Cotton is a ubiquitous term. But just like your favourite food, not all cotton is grown the same.
Look at two pieces of cotton fabric side by side, and no difference will be clear, but within your bedding, towel or t-shirt, cotton fibres of varying lengths exist. The length of these fibres, or ‘staples’ as they’re known in the trade, has a huge impact on how your cotton feels and performs.
So what is short staple cotton, how does it compare to long staple cotton, and why should it be avoided?
What is short staple cotton?
Using short staple cotton exposes fibre ends on the surface of the fabric, producing bedding (or other cotton products) that feels rough to the tough, is susceptible to bobbling, and which will degrade over time. The characteristics of short staple cotton make it perfectly suitable for use in some products, but not those that you plan to spend a third of your life in contact with.
What is long staple cotton?
In contrast to short staple cotton, long staple cotton creates a fabric with less exposed fibre ends and stronger threads, creating bedding that is soft, smooth, and durable. Everything that you’d want in your new favourite luxury bedding.
Historically, Egyptian cotton was the gold standard in the bedding world, thanks to Egypt’s climatic conditions which helped to produce extra-long-staple cotton naturally. Nowadays, with modern farming techniques, long staple cotton can be produced in many other cotton growing countries.
Why cotton quality is not about thread count
You’ve heard the old adage that quality is more important than quantity? Well the same applies to cotton bedding (or any other cotton fabric for that matter) and staple lengths. Just like a good meal, a cotton material is only good as the quality of its ingredients.
Thread count has been given hugely overstated importance in the world of bedding, due to its ease of recognition and comparability. But high thread counts can be hugely misleading indicators of quality.
It’s much better to have bedding made from high quality long staple cotton fibres in a lesser thread count (above a minimum level of 2-300) than short staple cotton woven into a high thread count sheet.
Aside from staple length, the single biggest factor affecting how your bedding looks and feels is the weave used – Sateen bedding feel remarkably different.
Long staple cotton versus short staple cotton
So now we're clear on the difference between long and short-staple cotton, let’s look closer at the pros and cons of each.
Why do people choose short staple cotton?
Primarily due to its lower price. Short staple cotton is quicker and cheaper to grow, process, and weave than long staple cotton, meaning that cotton products made from short staple cotton can be sold at a cheaper price. But in this case, quality tumps price in the long run.
Cons of short staple cotton
There’s no getting around it, short staple cotton is lower quality cotton. There’s no cutting corners when it comes to making luxuriously soft bedding, and using sub-standard raw materials just doesn’t cut it.
Pros of long staple cotton
It’s all about the quality. As staple length increases, cotton becomes softer, smoother, stronger, and more durable. Basically, everything you want and need in high-quality cotton sheets.
At Bedfolk, we only use the good stuff. We’re not cheap, and we don’t intend to be, because high quality cotton comes at a cost. Our mill enforces the most rigorous of standards, making sure that only the finest quality threads make it into our cotton bedding, so you can rest easy knowing that you’re sleeping in the best.