Does a Higher Thread Count Mean Softer Sheets?

We’ve all been linen shopping and seen sheet sets with ridiculously high thread counts- who knew it was possible to fit 2000 threads into an inch of fabric? But do higher thread counts always translate into softer sheets?

Thread count is the measure of the number of threads woven both length-wise and width-wise into a square inch of material. So if a pillowcase claims to have a thread count of 600, it means there are 600 individual cotton threads for every square inch of sheeting.

softer sheets

Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? The idea behind using it as a marketing tool for bedding and fabrics is pretty simple: the more threads that can be woven into a smaller space, the softer the material should be. Why? Because to fit that many threads into a square inch the threads must each be incredibly fine, and finer threads translate into softer fabric. Whether or not that’s actually true, however, is up for debate.

One independent testing group, The Consumer Reports Magazine of the United States, decided to put some of these claims under scrutiny. The results? When blindfolded, most people could tell the difference between a thread count of 100 and 200, claiming the 200 count sheets were softer. And more than half of them chose sheets with a 400 thread count over those with a thread count of 200. But surprisingly, for thread counts above 400, almost none of test subjects could tell a difference.

There are a few reasons behind this. One makes manufacturers look downright deceptive: by counting not only the threads, but each fiber (called a pile) that makes up the threads, companies were artifically inflating their thread counts. For example, if a thread is made up of three piles twisted together, one company might count it as one thread, whereas another might call it three.

Confused yet? So was the United States’ advertising standards board, the Federal Trade Commission. It began regulating how fabric manufacturers in the U.S. measured and advertised thread count in 2008.

Another reason the sheets might not have seemed softer is that at a certain point, finer threads stop making a difference in the feel of the fabric. In the same way your eyes can’t see the microscopic detail on a grain of salt, your skin might not be able to tell if those sheets have a thread count of 500 or 600.

So what does all this mean when it comes to selecting your sheets? Remember that just because something feels soft in your hand, doesn’t mean it will be soft enough for the sensitive skin on your face. If you’re on a budget, buying sheets with a thread count between 180 and 250 should give you some softness at a reasonable price.

If you have sensitive skin, a thread count of 400 or more can be much nicer. When shopping be sure to take price and material into account as well. For a big selection of sheets with different thread counts and materials, check out Only Online Shopping.

Remember to choose the right size for your bed! OO bed sheets are some of the best available, with soft sheets with high thread counts available for those with sensitive skin. Sleep tight!

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