Thread count – How to buy the quality sheets you are looking for.
When purchasing sheets most people choose sheets with the higher thread count.
It turns out this is misinformation designed to sell at retail level and really has nothing to do with the quality of the sheets you want to sleep on.
There are a maximum number of threads that can fit into fabric depending on the quality of the cotton used and that number is generally less than 400, so there are a lot of questions to answer when you see sheets advertised with 1000 or 1200 thread count.
So what’s going on?
A thread count explains the total number of threads per square inch of fabric, counting both horizontal and vertical threads. Theoretically the higher the thread count, the higher quality and softer the sheets.
Some manufacturers are now counting multi-ply threads, which may produce higher numbers. In reality to achieve a higher thread count and keep the misinformed consumer happy, manufacturers are using a lower grade of cotton that becomes very thin when spun. Here is the explanation – They twist the thread around itself to create a ‘multi-ply’ thread. When using, for example, a 2-ply thread and weave it to 300 thread count (150 horizontal, 150 vertical) it becomes a 600 thread count sheet and that is the way it is marketed for retail.
Imagine when a 4-ply thread is woven as a 200 thread count and sold as 800 thread count. A regular ply 300 thread count would feel better and last longer. The problem is that consumers are conditioned to always buy a higher thread count.
Higher thread count does not guarantee better sheets.
Are all cottons equal?
Experts say that organic cotton, Egyptian cotton and Pima cotton are the best choices over synthetic materials that don’t breathe as well as natural fabrics.
The term ‘Egyptian Cotton’ refers to a plant called Gossypium barbadense, which grows along the Nile River in Egypt. This plant is known for its extra-long staple length (the length of the strand of cotton the plant produces). Unfortunately, modern manufacturers realised that customers were looking for ‘Egyptian Cotton’ when purchasing bedding, so they stretched the definition.
Most so-called Egyptian cotton is either a sub-par cotton grown in Eygpt or Gossypium barbadense that isn’t grown in Eygpt but Pakistan, China or India.
To conclude – Australian consumers need to re-educate themselves and put less emphasis on thread count, and more on the quality, softness and durability of the sheets they are considering purchasing.