We’ve all heard it, and at some time or another we’ve all raved about it: High thread counts equal ultimate comfort.
Well, we were wrong.
Thread count only plays a small part of our bed sheet comfort. So why does everyone think thread count matters so much? And if thread count isn’t the ultimate answer, what is?
I tackle those questions and more in this handy infographic.
Having trouble viewing the infographic? See what you missed:
Thread Count Doesn’t Matter: An Exploration of Bed Sheets
What is thread count?
The number of vertical and horizontal threads per square inch.
Example: 60 vertical threads and 60 horizontal threads makes a 120 count.
Prior to 1960, 120 thread count was the most common.
180 was introduced in the 1960s.
Ply also plays a part in advertised thread count.
Ply is the number of threads wrapped into a single thread, so manufacturers may say a one-play fabric is 250 thread count and a two-ply fabric is 500 thread count.
Thread Count Myths:
Myth: 1000+ thread count
Truth: It is nearly impossible to get that many threads on a loom. Sheets that claim this high of thread count generally have a higher ply (double, triple, quadruple). It’s mostly a money scheme
Myth: Dual ply is better than one ply.
Truth: Often one ply is made out of stronger, thicker fiber.
Myth: A higher thread count equals higher quality and softness.
Truth: Once you get over 400 thread count, it’s all about the same – if you want better quality look for high quality material and expert weaving.
Top Four Quality, Natural Materials
Egyptian Cotton (ELS)
Grown in soil along the Nile River; moist atmosphere.
ELS = Extra Long Staples (cotton fibers)
Longer fiber means fewer splices and stronger thread overall. The long cotton fibers make a finer thread, more threads can be weaved together per square inch.
The porous nature gives the fiber a better wicking (ability to soak up moisture), so it is great for any season.
Pima Cotton (ELS)
Grown primarily in Southwest U.S., Australia, and Peru.
Fibers must be 1-3/8 inch or longer.
Supima uses superior quality pima cotton: finer count yarns for softer, finer fabrics.
Great for any season.
Primarily grown in Southeast Asia.
Authentic bamboo sheets are 100% organic, requiring no pesticides or herbicides to grow.
Bamboo is a sustainable crop: harvesting does not disturb the roots of the plant.
Two types of processing: mechanically or chemically.
Mechanical processing is expensive, but the most eco-friendly: the woody parts of the plant are crushed and natural enzymes are used to create a mush. Fibers are extracted from the mush with a comb and spun into yarn.
When mechanically processed bamboo fibers retain the antimicrobial and antibacterial properties of bamboo plants (bamboo kunh).
Bamboo sheets adjust to body temperature making it excellent for warm and cold weather.
Bamboo kills dust/bed mites, making your bed cleaner.
Bamboo yarn is finer than cotton yarn making it easier to weave tighter together.
Made from flax plants.
Grows best in France and Belgium.
Softens the more it is used and washed; can last for 2 – 3 decades before showing wear.
Average linen fabric is between 80 and 150 thread count because of the thickness of the linen fibers.
Best used in a warmer climate.
The highest quality weaving is done in Italy.
Pure vs. Chemical Finishes
Textile finishing is the process that converts “woven or knitted cloth into a usable material.” Finishing affects the performance and feel of fabric.
Wrinkle easily, but are much healthier
Most sheets are treated with chlorine, formaldehyde, and/or silicone.
Sheets labeled “wrinkle free,” “easy care,” and “permanent press” are treated with formaldehyde resin, a toxic chemical that will not wash out.
Other Bed Sheet Facts
Largely depends on your mattress, health, and bedroom cleanliness, BUT having cool, breathable sheets also helps.
Longer fibers make stronger, more durable thread. Thus, why ELS is so high quality.
Organic cotton, though generally grown without pesticides, is often advertised as healthy and eco-friendly. However, the cotton is generally processed and finished with toxic chemicals. Know what you’re buying.
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