How To Buy Good Sheets Thread Count [UPDATED]
Lexie Sachs (she/her) is the executive director of the Textiles, Paper and Apparel Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, where she researches, tests and reports on fabric-based products ranging from sheets, mattresses and towels to bras, fitness apparel and other clothing. She also evaluates luggage, rain gear, disposable paper goods and baby products. Lexie has more than 15 years of experience in the textiles industry and a degree in fiber science from Cornell University. Prior to joining GH in 2013, she worked in merchandising and product development in the fashion and home industries.
how to buy good sheets thread count
The first step is to figure out what texture of fabric you like and how warm or cool you want to feel when sliding into bed. Most people should have at least one or two sets of cotton percale or sateen sheets for year-round use, but you may want to invest in flannel or linen sets depending on how cold or warm your room gets seasonally (or mix and match different types of sheets for extra comfort).
Color/patternA new set of sheets can be a great way to add vivid color or pattern to your bed. Just keep in mind that brightly hued or patterned sheets might be harder to care for than white sheets that you can bleach or use OxiClean on. Stains from kids, sweat, periods, or bedtime snacks will be harder to remove without these more aggressive cleaning methods. If you use acne cream, you may also want to consider white or light-colored sheets (at least pillowcases), because the benzoyl peroxide can bleach the fabric. In our experience, white or solid-colored sheets will always look newer longer than those with patterns, especially those with lots of contrast, which we have found tend to look dingy more quickly.
We spoke with five experts for this piece, and they all agreed that thread counts are an important indicator of quality sheets, but that you should be suspicious of numbers that are too high or too low. Manufacturers calculate thread count by adding up the vertical warp and horizontal weft yarns in a square inch of fabric. This is what the weave looks like for percale sheets (made with a plain weave) and sateen sheets (made with a satin weave):
Preethi Gopinath, director of the Textiles MFA program at Parsons and one of the writers of our cotton sheets guide, and Shannon Maher, chairperson and assistant professor of the Home Products Development department at the Fashion Institute of Technology, both weighed in on the best thread counts for each weave:
Higher-thread-count sheets are made with finer (thinner) yarns. The more yarns that fit into a square inch, the smoother, denser, and more durable the fabric. Fine yarn is also more expensive to produce, thus resulting in pricier sheets (and why densely woven sateen is more expensive than percale). Cheap sheets are made with thicker yarns, resulting in lower thread counts and a rougher feel.
It is calculated by adding together the numbers of lengthwise (warp) and widthwise (weft) threads within a certain area. For example, a cotton sheet with 100 warp threads and 100 weft threads in each square inch of fabric would have a listed thread count of 200.
Shoppers should be wary of extremely high thread counts, such as 900 or more. Often, this is an indication of low-quality sheets, as the manufacturer is likely using some sort of trick to disguise the true quality of the product.
How do you know whether a cotton sheet is a good-quality sheet? While consumers often hear a lot about thread count, many factors can affect the feel and longevity of cotton sheets, including the weave and type of cotton fiber. Consider the following.
While thread count is useful to gauge quality, there are more elements to determine if sheets are worth the buy. As you shop, you will come across several types of bed sheets, each with a different weave, staple length, and thread count.
Multi-ply sheets are prone to breakage because manufacturers use low-quality fibers to squeeze in as much thread per square inch as possible. Single-ply fabrics, while they have a lower thread count than multi-ply fabrics, often have high-quality materials and last longer. The ideal thread count for soft and durable bed sheets is actually between 300 and 500.
Our Tencel sheets have a 310-thread count for a breathable, luxurious weave. Our bamboo sheets have a slightly lower thread count of 240 thanks to the long-staple fibers we use, providing durability without relying on excessive material.
Pills are the tiny fuzzballs that collect on bed sheets and are a result of friction. They can be scratchy against your skin and unsightly to look at. Some sheets are naturally more resistant to pills, such as Egyptian cotton or linen.
It is a measure of how many threads are woven into one square inch of fabric. The yarn is woven in a crisscross pattern with the vertical strands being referred to as warp weave, and the horizontal pieces are called weft weave.
The same principle applies to sheets. There are single ply varieties, and there are also brands that combine two or three strands into one single yarn. Depending on the thickness of the original threading, the feel of the finished product will vary.
We recommend using it as a guide and quality check for your bed sheets. You should be looking for a range from 200 to 400. If the number is between 150 and 180, then the sheets are going to be rough and not at all soft. A number over 400 means that the fibers are likely woven together to get an inflated figure. The overlapping and extra weaving could also mean that the fabric will be rougher.
Buying bedding is a big decision. After all, your bedding comes in contact with your skin for several hours a day! No matter how perfect your mattress is, scratchy, rough, and uncomfortable sheets can turn a blissful night of sleep into endless hours of tossing and turning.
A single ply yarn is made up of one long thread. A multi-ply yarn is made of two, three, or even four or five threads twisted together. Unfortunately, this allows some companies to use cheaper multi-ply yarns and count each individual thread.
Thread count alone does not determine soft features in bed sheets. Long staple cottons, especially with Egyptian cotton, are considered to offer the most luxurious feeling. Sateen woven sheets are recommended for a buttery smooth feel with a luminous sheen. We offer luxurious 500 thread count sateen sheeting in our Emily Egyptian Cotton Sheet Set.
Finally, check to see if the fabric is made from long staple cotton. This refers to the length of the individual cotton fibers that were spun together to make each thread. Longer cotton fibers create stronger, smoother threads, and tend to last longer.
We have been made to believe higher the thread count, the better the sheets. So, many consumers try and pick out a high thread count duvet cover, regardless of price, because they want the best quality.
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Thread count is the total number of threads per square inch in a fabric (counting both horizontal and vertical threads). In theory, the higher the thread count, the softer and higher-quality the sheets.
So imagine that a 4-ply thread is woven as a 200 thread count, but sold as an 800 thread count. A regular ply 300 thread count would feel better and last longer, but most consumers are convinced to always buy a higher thread count.
Breathability comes down to what the sheet is made from. A sheet made from cotton is likely to have more breathability than a sheet made from polyester even if they are the same thread count. Softness and comfort also rely on the type of yarn. 041b061a72