What is Supima cotton? The strong, supple strands that make the most breathable of bedding

This article should tell you all you need to know about Supima cotton, from where it's made to how it feels

Pembridge Supima Cotton Bed Linen Collection on a bed.
(Image credit: The White Company)

Supima cotton is the material of choice for American bedding brands. Sown, grown, stitched and sold in the USA, Supima cotton is strong yet soft, able to withstand countless cycles in the washing machine and stay silky smooth. That's what makes it such a great material for bed sheets.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that 'Supima' is a particular type of cotton plant or weaving technique, but it isn't: Supima is an American trade association that monitors the production of Pima cotton and promotes its use around the world. 

To the untrained eye, Supima cotton looks the same as Egyptian cotton, Turkish cotton, or any number of other bed sheet types. I asked sleep experts and bedding designers to explain what sets Supima cotton apart. To save you time and money, I've also rounded up a few of my favorite Supima cotton sheet sets. 

What is Supima cotton?

This article should tell you everything you need to know about Supima cotton, from where it's made to how it feels. I'll show you how to choose the best bed sheets to suit your sleep needs, with a breakdown of Supima cotton pros and cons, plus a few suggestions of alternative fabrics.

What is Supima cotton?

1000TC Supima Cotton Bed Sheet Set on a bed.

(Image credit: Soak & Sleep)

So, we've established that Supima is an American trade association that inspects and authorizes Pima cotton products, but we still haven't worked out what makes Pima cotton so special. I asked the director of Strictly Beds and Bunks, Andrew Buchan, to tell us more. 

'Pima cotton is a premium type of cotton grown primarily in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas,' explains Andrew. 'What sets Supima apart from other cottons is its extra-long fibers, which lend remarkable softness and strength, as well as beautiful color retention'. 

'Choosing Supima cotton sheets means investing in comfort and longevity,' says Andrew. 'The longer fibers create a smoother, more luxurious surface that feels amazing against your skin'. Those long fibers are also responsible for Supima cotton's lustrous sheen, since more of the thread is exposed to the light. 

According to Andrew, 'Supima cotton withstands wear and tear exceptionally well, so that your sheets stay soft and vibrant for years to come. If you're looking for the best in bedding, Supima cotton is the one to go for.' 

Strictly Beds & Bunks logo against a white background.
Andrew Buchan

Andrew is the founder and director of Strictly Beds and Bunks, a premium bed retailer that specializes in high-quality pine beds. Andrew knows a thing or two about the best bedding and agreed to lend his insights for this article. 

What are the pros of Supima cotton?

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

(Image credit: The Company Store)

Yes, most cotton sheets look and feel pretty similar, but Derek Hales can spot the difference. In 10 years as a sleep product tester, Derek has sampled dozens of sheet sets and he's found a lot to like about Supima cotton. 

For one thing, it's low-maintenance. 'Supima cotton is pill-resistant and has a great deal of durability, due to the long-staple length of the cotton fibers,' says Derek. 'Unlike other high-quality cottons, such as Egyptian, Supima cotton can be washed in warm water and tumble-dried'. 

Derek notes that Supima cotton 'is also very breathable, with high moisture-wicking abilities and low heat retention'. That's what makes it suitable for hot sleepers and warmer weather. As we head into summer, you might find that the best cooling sheets are made from Supima cotton. 

Then, there's the authenticity. 'Supima cotton is certified and inspected by the ASA (America Supima Association), which ensures 100% genuine Supima cotton products,' says Derek. Whenever you see that Supima sign on a care tag or under a product listing, you can trust that you're getting authentic American produce. 

Headshot of Derek Hales.
Derek Hales

Derek is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of NapLab.com, the sleep-testing platform. Derek has worked as a sleep product tester for the last 10 years: in that time, he's sampled hundreds of sheet sets.

If you've made it this far through the article, the chances are that you're shopping for a set of Supima cotton sheets. And you'd be right to do so. So these are a few of my favorites from big-name brands, such as The Company Store and The White Company.

What are the cons of Supima cotton?

Pembridge Supima Cotton Bed Linen Collection on a bed.

(Image credit: The White Company)

There's a lot to like about Supima cotton. When I asked Derek to pinpoint what he disliked about this miracle material, he could only come up with two things: the high costs and the potential for shrinkage. 

Derek warns that 'Supima cotton can shrink if exposed to high heat, so make sure to read labels carefully when washing or drying the cotton'. Washing your sheets on too warm a cycle is one of the biggest bedding laundry mistakes you can make, along with using harsh detergents that could alter the texture of your Supima cotton. 

Then, there's the cost to consider. Supima cotton is one of the most expensive bed sheet materials. Derek puts that down to the 'vetting and certification process from the ASA (American Supima Association): it can be up to three times more expensive than other types of cotton'. If you're buying on a budget, you might be better off with a set of the best affordable bed sheets.

What are some alternatives to Supima cotton?

Cozy Earth Bamboo Duvet Cover on a bed.

(Image credit: Cozy Earth)

I'm a big fan of Supima cotton, but I acknowledge it's not for everyone. I asked bedding designer Jimmy MacDonald to identify some alternative materials to suit other sleepers. 

According to Jimmy, 'US-grown long-staple cotton is the best alternative to Supima, as the sourcing, provenance and quality can all be verified by reputable sources, such as the USDA'. That isn't the case with Egyptian cotton, says Jimmy, where 'there's no qualification or generally accepted definition (is it cotton grown in Egypt? Is it cotton of specific staple length, grown from a particular seed?)'. Unfortunately, there's 'no reliable indicator of quality or provenance'. 

Headshot of Jimmy MacDonald.
Jimmy MacDonald

Jimmy is the co-founder of Authenticity50, the premium bedding brand that champions American-made bed sheets, pillows, comforters, and bath towels.

If you aren't overly keen on cotton, there are plenty of other materials to consider. I rate bamboo bedding for hot sleepers: it's naturally moisture-wicking and thermo-regulating, not to mention hypoallergenic to soothe sensitive skin. Linen has a little more texture, while silk feels even softer against your skin.

Supima cotton FAQs

Is Supima cotton good?

I think so, yes: but let's break down what we mean by 'good'. The best bed sheets should feel soft, keep cool, wash well, and lie beautifully on the bed. Supima cotton excels in each area. Those long, strong cotton fibers create soft, supple threads that feel silky smooth in a sateen weave. Stronger yarns, such as Supima, allow for finer weaves, which boost breathability: ideal for hot sleepers. To top it all off, Supima cotton is easy to clean: you can throw your sheets in the washing machine on a warm water cycle and pop them in the dryer without worrying about wrinkles. 

Does Supima cotton wrinkle?

No. Thanks to those long, strong fibers, Supima cotton is wrinkle-resistant. You could lay them on your bed fresh out of the dryer and they should look as good as new.

Final thoughts

Once you've invested in a set of the best bed sheets, Supima or otherwise, it's important to take good care of them. It's worth learning how to wash bed sheets for hygienic sleep. 

Supima cotton gets expensive. If you're looking to save a little money on a sheet set, I recommend shopping the bedding sales. I've put all the deepest discounts in one place to save you time and money. 

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.