No More Lies! Unraveling the Mystery of Bedsheet Thread Count

Let’s get this out of the way: everything you think you know about bedsheets and thread counts is a lie!

Sorry to say, but it’s true. Walk through any store or scroll through any website selling cotton bedsheets, and you’ll immediately notice one of the most talked-about traits: thread count. 300 thread count! 500-thread Egyptian cotton! Thread count has become the bedding industry’s standard for promoting the quality and luxuriousness of their sheets.

And while one would want to assume that there’s a straight correlation - that the higher the thread count, the better quality the sheets - this is unfortunately not the case. Like any other industry, the deceptive marketing practices of a select few have ruined it for everyone, and made it incredibly difficult for shoppers like you to know the truth.

As purveyors of super-fine quality 400 thread count 100% organic cotton bedsheets and duvet covers, we here at White Terry take thread count seriously, and want to be sure everyone understands just what they’re looking at when they see that thread count number printed boldly on the package.

So, before you buy your next luxury bedding set, let’s get to the bottom of thread counts, and unravel the mystery behind this magic number.

What is thread count, anyway?

Put simply, thread count is the number of threads per square inch of fabric that is woven to create the sheet that you sleep on. Contrary to popular belief, higher thread count doesn’t mean higher quality. The real difference in comfort and longevity comes from the density and quality of the yarn, and the length of the cotton staple used to make the yarn. It’s easy to print a number on the packaging, but it takes time, special care and quality control to do it right (a practice that is at the core of every White Terry product).

These days, you can find sheets ranging from 200-thread count all the way up to 1,000+ threads per square inch. With such a range, it’s understandable that most consumers can get pretty confused when shopping for bedsheets. And thus, the myth of “higher thread count = better quality sheets” was born. 

Is higher thread count always better?

As mentioned, higher thread count doesn’t mean higher quality. This is because thread count fails to take into consideration the quality of the thread being used. Not all cotton is created equal. Aside from organic v. non-organic, there are several other classifications that determine the quality of raw cotton. And one of the most important is the size of the staple.

 “Staple” is the term used to describe the length of raw cotton strands being used to manufacture a piece of fabric. Premium quality bedsheets use what’s known in the industry as “long staple cotton” – meaning the raw material being put into the weaving machine is comprised of long, silky stands of cotton, which yields a final product that is much softer, durable, and luxurious than that woven with shorter cotton staple.

You know, the kind of sheets that you sink into, and never want to leave in the morning…

Unfortunately, thread count does not take staple size into consideration. Certain manufacturers looking to maximize profit margins have learned that they can take an inferior cotton thread, purchase it cheaply, and create high thread count sheets at low cost. 

The result is that you have 400-thread count sheet sets made with long staple cotton that are much softer and breathable than 600 or 800-thread count sheet sets using shorter staples.

In addition to all of this, modern manufacturing has uncovered several ways to fake a higher thread count. One such way is to manufacture sheets using two-ply thread (where two individual strands are turned into one) and count them as separate stands within the sheet’s thread count number. Using this method, a 300-thread count product could actually be marketed as 600-thread count, with the consumer unaware that the numbers don’t tell the whole story.

In response to all the confusion around thread count, the Good Housekeeping Institute – which has been testing consume products since 1900 – recently conducted its own analysis. Lexie Sachs, a Senior Textiles Analyst, had this to say about the results. 

"The sweet spot is 300 to 500. If it gets too high, the cotton could be so thin it becomes weaker. 300 to 500 is a good balance between softness and durability."

What other things should I look for in bedsheets?

Here at White Terry, we also believe in the importance of choosing organic cotton for your sheets. We’ve talked about it at length before, but as a refresher, organic cotton is not only better for you and your family, but it’s better for the entire environment as well. Which is why all the premium bed sheets, pillowcases and duvet covers we manufacture use only the best quality 100% organic cotton.

Size is another important element. Many manufacturers undersize their sheets in order to bring down costs. The result is that frustrating feeling of trying to put a too-small fitted sheet over your mattress, inevitably leading to worn corners and tearing. Make sure the brands you’re considering offer fully sized sheets that’ll properly fit your bed.

It’s also important to do your research on the brand you’re buying. Do they follow honest and ethical manufacturing practices? Do they demonstrate care for their products and their customers? No different than you would a contractor coming in to remodel your kitchen, if you’re going to spend a third of your life sleeping on these sheets, you want to do your research, and be sure they’re coming from a source you can trust. 

Final thoughts on thread count

As you can see, thread count is not all it seems. But hopefully you know how to spot a lie, and what’s really behind those thread count numbers on the package.

Here at White Terry, our sheets have been created using a custom designed 400 thread count fabric lab tested to ensure incredible comfort and long lasting durability. Our sheets feel weighted yet soft, and they get cozier with every wash. It’s a difference that you, your spouse, your kids, and even your dog will be sure to notice!

So remember, thread count can always be a bit deceiving. Look behind the number, and be sure you find the right mix of threads and features to give you and your family the perfect night’s sleep!