When I was a little girl, my mother used to take me shopping at the Macy’s bedding department. We would stop by the clearance table to buy bed sheets and she would say, “We don’t want anything with less than 200 thread count”. Today, customers come into my store with the same mindset, often inquiring about sheets with “no less than 1000 thread count”. Does thread count really matter that much? Is 1200 really better than 400?
Herein lies the thread count myth!
Who started it? I wish I knew so I could stop the nonsense! The problem is that it’s ingrained in our society and the industry certainly isn’t helping; rather it’s doing a disservice to consumers. Bedding companies and independent sellers tout greater thread counts like it’s some hot new technology, but all they’re doing is spreading misinformation. Many people now believe that a quality sheet is graded by how many threads it can fit into one inch. In reality, it couldn’t be further from the truth.
It’s kind of like vitamins. If a doctor tells you to “take your vitamins”, your first reaction is that more is better. If you take too many, however, you can do more harm than good to your health. It’s more important to look at the whole picture and balance the optimal amount of vitamins with other aspects of a healthy lifestyle.
The same applies with the thread count of bed sheets. Thread count is defined as the density of threads within 1 inch of fabric, but counting thread is not that simple. Many companies will use 2-ply yarn to “double” the thread count, essentially fooling the consumer into thinking they got more for their money! Other companies use a higher density of poor quality material to slide by on your ignorance. You have to look beyond thread count and determine what really makes a high quality sheet.
Now it’s time to get in bed with Mattress Mary and get educated. Here is how you determine quality bedding, regardless of whether it’s 200, 300, or 1000 thread count:
- Find quality material – Cotton is the most popular sheet material and Egyptian cotton is considered the finest in the world. Pima cotton is also widely enjoyed. Look for these names on the label. Also, if someone is selling you a high thread count at a low price – sounds too good to be true – then you may be getting sub-par quality materials.
- Identify superior yarn construction – How the manufacturer spins and weaves the material is equally important. Italy has some of the best mills in the world, although there are plenty of excellent ones made right here in America. When you take a look at the sheets, hold it up to the light and look at the yarn. If you see any glaring oddities, then it probably isn’t the best-made sheet.
- Look for the finish – After the sheet has been made, it should be singed and mercerized to reduce pilling and increase strength. The mercerizing process creates a silky sheen on top, so look for it when you shop for sheets.
- Give it the old “hand” feel – Different people like different things, so it’s important to touch and feel the sheet with your hands. Just because it’s higher quality, doesn’t mean it’s meant for you. Is it the right softness? Is it too thick and not breathable? These are the sheets you’ll be sleeping in, so you want to pick the right ones!
And there you have it – thread count myth busted! The next time you come in our store and ask for a high quality sheet, we’ll help you look beyond the thread count to discover what really matters.