Pima cotton is a higher quality cotton than regular cotton. Materials made from this material will be softer, denser, and more durable than those made from regular cotton. Unsurprisingly, these goods are also more expensive, sometimes significantly more so. An even higher grade of cotton known as Egyptian cotton is widely considered to be one of the finest cottons in the world, and it is used primarily in luxury cotton products.
All cottons are not created alike. The quality of finished fabric depends on the length of the fibers, with longer fibers being of higher quality. Longer cotton fibers result in more durable finished products with less pilling and fraying of the fabric, and they also result in tighter, denser weaves and a softer texture.
All cottons are known for their breathability, softness, and comfort, making cotton an extremely popular textile. In the case of pima cotton, the cotton is classified as a medium to long staple, meaning that the fibers are longer than those of regular cotton. Egyptian cotton is a long staple cotton, and a proprietary product known as Supima® is an extra-long staple cotton that is supposed to be of superior quality. This product tends to be especially expensive, but some consumers feel that the quality outweighs the additional cost.
Pima cotton is widely grown in the American Southwest, where it was originally cultivated by Native Americans who probably got the crop from Peru, and it was later adopted by growers who wanted to product luxury cotton products. When the cotton is harvested, it goes through a number of processes to remove impurities and align the strands so that they can be spun into thread or yarn. The resulting spun cotton can be woven or knitted to make textiles ranging from underwear to canvas. This type of cotton is often chosen for things like sheets, intimate garments, and t-shirts, where softness is highly prized.
When choosing between pima and regular cotton, people should think about how the textile will be used. For something like curtains, using regular cotton may be just fine, as the curtains do not need to be durable to withstand frequent washings, do not need to be soft to the touch, and do not need to be especially dense. With things like sheets and towels, on the other hand, the density and soft texture of pima cotton can be important, making these textiles more comfortable to use and helping them withstand years of use.