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Pima Cotton VS. Combed Cotton

Table of Contents

Cotton is a common natural fiber that is widely used in the textile industry all over the world. That is because cotton fabrics have many advantages. For instance, it is soft, breathable and can give a comfortable wearing sensation. It also has good moisture absorption, which can absorb sweat from the skin and quickly discharge it to keep the skin dry. Therefore, cotton is the most commonly used raw material in the textile industry.

What many people don’t know is, cotton can be categorized into many types. It is very important for consumers to understand the different kinds of cotton. On the one hand, they can learn the characteristics of different kinds of cotton and broaden their knowledge. On the other hand, knowing about the different types of cotton allows them to choose the right type of cotton for the clothes they buy. In this article, we will focus on the following two types of cotton: Pima cotton and combed cotton. We hope to increase your knowledge about cotton after reading this article and help you choose the most suitable cotton products.

Pima Cotton: An In-depth Look

Origins of Pima cotton

Pima cotton is the collective name of the best long-staple cotton in the world. It is grown in the western and south-western areas of the United States of America, Peru, Egypt, Israel, Australia and other regions. It has a low production rate, only about 3% of the global cotton production. Pima cotton is named mainly based on the tradition of planting and hand-picking cotton of Pima Indian in the south-western areas of the United States. The history of Pima cotton can be traced back to the 1700s. People in the south-western areas of the United States of America plant Pima cotton. In order to produce a kind of cotton with superior quality, Pima cotton growers improve every step of the cotton planting. From the twentieth century, these extra-long fibers of cotton became available.

Characteristics of Pima cotton

As one of the best cotton in the world, Pima cotton has the following characteristics. First, the cotton wool fiber of Pima cotton is extremely long. The length is 35% longer than other cotton. Secondly, due to the long fiber length of Pima cotton, Pima cotton products are very soft to touch. They also have good toughness and elasticity. So, Pima cotton products are durable. Thirdly, Pima cotton products have a natural sheen, the extra-long cotton wool fibers make it easy to dye. Therefore, Pima cotton products look very good after dyeing.

Benefits of using Pima cotton

Pima cotton has the following benefits. First, it is resistant to pilling. The main cause of pilling in cotton fabrics is that the fiber ends are exposed. A long-term wear and tear cause pilling. The length of the cotton wool fibers in Pima cotton is 35% longer than ordinary cotton, so there are fewer exposed fiber ends, thus minimizing the possibility of pilling. Second, it retains color well. Pima cotton fibers are more active than regular cotton fibers, so they are better at retaining color. Third, it has hypoallergenic properties. Because Pima cotton does not contain harmful chemicals, people are less likely to be allergic when wearing Pima cotton clothing.

Common uses of Pima cotton

  1. Luxury bed linens:Deep sleep is the theme of the bedroom. We may not be able to guarantee how much we sleep, but at least we should be able to enjoy a sound sleep all night long. The length of the cotton wool fibers in Pima cotton is 35% longer than ordinary cotton, which greatly increases the softness and comfort of the fabric. So, Pima cotton is often used to make luxury bedding.
  2. High-end clothing: Pima cotton is easy to dye. The fabric can be dyed a variety of colors and the colors are not easy to fade. Pima cotton clothes will remain the same even if they are worn for a long time. Therefore, Pima cotton is commonly used to make high-end clothing.
  3. Undergarments:Pima cotton is light and soft. The garments made from it are not tight and have good elasticity. What’s more, Pima cotton fabric is sweat-absorbent and breathable, so it is often used to make undergarments.

Combed Cotton: An In-depth Look

Origins of combed cotton

Combed cotton first originated in the United Kingdom and is also known as Oxford fabrics. It is a traditional combed cotton fabric named after the University of Oxford. In about 1900, people at that time used the kind of high-count worsted cashmere yarn in the production of clothing. The products made from such materials, compared to those made from the thicker yarn cotton, appear softer and denser. Most importantly, the quality is much better.

What is the combing process?

The combing process involves several steps, such as the removal of short fibers and the alignment of long fibers. In this step, people use equipment with needles planted on the surface to comb the fibers alternately from both ends to remove short fibers that do not meet the production requirements. In the combing process, the fiber becomes neater. The purpose of combing process is to further remove the impurities in the fiber, so that the fiber is better. This process makes cotton have high strength, good dryness and good luster.

Characteristics of combed cotton

Combed cotton has two main characteristics. On the one hand, it has a smooth texture. This is because in the textile process, people will remove the shorter fibers and the impurities, so that its surface is flat. On the other hand, combed cotton is stronger than regular cotton. Because the lengths of combed cotton fibers are similar, combed cotton is stronger and has better tensile properties.

Benefits of using combed cotton

Combed cotton has several benefits. To begin with, combed cotton has less impurities and protruding threads because when combing the cotton, people already remove the short fibers and impurities. Then, combed cotton’s chances of piling are reduced since the impurities is already removed. Finally, combed cotton is comfortable against the skin. That is because it has neater cotton fibers. We can come to the conclusion that combed cotton clothes are comfortable to wear.

Common uses of combed cotton

  1. T-shirts: Fabrics made from combed cotton are textured and durable enough to withstand multiple washings. T-shirts made of combed cotton are soft and wrinkle-resistant. They are not easy to pilling and you can wear it for a long time.
  2. Towels: During the spinning process of combed cotton, people will comb the cotton to remove the shorter fibers and impurities in it. So, combed cotton fabrics are flat and dense, and the texture is more solid. Towels made from combed cotton are very soft and make people feel comfortable.
  3. Knitwear: Knitwear has good moisture absorption and breathability characters. Moreover, it is soft in texture and has excellent elasticity and extensibility. Combed cotton is very soft to touch. Therefore, it is suitable to make knitwear with combed cotton.

Key Differences Between Pima Cotton and Combed Cotton

Fiber length

The fiber length of Pima cotton can be up to 41mm, 35% longer than ordinary fibers. There are fewer fiber ends because the fiber length is longer than ordinary fibers, which can greatly reduce the phenomenon of static electricity and pilling. Combed cotton fiber length is relatively short. Its fiber length is generally around 33mm.

Durability and strength

The durability and strength of Pima cotton is relatively low, compared with other textile raw materials. Its color is easy to fade and clothes made from Pima cotton are easy to wrinkle. Prolonged use and washing may lead to deformation or breakage of clothing. Combed cotton, on the contrary, has high durability and strength. It is because the fiber lengths are almost the same., so is the thickness of the fibers. Compared to other types of cotton, combed cotton is less prone to breakage and deformation, and can withstand more frequent washing. So, combed cotton is more durable.


Pima cotton has harsh environmental requirements during the growing process. The annual production of Pima cotton accounted for only about 3% of the entire cotton production. It is extremely scarce. So, it is also known as “The gold of cotton”. Therefore, the price of Pima cotton is relatively high. Compared with the Pima cotton, combed cotton prices are relatively low. But it is still higher than the price of ordinary cotton. In addition, the price of combed cotton relates to cotton counts. Higher cotton counts mean better quality of the yarn. Hence, combed cotton with higher cotton counts is more expensive.

Environmental impact

Pima cotton has almost no negative impact on the environment. Pima cotton does not contain formaldehyde. There is no fluorescent whitening agent and other carcinogenic substances. So, Pima cotton is not harmful both to the environment and to people’s health. Meanwhile, combed cotton is not bad for people’s health, but combed cotton products may have pesticide residues. Besides, chemicals used in the manufacturing process may also have a negative impact on the environment.

Preferred usage in the textile industry

In the textile industry, Pima cotton is used to make high-grade knitwear, high-grade textile fabrics, high-grade clothing and so on. Because of its long, thin fibers, the strength of Pima cotton products is high. Clothes made from Pima cotton are soft to touch and comfortable to feel. They have many advantages like good breathability, moisture absorption ability, etc. So, Pima cotton products are favored by consumers. In addition, Pima cotton is also used to make bulletproof vests, stab-proof clothing, fireproof clothing and so on. Because of its high fiber strength, high temperature resistance and other characteristics, special clothing made from Pima cotton can keep people safe. Combed cotton is more commonly used in underclothes, such as underwear, socks, etc. That is because combed cotton is softer and firmer.

Care Instructions

Here are some care instructions for Pima cotton products. They are easy to wrinkle. So, they need to be ironed. When ironing, you need to avoid long time high temperature ironing because it will cause damage to Pima cotton. As for combed cotton products, you can add some salt in the water when washing them to prevent the color of the fabric from fading. In addition, do not wash combed cotton clothing and dark clothing together. Or, your clothes will stain the color of other clothing and the visual effect of clothing will be influenced.

Ways to wash and dry Pima cotton products

Here are some suggestions we should listen to when washing Pima cotton products. We must use neutral detergent. We should not use to much detergent, or the clothing might be damaged. Moreover, we should use hand washing to clean Pima cotton products. If necessary, we can gently press the Pima cotton products when washing them. But remember, we cannot squeeze or twist the clothes.

After washing the clothes, we should use the right way to dry them. We can wrap the Pima cotton products with a large bath towel to absorb moisture. Or, we can place them in the dehydrator and dry them with a low speed. If you have a dryer at home, you can use the low temperature drying method. Then, you can hang the Pima cotton products in a cool place in order for them to dry.

Best practices for maintaining combed cotton items.

If you want to make the life of combed cotton products longer, there are several rules you need to follow. Here are some of the best practices for maintaining combed cotton items.

  1. When cleaning combed cotton products, we cannot soak them in water for a long time;
  2. When washing combed cotton items, we should avoid using hot water. The temperature of the water needs to be low;
  3. Do not wash combed cotton products and dark-colored clothing together, or your clothes will stain other colors;
  4. Before drying the clothes, you need to flatten the surface to prevent the clothes from becoming wrinkled.

FAQ Section

1. Is Egyptian cotton the same as Pima cotton?

They are not the same. These two kinds of cotton differ in planting area, fiber length and color. Egyptian cotton is a unique cotton produced in Egypt. The fiber length of Egyptian cotton is particularly long. Its fiber length can reach 50mm. Its color is creamy white, which is better than the color of Pima cotton. Pima cotton is produced in the United States and Peru. In fact, it is a variant of Egyptian cotton. It was firstly planted in 1910 and its fiber length is about 35mm.

2. How can I identify genuine Pima or combed cotton products?

You can identify the two types of cotton products by looking at their surfaces. The surface of combed cotton products looks smoother, flatter and is less prone to pilling, while the surface of Pima cotton products is softer and looks shinier.

3. Which type of cotton is more sustainable?

Pima cotton is more sustainable. Pima cotton fabric is more durable and it has fewer surface residues, which is good for people’s health. Combed cotton is carded during the spinning process, which increases costs in all areas. Therefore, Pima cotton is more sustainable.


To conclude, Pima and combed cotton differ in many aspects, such as fiber length, durability, price, and environmental impact. Understanding the differences between different cottons can help us choose the right type of cotton, which is important for both clothing manufacturers and consumers. For clothing manufacturers, choosing the right type of cotton can help them make beautiful and durable clothes. For consumers, choosing the right type of cotton for their clothes reduces the range of choices and makes it easier for them to buy the clothes they like.

As a clothing manufacturer with 15 years of experience in garment production, we can customize garments using any material, if you have any other questions about garments or need to customize high-quality garments, please feel free to contact us, we are happy to help you.


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