Supima Cotton Vs. Egyptian Cotton

Updated July 19, 2017

Cotton has been the fabric of our lives for centuries. Egyptian cotton is sometimes known for being the luxury cotton within our culture while other cottons can be just as, if not better, in quality. Being an educated consumer on what the differences are between each type is how one can get the best product.


The name "supima" is a shortened abbreviation for Superior Pima, and a registered trademark of Supima ( It is a name to help promote the textile quality and use of 100 per cent American pima cotton.

Pima cotton is a type of extra-long staple or ELS cotton. Cotton is deemed ELS if it is 3/8 inches or longer within the United States and is a way of defining a premium cotton.

Egyptian cotton is any cotton grown within the country of Egypt.


Egyptian cotton has some of the oldest history. It was harvested near the Nile and worn as clothes as late as 5000 B.C. and possibly as early as 12,000 B.C., although that is speculative. Cotton fibres were being harvested in what is known today as Pakistan, in 3000 B.C. It travelled from the Arabs to Europe sometime around 800 A.D. Cotton grows best in hot climates, and is able to be cultivated from one country to the next, granted it is within a range of temperatures.

Grown mainly in the United States, pima cotton came to be, sometime around the 1700s. It was crossbred with Egyptian cotton to get its ELS status. Originally called American-Egyptian cotton, the name was changed to honour the Pima Indians in the 1900s with the support from U.S. growers.


Once cotton is harvested, it has a variety of uses. It is spun into cloth for clothing, sheets, bath towels, tents or used in fine papers. The seeds are used to feed livestock, while another portion of the seeds are crushed to provide cooking oil or shortening.


Growing low to mid height, cotton is a perennial shrub. It produces a white boll that contains the fibres for cotton, and is what is harvested from the plant. It grows in hot, sunny climates.


When choosing between two kinds of cottons such as Egyptian and Supima, one should make sure of a few things. Make sure it is 100 per cent. If it doesn't state this, it can mean that there is inferior cotton added, no matter what the type. Keep the thread count in mind, for extremely fine cotton can have more fibres spun into its cloth, which makes a higher thread count. This, in turn, creates more softness.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Abbey is a freelance writer from Portland, OR. She has been writing since 2008 focusing on architecture, design and culture. Receiving her college degree in architecture, Abbey has contributed to the "Architect's Newspaper West Edition" and other art/architecture publications.