the fertilized flower falls off. This bract is what we call a cotton boll. A boll is home to 27 to 45 seeds and each seed grows around 10,000 to 20,000 fibers. So overall each cotton boll contains hundreds of thousands of fibers.
At first Egyptian cotton was true to its name – it referred only to cotton grown in Egypt. The delta of the Nile river was an especially fertile ground for the cotton plant to prosper. This cotton was a synonym for luxury. Over time, others also wanted a piece of the luxury pie and today, the Egyptian cotton label is used more loosely. Not all cotton products that carry the label Egyptian cotton, actually come from cotton grown in Egypt. And since there is quite a lot of cotton grown in Egypt in general, not all of that cotton is actual extra-long or long staple cotton.
With time, the meaning however changed. It now covers all long staple cottons, even if the origin is not Egypt. True Egyptian cotton is thought to be superior to other types of cotton sheets available, such as Pima (or Supima) cotton.
Qualities of Egyptian Cotton
There are numerous reasons why cotton is considered a great fabric and Egyptian cotton takes it a notch higher. Cotton is widely know as a fabric that breathes well. This is great for people who tend to run hot during the night. A breathable fabric lets air move more freely between the threads. As a result, the sheets will remain cool and will keep you cool as well.
Another great quality of cotton is that it loves water and has great moisture-wicking qualities. This, coupled with the great breathability, makes cotton one of the best options for sweaty sleepers.
Cotton sheets become softer with every wash. It may happen that when you buy a new bed set, the sheets seem a bit rough. Don’t let yourself get discouraged – this is perfectly normal. You can give your new sheets a wash or two, or even more, before laying them on your bed.
What is special about Egyptian cotton is it’s staple length. Egyptian cotton has either long or extra-long staple fiber. This makes for higher quality sheets that are softer and last longer. Egyptian cotton is also hand-picked. This puts less pressure on the fibers and they remain intact and straight.
If you’re looking for an extra touch of softness, keep a lookout for combed cotton. The cotton boll naturally includes fibers of various lengths. Egyptian cotton has long or extra-long staple fibers but these also have slight differences between them. So to ensure that the sheet set does not contain shorter fibers, manufacturers remove them by means of combing the fibers before they are spun into yarns. As a result, the sheet receives extra touches of softness.
What Is Staple and Why Is It So Important?
Staple is a key term when it comes to cotton sheets. It expresses the length of the cotton fiber, which determines much of its qualities. Products from short staple fiber are the lowest on the quality scale. As the fiber length increases, so does the quality of the cotton. If you’re wondering about the exact measurements, extra-long fibers are at least 1.3/8 inches long (35mm).
There are quite a few ways that fiber length influences the quality of the sheet. Fibers first need to be spun into yarns and the shorter the staple, the more fibers you need. And consequently, the more fiber ends will be sticking out from the yarn. The difference is something that is hard to detect with the naked eye but you can definitely feel it when touching the sheet. A bed sheet made from long or extra-long staple Egyptian cotton is much smoother than a sheet for which short staple cotton is used.
Another reason why you should prefer long and extra-long staple cotton is because they are less prone to pilling. Pilling is when fibers start exiting the fabric, as a result of washing and the wearing of the fabric. Since it’s so much more work to get long and extra-long fibers out of a fabric, pilling isn’t something that you’ll come across with these staples. But if you have a short or medium staple cotton sheet, you’ll be guaranteed to see pilling pretty soon after you start using it.
Last but not least, long and extra-long staple fibers are simply stronger. So you will have a more durable sheet that does not need replacing after a short while.
Best Egyptian Cotton Sheets
What to keep an eye on
As we saw above, Egyptian cotton is a label that is too easily thrown around these days. So if you want to make sure that you get the right thing, here are three golden rules to follow.
- Always check whether you can find long staple or LS, or extra-long staple or ELS on the label or item description. Otherwise you might just be purchasing short or medium staple cotton and this will greatly influence the quality of the sheet. And not in a good way.
- Be sure that only long or extra-long staple cotton is used in the fabric. Keep an eye on something along the lines of 100% Egyptian cotton. There are manufacturers who add a tiny bit of ELS Egyptian cotton into the mix and market the sheet under the Egyptian cotton label. While in reality, most of the fibers are low quality short of medium staple cotton.
- See whether the label mentions where the cotton was grown. If it says Egypt – great! You’ve hit the jackpot, provided that the above two boxes are also ticked. In case the label does not mention anything about the origin of the cotton, you can always get in touch with the manufacturer and inquire about this. And don’t confuse the origin of the cotton with the manufacturing country. These are not necessarily the same.
Keep in mind that 100% Egyptian cotton sheets from long or extra-long staple cotton, that actually come from Egypt, can cost a real fortune. If you’re budget is a little tighter, you may also consider ELS cotton that is grown in another country. We definitely suggest to keep a more keen eye on the first and second rule, as that will have a bigger effect on the actual quality of the sheet.
Our picks for best Egyptian cotton sheets
For a more budget friendly option, these Sonoro Kate sheets are a great option. They have a thread count of 600, which means that they’re not super light or heavy. Rather right in the middle. The sheets are made from long staple Egyptian cotton and the sateen weave gives them a smooth feel. Although the color selection is quite limited, there are some absolutely beautiful and also bold options there.
Sizes: Full, Queen, King, CalKing
Colors: Black, White, Grey, Navy Blue, and more
Price: From $60
If you’re want to add a touch of romance to your bedroom, FadFay is the absolute right choice for you! We love the flowery and colorful prints. What’s especially great about them is that they’re not too overpowering. The colors are still gentle and soft, but oh so beautiful. And there are so many small touches that bring it all up a notch. The piping edges on the pillowcases add a professional finishing touch. The fitted sheet has an elastic all the way around, so you can easily put it on your mattress and it won’t slide off. If you want a matching duvet cover, then check out the FadFay store from on Amazon. By the way, these Fadfay Egyptian cotton sheets are also a great gift for the women in your life who appreciate a romantic vintage style.
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, CalKing
Colors: Blue Bird, Elegant Peony, Green Paisley, and more
Price: From $78
One of the reasons why we love these Saaz Egyptian cotton sheets is the color selection. There are natural colors, as well as more bold ones. So if you’re looking for a more colorful sheet set, you might just find it from Saaz! What’s also great about these colors is that they don’t seem to fade with washes – something that offen happens with a lot of other sheets. The Saaz sheets have a 1000 thread count, which is considered a luxurious one by many. The sheets do have a soft and silky feel, yet they’re sturdy at the same time.
Sizes: Twin, Full, Queen, King, CalKing
Colors: Blush, Burgundy, Dark Gray, Ivory, Navy Blue, and more
Price: From $86
We’re super excited to include this extra long staple Egyptian cotton sheet set in our selection. Of course, long staple is also a very good option, but as we explained above, extra long staple is even better. So if you’re looking for that premium quality, here you go! With a 400 thread count, these sheets breathe very well and will keep you nice and cool while your undercover *wink*. If you’re wondering more about the specifics of the cotton used, it’s Giza cotton, which is a highly valued type of Egyptian cotton. Last but not least, this sheet set comes in beautiful packaging, which also makes it a great gift for someone you value.
Sizes: Twin, Full, Queen, King, CalKing
Colors: Charcoal Grey, Icy Blue, Ivory, Cream, Linen, and more
Price: From $98
These Dreamfit Egyptian cotton sheets have made their way to our list because they’re manufactured in the US. We don’t mean to say that sheets manufactured in other countries have a lesser quality. But we know that some of our buyers prefer sheets that are made closer to home. The quality of these sheets is very similar to the above sheets by Pure Parima. They have a thread count of 400 and a satin weave, which makes them more lightweight, super breathable and smooth to the touch.
Sizes: Twin Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, CalKing, Split CalKing
Colors: Blue, Champagne, Grey, Snow, and more
Price: From $100
These Egyptian cotton sheets from Superior have a thread count of 1500 and a satin weave. They’re smooth and silky to the touch, especially as time goes by and you wash them more. The high thread count makes them quite heavy, so if that’s your preference, we suggest going with Superior. The fitted sheet is fully elasticized and fits mattresses that are up to 18” deep. Overall this is a great sheet set that comes in beautiful colors. So if you want good quality and splurge a bit more, this is your cue! One word of caution, if you’re looking for a full size sheet set. The Superior ones tend to be a bit small.
Sizes: Full, Queen, King, CalKing
Colors: Black, Dusted Rose, Gold, Grey, and more
Price: From $169
Be ready for a true color explosion with the Aspire Linen Egyptian cotton sheets. They’re on the heavy side and come in such a variety of colors that even the pickiest person should find what they’re looking for. The sateen weave makes them smooth to the touch and the deep pockets with a round elastic band keep them nicely on your mattress. Aspire Linen also deserves a spot in our list thanks to their large size selection. You can find sizes that many other manufacturers don’t offer, for example Emperor size.
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, Short Queen, King, CalKing, Grand King, Emperor
Colors: Black, White, Ivory, Light Blue, Red, and more
Price: From $200