• A higher thread count doesn’t mean better sheets.
  • Thread count refers to the number of threads in one square inch, or 6.45 square centimetres, of fabric.
  • Manufacturers can use low-grade cotton to cram more threads when spun or twist threads together to multiply the count.
  • You should look for organic cotton.

It's easy to think that a high thread count means better sheets. That's not really the case, here's why.

Thread count refers to the number of threads in one square inch (6.45 square centimetres) of fabric.

You might think a higher thread count means higher-quality sheets, but manufacturers have tricky ways of manipulating that number.

They can use low-grade cotton that's thin when spun. That way, they can cram more threads into a smaller space. Or, they can create a "multi-ply" thread by twisting two threads together before weaving.

Since they've fit two threads in the place of one they can claim double the thread count. They can even twist four threads into a single "multi-ply" thread. This quadruples the thread count but doesn't make the sheets any softer or stronger.

Photo Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

So how do you know you're buying quality bedding?

Experts say to look for organic cotton. It’s durable, soft, and breathable. Another good sign is the sheets will improve with each wash.

Lower-quality sheets may come with polishes or waxes to make the feel of sheets at the store more pleasant. But those will wash off the first time you clean your sheets. Also, if you see threads hanging off or nonuniform stitches that's a sign the sheets are cheaply made.  

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