How to Choose Bed Sheets by Thread Count

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How to Choose Bed Sheets by Thread Count

Thread count is a term that appears routinely in the textile business and nowadays particularly in the area of bed sheets and other bed linens. While the term should provide an indication of quality, there is a lot of confusion over what thread count actually is and what it means in terms of the product consumers can expect to receive. Thread count alone can prove deceptive and an understanding of the other factors that determine fabric quality can help you make the right decision.


What is Thread Count?

Thread count is a textile industry term, a standard that indicates the number of threads in a given piece of fabric. Threads moving in both directions make up the total number. In the industry, weavers calculate the number of threads in a square centimetre or square inch. The higher the thread count, the denser the resulting fabric. It should mean that the fabric is more durable, and it should feature a smoother, softer finish.

The Yarn

The actual number of threads in the fabric, however, can be deceptive. Thread count calculation depends on the type of yarn that makes up the fabric. Two-, three-, and even four-ply threads are often the yarn of choice. If the fabric contains 300 two-ply threads, the thread count now becomes 600. Using that method of thread count calculation, fabric that uses 250 four-ply yarns in a square inch has a 1,000-thread count.

The difference lies in the feel; sheets with a high thread count due to multiple-ply yarns feels rougher and coarser in texture than those using single-ply threads. The feel and smoothness of the fabric also depends on the type of thread in usage. Some yarns are coarser than others and so a high thread count bed sheet with inferior thread still feels rougher than one made with finer yarns.

Egyptian Cotton

Egyptian cotton is the gold standard in the world of cotton. Egyptian cotton (Gossypium barbadense) is noticeably finer than other types of cotton, and it produces luxuriously soft, smooth fabric. Nowadays, so-called Egyptian cotton grows in Australia, China, India, Sudan, Israel, and the United States as well as in Egypt. The industry values cotton in terms of the length of the individual fibres, called staples. The longer the staple, the better the cotton, and Egyptian cotton has the longest in the world. One caveat: Make sure that the cotton is actually 100 per cent Egyptian cotton. Some fabrics use a blend of only 10 per cent Egyptian cotton with other yarns, and it does not produce the same quality. Pima cotton (or Supima cotton) is another type of Gossypium barbadense that appears in the United States and is near in quality to the original Egyptian plant.

The Weave

The textile industry uses different terms for fabrics depending on how producers weave them. The warp refers to the length-wise threads while weft refers to the threads running width-wise on the loom. The most popular types of cotton fabrics are muslin, Oxford, percale, and sateen.


Name of Fabric




Plain-weave, meaning one weft over one warp thread

Thread count 115 to 140

Most common

May feel somewhat coarse




Twice as many warp threads as weft threads

Soft and heavy

Durable, can withstand a lot of laundering

Often appears in shirts


Plain-weave, meaning one weft over one warp thread

Tightly woven – thread count between 180 and 350

Fine texture and crisp finish

Medium to good durability


Warp threads interlace with multiple weft threads

Stronger, more durable

Luxurious, smooth, shiny finish


Different types of weaving techniques produce different types of fabrics and there are many aspects to consider when making a choice.

What to Look For

Most bedding begins at about 180-thread count, and 200 is a good standard. For a more luxurious, more durable bed sheet, select Pima or Egyptian cotton and a thread count of 300 or more. Be cautious in choosing a very high thread count and if you are choosing Egyptian cotton, try to see the label to be sure the Egyptian cotton content is 100 per cent.


How to Buy Bed Sheets on eBay

Search huge inventory options on eBay when it comes to choosing bed sheets and bed linens. Searching simply for bed sheets brings up the largest selection of items, ideal if you have not yet decided on the type you would like to purchase. Adding the type of cotton and size you need can help to narrow the selection. Choosing recognised brand names can be a good assurance of quality, and a local seller gives you the ability to contact them directly and possibly arrange for physical pick up and facilitate possible returns.

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