There's a lot to consider when it comes to buying bed sheets: size, material, color, and, of course, thread count. Fabric comes down to personal preference, and the style you choose depends on your bedroom, but thread count isn't as obvious. Ranging from 200 to over 1000 thread count cotton, it can get complicated.
Considering that the cost of bed sheets tends to rise in line with the thread count, it's natural to conclude that higher thread counts equal better quality. Egyptian cotton bedding (arguably the most luxurious of sheets), for example, is generally around the 800 mark. Budget aside, thread count should be one of the most important things to keep in mind – or so we thought.
Having spoken to some sleep experts, and tested plenty of sheets ourselves, we've discovered everything you need to know about thread count. It turns out that your best bet is a thread count between 200-400, but it will depend on the weave. We get into the detail and offer some examples of the best bedding below.
What's the best thread count for bed sheets?
The higher the thread count, the better the quality, right? Wrong. After consulting a few experts on the matter, it seems a high thread count isn't a true indication of luxury, and it isn't the only factor you should be considering when it comes to buying bed sheets.
What is thread count?
Before knowing the ideal thread count for bed sheets, it's important to understand what thread count is. Yusuf Ozkanli, the founder and product manager at luxury bedding brand Beddable, explains 'thread count refers to the number of yarns per square inch of fabric', a yarn being 'the vertical and horizontal weaves'. Essentially, a higher thread count means more yarns present in your bed sheets.
Since a limited number of threads can fit into each fabric square inch, quality will actually depend on how thick the yarns are' says Ozkanli. 'Lots of bedding manufacturers will use multi-ply yarn to achieve the effect of more threads and better value bedding. In reality, this results in a higher thread count number, but a low-grade feel.
Yusuf Ozkanli is the founder and product manager of luxury bedding brand Beddable and has over 7 years of experience in sourcing home textiles from across the world.
The best thread count for bed sheets
Single-ply construction found in 200-400 thread count sheets feels softer and will last longer than multi-ply cotton bedding with a higher thread count number. Therefore, 'the best thread count for bed sheets is 200-400, because sheets within this range are soft and durable, ', says Yusuf Ozkanli. Any lower and they won't wash well, higher and the composition could become stiff. 'But thread count isn't the only thing to consider when shopping for luxury bed linens' adds Ozkanli.
Where the fabric is sourced and manufactured will also affect the quality. Ozkanli suggests 'searching from sheets made from cotton that comes from Portugal, where local families run generational mills that meet high production standards.' Bedding made with this level of expertise should comply with regulations and have an Oeko-Tex certification that ensures sheets are made without harmful chemicals, like dyes and bleaches.
If you're in the market for new sheets, these are the softest sheets approved by experts. I've personally tested every set.
Softest bed sheets
Sizes: Twin, queen, king
Material: 100% long-staple cotton
Thread count: 400
OEKO-TEK certified: Yes
Best affordable bed sheets
Sizes: Twin/twin XL, full, queen, king, Cal king
Material: 100% cotton
Thread count: 400
OEKO-TEK certified: Yes
What thread count do hotels use?
Surprisingly, it's not the thread count that makes hotel sheets so luxurious, it's the type of weave. Most hotels use percale sheets with a thread count of 400-500, with the idea they with suit most sleepers and stay in good condition despite washes. Percale itself is the simple weaving technique of one yarn over, and one yarn under, resulting in a matte finish that's cool to the touch. This is what creates the fresh, high-quality feel you get with hotel bedding.
What type of sheets are the best quality?
The most popular bedding material is cotton, as it is soft, breathable, and easy to care for. The best quality cotton will be made from long-staple fibers spun into a weave of around 400 thread count. But while you may think that Egyptian cotton is the go-to if you want top quality, there are other types of sheets making their way into the market too. Linen is becoming one of the most popular sheet materials, for its lightweight feel and relaxed look. It may have a lower thread count, but linen gets softer with every wash and is known to last.
Having a luxe feeling bed goes beyond bed sheets. If you're wanting the full hotel upgrade at home, one of the best mattresses is where you should start. Pair with plush pillows and a comforter that suits your sleep style, and you're guaranteed five-star slumber.
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Louise is your eCommerce Editor and sleep specialist to help you wind down well. A connoisseur of the mattress world, Louise previously covered sleep and wellness (as well as the occasional organizational buy) at Real Homes, and has tried, tested, and reviewed some of the buys for your bedroom. With an MA in International Journalism and PR experience, Louise brings bags of bedding expertise and enjoys nothing more than helping readers find solutions and products that best suit their sleep needs.
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