April 05, 2024 7 min read

There are plenty of luxurious, high-quality materials to choose from when it comes to your bedding, but the Pima cotton vs organic cotton debate is one that’s still going strong. While some of the characteristics of these cotton fabrics are similar, there are also some key differences that every consumer should be aware of. When you’re investing in new sheets and other products, being able to make informed consumer choices is the best way to ensure that you’re purchasing the highest quality textile possible. This guide will cover what you need to know about Pima cotton and organic cotton, and the key differences between the two.

Understanding Pima Cotton

What is Pima cotton, and what are Pima cotton sheets? Let’s go over the definition of this material and its many characteristics and benefits.

Definition and Origins of Pima Cotton

Pima cotton is made from a special, premium cotton variety called Pima cotton, which is also called extra long staple cotton, or ELS cotton. It features longer fibers when compared to more conventional cotton options. The plant is called the Gossypium barbadense cotton plant, which is commonly grown in tropical climates. It produces beautiful, bright yellow flowers which is where the long, soft cotton fibers come from. Thanks to its unique characteristics, Pima cotton bedding is extremely soft, smooth, and durable. If you’re looking for quality material with a comfortable feel and unending resilience, Pima cotton is a good choice, especially for long-term use. The material keeps its shape and color, making it an amazing choice for garments like t shirts, sweaters, and other clothing as well as bedding.

Characteristics: softness, durability, and long fibers

The Pima cotton plant originates in South America but is also grown and harvested in Peru, Australia, and parts of the Southwestern United States including California, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Just 3% of all cotton grown is Pima, so it’s rarer and much more expensive than other types of cotton. The long cotton fibers and a careful spinning and weaving process make Pima cotton bed sheets exceptionally durable. Pima cotton fabric is also softer, smoother, and pills less than other fabrics all while maintaining its shape and beautiful luster.

Benefits and popular uses of Pima Cotton fabrics

Is Pima the best cotton? Here are some of the benefits and popular uses of durable Pima cotton fabric:

  • What are Pima cotton sheets? This type of cotton fabric has a smooth, silky touch, and the luxuriously soft fabric is made of loose, extra-long fibers that reduce pilling and maintain softness.
  • Organic Pima cotton is also incredibly strong, making it an excellent choice for everything from stylish shirts to a cozy Pima cotton duvet cover and more. It’s much less likely to tear, shrink, fray, or pill over time than regular cotton, which makes it a smart long-term investment.
  • Silky Pima cotton fibers hold color much longer through multiple washings than many other materials, which means your brand-new beautiful Pima cotton fitted sheet and everything else will remain colorfast for years.
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Insights into Organic Cotton

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When checking out Pima cotton vs cotton that’s organic, there are some important things to keep in mind.

Definition and production methods of Organic Cotton

Cotton grown organically is done so without the use of harmful pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and other dangerous chemicals. This premium cotton is usually certified by one of many organizations, including the USDA, the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), or OEKO-Tex, among others. If something bears the organic label, that means that it’s grown, harvested, and produced in a way consistent with current organic standards. When something is grown organically, it is done so without using anything that could cause harm to humans, animals, or the environment.

Environmental and health benefits

Since organic cotton is grown without toxic chemicals, it has a much more positive environmental impact than lower quality, conventional cotton. Not only is this good for the air, water, and soil, but it’s also much healthier for humans, too. If you suffer from allergies or sensitive skin, using organic cotton clothing, bedding, and other products will protect you from the symptoms associated with these health issues. Besides, who wants to breathe in dangerous additives and chemicals while they work, play, or sleep?

Certifications and standards for organic cotton

This high quality cotton should have specific certifications and standards to ensure that it’s truly organic, like:

  • GOTS certified organic cotton adheres to an international standard for all cotton manufacturers that meets specific environmental and social criteria. No chemicals can be used in the production process, and worker safety must be a top priority. Products with the GOTS label must be made of at least 95% certified organic fibers.
  • In America, most true organic cotton products carry the USDA Certified Organic label to confirm that the cotton was grown organically.
  • Many organic cotton garments and other products also bear the OEKO-Tex Standard 100 label, which confirms that the product is safe from approximately 100 harmful chemicals commonly used to make non-organic fabrics.
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Key Differences Between Pima Cotton and Organic Cotton

Let’s look at some key differences between Pima and organic cotton.

Fiber Source and Production Methods

As for materials like Supima vs Pima cotton and organic cotton, both Pima and Supima cotton aren’t always grown using organic methods. However, these materials are considered sustainable thanks to their long lifespan. However, true organic cotton is always grown and produced using specific environmentally friendly methods. Is Pima cotton better than organic cotton? The answer depends on which feature is most important to you in terms of overall durability versus eco-friendliness.

Environmental Impact and Sustainability Practices

Pima cotton is typically not grown organically, while authentic organic cotton always is. If you’re concerned about things like sustainability, then organic cotton is the better choice. The long fibers of Pima cotton do last longer than organic cotton, however. Can Pima cotton be organic? The short answer is yes – some Pima cotton is grown organically, however, most of it is not.

Quality, Feel, and Durability

Is Pima cotton good for sheets? Absolutely! If you want something very soft to the touch made with high quality fibers, then Pima is a great choice. On the other hand, the softness of organic cotton is also quite exceptional, and it’s a highly breathable fabric which makes it a great option for hot sleepers. Pima tends to have silkier fibers, but organic cotton tends to be a bit more cooling and breathable. If you want something with a silky touch, go with Pima cotton. If you prefer something light and airy, organic cotton is a good option. Both of these materials are very durable, but Pima cotton tends to be more durable overall due to the longer fibers it produces.

Cost and Affordability

As for Supima vs Pima cotton (Supima is a legal trademark given to the material by the Supima Association), both are more expensive than organic cotton. The best Pima cotton sheets made by reputable brands usually cost more than organic cotton sheets, regardless of the brand. Anything labeled as Supima cotton must be grown in the United States and be certified for its origin and purity, which also accounts for the higher cost.

Comparison of Performance and Applications

Now, let’s compare some of the performance features and applications of Pima and organic cotton.

Comfort and Breathability

When it comes to comfort, organic cotton reigns supreme, especially in terms of durability. While Pima cotton is also silky and soft, it tends to trap heat more than organic cotton. If you’re a hot sleeper or like to feel cool at night, organic cotton sheets and bedding are the key to a great night’s sleep. Pima is slightly softer than organic cotton, but both tend to get softer with every wash.

Skin Sensitivity and Allergies

People with sensitive skin or allergies will do much better with organic cotton since this material is always made without any toxic or irritating additives. Most Pima cotton is not organic, so it could contain other components that may irritate your skin or exacerbate your allergy symptoms.

Longevity and Resistance to Wear and Tear

The extra long fibers of Pima cotton make it extremely durable and long-lasting. This material is also highly resistant to average wear and tear, so when you wear clothes made of Pima cotton fabric, it tends to last longer than different cotton types.

Suitability for Various Products

Both organic and Pima cotton work well for a variety of products, including bedding and clothing. Organic cotton clothing is more breathable, so it works well for summertime wear. Choose Pima cotton clothes or towels that you plan to use often since it’s more durable than organic cotton overall. Both make comfortable sheets and other bedding styles, so you should weigh the differences between the features we’ve discussed here to help you decide which one is right for you.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Pima and Organic Cotton

Consider these factors when you’re choosing between Pima and organic cotton.

Personal Preferences

Consider the texture and overall softness of both materials. If you prefer a silky, smooth feel, then Pima cotton might be better. However, if you like your materials to be more breathable without sacrificing softness, organic cotton is the better option.

Budget Constraints

Pima cotton products usually cost more than organic cotton products, so you may want to choose organic cotton if you’re on a budget. Think about the products you plan to use, and how long you plan to use them to decide which one is right for your home, lifestyle, and wallet.

Sustainability Values and Environmental Concerns

In terms of sustainability, the environment, and Pima cotton vs cotton that's organic, organic cotton is the clear winner. This material is always grown, produced, and manufactured under stringent standards that ensure your new bedding, garment, or other item is made safely and sustainably.

Stonewashed linen sheet set
Stonewashed linen sheet set

Final Thoughts on Pima cotton vs Organic cotton

Is Pima cotton better than organic cotton? Remember the key differences between the two to help you determine which one is right for you. Always keep things like softness, durability, and sustainability in mind before you make your choice. Prioritize your preferences when you’re shopping for cotton products to ensure that you’re getting the highest quality option available to you.