The Real Truth Behind Bed Sheet Thread Count
Have you ever walked into a bedding section of a departmental store only to be surrounded with different, confusing thread counts? 750 thread count, 1000 thread count and even 1200 thread count sheets! Something you might also notice is that as the thread count increases, usually so does the price.
For a very long time, consumers have been mistakenly made to focus on thread count to determine the luxury of sheets - the higher the number, the better surely?
Unfortunately this is completely opposite of the truth!
While thread count matters to a certain extent (and only if in a certain range), it’s not the be-all and end-all of quality sheets.
Let’s break down this thread count bedding myth.
What is Thread Count? Is a Higher Thread Count Better?
By definition, thread count is a measure of the total number of threads woven vertically (the warp) and horizontally (the weft) into one square inch of fabric. It is a unit of textile measurement for bed linen and other types of fabrics such as shirts.
When more threads are packed tightly together, the resulting fabric is softer and smoother.
The Truth Behind Thread Count Explained
Think about this: Only that many pieces of thread can fit into a specific space. With bedding, the maximum number of threads is around 600. How then do brands achieve those huge numbers?
Knowing that thread count has a huge influence on the consumer’s decision, many manufacturers employ some creative math to manipulate their numbers as a promotional strategy.
1. Using weaker, multi- ply threads
Bed linen thread count is dependent on one key variable - ply.
When working with a strong and long cotton fiber, it can be twisted around to form a single ply.
On the other hand, multi-ply threads (eg 2 ply or 3 ply) are formed when multiple strands of thread are twisted together. These strands are often weaker, cheaper and short-staple cotton threads twisted together in an attempt to increase their strength and durability before being woven.
The strands in each ply are then counted to give its high thread count number.
Here’s a simple example.
By definition, an honest 600 thread count single-ply bed sheet has 300 vertical threads and 300 horizontal thread:
300 + 300 threads = 600 thread count
Take another bed sheet made using 2-ply cotton - It still has 300 threads each way, but because each thread has two strands, marketers include that in their calculation:
(300 + 300 threads ) x 2 ply = 1200 thread count
Compared to single ply threads sheets, bedding made with multi ply threads are less breathable, denser and feel more scratchy on the skin. They also have a higher tendency of pilling due to the shorter threads used.
2. Using a “metric” system
There are two systems for measuring threads – Metric and Imperial measurement.
The “metric” system is where the number of threads in a 10cm square area are counted instead of the 1cm square area by definition.
This increases thread count by 50% without improving the sheets. This also means that you would be paying for lesser thread count than you actually thought.
What Is a Good Thread Count for Bed Sheets?
Generally speaking the maximum thread count a square inch area can pack is around 600. Look for sheets with a minimum thread count of 400. While anything above 500 thread count is excellent, do also be wary of excessively high numbers.
Thread count is just one of the many factors that affect the way a fabric feels and performs. What matters more are the quality of fibres and raw materials.
We share with you our secret to what makes a great set of quality, long lasting sheets:
- Cotton: Extra Long Staple (ELS) Cotton - for luxurious softness and smoothness
- Ply: Single Ply - for durability and breathability
- Weave: Sateen - for smooth and lustrous sheen
- Thread Count: 600 thread count - any above 400 is good
Experience Better Sleep with Weavve Home
At Weavve, we set out to create quality products that you will love each day.
All of our sheets are created from 100% pure extra long staple cotton fibres, single ply, with a honest 600 thread count and sateen weave. We work with a leading factory to ensure consistent top quality. Our sheets are also Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified, meaning that they are made and tested free from common harmful toxins.
Shop our 100% Cotton Sheets