Guide: Why Thread Count Does Not Matter When Buying Sheets
Last Updated on September 27, 2023
If you're in the market for new sheets, there's a good chance you've heard about thread count. But does it really matter? Keep reading as we put the thread count debate to rest.
Overview: Sheets Shopping 101
Thread count is a measurement of the number of threads (both horizontal and vertical) woven within one square inch of fabric. But despite popular belief, thread count isn't the only thing that indicates quality.
Instead, here's what actually matters if you're looking for the best sheets:
- Fiber type and quality
- Where the fabric fibers come from and where your sheets are produced
What is Thread Count?
Thread count is exactly what it sounds like: the number of threads (both horizontal and vertical) woven within one square inch of fabric. If a square inch of fabric has 100 vertical threads and 100 horizontal threads, for example, the thread count is 200.
What's the Best Thread Count for Sheets?
According to some experts, the “best” thread count depends on the type of fabric you're talking about. Here's a breakdown of the ideal ranges:
- Bamboo: 300-500
- Cotton: 200-400
- Egyptian Cotton: 300-400
- Percale Weave: 200-400
- Sateen Weave: 300-600
How Are Other Fabrics Measured?
Some materials don't use thread count, which can make shopping even more confusing. For example:
- Flannel: Measured in grams per square meter (GSM). Heavyweight, durable flannel sheets are typically 170+ GSM.
- Jersey: Also measured in GSM. Most jersey cotton sheets are around 150 GSM.
- Microfiber: Measured in GSM. Good microfiber sheets will be in the 90-120 GSM range.
- Silk: Measured in momme. Momme is the number of pounds in a piece of silk that measures 45 inches by 100 yards. High-quality silk sheets are in the 17-22 momme range.
High vs. Low Thread Count: Does It Really Matter?
Traditionally, thread count was supposed to help shoppers compare products between different brands. Today, unfortunately, it is often used as a marketing gimmick. A higher thread count doesn't necessarily mean you're getting better quality sheets.
Here's why: manufacturers can inflate their thread count numbers (with some brands advertising thread counts as high as 1,200!). This trick allows manufacturers to lower production costs while maximizing profits–sneaky!
The truth is, thread count is not that important when selecting the perfect set of new sheets. Other factors, like cotton quality and craftsmanship, are much more important than thread count.
3 Ways to Identify High-Quality Sheets
So if you want to buy the highest-quality sheets for your budget, what should you look for? Let's dive into the top 3 things that truly make a difference.
1. Fibers & Fabrics
Fibers are long strands of singular material that are knit or woven into a fabric. Some, like cotton and silk, come from natural sources. Others, like polyester and rayon, are made synthetically. These fibers are like the ingredients in your recipe, and the fabric is your finished product. And if you're into cooking at all, you probably know that the ingredients matter!
Your starting fibers can impact all sorts of things, including how the fabric looks and feels, its strength and durability, and whether it will pill or wrinkle easily. Here's a quick rundown:
- Natural fibers, like cotton, create soft and absorbent fabrics.
- Man-made fibers, like polyester, are cheaper to produce but aren't as breathable.
Blending different fibers together is also an option. Our GhostSheets, for example, are a blend of 60% Supima cotton and 40% TENCEL™, for a soft, lightweight feel that's perfect for year-round use. We love Supima cotton because it's two times stronger than cotton, and eco-friendly TENCEL™ helps with temperature regulation.
Fibers are either woven or knit into fabrics, with woven being the most common style for sheets. The weave style will also determine the fabric's feel and durability. If you're buying sheets online, look for this information before you purchase, since you won't be able to feel them in person.
A loosely woven fabric will be rougher to the touch and more prone to wear and tear—think burlap compared to Egyptian cotton. Here are some more examples:
- Sateen: Sateen weaves use short, spun yarns to create a luxurious sheen and soft feel.
- Percale: Percale is a tighter weave with a medium weight and no fancy sheen.
- Combed Cotton: With the “combed cotton” process, a machine removes short fibers and impurities, leaving just the longer fibers. Sheets made from this weave have a lovely soft texture.
Finally, the country of origin can impact the quality of your sheets, as every country has different rules and standards. We love American-made Supima cotton, for example, because it's twice as strong as regular cotton. Plus, it's super durable and able to withstand washing year after year.
Sheets You Can Count on For Years to Come
Suppose you're looking to experience luxury resort-quality bedding right at home. In that case, we suggest picking up a set of sheets that contain a blend of Supima cotton (from the USA) and oh-so-soft TENCEL ®, like our GhostSheets. A blend like this will deliver silky soft, cooling bed sheets that will last for years thanks to the sturdy TENCEL™ fibers. And the best part? They're also moisture wicking, and bacteria- and allergen-resistant! Our 2" GhostGrip elastic band keeps everything secure, no matter how much you shift and turn in the night. And to top it all off, GhostSheets are OEKO-TEX® Certified, meaning they are safe for your family and ecologically responsible.
Ready to give them a shot? Click below to learn more, and get ready for an amazing sleep upgrade.
Marc has spent the last two decades designing & manufacturing mattresses and other sleep products, drawing on a lifetime of experience working with the material sciences. With several patents to his name, he works closely with the GhostBed team to create products with the perfect balance of comfort & support. Learn More