Know Your Cotton
As cotton processing has evolved, so has the quality of cotton. Finding good, quality cotton products, can be very difficult, especially due to sneaky marketing tactics. You’ll see “100% cotton” and “Egyptian Cotton” or other keywords to grab your attention, but don’t be afraid to read the fine print! We don’t want you to be fooled by keywords and flashy advertisements. We want you to truly know your cotton so that you can get only the best products!
Growing and Harvesting
Cotton quality begins to form in its plant stage. The nutrients in the soil, conditions of the region, and how the plant is cared for will affect the cotton. The most prominent cottons are: Egyptian, Sea Island, American Pima, Asiatic and Upland. Egyptian cotton is perhaps the best cotton out there due to the richness of the soil in Egypt. How the cotton is harvested and processed is also extremely crucial to the quality.
When the cotton is harvested, the fiber length is perhaps the most important factor. Fiber lengths come in short, medium, long, and extra-long staple lengths. The longer the cotton staple length, the higher quality yarn it creates. Yarn spun using shorter staple lengths have more protruding cotton fibers than the longer staple lengths. These pieces of cotton become the weakest part of the yarn. As detergent and/or chemical treatments are used, the fabric wears down starting at the twist tips. Longer staple lengths have less twist tips which makes them stronger against the deterioration. If you notice your fabric starting to “pill” (produce surface fuzz), chances are it has probably been made from short staple cotton yarn.
Combed vs. Carded
Another important factor in the cotton’s quality is how it is processed into fibers. Once the cotton is harvested and cleaned, it is either combed or carded. Combing cotton is the preferred method for producing high-quality yarn. Combing cotton removes impurities, lengthens the cotton, aligns the fibers, and creates a smooth, refined, and strong surface. Think of it as taking a “comb” or brush to your tangled hair. By carefully using that tool, you are able to smooth out your hair and keep it tidy. Combed cotton can make fabric appear thinner, but it is one way to create a strong fabric.
Carding cotton spreads the fibers into more of a web-like fashion. Like combed cotton, the impurities are removed, but the fibers come together in an unorganized bunch instead of being aligned with one another. This would be like running your fingers through your hair instead of a brush or comb. Carded cotton is better used for stuffing or filler. Since not all the fibers are aligned, it creates a harsher, more coarse texture that can wear down easily.
Finding the Best Cotton
Now that you know your cotton better, you can feel good going into stores or shopping online to find only the BEST cotton products. Remember to look for 100% long staple combed cotton. It may be more expensive than other cotton products, but you will have a product that lasts. Not only that, but it will have consistent quality.
Here at Sevenfold Home, we make our products with 100% long staple combed cotton to give you linens that will last. Our linens are designed to get softer and stay soft after multiple washes. Check out our full catalog here.