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What is Thread Count in Sheets?

Is thread count important in sheets?

We’ve been conditioned to value the highest thread count when buying sheets, but what is thread count in sheets? It’s simply the number of threads or strands woven together in a single square inch of fabric. If you buy wholesale bedding it is important to understand thread count in sheets to avoid buying an inferior product. Let us demystify thread count.

Theoretically, a higher thread count would indicate the sheet is of higher quality, but it’s not all about the count. Multiple factors determine the quality of the finished fabric. The best sheets have the same number of threads woven in both directions, lengthwise (the warp) and widthwise (the weft). This ratio produces a balanced weave called percale. The weave pattern plays a role in the sheet material’s sheen, softness, and durability.

Are high thread count sheets really better?

Recently bed sheets have been marketed solely based on thread count to show that a particular product is of higher quality than the competition. Yes, a high thread count in sheets can generally be associated with high-quality fabric, but not always.

Thanks to creative marketing in the early 2000s, consumers were taught to believe that the highest thread count is the best quality in sheets, which is a tricky concept. To get a high thread count, manufacturers must spin two or more thin threads together to make one normal-sized thread. Multi-ply threads are thinner because they are made with lower-quality, shorter fibers. Some manufacturers believe multiplying by the number of additional (thinner) threads allows them to justify an inflated thread count. Unfortunately, using multi-ply thread results in inferior fabric. Sheets made with multi-ply thread are not as soft, are less durable, wear faster, and lint more.

Sheets made with single-ply thread are stronger, as the thread is thicker and more durable. It is also frequently softer as it was made from long-staple cotton. A thread count of 350 to 600 is an ideal range for excellent bed sheets.

Don’t be fooled by high thread counts.

There is a quality payoff to make the “Highest thread count = Best sheets” claim.

What other factors contribute to a high-quality sheet?

Consider more than just thread count when looking for high-quality bed sheets. Other things to consider are the type of fiber used and the weave pattern. For cotton, consider the cotton’s staple length. These factors outweigh thread count and significantly impact the quality of the finished sheet.

What is staple length?

Staple length refers to the length of a group of cotton fibers to be spun into cotton yarn. A longer staple length will yield a softer fabric. Long and extra-long staples are the highest quality, producing softer, stronger yarns.

What type of fiber is best for me?

Bed sheets come in many different fibers. The type of fiber used will determine a sheet’s durability, appearance, and hand feel. Long-staple cotton, bamboo, and eucalyptus Tencel™ fabrics are popular due to their various performance benefits and their comfort quotient. Institutional sheets are made from blended fabrics, usually made from cotton and polyester, which makes laundering easier and resists wrinkles.

Does the weave affect the thread count in sheets?

The type of weave factors into the sheet’s appearance and strength. Two of the most popular types of weaves are percale and sateen. Percale sheets, with their balanced one-to-one thread weave, have a smooth matte appearance, while sateen sheets have more surface thread area from a three over-one under ratio, hence, a silkier sheen. A percale weave is a bit more breathable and better for warm weather or hot sleepers, while a sateen weave traps heat better and is perfect for those who run cool or use during fall and winter.

The weave does not affect the thread count. True thread count is always measured by the number of threads in one square inch, regardless of the weave. Do not base your purchase solely on thread count. While thread count does matter, it is not the determining factor for an excellent bed sheet. Stick to sheets with a thread count between 350 and 600 and avoid high thread counts, as their inferior multi-ply yarns will decrease their comfort level and lifespan. Remember, the staple length, the type of fiber, and the type of weave will considerably impact the sheet’s appearance, durability, and feel.

Thread count in institutional sheets vs. luxury sheets

Monarch Brands makes sheets for a large cross-section of the wholesale bedding market. Hospitals, prisons, economy hotels, etc., with lower budgets use institutional sheets as opposed to 5-Star luxury hotels, high-end Airbnbs, and exclusive residences that opt for luxury and high-performance sheets and textiles as they have higher budgets.

Institutional sheets may range in thread count from T180 to T200, while mid-level and luxury sheets range anywhere from T300 to T600 for reasons noted previously. Sheets above T600 may be acceptable for many uses, but as discussed earlier in this article, they are made from lower-quality fibers, which are linked to a shorter lifespan, linting, and lower durability of the sheet.

Some plant-based performance fabrics, like eucalyptus and bamboo, are well-known for having the thinnest spun yarn and are outliers regarding thread count. By contrast, linen is a flax-based yarn, stronger than cotton, and is usually woven loosely to maintain its breathable characteristics. Linen yarn is thick, so it has a lower thread count than most other sheet fabrics. Before thread count, luxury sheets should be judged independently for their specific performance and comfort features.

Monarch Brands carries a full line of wholesale bedding, institutional sheets, and towels. We also sell wholesale luxury sheets in premium 100% cotton, bamboo rayon, 100% eucalyptus Tencel™, and eucalyptus and linen exclusively through Arkwright Home, our sister company specializing in home decor lines.

Dave O'Malley For more information about our bedding lines, contact Dave O’Malley.

 Dave O’Malley
Account Executive
(215) 482-6100 x327
[email protected]


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