Why higher thread count bedding does not necessarily mean better quality

high thread count bedding

Most of us are familiar with the idea that a higher thread count is equivalent to better quality. However, that is a common misunderstanding. This thread count myth has been pushed to create revenue for the companies who endorse it. If you don’t already know, thread count refers to the number of threads per square inch woven horizontally and vertically. If a sheet advertises that it is 300 thread count, this means that there are 150 threads running horizontally and 150 threads running vertically. This is important to know when choosing the right sheets for you.

Is higher thread count better?

A higher thread count does not mean better. The range for a good thread count in sheets is anywhere from 200 to 800. That may sound like a pretty broad range, giving you countless options. It’s time to debunk the thread count myth once and for all.

Linen expert Julian Tomchin stated that we should be suspicious once the thread count goes beyond 400. Remember we talked about what thread count is? Here’s some food for thought. In any given space, you can only fit so much. So how do they fit 600, 800, or even 1000 threads into a single square inch? The most common way this is achieved is when companies factor in a fabric’s ply.

What is ply, you ask? Ply refers to the construction of the fabric. Each thread is made up of one single strand, that is ply. When two strands are twisted together, it is a two-ply fabric. If a third strand is incorporated, it is considered three-ply, and so on.

Many companies like to count each of these individual strands to easily double or even triple the thread count. You may say, well, why does that matter because there are still “X” numbers of strands. Here’s why it matters.

When manufacturers utilize this technique, they are not providing better quality. In order to increase thread count, they may use thinner threads of poor quality for the simple purpose of increasing thread count. Manufacturers know we have been taught that higher thread count is equivalent to better quality, and they use that knowledge to their advantage.

The reality is you are getting a lower quality product and paying a hefty price for something that may have a shorter lifespan without increasing comfort. These tactics are deceptive and inflating. The result of such practices is heavy sheets with low breathability, inflated price points, and potentially a product that is stiff and uncomfortable.

What is a good thread count?

So, what is a good thread count? A 300- or 400-thread-count sheet composed of high-quality fibers can feel softer and hold a greater durability rate than those 600, 800, or even 1000-thread-count sheets we see being promoted as superior so frequently. Ignore the thread count hype, and let’s jump into what attributes we should base our decisions on when purchasing sheets.

If I shouldn’t focus on thread count to determine good sheets, what should I focus on?

Instead of focusing on the thread count, pay attention to the material. The most favorite material for sheets is cotton. A sheet with excellent quality comes from better material, not a higher thread count. Microfiber sheets are also a good choice. They are affordable, soft, and less likely to develop those pesky pills we see so often. It is important to note that more natural fibers provide more breathability.

What are the criteria one should use to judge bed sheets?

  1. The first point, which may seem obvious, is that your sheets need to fit your bed, primarily your fitted sheet. What good is a sheet if when you dive in, the corners pop up because the pockets aren’t deep enough? Regular sheets usually fit mattresses that are 7-14 inches thick. If you have a king-size mattress that is thicker than 14 inches, a standard sheet isn’t going to suffice. You will want to find deep pocket king sheets that accommodate the size of your mattress. 
  2. Pay attention to fiber content. For softer, more comfortable sheets, you want to choose something made of high-quality fibers. Natural fibers are the most breathable. This includes fibers like cotton and linen, which are the most popular choices. 
  3. Watch out for the finish. This is the process of chemically treating the sheets to help retain shape and prevent wrinkling. You want to be careful here. Whatever chemicals your sheets are treated with are chemicals you are being exposed to nightly. 
  4. Find the right texture for you. Different weaves provide different textures. We all gravitate towards certain textures and should choose a weave that feels good against our skin. Choosing the right texture is one of those qualities that will make or break how you feel about your sheets.

Back to the thread count myth

Everyday Essentials 6-Piece Sheet Set in Neutrals

Don’t find yourself caught up in the misguided hype that a higher thread count equates to softer, better quality sheets. You’ll be doing yourself no favors by paying outrageous prices for high thread counts when you can find better quality 300-thread-count bed sheets for a fraction of the price. 

The gross exaggeration of the importance of thread count has been skillfully marketed to create higher revenue for the companies who exploit it. As we’ve shown, the thread count myth does not live up to the claims that have been continually pushed. No one should be paying ridiculous prices for sheets that aren’t what they claim to be. 

Basing your decision on size, fiber content, finish, and texture will give you a great night's rest in comfortable sheets—much more effectively than focusing on thread count. South Shore Fine Linens can help end your search for those soft, high-quality bedding you’ve been dreaming about. Our large selection of breathable linens will have you snuggled up, cozy, and on your way to a better night's sleep in no time. 

If you’re shopping around for the best bedding for you, look no further! Shop South Shore Fine Linens