What is the best thread count for sheets?

August 05, 2016

What is the best thread count for sheets?

What is the best thread count for sheets? What does thread count really mean?

I'm really sorry (kind of not sorry)... but in the words of Carly Ledbetter, for the Huffington Post,

"Consider this the Martha Stewart equivalent of finding out Santa isn't real... You ready for this? A higher thread count doesn't mean you're buying a better quality sheet." (1)

What?

I know... (really. I've done it. I know. I sat there the other day comparing the very expensive big brand 1000 counts sheets I bought in my younger years wondering why I never realised they just weren't actually that good quality or soft!). But the marketing worked!!

You see a very high thread count, often marketed as 1000 thread count or higher, doesn't necessarily mean the quality is higher. It turns out that it was a great way to market a thinner, lesser quality cotton that is used in a multiple ply thread. Alarm bells have to start ringing these days when you can buy 1000 count these days for less than $100 a set or discounted to a fraction of the retail price. Yet luxury brands seem to cap out at around 300-400 thread count. Something is going on...

The original high quality '1000' count sheet from Switzerland was a phenomenal and very delicate creation. For a full sheet set you would pay far into the thousands of dollars. They aren't made to be durable and are hand-washed. Not something I plan to do anytime soon! Turns out, 1000 count also made fantastic marketing. But when adopted into the wider market, it was about increasing numbers not the quality underneath. 

So for the rest of us, 1000 count is usually just... a bit of sly multiplication.

With two, three or more ply thread. This multiplication can instantly boost your thread count without actually increasing the quality of your sheets. Which means 300 count from a high quality cotton supplier - and when you look carefully you will find most higher end brands are - can be comparable to what some might call 600 count. 

If higher doesn't mean better, then what does matter?

Well, the quality of the cotton and yarn, the weave, whether it is organic or not and the quality of the stitching and generosity of seams. These are some primary factors in ensuring the cotton is incredibly soft, durable and stays that way wash after wash. 

You want to make sure you are buying an extra or long staple cotton and ensure that this is the main fibre of the sheet.

Extra long staple cotton refers to the type of cotton plant (or more specifically the length of the fibres in the cotton boll). It means that the individual fibres are longer, more durable and will have fewer short fibres which leads to fewer ends sticking out of the thread. Using a longer staple cotton also increases the overall softness as well as life of the product. When you want something to last, this is key.

If you are buying products that claim to be Egyptian, Sea Island or Giza cotton (all different names simply for particular species of extra long staple cotton, not necessarily specifying where a plant is grown) also make sure that this is really the majority of the cotton. On closer inspection you might find that Egyptian cotton forms only a small part of the total cotton used to make the product. 

Another thing to look out for is during production of the fabric you want to be sure that the fibre and yarn haven't been damaged in the dying process, in particular through the use of harsh chemicals and bleaches. This is where organic processing is key to the quality of the end product. 

We have for our essential first range run with 300 thread count, single ply yarn made from extra long staple and long staple cottons. Our sheets are a soft, luxurious count sateen weave, made from purely organic, extra-long and long-staple cotton.

This is the perfect mix of softness, weight and durability so it is the choice for hotels, who need their sheets to last! It is a beautiful all-year round sheet. 

Everyone who has touched them has been blown away! (Phew!!)

We are also for our larger beds expanding our range to add 400 thread count sheet sets. But these really are a thicker-weight sheet. That and so much more is on its way...