Does Thread Count Really Count?

photo of house of march percale bedding

Does Thread Count Really Count?

Well, not really is the truth of it. For years it has been used as a marketing gimmick created as a method for determining the quality of sheets. But it isn’t the only method, and over the years it has been skewed.

Lets begin by discussing what it is.

Thread count is the number of vertical and horizontal threads per square inch of the fabric.

Now lets discuss what it is not.

Thread count is not the way you should deduce whether or not you are buying a luxurious bedding set. In short, high tread count does not necessarily equal quality. If you are buying a thread count over 500, we think you should be suspicious. Sheets labelled 1000 thread count sheets may not necessarily be good sheets.

What you should be more concerned with is the fibre quality.

In the 1960s, a sheet with a 180 thread count was considered a luxury. Now, shop shelves are stocked with 1,000 thread count sheets – but the truth is you just can’t get that many threads on a loom.

So How Has Threadcount Been Skewed?

Quite easily as it turns out. Traditionally, the standard approach has been to count the number of threads in the warp and filling directions. Yarns were counted as one yarn regardless of whether they consisted of one yarn or many yarns twisted together. In recent years some textile suppliers have inflated their numbers to double or triple the actual thread count by counting plied yarns individually. This has led to confusion in the marketplace and means that many buyers may be comparing sheets that have had their thread count calculated in completely different ways.

In short, a thread count of 600 might really be 300 low-quality double-ply threads. But it sounds better doesn’t it?!

The fact is, inexpensive sheets marked at 700 thread count won’t be great quality. Consumer tested sheets ranging from 200 – 1000 thread count and found the best sheets to be percale with a thread count of only 280. They were deemed to be strong and had very little shrinkage, even after being washed and dried five times. (See the report here)

So how do you choose if you don’t rely on thread count?

Well, if you are buying cotton sheets then look for a longer fibre as a longer fibre is stronger, which means less pilling. Also look at the weave and finish of the fabric.

Weave: This affects the way a sheet feels. It also affects the look, price and longevity of your sheets. Percale weave is like a basket weave and has a delicious crisp and cooler feel. A sateen weave means there are four or more horizontal threads over, and one vertical thread under, placing most of the threads on the surface. This creates a soft, smooth, and luxurious feel and an elegant sheen. Sateen has a softer feel to it and is a little warmer in feel to percale.

Finish is everything: Most sheets are “finished” with chemical processes to keep them wrinkling or shrinking – this is sometimes described as ‘Shrinkage control’. Often manufacturers add hand enhancers, silicone softeners, that wash out after the first trip to a laundry. So if your sheets don’t feel as soft after the first wash, that may be why.

At HOM we know that many people don’t want to sleep in chemicals, so we use only the finest quality organic cotton. We understand that it is the quality of the cotton, not the thread count that will ensure our customers get a world class sleeping experience.

Click here to buy our beautiful bedding and see for yourself.

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