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What is Giza Cotton? Your Guide to the Finest Cotton on Earth

  • by Melanie Viaje
  • 7 min read

Giza cotton is a special type of cotton that is widely recognized as the finest on Earth. Grown in the fertile valley of the Nile River in Egypt, Giza is longer, stronger, and softer than other cotton. This article explains why Giza cotton is so special.

Giza Cotton: Legendary Quality and Beauty

You may be hearing a lot about "Giza cotton" recently. The term is generating a lot of buzz -- both in and out of the textile industry -- but is not always clearly defined. At Fine Linen and Bath, we proudly carry Giza cotton products from the world's finest linen manufacturers. We think it's worth taking a bit of time to explain what Giza cotton actually is and why it is so wonderful. We will also touch on the importance of the European manufacturing process that ensures the highest quality finished products.

Giza: A Special Type of Egyptian Cotton

Giza is a high-quality Egyptian cotton that is graded based upon the length and diameter of fiber as well as its condition. The longer the fiber and the smaller the diameter, the finer the yarn can be spun and the better the rating the cotton will receive. All Giza Egyptian cotton is sought after because of its high quality, strength, softness, and extra-long fiber.

Identifying Giza Cotton by Strain

Historically, the industry standard has been to identify various types of Giza cotton by a number: for example, Giza 70, Giza 87, Giza 88 and Giza 92. The numbers refer to the year the cotton strains were hybridized; think of Giza 87 as being "born" in 1987 and Giza 88 in 1988. In recent decades, most manufacturers have replaced the number with the designation LS for long-strand or ELS for extra-long staple cotton (also known as Gossypium barbadense; see below).

Cotton Fact: Gossypium barbadense is a type of cotton plant that has been cultivated to have ELS fibres – fibres longer than 34 millimeters or 1 3/8 inches long that are associated with high-quality cotton. ELS cotton is commonly sold as Pima (also known as Supima cotton) or Egyptian cotton. ELS cotton is woven into some of the finest high thread count shirts, sheets and pillowcases.

 Giza 45: The Queen of Egyptian Cotton

As we noted, many strains of Giza cotton are no longer referred to by number. The notable exception to this rule is Giza 45, which is known as the Queen of the Egyptian cotton. As the name suggests, Giza 45 cotton was hybridized in 1945 and is considered by many to be the world's most desirable cotton due to its remarkable natural attributes. Giza 45 is the longest of all long-staple cotton and its fibers possess outstanding uniformity and fineness. Giza 45 is rare, as it represents only half of one percent of all Egyptian cotton grown annually.

If you are looking for the highest quality bed linens, towels or sheet set that are woven to be the softest, most supple fabric that is comfortable and durable, look no further than Giza 45. Giza 45 is known to be of the highest quality grade; the longest, thinnest, strongest, and most uniform. You will find it in the most luxurious products sold by fine linen and bath retailers.

This is why Giza cotton is used to make the world's highest-quality bed sheets and bath towels. Flagship products from leading brands including Abyss, Sferra, and Graciozza use Giza LS and ELS cotton in their products, with Sferra crafting its signature bedding collection exclusively from Giza 45 Egyptian cotton.

SFERRA'S Jacquard bedding made with 100% Giza 45 Egyptian cotton, giving it a soft, smooth and luxurious feel for a beautiful night's sleep.

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Giza Cotton: Ideal Climate, Harvested With Care

Giza cotton is grown along the Nile River Delta, where nutrient-rich waters of the river, along with the cooler sea air, temper the otherwise hot Egyptian summer temperatures. Additionally, the high humidity levels in this area create a unique environment that is perfect for growing cotton.

To preserve its quality, all Giza cotton is picked by hand. This time-consuming process contributes to the higher cost of Giza cotton, but also results in materials made from longer and more complete fibers. (In contrast, the blade of a harvesting machine will arbitrarily cut through the cotton, reducing the natural strength and length of the fibers.)

Cotton plant field, attribution: Kimberly Vardeman

Cotton plant field, attribution: Kimberly Vardeman

Giza cotton fibers are exceptional at holding intense, deep dyes. This means that the cotton can be manufactured in a wide range of colors, one more brilliant than the next. Abyss Super Pile towels, for example, are available 60 designer shades. Giza cotton products are known for retaining their vibrancy, wash after wash.

A stack of Abyss Super Pile Bath Towels

Abyss Super Pile towel is made of 100% Egyptian Giza Extra Long Staple Cotton

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More About Giza Cotton Grades

Giza cotton comes in six distinct grades, divided into two categories. As noted above -- with the exception of Giza 45 -- most products aren't generally labeled with their grade. However, it is important information for manufacturers and suppliers to understand and identify cotton grade.

The Long-staple fibers (LS) are Giza 86, Giza 89, and Giza 90. To qualify as a long-staple fiber, the cotton must be longer than 33 millimeters and with a diameter of 4.3 to 4.9 micronaire. (Note: Micronaire is a measure of the air permeability of compressed cotton fibers. It is often used as an indication of fiber fineness and maturity). Giza long staple cotton can be found in luxury percale sheets; sateen weave bed linens; and fine Egyptian cotton towels.

The Extra long-staple fibers (ELS) are Giza 87, Giza 88, and Giza 45. As well as added length, extra long-staple Giza cotton is distinguished by its uniformity. This means there are very few irregularities within the cotton, which helps keep the surface incredibly smooth. Percale and sateen sheets made from extra long-staple cotton are considered the finest Egyptian cotton sheets in the market. The extra long-staple cotton plays a more significant factor in the overall quality of these bed sheets than many other measures, including thread count. Indeed, many luxury linen manufacturers bypass using thread count altogether when describing Giza Egyptian cotton sheets; the name Giza alone connotes highest quality.

Unparalleled European Craftsmanship

For the demanding linen connoisseur, the quality of European-woven fabrics is unparalleled. With centuries of experience in small, family-owned textile mills, the Europeans are recognized throughout the world as the absolute masters of the craft. Brands like Abyss & Habidecor, Matouk, Sferra, and Graccioza are part of a long heritage of unsurpassed workmanship and artistry.

The Importance of Ethical Manufacturing

At Fine Linen and Bath, we firmly believe that European methods of manufacturing Giza sheet bedding and towels are far superior to those used elsewhere in the world. The cotton weavers of Italy and Portugal pride themselves on adhering to strict environmental, ethical, and legal conditions in both their manufacturing process and their factories. You can learn more about the proud legacy of Portuguese towel manufacturing here.

Abyss & Habidecor factory in Portugal

Abyss & Habidecor factory in Portugal

Not All Giza is Created Equal: Buyer Beware!

With the growing popularity of Giza cotton, you will see the name labeled on increasing numbers of products. But remember the old adage "caveat emptor" (or "buyer beware") because not all of this "Giza cotton" is truly from Egypt. Big box manufacturers have found a loophole that allows them to label a product ‘Made from Giza Cotton' when that cotton hasn't necessarily been grown in Egypt. The Giza seeds can be taken and grown outside of the Nile River area in less fertile soil without the strict oversight provided to true Giza cotton crops. Technically speaking, this ‘fake' Giza cotton is from the Giza seeds, but it's nowhere near the quality that is used by the European manufacturers. You may see towels or bedding labeled "Giza" in the big box stores, but beware that the quality is not the same.

How to Care for Giza Cotton Towels and Sheets

You may be wondering whether Giza cotton towels, sheets, and home linen require special care. The answer is, not necessarily. Of course, always read the manufacturer's care label on any item before laundering; you can find a guide to care label symbols and terminology here.

Fortunately, most Giza cotton towels and sheets can be laundered the same as any other cotton towels and sheets. We always recommend following best practices for washing fine linen:

  • Sort laundry by color and, in the case of towels, also by weight.
  • Do not overload your washing machine or use too much detergent.
  • Choose the proper detergent. We recommend washing Giza cotton towels, sheets, and washable table linens with Heritage Park All-Purpose Detergent. This concentrated liquid formula is pH-neutral and made with plant-based ingredients and a proprietary enzyme blend to effectively clean while preserving the beauty of your Giza cotton. The fragrance-free variety is also hypoallergenic and pediatrician and dermatologist tested as non-irritating to sensitive skin.
  • Run on the proper washing machine cycle. You can learn about various settings and cycles on your washing machine here.
  • Never use fabric softener or dyer sheets, which can leave a build-up on your luxury cotton. Avoid bleach unless specifically allowed in the care guidelines.
  • Dry towels with wool dryer balls to soften and speed drying time. Sheets can be dried on low heat with dryer balls or hung to dry away from direct sunlight. Iron sheets only as needed.

Fine Linen and Bath: An In-Store Shopping Experience Delivered to You Online 

At Fine Linen and Bath, our mission is to deliver a concierge luxury linen shopping experience with online convenience. Browse our website to access an expansive collection of bedding, bath, table linens, and accessories from the world's premier brands.

When you need answers, consultation, or help to narrow your choices, our team of expert design consultants is here to assist you. We offer individualized recommendations, personal consultation, and even complimentary swatch samples for your review. We'll help you make the right buying decisions for your style, budget, and design goals.

Please connect with us online or -- even better -- give us a call at (866) 352-4522. We'd love to get to know you!