Grade of Fibre and Mixing
Within each type of cotton species, such as Egyptian Cotton or Supima Cotton (but not Giza 45), there are different grades of quality. The grading of the fibre considers many attributes.
This is important because, if the cotton is to be finished in bright white, it will need more chemical enhancements, thereby damaging the natural strength properties of the original fibre. This will cause the fabric to become more unstable and not wear as well.
Having to remove a great deal of debris from the cotton causes more breakages in the fibres, giving the spun yarn weak spots and causing an undesirable, uneven feel in a finished fabric.
The maturity will help determine the strength and fineness of a fibre. The finer and more mature a cotton plant is, the higher it will be graded. This is one reason Giza 45 is the best cotton in the world. It is hand selected and harvested ensuring that only cotton balls of the right maturity are carefully chosen.
As there are currently no regulating standards, it is often unclear to customers that there are different grades within each type of cotton. A deceptive tactic that some manufacturers use to cut costs is to mix different types and grades of cotton and then still label it “Egyptian cotton”. While there may be Egyptian cotton within the blend, but it may only be as little 1 - 5%, and the remaining percentage could be American Upland or something far more inferior. There are a few ways to get an indication on the quality. Look for:
- Pure or 100% Egyptian cotton. This helps to ensure there has been no mixing, but won’t help determine the gradeof the fabric.
- Country of Manufacture. Often Chinese, Pakistan, Indian and Sri Lankan cottons are blends or mixes using low grade cotton.
- Price. Not always a trustworthy indicator, but if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. For instance, a product touted as 1000 Thread count, that is under $200.00 per sheet, may be questionable.