What is Thread Count

The Truth About Thread Count!

Updated 11/19:

There is a little more information identified below than contained in our video.

There is a misconception held by many that the thread count of a bed sheet reflects it’s quality. This in many/most cases is not true.

Thread count is the number of threads or yarns in one square inch of fabric. It is determined by:

  • Counting the warp (vertical) threads and the weft (horizontal) threads of fabric and then adding them together.

It is an easy concept to understand, as a result, many hold fast to the concept that the higher the thread count a bed sheet contains, the higher quality the sheets are. 
In theory, this would be true if all other aspects of the cotton and finishing were identical.

The reality is; all cotton is not created equal. There are several criteria that determines a cotton's grade. Length, diameter, color, and tensile strength of the fibers are some of the more significant ones.
This is demonstrated in the below image.

Cotton fiber length

The image (above) on the far left is likely the cotton that is used in those $70.00 (+/-), 1,000 thread count, 100% Egyptian cotton sheets you see in big-box department stores or on the internet.

As well, these $70.00 (+/-) bed sheets are likely not 1,000 thread count or made from Egyptian cotton. Unscrupulous sheet providers recognize that no one is going to cut their sheets up to pull out the individual threads to count them or test the fabric to determine if it is grown in Egypt. DNA testing is possible today; but, who is going to take the time and spend the dollars to determine this.

As an interesting side note - Egypt claims likely 10 times or more Egyptian cotton is sold in the market place than is grown... You get the picture.

Some sheet manufacturers even spray their fabrics with silicone to make them feel softer. However, the silicone coating is gone after a few washings.
Here is analogy we like to use. White Castle hamburgers vs. a hamburger you have at a fine Bistro made from Kobe beef.

White Castle Hamburger

Kobe Beef Hamburger vs. WHite Castle

  • Both are made from beef.
  • Both are hamburgers.

Hopeful you’ll agree, there is a difference in quality.

  • The same holds true with bed sheets, there are low quality sheets and there are high-quality sheets.

When purchasing new sheets, one should look for Long or Extra-Long Staple cotton.

  • This designation is afforded to the finest grades of cotton.
  • These are the softest and strongest grades.
  • Although they do cost more than lower grades, they will yield a bed sheet that will feel soft out of the package and get softer and softer with each washing. Additionally, with proper care, they can last 12 to 15 years. 
This explains why a 200-thread count bed sheet made from a great grade of cotton will feel nicer to the touch and outperform a higher thread count sheet made from an inferior grade of cotton.

We hope this helps explain thread count and the deception that often occurs with low cost sheets.

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As always, if you have any bedding related questions please give us a call, send us an email or visit our Care & Tips colum on the upper left side of this screen.

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