Egyptian cotton vs Supima cotton − what's the difference and which meets your sleep needs?

I've outlined all the pros and cons of Egyptian cotton vs Supima cotton to help you find your material match

Boll & Branch Signature Hemmed Sheet Set, made from Egyptian cotton, on a bed.
(Image credit: Boll & Branch)

As H&G's resident sleep writer, I'm often asked whether Egyptian cotton or Supima cotton makes a better material for bed sheets. I give a different answer each time, depending on who's asking. These fabrics might look similar, but I can spot a few key differences between them to suit certain sorts of sleepers.

Egyptian cotton is smooth and sumptuous, the sort of thing you'd expect to find in a high-end hotel or luxury spa. If you're looking for something a little more low-maintenance, you might be better off with Supima cotton. Woven from long staples, it's highly durable and able to withstand countless cycles in the washer and dryer. 

As H&G's resident sleep writer, I've sampled some of the world's best bed sheets, including Egyptian cotton and Supima cotton sets. This article should tell you everything you need to know about these fabrics, from the difference between the two to the pros and cons of each material. I'll show you how to choose bed sheets that meet your sleep needs.

Egyptian cotton vs Supima cotton

To save you time and money, I've even selected a few of my favorite Egyptian cotton and Supima cotton sheet sets from some of the best places to buy bedding, including The White Company and The Company Store. 

What's the difference between Egyptian cotton and Supima cotton?

Soak & Sleep Supima Cotton Sheets beside White Company Egyptian Cotton sheets.

(Image credit: Soak and Sleep / The White Company)

Before we begin, it always helps to define our terms. That's especially true in the case of Egyptian cotton vs Supima cotton, since these bed sheet types look very similar from the outside.  

Egyptian cotton comes from a particular species of cotton plant, the Gossypium Barbadense, which thrives in the fertile soil of the River Nile. Whether you're shopping online or in person, look out for accreditation from the Cotton Egypt Association, the global authority for Egyptian cotton authentication. That's how you know you're getting the good stuff, rather than a cheap blend of inferior materials. 

When we talk about Supima cotton, we're really talking about fabrics made from Pima cotton and accredited by the Supima association. When you see Supima insignia on a sheet set, you know those fibers and that fabrics was sown, grown, and stitched to the highest possible standards in American farms and factories. 

Egyptian cotton pros

Egyptian Cotton sheets from Pure Parima on a bed.

(Image credit: Pure Parima)

I wrote an entire article asking the question: 'are Egyptian cotton sheets best?' The answer is 'yes', if you're looking for strong, soft sheets to keep you warm and make a beautiful bedspread. 

Egyptian cotton is made from long-staple cotton fibers, which are tightly woven into strong, supple sheets with few interlacings. If you're a cold sleeper, or you live in a cooler climate, you could do with a set of Egyptian cotton sheets: they retain heat to keep you cozy and comfortable, all night long. 

Minimal interlacings mean that Egyptian cotton sheets are less likely to pill than sheets made from shorter fibers, which tend to rub together and start to fray in your sleep. Egyptian cotton sheets are highly durable, and our expert tester, Laura, has the receipts to prove it. She bought a set of Egyptian cotton sheets almost five years ago and they feel just as soft and sumptuous as the day she got them. 

If you've made it this far through the article, the chances are that you're in the market for a set of Egyptian cotton sheets. These are a few of my favorites, from crisp cotton percale to silky cotton sateen, to suit every sort of sleeper. 

Egyptian cotton cons

Essential Egyptian Cotton Bed Linen Collection on a bed.

(Image credit: The White Company)

If you suffer from night sweats or hot flashes, or you simply tend to run a little warm, I wouldn't recommend Egyptian cotton sheets. There isn't enough airflow to keep you cool. I'd encourage you to consider other options. A set of the best linen sheets would make a great lighter layer, though it might feel a little coarse compared to Egyptian cotton. Something like the Naturalmat Organic Hemp Bed Linen Collection should feel light and airy, yet soft against your skin.

Like a lot of high-quality cottons, Egyptian cotton is a little high-maintenance. For best results, you need to wash it on a cold water cycle and hang it out to dry in the fresh air. For quick, convenient cleaning, I recommend Supima cotton. You should be able to wash your Supima cotton sheets on a warm water cycle, then throw them straight in the dryer, though you should always check the care tag before you start.

Supima cotton pros

Supima Cotton Wrinkle-Free Sateen Sheet Set on a bed.

(Image credit: The Company Store)

Contrary to popular opinion, Supima cotton isn't a particular type of cotton plant or certain style of weaving. Rather, it's pima cotton, which is inspected and accredited by the America Supima Association, or ASA.

Pima cotton tends to grow in the southern states: primarily Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas. The plant thrives in warm, dry conditions and produces extra-long staple fibers for strength, softness, and sheen. 

So, pima cotton sheets look good, and they feel good, too. If you're a hot sleeper, or you live in a warmer climate, you'll appreciate the cooling properties of pima cotton. Like all the best cooling sheets, this bedding is loosely woven and highly breathable to dissipate heat and wick moisture. 

When you're shopping for yourself, you might struggle Supima cotton sheets. There aren't that many on the market, since every set needs to be signed off by the ASA. At least, when you do manage to find a set, you know you're getting authentic American produce.

Supima cotton cons

Pembridge Supima Cotton Sheets on a bed.

(Image credit: The White Company)

There are only two things I don't like about Supima cotton: the high costs and the cleaning quirks. If you're shopping for Supima cotton sheets, you'll notice that it's one of the most expensive materials on the market. I put that down to the time and effort expended by the ASA to authenticate the cotton. Since Egyptian cotton sheets don't come cheap, either, buyers on a budget should narrow their search to the best affordable bed sheets

Onto cleaning: while Supima cotton sheets are durable, they aren't indestructible. Supima cotton should be able to withstand the wear and tear of nightly use, as well as cycles in the washer and dryer, but you should take care to avoid high heats and harsh detergents. In such conditions, Supima cotton is liable to shrink, and that's one of the biggest bedding laundry mistakes you can make. 

Which should I buy?

Giza Egyptian Cotton Sheets on a bed.

(Image credit: Pure Parima)

I'd recommend Egyptian cotton for cold sleepers looking for the best luxury bedding.  All those long fibers make soft, supple bedding that needs careful upkeep to look and feel its best. If you're a hot sleeper, and you're looking for something a little more low-maintenance, I suggest you sleep with Supima cotton. This material is breathable and durable, though it's also often pretty expensive.

Egyptian cotton vs Supima cotton FAQs

Are Egyptian cotton sheets cool?

Not particularly. Egyptian cotton sheets are tightly woven from long staples, which doesn't leave much room for air to flow through the material. If you're set on Egyptian cotton sheets, but you don't want to overheat, you could always pair your set with the best cooling comforter or the best cooling pillow.

Where can I buy Supima cotton sheets?

Authentic Supima cotton sheets are few and far between. You'd struggle to find a set at your local home retailer, or even a specialist sleep store. Luckily, Supima has compiled a list of trusted retailers that stock accredited Supima cotton sheets. We're talking Banana Republic and Tuft & Needle, as well as designer brands, such as Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, and even Target.

Final thoughts

Once you've invested in a set of the best bed sheets, whether Egyptian cotton or Supima cotton, it's important to take good care of them. It's worth learning how to wash bed sheets to keep them feeling fresh and maintain a clean sleep environment.

Don't feel that you're limited to these two materials, either. You might find that another fabric better meets your sleep needs. For example, I just finished testing some Shleep Luxury Merino Wool Jersey bedding, and I can't recommend it highly enough for hot sleepers. Just make sure to steer clear of polyester: stiff and scratchy, it's the worst bed sheet material.

Emilia Hitching
Sleep Editor

Emilia is our resident sleep writer. She spends her days tracking down the lowest prices on the best bedding and spends her nights testing it out from the comfort of her own home – it's a dream job. Her quest to learn how to sleep better has taken her all around the world, from mattress factories in Arizona to sleep retreats in Scandinavia. Before she joined Homes & Gardens, Emilia studied English at the University of Oxford. She also worked on the other side of the aisle, writing press releases for regional newspapers and crafting copy for Sky.