If you’ve ever purchased sheets, you’ve probably run into the term “thread count” and may have heard that it’s a way to determine the quality of sheets. But what exactly is thread count, how can you use it, and does it actually matter?  We’ll answer those questions for you, so you know what to look for in your next sheets purchase.

What is Thread Count?

Thread count is an indicator of how tightly woven a piece of fabric is and is measured by the number of threads per square inch of fabric. It’s determined by adding together the number of vertical (warp) and horizontal (weft) threads within that square inch. For example, if a sheet had 150 threads vertically and 150 horizontally, it has a thread count of 300. 

How Can You Use Thread Count?

While knowing what thread count is matters, knowing how to use it is more important. When choosing sheets, a good thread count can be anywhere between 200-600 depending on the material used to make the sheets. For example, a high-quality cotton thread count can be anywhere between 200-400, while an Egyptian cotton thread count is best between 300-400, and bamboo is great between 300-500. It really depends on the fabric.  A 600-800 thread count is also fine, but it may get a little hot because the fibers are so tightly woven together.

When considering thread count, be aware that some manufacturers conflate their numbers to make it seem like their sheets are more luxurious than they actually are. One way they do that is by counting the ply—the number of strands used to make one thread—instead of counting the threads.  For example, if they have a piece of thread that is three-ply, they’ll count that as three threads instead of one, so they may claim their thread count is 900 when it is more like 300. When shopping for sheets, be wary of thread counts over 800, because the manufacturer may be tweaking their numbers to make it seem like their sheets are softer than they are. 

Does Thread Count Really Matter?

Yes, but you also need to pay attention to the quality of the materials used. Scratchy thread is scratchy thread no matter how much of it there is. What may seem to be counterintuitive is that high-quality fabric is usually made from thinner threads with a higher thread count. Thinner threads have gone through a process called carding where the shorter fibers are worked out and the long fibers remain, which makes the thread stronger and creates a more durable fabric. One of the reasons why materials such as Pima, Supima, and Egyptian cotton are considered more luxurious is because they have longer fibers than most, so can be tightly woven together to create a smooth fabric. 

Now that you have all this information, remember to consider the thread count as well as the quality of the threads the next time you purchase sheets. If you do, you’ll buy high-quality sheets that will ensure you sleep in optimal comfort.

Additional Reading:

Best Thread Count for Sheets

What does thread count really mean?

How to Choose the Right Thread Count

What Is a Good Thread Count for Sheets?