What’s the Difference Between Egyptian Cotton and Cotton?

When it comes to your bed sheets or the filling of your pillows, you ideally want them to be comfortable. After all, your bed is supposed to be a place of ultimate comfort and rest after a long, tiring day.

Unfortunately, most people don’t pay much attention to the quality and fabric of their bedding. As a result, many don’t receive the comfort they deserve despite spending a lot of money.

Cotton creates bedding that offers the most comfortable sleeping experience. But have you ever pondered the type of cotton you should purchase? Did you know that there are varieties of cotton?

This ultimate guide on Egyptian cotton vs. cotton will educate you on the best kind of cotton to choose for your bedding needs, so let’s get started on the basics.

What Is Egyptian Cotton?

Egyptian cotton, also known as Giza cotton, is a type of cotton made from the cotton yarns that are extracted from the plants grown and cultivated in (you guessed it) Egypt. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s only grown in Egypt. 

The cotton breed did originate in Egypt, hence the name Egyptian cotton. Now, however, it’s grown in many different parts of the world, including India, China, Sudan, the USA and Russia. 

As much as 47 percent of total Egyptian cotton produced comes from Egypt.

Egyptian cotton is grown in a distinct climate that catalyzes excellent quality and long cotton yarns. The fabric made from these cotton yarns is soft and highly durable, which is why they’re used to make high-quality bedding and apparel.

In addition to unique climate conditions, the high standards employed to create Egyptian cotton are perhaps why it’s regarded as the best quality cotton. This may also be the reason why Egyptian cotton comprises only a small part of the world’s total cotton production.

What Defines the Quality of Cotton?

Four major indicators define a cotton type’s quality: length, strength, fineness, and structure. Generally, the more intense these qualities, the better the quality of the fabric. These characteristics also define the appearance of the fabric.

There are also subdivisions of these characteristics that create the subtle differences in cotton quality. However, those are largely driven by the atmospheric condition of the place where the cotton is grown.

Another simple way to determine the quality of the cotton used in your bedding is to look for the thread or yarn count of the fabric. Cotton bedding or pillows with a thread count of more than 200-400 are considered decent; a yarn count of over 600 means the cotton is of very high quality.

Egyptian Cotton Vs. Cotton

It’s a common belief that the only thing that determines a cotton’s quality is the yarn or thread count of the fabric. However, the type of cotton makes a huge difference as it influences the fabric’s feel, look, flexibility, and draping, especially in terms of bedding.

Here’s a detailed Egyptian cotton vs regular cotton comparison across four main categories :


Egyptian cotton is much more durable than regular cotton since it has a higher thread count than regular cotton. This simply means that Egyptian cotton sheets will last longer and won’t lose their strength and luster easily.

Egyptian cotton sheets cost more than regular cotton sheets, but they don’t need frequent replacing like regular cotton sheets do. This offsets the difference in their prices to a great extent.

Sleep Quality

Your ultimate motive of buying a bedsheet or pillow is a good night’s rest. The Egyptian cotton sheets are extremely smooth and tender on your skin, which provides great comfort. The fabric also breathes better than sheets of other cotton. This ensures that you feel cool and fresh while sleeping.

Fabric Dyeing

A sheet’s color has a strong effect on how well it will sell. Customers prefer certain colors over others, or maybe they want sheets that specifically compliment their room decor color.

While regular cotton sheets have more vibrant colors, they eventually wear out and lose their luster.  The colors begin to fade, making them look much older than they actually are. On the other hand, Egyptian cotton sheets hold color better.

However, both these cotton sheet types are more or less similar as far as dying is concerned. If at all there are any differences, it’s mainly because of the quality of yarn and thread count.

Wash Care

Both Egyptian and regular cotton sheets can be washed and dried by hand or/and machine. 

The differences are obvious only after you’ve washed the sheets. Regular cotton sheets look more wrinkled than Egyptian ones. It’s harder for the former to retain a crisp look on the bed.

Are you also wondering why these differences occur despite them both being of the same plant breed? The answer lies in the climate conditions and the methods used to pick the cotton.

Egyptian cotton is delicately handpicked by professional and experienced farmers, whereas regular cotton is picked by machines. Handpicked cotton fibers don’t go through splicing or any other form of duress, for that matter. This is why Egyptian cotton has better longevity and can withstand regular washing.

What Makes Egyptian Cotton So Special?

The following three Egyptian cotton features make it better than most other cotton types:

Greater Yarn Length

Egyptian cotton’s greater yarn length makes the fabric highly durable and fine. Some of these cotton sheets have a yarn count of over 1000.

Excellent Absorbency

Egyptian cotton sheets can absorb as much as 20 percent of their weight’s moisture without actually feeling moist or wet. This comes in handy when you want bed linens to soak sweat.


Egyptian cotton is harvested and picked by hand, ensuring that the cotton fiber remains fine and doesn’t intertwine.

Bottom Line

Purchasing high-quality bed linens that provide great comfort and feel is a wonderful luxury to treat yourself to. Decide what you need in terms of your bed linen, skim through the points mentioned above and pick the right cotton type for your needs. 

That said, Egyptian cotton excels on every front: durability, sleep quality and maintenance required. The market is filled with counterfeit products made from fake Egyptian cotton, so you must know how to identify authentic Egyptian cotton and differentiate it from other cotton types, including the fake ones.


What’s the ideal thread count for Egyptian cotton?

A thread count of between 400 and 700 is considered good for Egyptian cotton sheets. However, Egyptian cotton also has much greater thread counts of 1000 and beyond. Such numbers often indicate richer and finer quality cotton.

How long do Egyptian cotton sheets last?

An Egyptian cotton sheet can last for around 10 to 12 years, depending on usage and wash care. And a cotton sheet with a thread count of 1000 and above can last for a much longer time.

Does Egyptian cotton shrink when washed?

All cotton fibers, irrespective of their cotton type, shrink when washed. This is because cotton manufacturing involves stretching the cotton fibers as they’re spun into a thread. So when the fabric is washed, the cotton fibers return to their original size causing the fabric to shrink.

Is it ok to tumble dry Egyptian cotton?

You can tumble dry Egyptian cotton on a low setting. However, the fabric will last longer if you hang it out to dry.

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