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Thread Count

COUNTING ON THREAD COUNT

Picture yourself sorting through bed sheets in a department store trying to figure out which are the best bed sheets to ensure your perfect sleep. We've all been there...

One advertised statement that might jump out, which seemingly allows us to differentiate the quality of the bed sheets...

Thread Count.

'2,000 thread count'...

'1,000 thread count'...

'800 thread count'...

'400 thread count'...

'300 thread count'...

But is using thread count really the best measure for determining the best quality bed sheets?

Well here's the truth about thread count!

Thread Count key questions and information

  • Demystifying thread count
  • So what exactly is thread count?
  • How important is thread count?
  • Thread Count Expert Opinion
  • Are there more considerations than thread count?
  • How does ply impact upon thread count?
  • So what is the best measure of high quality bedding?
  • Ethical Bedding Company thread count?

DEMYSTIFYING THREAD COUNT

Typically, it is assumed that the best bed sheets have a high thread count. This is somewhat true, but thread count certainly shouldn't be the primary factor in determining which are the best bed sheets for you.

If you were moving home, you wouldn't base that decision purely on the size of the property. You would want to understand the condition of the property, whether it had a garden, what the transport links were like, and learn about the local community and amenities.

Consumers have fallen into a trap of associating the best quality bed sheets with the highest thread count. We typically ignore the size of the yarn, the inherent quality and source of the yarn (e.g. organic cotton, linen, bamboo or TENCEL), and whether the ply is single, double or even triple.

And that is still ignoring whether the cotton is traditionally grown (chemically treated), organic cotton, linen, or one of the more innovative and sustainable bedding fabrics such as bamboo or TENCEL™. Each have different qualities which should further influence your decision which are the best bed sheets for your perfect sleep.

There is so much information to digest before you reach the right answer. This is clouded further by traditional cotton bedding companies guarding information so that they can make bed sheets more cheaply, by overstating thread counts to create an illusion of quality.

Oftentimes this means that consumers are losing by sleeping in inferior bed sheets whilst paying a higher price.

Our goal is to give consumers the correct information and enable them to maker smarter choices, whether they choose a sustainable Ethical Bedding Company product or not!

SO WHAT EXACTLY IS THREAD COUNT?

Thread count is in fact really simple. It's a count of the threads within one square inch of finished fabric: the sum of the vertical (warp) and the horizontal (weft).

HOW IMPORTANT IS THREAD COUNT?

The short answer is that it does matter, but only to an extent.

You assumed right, and typically a higher thread count will equate to softer bed sheets. Among bedding aficionados there is a range which would generally be considered acceptable which is between 200 to 400.

If the count is below 200, then most people would consider the quality to be too low. It would feel thin, flimsy and would lack durability.

On the other side of the coin, high thread counts tend to be the type of consumer trap we touched on earlier in the article. For example, the majority of 1,000 thread count bed sheets are usually far worse quality than those with a 300 to 400 thread count.

Many mainstream manufacturers have tricks to inflate the thread count of their bed sheets, the primary method being the use of multiple-ply yarn. This is where multiple individual threads are twisted around one another before being woven.

The use of multiple-ply threads is not insincere. But the act of counting these split threads as two or three threads when reaching a total is false.

But surely more threads is better even if they are multiple-ply, right? Wrong! The result is an inferior quality bed sheet with far too many threads fighting for space in that one square inch, which means heavier, less soft and far less durable bedding.

THREAD COUNT EXPERT OPINION

Our table below has a recommended range between 200 to 400 thread count, but our personal favourite is 300 to 400 which gives an excellent balance between being breathable, softness and durability. Of course there are other factors to consider too, but this should be used as a starting point for your purchase decision.

Thread Count Expert Opinion Summary
0-200

Typically poor quality sheets. The fabric will definitely feel cheap and weak. It will certainly lack durability and won't stand the test of time. The yarns used in production will often be thicker than a quality bed sheet to create an illusion of thickness, so it won't feel as soft.

Avoid - save your body!

200-300
Good bed sheet quality, particularly at the higher end. Fabric in this range is durable but still has some give. It will usually be breathable and soft to the touch. Keep in mind there is often a big difference between 200 and 300 thread count sheets.

Try it!

300-400
Luxury bed sheet quality. 400 is the highest TC we can make using TENCEL™, but it's not strictly necessary to go that high. Other factors include overall yarn quality, size and the all important staple length which will contribute to softness of touch.

Try it!

400+
Probably poor quality bed sheets. They'll often be too thick, have a dense feel and won't drape over you as you sleep. Usually, these are misleading thread counts which are boosted by double or triple counting multiple-ply.

Avoid - save your money!

ARE THERE MORE CONSIDERATIONS THAN THREAD COUNT?

If you are able to, try to check the diameter of the yarn as well as the ply of the threads being used. This information won't always be easily available, but if you are buying from a conscientious manufacturer they should be able to provide this (even if it isn't publicised).

We are also interested in the thickness of the yarns and how many of them are twisted together. Single-ply is preferable here, meaning that there is just a single strand for each thread. Two-ply means that there are two strands twisted in each thread.

HOW DOES PLY IMPACT THREAD COUNT?

If you are looking for a more reliable measure for luxury bedding quality, then ply would be the best starting point. If you imagine your bed sheets like a maths equation, then ply would be the denominator. Ply is the defining factor in how the actual thread count is derived:

Advertised Thread Count ÷ Ply = Actual Thread Count

For example...

500 Thread Count ÷ 2-Ply = 250 Actual Thread Count

Or even...

600 Thread Count ÷ 3-Ply = 200 Actual Thread Count

Whereas...

300 Thread Count ÷ 1-Ply = 300 Actual Thread Count

Always avoid multiple-ply wherever possible. It's usually an insincere attempt to falsely misrepresent the bed sheets as being better quality than they are.

Of course it is more expensive to source higher quality single-ply threads, such as our TENCEL™, but unfortunately it's fairly standard practice in the bedding industry to boost thread counts by using inexpensive multiple-ply yarns.

SO WHAT IS THE BEST MEASURE OF HIGH QUALITY BEDDING?

Thread count isn't as important as the quality of the threads themselves. Make a coffee with poor quality beans, and no matter how many you put in to brew it still won't taste good...

When compared with organic cotton, TENCEL™ yarns offer superior strength, moisture absorption and durability, making it the perfect fabric for luxury bedding. Added to that it is softer than cotton, making it ideal for bed sheets which is so close to your skin.

TENCEL™ is naturally long-staple and because of the inherent characteristics of this single cellular fibre, it is incredibly smooth and non-abrasive at a microscopic level. All this amounts to a better quality of sleep with a truly unique feel.


[insert yarn info]

ETHICAL BEDDING COMPANY THREAD COUNT

Our luxury bedding is made exclusively with 300 thread count single-ply TENCEL™. We use a sateen weave to create an even more luxurious feel in addition to the inherent natural qualities of our Eucalyptus fibre.

Ethical Bedding Company: Luxury Bedding Sateen Percale

You might be wondering why we don't offer more options? Well after vigorous user testing for softness, feel and durability, we believe we have finally found what constitutes the best overall offering for a bed sheet. It's that simple.