Difference Between Combed Cotton & Cotton

By Chrys Lin; Updated April 24, 2017
Differences in processing can affect the quality of cotton materials.

Cotton fiber is widely used in our daily lives. The material is used to make everything from shirts to linens to stronger materials for tents. However, not all cotton is processed the same way. Different treatments can affect how strong or fine a cotton fabric is, resulting in materials of different qualities.

Cotton Plant

The cotton plant is the source of cotton fabric, which can be manipulated into many different kinds of materials such as yarn and fabric. Commercial cotton is developed from the plant's cotton bolls, which are the rounded seed pods. Cotton plants themselves are leafy green shrubs that are a member of the hibiscus family, and they produce cream-colored and pink flowers.

Regular Cotton Fiber

Regular cotton made from the cotton plant is developed using cellulose with a thin coating of wax. This creates a thin cotton fiber that is similar to a hollow tube, much like a straw.Basic cotton fiber is used to make things such as shirts, towels and sheets.

Combed Cotton

Combed cotton is a kind of cotton that has been combed to make the yarn stronger and softer. The combing process also rids the batch of shorter fibers and impurities, which results in a finer, stronger and more compact cotton. Combed cotton is considered higher-quality and softer than cotton that hasn't been combed.

Cotton Trivia

According to Cotton Australia, more than 100 countries grow cotton, and cotton makes up as much as 40 percent of the fiber sold worldwide. One bale of cotton, which weighs about 500 pounds, can produce roughly 1,200 men's T-shirts or 300,000 $100 bills, according to the National Cotton Council of America. Seventeen states in the southern half of the United States grow cotton, the council says.

About the Author

Chrys Lin has been working professionally in journalism since 2003. Her work has appeared in publications in the United States and parts of Asia. She currently resides in Texas and holds a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism.