Cotton is the most popular fabric when it comes to bedding. But not all cotton is the same. There are three types of cotton: Egyptian cotton, pima cotton and upland cotton. The first two are higher quality cotton. As such, they are also harden to find and a little heavier on the wallet. Let’s get to know one of these cotton types a bit better. We’ll find out exactly what is pima cotton and why you may want to choose it over other types of cotton.
→ Skip to best pima cotton sheets
What is Pima Cotton?
Pima cotton is one of the highest quality cottons available. It is a type of extra-long staple cotton. Staple refers to the length of the fiber. For cotton, an extra-long staple means that it is over 1.3/8 inches long. But why does fiber length matter in the first place? This is actually what determines the quality of the fabric. The longer the fiber, the fewer fiber ends appear on the surface of the fabric. As a result, the fabric is smoother, softer, less prone to pilling and shredding.
Pima cotton comes from the plant gossypium barbadense. This plant is not only the mother of pima cotton, but also of other extra-long staple cottons. The difference is simply where the cotton is grown. The gossypium barbadense plant requires a lot of sun, humidity, as well as rainfall to thrive.
Where Does Pima Cotton Come From?
Now that we’ve established what is pima cotton, let’s take a step back and look at its origins. Location-wise pima cotton was first cultivated in Peru and Ecuador. It later made its way to the United States, to the south-west. It was the Pima tribe of American Indians that first started to grow this cotton. As the pioneers, they also gave it its name.
These days pima cotton is grown only in some parts of the world: Peru, Australia, and the US. Certain US-grown pima cotton is called Supima cotton. Only a handful of licensed manufacturers and retailers can use this trademark.
What is Pima Cotton Like?
The most important characteristic of pima cotton is its fiber length. Also known as staple. Cotton fibers are divided into 4 staple groups: short, medium, long, and extra-long.
Pima cotton is extra-long staple cotton. The longer the fiber, the better the quality, as we also saw in the above section about what is pima cotton. This is why pima cotton is one of the greats. In the spinning and waving process, longer fibers produce a more even outcome. The shorter the fibers, the more of them you need. And the more fiber ends will be sticking out of the fabric surface. Longer fibers means that there’s less fiber ends. So the end result is a lot smoother, silkier, and better to touch.
Another great quality of pima cotton is the fiber strength. Together with staple, this gives you a durable fabric. This cotton plant also has a natural protector that keeps it safe from fungal and insect damage. It contains the chemical gossypol, which also occurs in the name of the plant.
What is Pima Cotton Used For?
Pima cotton is often used in both men’s and women’s clothing. It became more popular in the beginning of the 20th century. Clothes made from pima cotton include woven sweaters, t-shirts, dresses, underwear, socks. The softness and durability make this a sought-after fabric.
It is also used for making bed sheets and other bedding products. Although it is not as widely used as some other types of cotton. The more expensive price makes it less attainable for many people. But the quality is certainly worth it.
Best Pima Cotton Sheets
Peru Pima produces bedding from authentic extra-long staple pima cotton. The cotton is grown in Peru. Their sheet sets come in many thread counts and you’re bound to find one that fits you best. Many 5 and 4-star hotels buy their bedding from Peru Pima. For example Marriott, Sheraton, Hilton by Doubletree. This particular sheet set has a 285 thread count. It breathes well and is perfect for sweaty sleepers. It also has other good qualities. Like the great moisture wicking ability. Its lightness thanks to the lower thread count. It is comfortable and strong thanks to the extra-long fibers and percale weave. We also love the packaging of the sheets. This makes them a perfect gift not only for yourself, but for friends and family members. And last but not least, you can order king or queen size pillowcases separately, in case you need an extra pair.
Sizes: California King, King, Queen, Full, Twin
Colors: White, Ivory, Burgundy, Slate, Latte, Turquoise, Ash Gray, Cloud Silver, Diva Blue, Iron Grey, Smoke Grey
Price: Starting at $70
This is another sheet set from extra-long staple cotton fibers and by Peru Pima. They have a slightly higher thread count of 415. Which gives them a touch of crispiness that adds character. They’re definitely a little heavier than the 285 thread count sheets from Peru Pima that we saw above. But they’re not lacking in softness or comfort. As with other products from Peru Pima, you’ll get a nice surprise when you see the packaging. It’s a truly good combination of a high quality sheet, reasonable price, and great delivery.
Sizes: California King, Full, King, Queen, Twin
Colors: White, Ivory, Plum, Slate, Latte, Turquoise, Ash Gray, Cloud Silver, Diva Blue, Iron Gray, Smoke Gray
Price: Starting at $80
In case the previous Peru Pima sheets seem too light for you, don’t worry. They also have another sheet set with an even higher thread count. This time it’s 600. It breathes extremely well and has a nice crisp touch to it, without any extra roughness. And it’s heavier than the ones we saw before. It’s perfect if you’re looking for a smooth and soft sheet set. With a flat sheet that will lie heavy on you. The color selection is more limited when compared to the lower thread count sheet sets by Peru Pima. But you can still get their sheets in classic colors and in various sizes. And you can also get separate pillowcases if needed.
Sizes: California King, King, Queen, Full, Twin
Colors: White, Ivory, Slate, Latte
Price: Starting at $85
Serene Linen offers a beautiful 100% pima cotton sheet set. If you’re looking for sheets that are heavier than usual, this set with 1000 thread count is for you. The sheets are so soft to the touch and comfortable to slip between in the evening. We love the embroidered finish of these Serene Linen sheets. The fabric itself is white. But the flat sheet and pillowcases have a three striped embroidery on them. The sheets look elegant, are ever so strong and breathe well. As they are hypoallergenic, they are also a great choice if you have sensitive skin.
Sizes: California King, King, Queen, Olympic Queen, Full, Twin, Twin XL
Colors: Black, White, Ivory, Sage, Pink, Brick Red, Wine, Sky Blue, Burgundy, Gold, Lavender, Taupe, Grey, Peach, Chocolate, Navy Blue, Yellow, Silver, Purple, Orange, Beige, Royal Blue, Hot Pink, Moss, Aqua Blue, Blood Red, Mediterranean Blue, Parrot Green, Turquoise Blue
Price: Starting at $128
Thomas Lee’s bedding set is pure luxury. If you’re dying to know what is pima cotton in its excellence, this is it. The cotton is fully grown in the US and the sheets are manufactured in India. With a 500 thread count, they are more on the heavier side. There are a few things that really make Thomas Lee’s sheets stand out. The thread count and percale weave give them a nice crispiness. It’s this special type of crispiness that is hard to come by. The one that takes you back to your childhood. The sheets are generously over-sized in the old fashioned way, so they’re sure to fit your mattress. Even if it’s a thick one, like 18”. The whole sheet set is a truly good quality one and the price reflects that. You can also buy different sized fitted or flat sheets separately for a smaller price.
Sizes: California King, King, Queen, Full
Colors: White, Ivory
Price: Starting at $167