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What Is Long-Staple Egyptian Cotton?

What Is Long-Staple Egyptian Cotton?
Written By
Erin Scottberg
Photographs By
Andreas Szerbakowski
@parachutehome

When Ariel Kaye, our Founder and CEO, set out to give the world a better night’s sleep, she knew it would have to start with the best fabric: Soft, breathable, durable cotton. Also known as nature’s most beloved plant. So in January 2014, Parachute launched with a core assortment of bedding made with 100%, long-staple Egyptian cotton. But what, exactly, makes Egyptian cotton the cream of the crop? There are other types of cotton, after all. Here we break down why we sought cotton from this region and how it makes the Parachute difference.

Natural Benefits of Egyptian Cotton

Cotton is famously smooth and soft, two qualities that are essential for a great night’s sleep. However, what you may not know is that cotton is also breathable. This means cotton sheets don’t trap heat – so long night sweats! Add low maintenance to the list of benefits because pure cotton is odor resistant and machine washable, so you can launder the fabric every seven to ten days. Cotton bedding also maintains its shape well (that fitted sheet will actually stay fitted) and is extremely durable, so you can rest assured your investment will last.

Basket of cotton
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Egyptian Cotton vs. Regular Cotton

Egyptian Cotton and regular cotton actually come from entirely different plants. Egyptian cotton is grown along the Nile River Valley in Egypt, this cotton produces the finest longest staples and has been used for over 140 years. Because this cotton is hand picked (in contrast to saw or roller ginning), it does not put any stress on the fibers, leaving them straight and fully intact. Long-staple Egyptian cotton also comes from the Gossypium Barbadense species (like Pima), but it is stronger and softer due to the hot and dry climate of the Nile River Valley’s climate. 

Upland cotton also known as short-staple cotton or plainly “Regular cotton” makes up 90% of all cotton production worldwide. This staple variety of cotton originated in Mexico from the Gossypium Hirsutum species. The fibers are collected through a saw gin – a machine that uses a series of circular saws with fine teeth to remove the fibers from the seeds – which is hard and often results in tears.

Pima cotton, also known as extra-long staple (ELS) cotton, is grown in the U.S., Australia, Peru and a few other locations around the world and is made from the Gossypium Barbadense species. To separate the fiber from the seed, Pima cotton uses a roller gin. This method involves a rotary knife in conjunction with leather rollers that extract the fibers from the seed and is ultimately more gentle on cotton than saw ginning, which results in a stronger fabric.

Egyptian: Grown along the Nile River Valley in Egypt, this cotton produces the finest and longest staples and has been used for over 140 years. Because this cotton is hand picked (in contrast to saw or roller ginning), it does not put any stress on the fibers, leaving them straight and fully intact. Long-staple Egyptian cotton also comes from the Gossypium Barbadense species (like Pima), but it is stronger and softer due to the hot and dry climate of Nile River Valley’s climate. At 3.8 – 4.4 cm long, this staple has a texture that improves with age and use, making it the finest cotton available.

The Parachute Difference

Manufactured in Portugal by artisans who have been making world class linens for over 80 years, our Percale, Sateen and Brushed Cotton bedding upholds a long tradition of excellence and is woven using the finest long-staple Egyptian cotton (learn more about on Sateen and Percale weaves in the Parachute Fabric Guide). We believe in the benefits of using the purest fabrics, which is why our bedding is Oeko-Tex certified – made without chemicals or synthetics – and gets better with time. We’ve considered the environment, your investment and personal comfort – so go on, get between the sheets and discover the Parachute difference.