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November 20, 2017

What is Egyptian Cotton?

How to know if you're buying 100% authentic Egyptian Cotton

If you’ve ever wondered what Egyptian cotton is and whether it’s just a marketing ploy, here is a simple guide. As the name suggests, Egyptian Cotton is the name given to cotton grown in Egypt. The soil along the Nile’s river banks is particularly fertile and nutrient rich and when you pair that with the heavy rain, sunshine and humid climate, it makes for the perfect cotton-growing environment. While there are a few varieties of cotton grown in Egypt, the best by far is the Gossypium Barbadense variety as it’s the only one that produces extra-long staple cotton fibres.

Does staple length matter in Egyptian cotton?

Cotton plants produce "bolls" which contain approximately 250,000 individual cotton fibres each. The length of these fibres is called the "staple". The longer the staple, the fewer splices are needed to create continuous fibre which once spun results in a finer, stronger and softer cotton yarn that when woven enables a higher thread count per square inch. This means the weave is tighter and more durable, and the fabric is breathable and inherently soft - perfect for comfortable and luxurious bed sheets.

Does staple length matter in Egyptian cotton?

Cotton plants produce “bolls” which contain approximately 250,000 individual cotton fibres each. The length of these fibres is called the “staple”. The longer the staple, the fewer splices are needed to create continuous fibre which once spun results in a finer, stronger and softer cotton yarn that when woven enables a higher thread count per square inch. This means the weave is tighter and more durable, and the fabric is breathable and inherently soft — perfect for comfortable and luxurious bed sheets.

What makes Egyptian Cotton so special?

The most important factor in the quality of Egyptian Cottonis the way it’s grown and processed. Unlike most other cottons around the world, Egyptian cotton is grown without the use of harsh pesticides and chemical fertilisers. Instead, the cotton bolls are harvested by hand and a simple gin roller covered in natural leather is used to separate the seeds from the fibres which both protects the fibres and helps to avoid contamination by machinery. Secondly, the extra-long staple fibres are stronger than other staples which make them more resistant to stress, so fabric is less prone to shedding and pilling - a common problem with short staples - and grow naturally softer with each wash.

How to choose genuine Egyptian Cotton sheets

Like all high-end products, Egyptian Cotton is prone to imitation. Many brands try to advertise that they’re using Egyptian but it is often less than a 1% Egyptian cotton blended with low quality cotton. In fact, when the Cotton Egypt Association began pulling home textiles labelled “Egyptian cotton” from retail shelves and testing for validity, they found that 90% of “Egyptian cotton” products didn’t contain a wisp of the fibre!


To avoid disappointment check that the product is advertised as 100% extra-long staple Egyptian cotton. Most importantly, look for official Gold Seal Certification like the one below. Promoted by the Cotton Egypt Association, this is part of a new DNA-based authentication program designed to ensure that products labelled as Egyptian cotton are built 100% with these very special fibres and only a small number of manufacturers around the world have this certification.

Our certified range of Egyptian Cotton bed sheets

Now you know more about Egyptian cotton why not experience the quality for yourself? IYLA bed linen is manufactured from 100% extra-long staple Egyptian cotton. We are also OEKO-TEX® certified which means no harmful chemicals are added to the manufacturing process, allowing you to experience these fabrics in their purest form.