The Differences in the Types of Cotton in Bed Sheets

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    Differences in Manufacture Process

    • The different cottons that make up bedsheets sometimes go through different growing, harvesting and manufacturing processes. Farmers harvest Peruvian Pima cotton by hand, which causes a brilliant cream color good for dyeing. Organic cotton is grown without using synthetic pesticides or fertilizers on the crops, no bleach is used to wash the cotton, and it's not treated with moth-proofing or flame-retardant finishes. Organic cotton is also spun using organic spinning oil instead of petroleum-based oil, and it's handled separately from conventionally processed cotton.

    Thread Texture, Thickness and Length

    • Cottons have varying textures and thread thickness. Peruvian Pima or American Egyptian cotton has a silky hand, strong luster and a fine, strong thread. Its thread length is about 1 3/8 inch long. Egyptian cotton fibers are fine, light-brown threads and up to 2 3/8 inch long.

    Labeling Confusion

    • Labeling on bed sheet packaging and sheet labels may create confusion about the type of cotton you're buying. Egyptian cotton, for instance, is often made from lower-quality cotton called Giza 86, so quality varies widely, with only a small percentage of authentic Egyptian cotton. Also, most bedsheets labeled "100 percent cotton" are American upland cotton, a shorter, coarser cotton. A "supima" label typically indicates Pima cotton.

    Differences in Weave

    • Though weave doesn't tend to vary between types of cotton, it changes the texture and look of a bed sheet. Oxford weave appeared in 19th century Scotland and is heavy and soft. Its 2-to-1 ration of warp threads (lengthwise fibers) to weft threads (strands running the fabric's width) means it is sturdy. Percale weave is a plain weave, threads crossing over and under one another. It grows very soft over time. Sateen uses a stain weave that uses filler threads for a illustrious texture.

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