Green/Blue/Rust sweater

Cotton types

When you go shopping for sheets or linens, you'll often see "100% Cotton, " "Egyptian Cotton, " and other terms used to sell you on the quality of the fabric. They can be confusing at first, but they're actually remarkably easy to understand. Here's what they mean.

The folks at Real Simple explain that aside from percentages, that is, blended sheets that have 80% cotton and then a combination of other synthetics, the difference is quite simple:

When it comes to sheets, cotton is king (and queen and full and twin). In other words: It’s the best. But how do the various types of cotton differ? Here’s your answer. Top-of-the-line sheets are 100 percent Egyptian cotton. Second best is 100 percent pima cotton, also known by the trademarked name Supima. If a label says simply, “100 percent cotton, ” assume that it’s American upland cotton, a rougher, less expensive variety. (Yep, it’s that easy.)

They explain that a good pima set can cost you upwards of $200, while high-thread count, 100% Egyptian can be more than $500, so watch your budget. Also, if you've ever wondered about the difference between "sateen" and "percale, " they're actually different weave types, not fabric types. Real Simple says that percale is lighter and better for people who get hot while they sleep, while sateen is a bit heavier and cozier. Ultimately, if you can feel the fabric before you buy, that's a good way to tell whether you'll like it, and remember there's nothing wrong with buying blends to keep costs down.

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