[Comprehensive Guide] What Is Pima Cotton Fabric? Update 07/2022

On hot summer nights, you could find yourself tossing and turning on sheets that are itchy and tight rather than soft and airy. If you have trouble sleeping, consider investing in ultra-luxurious Pima cotton bedding. Of course, if you’ve never heard of this one-of-a-kind, high-end fabric, you’re undoubtedly wondering what Pima cotton fabric is.
Pima cotton is created from a specific type of cotton plant with extra-long staples. These longer staples twist into silky, robust yarns, resulting in a luxuriously soft fabric. Pima fabric is commonly used in bed linens, sleepwear, and apparel.
In this article, you will learn about the origins of Pima cotton. You’ll also learn what distinguishes it from other types of cotton. Finally, you’ll learn about the most common applications for this high-end material!

What is Pima Cotton Fabric?

What is Pima Cotton Fabric

Pima cotton is produced by a unique cotton plant with extra-long staples (fibers) in its boll. The long staples produce fine, strong yarns that give the cloth a delightfully soft feel. This sort of plant accounts for less than 5% of all cotton grown worldwide each year!
The majority of cotton farmed throughout the world originates from a hardier variety of the Gossypium hirsutum cotton plant. This includes Upland cotton, which is used in the majority of t-shirts and bedding on the market today.
Pima cotton, on the other hand, comes from a different plant species called Gossypium barbadense. This plant thrives in hot, tropical climates and necessitates careful attention and hand-picking.
While this species grew naturally in a few regions of the world, such as South America, it gained widespread fame after being transported to the West Indies by English colonists. Long-staple cotton’s popularity in the Western world skyrocketed as a result of this.
Regrettably, this prosperous period in cotton history was made possible by the colonists’ importation of African slaves to tend and harvest the cotton. This resulted in a very dark chapter in Barbados’ history. Cotton production did not survive long since sugar cane cultivation swiftly outperformed cotton as a moneymaker in the West Indies.
Where did Pima cotton originate? Pima cotton, like numerous other types of premium cotton, is derived from the same G. barbadense plant. It does, however, acquire its unusual name from a more recent chapter in history!
The United States had an exceptional cotton production in the early 1900s that matched any other country on the planet. The government wanted to improve its position in the luxury cotton market, so they looked into Egyptian cotton to determine what set it apart. A little amount of G. barbadense made its way to the United States with the help of Egypt.
This sort of cotton got its name from the nearby Pima Indians who assisted the government in farming the new species of cotton.

Where is Pima Cotton Grown?

 

100 pima cotton

While “Pima” cotton originated in the southern United States, the majority of it is now produced in China and India. Pima cotton thrives in hotter climates. It can be found in parts of the Southwest United States, Peru, China, and India.
Why does Pima cotton, which is a variety of G. barbadense that was grown and developed in the United States, now grow all over the world? Of course, since it sells well! The name has evolved to imply something to customers, much like Egyptian cotton.
Unfortunately, this implies that many items claiming to be Pima or Egyptian cotton aren’t even close to actual G. barbadense standards. You may learn more about this later in this post, but one important thing to remember about Pima cotton is that you must verify where the cotton comes from in order to be sure you’re getting the real thing!

How is Pima Cotton Produced?

How is Pima Cotton Produced

Pima cotton production differs in that it necessitates hand-picking for the finest results. Most commercial cotton farmers utilize machinery to pull the fluffy cotton ball free from the fibers and then filter off the cotton seeds. For the finest results, however, the delicate G. barbadense plants require a more hands-on approach.
One of the reasons why so little G. barbadense is grown worldwide and why Pima cotton remains a luxury item is because of the delicate nature of the process!
Apart from handpicking, the majority of the production process resembles that of any other sort of cotton.
The cotton balls are first bundled into bales, which are then transported to a special area of the factory known as the opening room. Machines take over at this point! Cotton bolls are strewn about by manufacturing equipment as they undo the bundles.
The bolls are then prepared for carding by a mixing machine, which untangles the fibers and organizes them into roughly parallel clusters called tows.
A combing machine transforms the tows into smooth, silky cotton ropes devoid of burrs, bugs, and other nasties!
These slack ropes are used to convey huge bobbins to other production machines. The ropes will be twisted into skeins, or threads, by the final round of machines. These thin, fragile threads will next be woven into fabric at a weaving plant!
Pima cotton is commonly found in a plain weave with a basic over-under thread pattern. Because of their silkier texture, percale and satin weave are also popular forms of Pima cotton bedding.

Key Pima Cotton Properties

Pima cotton’s extra-long fibers provide it special qualities that normal cotton lacks. It’s most recognized for its wonderful softness, but it’s also stronger and more durable than regular cotton! Of course, like with most rare, high-end products, it comes at a hefty price.

Breathable

DWR Luxurious Goose Feathers Down Comforter King, Ultra-Soft Pima Cotton, Fluffy All Season Warmth, 750 Fill-Power Hotel Bedding, Goose Down Comforter Duvet Insert with Ties(106x90 Inches, White)

Cotton is one of the world’s most breathable textiles. Its breezy breathability is due to a combination of elements.
Cotton fibers, for starters, have a corkscrew-like structure. This prevents the small strands within a thread from clumping together tightly. Instead, there is a lot of open space between the threads, which allows air to flow through!
Cotton has good absorbing characteristics as well. Cotton will quickly absorb sweat and remove it from your skin if you are hot and sweaty. This makes it easy for your skin to cool down.
Cotton can be made more or less breathable depending on the weave. A fabric with greater space between the threads is more breathable, while a denser weave makes cotton feel softer.

Softness

Lacoste Men's Short Sleeve V-Neck Pima Cotton Jersey T-Shirt,White,Large

The extraordinarily soft texture of Pima cotton is its most distinguishing feature. The length of the cotton staples generated by the unique G. barbadense cotton plant is responsible for the softness.
Cotton bolls may appear fluffy and adorable, but they can contain up to 250,000 fibers! The length of the fibers in Pima cotton is the main distinction. Each fiber in the fluffy snowball-like cotton boll must measure at least one and three-eighths of an inch to as much as two inches to be classified as extra-long-staple cotton.
Regular cotton staples, on the other hand, are only one and one-eighth of an inch long at most. If this seems insignificant, you’ve never felt the difference between normal cotton and Pima cotton! Longer fibers produce fabric with significantly more softness and strength.

Strength

Pima cotton yarns also have a substantially higher tensile strength thanks to the extra-long strands! Another well-known property of Pima cotton is its tensile strength. Its long, fine fibers produce yarns that do not easily rip or tear.
The mechanics of this are simple to comprehend. Each tiny fiber barely twists a few times before springing off of the thread when short fibers are twisted into yarn. Long fibers can spin around and around each other several times when twisted together, resulting in a considerably stronger yarn!

Durability

Cotton has a long lifespan in general, but Pima cotton has a lifespan of 50 percent longer than conventional short-staple cotton! It resists fraying and tearing thanks to its fine, robust fibers. Furthermore, its natural fibers are unaffected by repeated washing.
Pima cotton is also resistant to pilling, which helps fabric last longer. Many more microscopic threads are poised to break out from the fabric and gather up as pills on top of the cloth in short-staple cotton. The lengthy fibers of Pima cotton do not break or pill nearly as quickly as those of other cottons.

Wrinkle-Resistant

The lengthy threads of Pima cotton make it wrinkle-resistant compared to normal cotton. Cotton wrinkles as the hydrogen bonds in the fiber react with water, while Pima cotton has a softer, smoother surface that wrinkles less. It will also soften over time without losing its strength, and after multiple washing, it will wrinkle less.
The good news is that if you want to remove all wrinkles from your Pima cotton, you can safely iron it!

Easy Care

You may safely wash and dry your Pima cotton clothing, towels, and bedding in your washing machine and dryer. This fabric is incredibly strong, despite its delicate origins and gentle touch.
Pima cotton can be washed in either cool or warm water without shrinking, pilling, or fading. You can also use the dyer, albeit the highest heat setting should be avoided.
When care for Pima cotton, the only thing you should avoid is washing it in hot water. Cotton absorbs water so readily that it might shrink when washed in hot water.

Expensive

Pima cotton is usually twice as expensive as conventional short-staple cotton. Because Pima cotton is such a rare product, it can command a high price, just like any other luxury goods.
You should expect to pay anywhere between $100 and $200 for a set of Pima cotton bed sheets. To put this into perspective, an average set of 100 percent cotton sheets can be found for around $50, depending on the brand!
Now, not every product claiming to contain Pima cotton actually contains it. It’s almost certainly a deception if you encounter sheets or garments at a low price that claim to be made of Pima cotton. In your search for high-quality cloth, this is an important factor to consider.

Pima Cotton Vs Organic Cotton

Although not all organic cotton is Pima cotton, Pima cotton can be. Isn’t that a little perplexing?
The term “organic” refers to a growing method that avoids the use of harmful pesticides and chemicals. Organic cottons come in a variety of varieties, including organic Egyptian cotton, organic upland cotton, and organic Pima cotton.
Organic farming is far better for the environment and, eventually, for you, the consumer! However, this method is more expensive. As a result, organic cotton accounts for less than 1% of all cotton farmed worldwide!
Pesticides are not permitted in organic farming, thus farmers must weed by hand. They must also adopt crop rotation practices to prevent anything in the soil from hurting the cotton in the long run. Growing cotton organically benefits the environment, yet also has a substantial financial impact on cotton producers.

What is the Difference Between Pima and Egyptian Cotton?

Mayfair Linen 800 Thread Count 100% Egyptian Cotton Sheets, Ivory Queen Sheets Set, Long Staple Cotton, Sateen Weave for Soft and Silky Feel, Fits Mattress Upto 18'' DEEP Pocket

The G. barbadense plant produces both Pima and Egyptian cotton, however Egyptian cotton is only farmed in Egypt. Because it thrives in such a hot region, Egyptian cotton has a longer growing season. Both of these types of fabric are rare premium commodities with extra-long staples and a smooth touch.
There are numerous debates about which variety of cotton is the softest, best, and rarest. Egyptian cotton manufacturers rightly assert that their product is the greatest, whereas Pima cotton manufacturers contend that their product is the best!
Egyptian cotton, on the other hand, is frequently more expensive than Pima cotton. Check read my essay on the distinctions between Pima and Egyptian cotton for additional information.

Pima vs Supima Cotton

Amazon Brand - Buttoned Down Men's Tailored Fit Spread Collar Solid Non-Iron Dress Shirt Purple 15.5' Neck 31' Sleeve

Supima cotton is a rare and expensive sub-category of Pima cotton. “Superior Pima” is the meaning of the name. Only a few locations of the United States may cultivate this sort of cotton, which is patented and tightly controlled.
Supima is a verified, official type of Pima cotton that was created to combat the deluge of fake Pima cotton on the market. Pima cotton production is already limited, as you are aware. Supima cotton accounts for less than 1% of all cotton farmed in the planet!
The main disadvantage of Supima cotton is that it is more expensive than Pima cotton. Learn more about the differences between Pima and Supima cotton in my article Pima vs Supima Cotton.

Pima Cotton Vs Combed Cotton

Pima cotton is a sort of combed cotton since it is virtually always combed during the manufacturing process. It is, nevertheless, generally preferable to conventional combed cotton.
Cotton fibers are combed during the production process to make them smooth and less likely to break loose and pill. As a result, 100% combed cotton will feel softer and more pleasant than uncombed cotton.
Of course, the extra-long staples of Pima cotton comb out much finer and sleeker than the short staples of normal Upland cotton. This indicates that when combed Upland cotton and combed Pima cotton are compared, Pima cotton will always win!

Why is Pima Cotton Better?

Pima cotton competes with Egyptian and Supima cotton for the title of world’s highest-quality, most luscious cotton. It has a significantly softer texture than conventional short-staple cotton, as well as increased strength and durability. It also employs more hands-on growth techniques that are less harmful to the environment than conventional cotton cultivation.
If you slept on Pima cotton bedsheets one night and then slept on short-staple cotton bedsheets the next night, you’d notice that the Pima cotton feels silkier, smoother, and softer! Regular cotton bedding has a crisp, pleasant feel to it, but it lacks velvety softness.
But there’s a catch: today, a lot of people claim to sell Pima cotton. Are you getting what you believe you’re paying for, though?
According to recent investigations, about 90% of allegedly Egyptian or Pima cotton products include a blend of fibers or no luxury fibers at all!
How do you figure out which is which? The pricing, for starters, provides the first hint. Don’t get caught up in the bargain pricing trap! Because of its superior quality, Pima cotton is more expensive.
The second, and more time-consuming, approach is to look for fabric certifications. Cotton growers that produce the rare G. barbadense species can obtain certification. Reputable businesses and merchants will tout this certification, emphasizing how pure the Pima cotton in their products is!
Finally, you can put the touch test to the test! You can always compare an allegedly Pima cotton item to a typical cotton item in the store to determine if it feels softer!

Luxury bedding, absorbent towels, ultra-soft clothes, and comfy sleepwear are all made from pima cotton. Take a look at these items to get a sense of where Pima cotton can be found.

Clothes

Clothing produced from Pima cotton is sold by well-known brands like Land’s End and L.L. Bean. Many specialist companies exist that specialize in marketing Peruvian Pima cotton products, for example. These vendors will tout their certifications as proof of the cotton’s purity in their products.
T-shirts and sundresses made of Pima cotton will feel light and soft against your skin!
100% Organic Peruvian Pima Cotton Deep Scoop Neck Tee

TRUTH ALONE Women's Deep Scoop Neck Tee, 100% Organic Peruvian Pima Cotton

This silky and clinging scoop-necked t-shirt has an attractive design. It is a highly lightweight jersey knit and comes in five rich colors ranging from dark blue to peach. Most importantly, the cotton is 100 percent Peruvian Pima cotton, which means the fabric will be extremely soft!
This cloth was acquired responsibly and will make you feel wonderful on the inside and out! Plus, the long-lasting fabric will withstand multiple washes, allowing you to wear the tee as much as you want!

Sheets

One of the most common uses of Pima cotton is in sheets and bedding. Cotton sheets are probably your favorite because of its crisp breathability, but Pima cotton also has a smooth texture.
100% Pima Cotton Queen Bed Sheet Set from Peru

Peru Pima Cotton Breathable/Deep Pocket | 415 Thread Count | Solid 4-Piece Bed Sheet Set (1 Flat, 1 Fitted Sheet, 2 Pillow Covers) | White | Cotton Sheets for Queen Size Bed

These sheets have the softness and suppleness of a premium hotel, as well as various certifications for authenticity. This sheet set is available in fourteen various styles, ranging from a jewel-toned burgundy to adorable stripes! To obtain the best fit for your bed, you can choose from five different sizing options.
Plus, these sheets have a 415 thread count and a percale weave made of ultra-fine Peruvian Pima cotton! After making this purchase, you might never want to leave your bed again!

Sleepwear

You might want to sleep in Pima cotton once you’ve discovered how much you enjoy it! Because of its soft, cuddly feel, Pima cotton sleepwear is available in a wide range of sizes.
Pajama Set for Women

jijamas Incredibly Soft Pima Cotton Women's Pajamas Set - The Soul Mate - Heather Grey L

This comfy loungewear set, made of 100 percent Pima cotton, will make it difficult to get out of bed in the morning! A wide-necked, long-sleeved blouse and comfortable elastic-waisted bottoms are included in this combination.
There are no scratchy add-ons like labels, lace, or buttons in awkward areas with this high-quality brand!
These pajamas may provide you with the sweetest night’s sleep of your life, but they come at a premium price! However, the merchants claim that their product is made entirely of Peruvian Pima cotton, which justifies the price.

Towels

Pima cotton towels are also popular because of their soft, nonabrasive texture and high absorbency. Pima cotton towels may feel like velvety velvet when you touch them!
Pinzon Bath Towel Set (6 Pieces)

Amazon Brand – Pinzon 6 Piece Pima Cotton Bath Towel Set - Royal Blue

Two bath towels, two hand towels, and two washcloths in your choice of navy blue or spa blue are included in this six-piece set. These towels have a luxurious weave with 1.5 million loops in each towel, in addition to being made entirely of 100% American-grown Pima cotton!
You may also judge the quality of a towel by its weight, and these bath towels have a whopping 580 GSM (grams per square meter)! This dense wear will provide additional absorbency and the softness of a high thread count.

Conclusion

Extra-long staples in Pima cotton produce fine, strong threads. Fabric made with these threads is extremely soft. Pima cotton and Egyptian cotton are both luxurious fabrics that come from the same type of cotton plant.
Pima cotton is used to manufacture a variety of items, including bedsheets, sleepwear, and bath towels. Despite the fact that these items are about double the price of conventional cotton items, they have a considerably softer touch!
Have you tried Pima cotton sheets before? What did you think of it? Please let us know in the comments section below!

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