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Does thread count really count?

We are always told to look for a higher thread count when buying bed sheets. It’s said to determine the quality and the durability of a bed sheet. But is thread count really that important?

The answer, inarguably, is yes.

One of the most basic parameters for any fabric, thread count is the number of threads woven in one square inch of a cloth. This includes both vertical and horizontal count of the weave. While most bed sheets are made of cotton, some cotton blends have also gained popularity over the years.

Most “quality” bed sheets have a thread count of 180 and above – some of the best ones go up to 1000. What happens when the thread count is below 180?

Lift up the sheet against light and you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.

You will see light rays coming through weaves of the fabric, and it is not a good sign for regular use. Bed linen with a thread count less than 150 will not stand the test of time and multiple machine washes.

Like thread count, it also matters which technique has been used to weave the fabric. There’s sateen, percale and linen depending on the way thread has been woven – sateen is smooth and shiny while percale is soft and crisp.

Satin and Sateen are different – satin is made of fibres like silk, polyester or nylon (or a blend of all three), whereas sateen is made from cotton which is weaved in a way that gives it a smooth texture and a shiny, lustrous look.

A “ply” is sometimes a better measure of quality than thread count itself. It is an indicator of how the thread count was achieved. A ‘single-ply’ means there is only one strand that makes a thread, while a ‘two-ply’ means two strands of yarn were twisted together to make one thread.But ‘higher the better’ is not always a wise decision-making standard. A thread count of 800 and above, though it sounds fantastic, needs to be double-checked for authenticity. Sometimes, such bed sheets are made of ‘multi-ply’ threads which are thick and make the cloth coarse and prone to tear.

At times, a fabric with a thread count of 600 may be achieved by using 300 two-ply threads. So when it comes to a multi-ply fabric, many strands are twisted together to make a single thread – which is not preferable.

Bed sheets with a thread count anywhere between 180-300 is considered great and with thread count between 300-500 make up the luxurious lot.

So when it comes to buying a bed linen, it is advisable to look for the thread count while also keeping in mind other factors like fabric, weave and trust in the brand.

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