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What is a Cotton Sheet Thread Count?

Cotton bolls on a branch.
A field of cotton.
A higher thread count indicates a softer, more durable sheet.
Folded cotton sheets.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 July 2014
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Thread count is simply the number of individual fibers found in 1 square inch (6.45 square cm) of fabric. Finding this number involves calculating the total number of warp and filling fibers or threads contained within that area. One of the most common situations where the figure is very important is in the manufacturing of bed sheets and other types of bedding.

When it comes to sheet thread count, the total number of threads or fibers helps to determine the overall quality of the product. It is important to understand the actual weave of the material, therefore. The calculation begins by making note of the number of vertical, or warp, threads used in the weave of. This is combined with the number of horizontal or filling threads used in the creation of the fabric. Essentially, the more horizontal and filling threads used in the manufacturing of the material, the higher the quality and durability will be.

For people who want bedding that is smooth, comfortable, and likely to last for a long time, the number is of special interest. When cotton bed sheets have a high thread count, that means the weave is tighter, fuller, and has a smoother texture than sheets with a lower count. For many people, knowing this what this number means is the best way to determine the quality of sheets available for purchase.

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There are bedding sets constructed with a wide range of thread counts. Generally, the lowest count available is 200. Sheets with this type of construction are more likely to be rougher, thinner, and less likely to hold up to repeated use. The lower number also means the sheets will cost significantly less.

By contrast, a sheet set thread count that is 400 or more is much more durable and generally much softer to the touch, but they will also cost more. These sheets will last much longer than those with a low number, however, and over time may outlast two or even three less expensive sets. From this perspective, the higher count not only provides more comfort but will also save money over the long term.

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Discuss this Article

Aygun
Post 13

Thanks for useful article, but I want to ask about one thing: I saw in this article and on other sites that density influence on the quality of using such sheets. But what about washing? Will it be more difficult to wash sheets with more higher number of threads?

It is very important questions for moms with kids, who like to play with paints in bed.

JackWhack
Post 12

I grew up sleeping on cheap 200 thread count sheets. They weren't very soothing to the touch, but they did okay for covering the mattress below and protecting the comforter above.

Until I moved out on my own, I didn't even know that you could get higher quality sheets. I had never heard of a thread count until I went shopping for sheets, and after I felt the difference between a low thread count and a high one, I had to have the high one. I don't think I could ever go back to sleeping on my old sheets, now that I know what I'd been missing.

cloudel
Post 11

@StarJo – I had some 800 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets that were awfully thin. I bought them from a lady who sells them super cheap, though.

She told me that she buys them in bulk, and that is how she is able to offer them at such a discount. It sounded like a good deal to me.

When I got them home and took them out of their package, I was disappointed. I could see through them!

They did have a silky texture, but they were way too thin. I guess the quality really does depend on where you buy them.

StarJo
Post 10

The best sheets I have ever used were 800 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. My husband got them for me as a wedding gift, and they have become my favorite sheets.

They are so silky to the touch that it is hard to believe they are made of cotton. If I didn't know better, I would think they were actual silk sheets.

They feel cool to the touch, and they are great for using in the summer. They keep me from getting hot at night.

Mykol
Post 9

I know people who go to the trouble of ironing their sheets. I don't like wrinkled sheets, but can't imagine taking the time to iron them.

I generally look for something that is least a 400-500 thread count. I like to wait for a sale and use that to stock up on what I need.

One thing I have found is that many of the cotton sheet sets made for a twin bed don't have very high thread count. My daughter complains about the rough sheets she has on her bed in her dorm room.

Does anyone know a good place to find higher thread count sheets for a twin sized bed?

John57
Post 8

@golf07-- I totally agree about sleeping on rough, scratchy sheets. When you realize that approximately 1/3 of your life is spent sleeping, I think it is important to have the nicest sheets and bedding one can afford.

I realize this may not be realistic for everyone, but you can wait for good sales and get some high thread count sheets at a great price. Because they last so much longer, I think you are getting a better deal no matter what.

I like to find high thread count cotton sheets that don't wrinkle. I will pay more for these type of sheets because I don't like to sleep on wrinkly sheets any more than I do low thread count sheets.

golf07
Post 7

I read once where anything over 400 thread count didn't make much difference when it came to sheets. I don't know if this is true or not, but I don't usually buy anything less than that.

When money was really tight, I would buy the cheapest sheets I could find. That usually meant a 200 thread count sheet. Sometimes it almost felt like you were sleeping on sand paper because the sheets were so rough.

myharley
Post 6
@closerfan12-- I don't think you can go wrong with Egyptian cotton sheets. I have a pair of 600 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets that I just love.

The more you wash them, the softer they become. I have had these sheets for 2 years, and they are still in great shape. I love sleeping on soft sheets, and would never use anything else again.

anon125294
Post 5

i am looking at buying some sheets from china. the thread count is 40s. can you please tell me what that is 200, 400?

closerfan12
Post 4

Which one is better if I want a moderately soft, yet crisp sheet: 600 or 800 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets? I've tried linen medium thread count sheets before and found them slightly too rough, though I loved how crisp they were.

So now I'm moving over to cotton -- which one would suit me better, do you think?

rallenwriter
Post 3

@streamfinder -- Why don't you use 1000 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets? I hear that those are crazy soft after you wash them a few times.

Barring that, you could try a high thread count Percale -- I've heard that those are really nice too.

Best of luck with your thread count woes!

StreamFinder
Post 2

What is the highest thread count for satin sheets? I really want to get a very high thread count of bed sheets because I hate feeling the weave of sheets when I'm trying to sleep.

I've already tried silk high thread count sheets and they didn't work for me, so now I'm looking for something else.

What is the best material and thread count for sheets that are really smooth, satiny, and exceptionally soft?

anon79127
Post 1

so, if I am looking for sheets that stay "crisp" when you hang them to dry, 200-250 thread count would be best? I hate soupy sheets!

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