If you just purchased a new mattress, you might need a new set of bed sheets to go with it. There’s a lot to consider when purchasing your sheets though! Are you looking for breathable sheets? A specific weave style? What kind of fabric?
But, more often than not, the most common variable shoppers look at is the thread count. People often ask, “what’s the best thread count for sheets?” In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about thread count.
What Does Thread Count Mean?
To some, thread count could be the only thing that makes a sheet set worth purchasing. But what is thread count, exactly?
Simply put, thread count is the number of threads or yarns woven into a square inch of fabric. This also refers to how tightly knit the threads are. High thread count sheets have less space in the weave, while lower thread count sheets have more space in the weave.
If you’re a fan of cotton sheets, you’ll definitely want to pay close attention to thread count. There are so many different types of cotton, and each style is a bit different. Of course, you’ll also find thread count in other types of fabric.
How Do You Calculate Thread Count?
Now that we know what thread count is, let’s take a closer look at how manufacturers determine what it is.
In sheets, the threads are woven vertically and horizontally. The vertical threads are called warp, while the horizontal threads are called weft. To get the thread count, you’ll add the weft and the warp together.
So, for example, if there are 150 threads going vertically, and 150 threads going horizontally in one square inch of fabric, the sheets will have a thread count of 300.
What is the Best Thread Count for Sheets?
Companies and marketing strategies will have you believe that the best sheets have high thread counts. However, high-quality sheets don’t just rely on thread count.
Generally speaking, we’d recommend anything from 200 to 600 as a good thread count range. There isn’t one solid answer for the best thread count because there are a variety of factors to consider.
When shopping for sheets, look out for high-quality fabric and what type of weave was used. These often play just as much of a factor into the quality of a sheet set as thread count does.
However, if you see a thread count of 1,000 and beyond, we’d suggest you be a little skeptical. Some companies might use two-ply or three-ply threads to calculate that number. This means there might be two or three fibers in one thread, and companies might count that two or three times to artificially inflate their thread counts.
Sheets made with these multi-ply yarns only have the same thread count as those made with single-ply yarns. And because the fibers that make up these multi-ply yarns are thinner, they tend to be less durable as well.
Best Thread Count for Different Types of Sheets
With that being said, you’ll also want to consider the types of threads or fibers used and style of weave. Some fibers are thicker than others, and weaves can be tight or loose. Because of that, there’s not one magic number for the best thread count.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the recommended thread count for different types of sheets.
Cotton Sheets: Between 200 and 400
Egyptian Cotton Sheets: Between 400 and 700
Bamboo Sheets: Around 300
Linen Sheets: Between 80 and 130
Percale sheets: Can go as low as 180, but generally 200 to 300 is ideal.
Sateen sheets: Between 300 and 600
When it comes to the weave, the percale weave, also known as a plain weave, is a weaving technique that leaves sheets feeling crisp and looking matte. Sheets with a sateen weave feel softer than percale sheets, however they’re more tightly woven, so they may hold heat more.
RELATED: Percale Vs Sateen
Is a Higher Thread Count Better?
Sometimes a higher thread count can be better, but it’s not the only factor to consider when purchasing sheets. Keep in mind, thread count is often used as a marketing tactic, and it’s not always an indicator of quality. It’s also important to note, usually, the higher the thread count, the higher the price.
Remember, you want quality, not always quantity when buying a new set of sheets. Sheets can have different fibers or threads, and as we mentioned above, there are recommended thread counts to look out for.
And some of the highest quality products, like silk sheets, don’t use a thread count at all. Ultimately, when purchasing sheets, it boils down to your personal preference. But if there’s one takeaway here, it’s that the thread count is not always what makes for luxury sheets!
Does Thread Count Matter?
In a word, yes. But as we’ve mentioned, it’s not the only factor shoppers should look at. But here’s why thread count does matter.
Sheets with lower thread counts tend to have more space between their weave, which means that there’s more room for air to flow into your sheets. If you’re a hot sleeper, or looking for cooling sheets, you might want to look at sheets with a lower thread count.
In fact, in our Casper Hyperlite sheets review, we discuss how that set of sheets has a lower thread count, which helps make them cooler!
Some of the softest sheets are made of bamboo. We’ve reviewed some of the best bamboo sheets out there, so be sure to give them a look! For more soft options, look for sheets with sateen weaves.
Thread count is an important factor to consider when buying new sheets, but it’s not the only thing you’ll want to think about. That said, there still may be some questions left unanswered. Let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about sheets, thread counts, and care instructions.
What’s the highest thread count for sheets?
Some sheets might have thread counts as high as 1,600 to 2,000. However, as mentioned above, we’d take that thread count with a grain of salt. The highest recommended thread count for sheets caps out at around 800 to 1,000.
How do I stop my sheets from pilling?
Pills are those pesky balls of fuzz you see on things like t-shirts and couches. And, yes, they even appear on sheets. Often they’re uncomfortable, and they can be rather unattractive. The best way to prevent pilling is in the care of your sheets. It’s often suggested to avoid high temperatures when washing or drying. In fact, in some cases, it might be better to air dry your sheets if you’re able to. We also recommend washing your sheets with mild detergents.
How do I choose the right sheets?
Even though purchasing decisions ultimately boil down to personal preference, there are some factors to consider when choosing the right sheets. Cotton sheets are often on the more affordable side, but there are different types of cotton (with Egyptian cotton being a little more pricey, too), so take some time to look up some of the best cotton sheets out there. Thread count is important, but it’s not the only factor to consider. As we’ve mentioned, the best thread count for sheets tends to be anywhere between 200 to 600. This will depend on the types of fiber used, and the specific weave used as well.
Tony is a staff writer at Mattress Clarity where he analyzes sleep products and appears in review videos. He earned a B.A in English from Sam Houston State University and a M.A in Mass Communication from Texas State University.
When he isn’t writing about sleep products, Tony loves to unwind with a good book or can be found playing Pokemon Go outside with his friends, or cuddling with his cat, Penguin. He’s always down to try a new, local restaurant and try new foods.