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What is a Good Thread Count for Sheets?

Malena Piper

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It’s not uncommon for expensive 1000+ thread count sheets to have a short lifespan. Many bed sheet companies use multiple-ply weaves to increase the thread count, making the sheets seem more luxurious; however, multi-ply inflation can lead to pilling, shedding, ripping, and the bedding being thrown in the trash prematurely. In summary, high thread count does not necessarily mean high quality.

This article will explain the most effective thread count, and other factors you should consider when shopping for sheets, such as weave, material, and other features, such as hypoallergenic materials.

What is Thread Count and Why it is Important?

What is a Good Thread Count for Sheets?

Thread count refers to the number of vertical and horizontal threads per square inch of fabric. Thread count can determine the sheet’s overall feel, breathability, and durability, although these things aren’t influenced by thread count alone. Breathability and feel are also influenced by weave and material type, but we’ll touch on that later.

Ply, or the number of yarns used to create a single thread can impact the fabric’s durability and  feel. Single-ply sheets are the most durable. Some manufacturers use a multiple-ply count to combine yarns of lower quality, which inflates the thread count.

Sheets with inflated counts are prone to pilling (strands or balls of fiber formations on the fabric) and shedding (fiber thinning). Some multi-ply fabrics will even rip when put under too much strain. Thread counts labeled 800 or higher is often a sign of ply inflation.

Buying Bed Sheets: Other Considerations

While thread count is important, the type of fabric and weave influence the bed sheet’s quality. Your preferences play a large part in how much you’ll like the bed sheets as well.

Fabric

Sheets come in numerous fabric options. Depending on the qualities you want in your sheets, you’ll want to consider the fabric first, then find a thread count and weave to enhance the fabric’s features.

Cotton is the most popular fabric because it’s soft, breathable, moisture-wicking, and easy to clean. Cotton sheets are typically available in three varieties: Egyptian, Supima Prima, and Upland. Each of these are graded by the staple, or length of the cotton fiber.

  • Best thread count for Egyptian cotton: 400-700
  • Best thread count for Supima or Pima: 200-400
  • Best thread count for Upland cotton: 300-600

Egyptian cotton is known for being a high-quality, luxurious fabric as it is hand-picked, soft, and moisture and heat wicking. Hand-picking the cotton puts less strain on the cotton fibers, resulting in softer, more durable sheets.

Linen is a durable option for those who overheat. Linen comes from long, strong fibers derived from flax stems. Linen is thinner and more breathable than many other fabrics. It absorbs moisture up to 20% of its weight and dries quickly. When buying linen sheets, we suggest you choose a thread count between 100 and 200.

Unless you have the patience to wait for the linen fibers to soften, you’ll want to look at other fabric options. Linen is coarse at first. The fabric will soften over time and will last for decades, making it a smart investment.

Polyester is created with polymer fibers made from petrochemicals. It’s a thick fabric, but not very breathable, although it makes a great insulator. Polyester is not ideal if you’re a hot sleeper or prefer eco-friendly materials. Also, to avoid a polyester fabric that sheds and pills, stay in the 200 to 800 thread count range.

Silk is a natural fabric made from silkworm threads. The material is breathable and cool to the touch. Even though silk is cooling, it’s insulative when tightly woven. When it comes to silk, we suggest measuring its quality by weight rather than thread count. A sheet set between 14 and 19 pounds will give you a durable, quality material.

Bamboo sheets are made from the bamboo plant fiber. They are perfect for all seasons due to their temperature regulating and moisture wicking nature. Bamboo sheets are antimicrobial, hypoallergenic, and easy to maintain. We suggest a thread count over 300 to get a durable fabric.

Bamboo sheets labeled 100% rayon or made with 100% bamboo fibers are natural and earth-friendly. If not, the sheets will have additional fibers, making the sheet impure and processed, meaning the sheets set will not have the properties of natural bamboo fabric.

Weave

Weave style refers to how sheets are stitched together. The weave affects the fabric’s overall feel and durability. Even though there are other weave types, the most common type of weaves for sheets are percale and sateen.

Percale is a plain weave, following a more traditional yarn-over-yarn pattern. For a durable and breathable material, choose percale sheets with a thread count of 250-350. Percale sheets are lighter and crisper, making them great for hot climates or people who sleep hot. If you’re a hot sleeper, we suggest pairing percale sheets with the best mattress for your needs to leave night sweats in the past.

Sateen weave is more intricate, involving a one-yarn-under three-yarn-over pattern. This weave cultivates a heavier and softer fabric. Sateen makes the fabric less breathable but a great insulator. The weave is also more prone to snags, tears, or pilling.  

A good thread count range for sateen is between 300 and 600. Choosing a thread count closer to 600 can increase the sheet’s durability.

Personal Preference

Ultimately, choosing a bed sheet set comes down to your preferences.

Do you get cold or overheat? Someone who sleeps warmer will want something breathable. Something like a bamboo sheet set with a percale weave and a thread count of 200 to 400 will keep you cool and comfortable. If you tend to get cold, you’ll want something warm and cozy.

You should consider fabric thickness as it will affect the blanket’s warmth. Something lightweight is great for summer; meanwhile, denser materials are ideal for winter.

Consider the fabric type— do you want a crisp, soft, or silky feel? Those with skin sensitivities know the importance of clean sheets. Bamboo and Tencel® materials will ward off allergens and ease allergy symptoms because they have antimicrobial properties.

Budget and price are also important factors to consider. Some fabrics, such as silk and linen, will cost more than others like cotton or polyester. If you want a more expensive bed sheet set, keep an eye out for sales and try to shop on a Memorial Day or Labor Day as they are major sale holidays.

FAQs

Is 500 thread count good?

Fabric and weave type will affect the thread count. If you’re choosing a sheet set based on thread count alone, you may discover the product isn’t to your liking. We do suggest you avoid a thread count of 800 or higher since it’s a sign the manufacturers have inflated the thread count.

What Is a good thread count for microfiber sheets?

Like silk, you want to focus on the weight of the microfiber material. When selecting your microfiber sheets, choose something within the range of 90 and 120 grams per square meter (GSM)— the higher the GSM, the more durable your sheets.

How often do you wash your bed sheets?

It’s a good idea to wash your bedding at least once a week and have a spare set on standby. How you wash them will affect the product’s lifespan. Read your bed sheet’s washing instructions to learn the water temperature, detergent, and wash cycle best for your sheets.

Conclusion

A sheet’s quality depends on the thread count, ply count, material type, and weave. Determine what you’d like based on your preferences and needs. For instance, a hot sleeper will need breathable sheets. And remember, a high thread count does not necessarily mean high-quality sheets.

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