Is Egyptian Cotton Really the Best in the World?

Egyptian cotton field

Wherever you shop for bedding, you're sure to encounter endless products made from Egyptian cotton. When you do, touch the fabric between your fingers, and you'll be able to feel the quality of the fabric. You’ll also notice that not all of them feel the same, despite them all being Egyptian cotton. Ever wondered why that’s the case?

Is Egyptian cotton really the best in the world, and does the name on the label guarantee a superior product? Let's find out more.

The History of Egyptian Cotton

The story of Egyptian cotton begins in 1818, when the ruler of Egypt encouraged the crop to boost the nation's income. After that, the quality became legendary, establishing a global reputation. The size of the crop fluctuated with global prices and the world economy, but really took off after the country's 1952 Revolution.

Since then, Egypt has become a world-leader in cotton production in terms of volume, and it has also maintained the reputation earned during the 19th century.

The reason for this high-quality reputation is simple: the Nile River valley. The Nile turned out to be the ideal setting for cotton production. For one thing, the valley's climate is humid, while the soil is also rich in nutrients. This allowed growers to raise both extra-long and long staple varieties. The “staple” refers to the hair-like fibres inside the cotton boll.

These types of cotton have an important property. Due to their longer length, they produce yarn that is much thinner than other varieties. The resulting yarn is both fine and strong, creating more luxurious-feeling fabrics that are lighter and more breathable than standard cottons.

Another special feature of Egyptian cotton is that it was traditionally processed by farmers with their hands, not machines. Pesticide use was minimal, and no chemicals were used to artificially soften the cotton. This helped to keep the fibres as soft and natural as possible.

For these reasons, the elite reputation of Egyptian cotton is much more than a slogan.

river nile Egypt

Egyptian Cotton Bedding

It's important to realise that modern Egypt grows a more diverse range of cotton types, including long, regular, and short staple varieties. These types have their own properties, and the quality can change. For instance, regular and short fibres can poke out of the weave, making the fabric coarser and weaker.

Unfortunately, even recently, some US retailers have mixed up their staples. On one occasion, retailers were forced to remove thousands of bedding sheets from their shelves when they discovered that manufacturers were supplying falsely labelled Egyptian cotton products.

The fact is, products labelled “Egyptian cotton” are often not made with the highest quality fibres. The long staple fibre from Egypt accounts for only 1% of all cotton production in the world. So, when you buy bedding, it's best to be sceptical regarding the fibre content.

Also, unless the product is labelled and certified as “organic Egyptian cotton”, producers will have used pesticides and insecticides during the growing and processing of the bedding, and harvesting will most likely be mechanised.

Currently, cotton consumes 22.5% of the world's insecticides and 10% of its pesticides, while using just 2.5% of all farmland. That's a pretty outrageous statistic.

The Egyptian Cotton Label

So, what does this all mean? Contrary to public opinion, the “Egyptian cotton” label doesn’t mean you’re buying the most luxurious product around. What used to set Egyptian producers apart decades ago were the natural techniques used and the long staple varieties grown, not where the cotton came from.

It doesn’t matter if your cotton has been grown in Egypt, Pakistan, India, or the United States. If the cotton staple is long, the quality is pure, and the cotton bolls are hand-picked and farmed with care, you’ll find the same luxurious fabric.

These days, consumers don't need to gamble with the label “Egyptian cotton” to get the comfortable fabrics they desire.

If you want to curl up in soft, snuggly sheets all night long, you now know what to look for: long staple fibres, luxurious organic cotton sheets.

NOUR LUXURY's organic cotton sheets match, and even surpass, Egyptian fabrics in all departments. Every product uses long staple cotton, handpicked and grown without pesticides or chemicals. Our supply chain is transparent and our packaging is sustainable. Find out more and order your luxury organic cotton bedding here.