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What is the best thread count for bed sheets - Does it even matter?

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Count sheeps, not thread

The foundation of good sleep starts with great bedding. What you’re sleeping in can be the difference between a sound, peaceful night and the one filled with tossing and turning. However, choosing your bedding in today’s world is not an easy task; the technicality of counting threads in your fabric has become pivotal and confusing advertisements, trumpeting high numbers is all over the market. 

But does a higher thread count make a difference?

All that buzz about thread counts, what’s all that about? It’s mostly a marketing gimmick, our research says. A higher count doesn’t always make for a better night’s sleep, bedroom specialists demystify the myth.

Cutting straight to the chase, a single-ply 280 to 400 thread count bed sheets are more than sufficient for most users, while 250 thread count is the bare minimum to look for. Yes, the magical 1000 thread count bed sheets are luxurious, but the difference won’t be like night and day when compared to a 400 thread count sheet. 

But wait, there is more to it!

Before we jump into busting myths and answering all your queries, here are a few essential points you should know to understand the context better.

best bed sheet thread count

What is a thread count?

Thread count is simply the number of threads woven per square inch of fabric. It’s a measure of the number of vertical threads called the warp and the horizontal threads called the weft, which are added together to give the thread count. 

For example, 200 warp threads and 200 weft threads per square inch of fabric gives 400 thread count fabric.

When did we start counting the number of threads?

About 20 years ago, the concept of counting threads came into being. In the early 200s, a few manufacturers started trumpeting their bedsheets with the highest thread count. As soon as the first-ever 1,000-plus thread count hit the shelves, an avalanche of similar advertisements followed, trying their best to grab attention from the consumer. 

Does thread count matter?

Higher thread count sheets have finer threads resulting in a much softer and smoother product. It indicates the quality and how well the fabric is made. However, misleading advertising has created a notion that a higher thread count is better. Yes, it does matter but after a certain thread count (400 to 600), the difference isn’t substantial enough.

Also, manufacturers are known to use deceptive tactics to bump up the thread count allowing them to sell an inferior product at a premium. By using double or triple-ply threads and counting each of those threads twice or even three times, some manufacturers inflate the thread count.

Investigative reports of misleading advertisements have been busted by many across the world, with few manufacturers being heavily penalised for it.

Single ply vs 3 ply bed sheets

Let’s clear some doubts (Myth-Busting)

1) Higher thread count equals higher quality

The higher the number, the better it sounds, and advertisers have played well with the number games. Highlighting thread counts and painting them better than sheets with lower thread count has become a go-to strategy for bed linen manufacturers. 

However, many manufacturers have misled consumers and used false tactics to enhance their numbers. Some have been caught placing multiple threads in the sheets that aren’t woven into the fabric. This increases the thread count, without increasing the fineness of the threads. These products do not add softness, and can decrease the life of the sheets as they break very easily. 

Remember, higher thread count does not necessarily mean a longer lifetime or softer feel.

2) The number game

The thread count in bedsheets has become a classic example of manipulation in advertisements to boost sales. Manufacturers are known to use creative math to boost higher numbers and charge you a bomb. A thread is made of multiple strands of yarn and manufacturers count each strand individually, exaggerating the numbers of threads in your sheets. 

Now, some brands have developed manufacturing processes that boost thread count without improving overall quality. In many cases, manufacturers have manipulated the marker by using extremely thin polyester blends and textile, squeezing in more and more threads into a square inch.

A 300 thread count sheets made of three-ply threads can be marketed as 900 TC and passed to customers at a higher price than what it’s worth.

3) The Soft Feel

Don’t believe everything you touch. Softer bed sheets with higher thread count aren’t always the truth. Sometimes manufacturers are known to apply wax, polishes and other substances to give a softer lustre to the sheets.

These are misleading sales gimmicks and can cost you hundreds of dollars. A good quality of sheet can be determined if they still feel good after every subsequent wash.

So what’s the best thread count you should look for?

American personality Martha Stewart says, “A thread count of 200 is a good standard, but if you upgrade to 300, the difference will be noticeable.” 

Again, knowing that the thread count is exaggerated, you are better off considering other factors while buying new sheets. 

To summarise, we think 300 to 400 thread count bed sheets are the best option as they offer good value for money while being comfortable and durable. And if you seek extra luxury, you can opt for 500 to 600 thread count single-ply sheets. Beyond this, we don’t think the difference is substantial enough to justify the premium.

What else should you look for in your sheets?

Invest according to the weather you stay in. If you stay in a hot region like New South Wales, breathable sheets are what you should look for. Cotton, bamboo or linen are your best options. If you stay in a colder place like Canberra, flannel or cotton sateen will help you retain heat. You can have both, if you live in a place that goes through extreme climates during the year. 

You should also consider buying more than one, to keep your sheets in rotation and extending their life. Maintenance is essential and critical to strengthening the life of your sheets. So buy more, and show them some love and care and expect love and care for a long time to come. 

Thread counts are informative, but not important. A higher thread count sheet may sound great, but if the fabric is hot and you live in a tropical climate, rest assured the softness won’t salvage the situation. You will end up hot and sweaty at night and curse the day you bought those expensive, high thread count sheets. 

We’ve already reviewed the best sheets in Australia to help you make an informed decision and helps you sleep for 8-hours (at least)!

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