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Why thread count is a scam

Why thread count is a scam

why thread count is a lie

What's the first thing you look for in a set of sheets? Color? Okay, sure. But, what's the next thing you look for? Size? That makes sense. But, then what? Price. Totally, totally.

At some point you check the thread count, right? Okay, good, because this post is about thread count and we need a good segue.

What is thread count?

Thread count is the number of threads in a square inch of fabric. The standard for counting is to add each warp (vertical thread) and filling (horizontal thread) per square inch. So a sheet with 125 warp and 125 filling would be...let's see, carry the 1...250 thread count.

(BTW, we're currently hiring a Junior Thread Count Counter. While it's an extremely tedious job, it's also not at all rewarding. Inquire within.)

man cradling his head in his hands in bed

tfw you get to spend the whole day counting threads.

Why you should be skeptical of thread count

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


One way involves weaving threads together to artificially inflate the total thread count. For example, a manufacturer may sneakily use 2-ply threads in a 400 thread count sheet set to double the thread count to 800. Very sneaky, Mr. (or Mrs.) Manufacturer.

What's worse is they use cheaper threads to pad the thread count and lower their costs (but not yours). One of the many problems with this method is it affects the durability of the sheets. Cheap, filler threads will inevitably cause the fabric to fray and peel like twine. 

Exposing the fraudsters

The Good Housekeeping Institute (whose headquarters are located inside a volcano in the Pacific) investigated thread count claims by textile manufacturers and found that "seven out of eight sheets...flunked thread count tests."

Some manufacturers were exaggerating thread count by as much as three or four times. In one instance, a 1500 thread count sheet was found to have only 300 threads per square inch. That's like your date bragging to you that they have $40 in savings when they really only have $8 (not springing for guac at Chipotle should have been a dead giveaway).

The problem with high thread count sheets

Sheets with higher thread counts are more expensive, but are they worth the price? That's entirely subjective, but "no" is the correct answer.

Sheets with ludicrously high thread counts are less breathable because of, you know, all the threads. This means airflow is constricted which means the sheets don't breathe well which means you will toss and turn and sweat profusely and write poorly (this sentence was written from a 3200 thread count cotton sheet set).

a woman working on her laptop in bed

Your laptop won't overheat on our breathable eucalyptus sheets (unless it's a Chromebook).

So what's the ideal thread count?

According to linen expert, Julian Tomchin, beyond a thread count of 400, there is no difference in quality. He cautioned, “Once you get beyond 400 threads per square inch, be suspicious.”

Why? It's a space issue. The amount of thread that can fit into a square inch of fabric is limited, suggesting that bedding beyond 400 threads is likely a marketing tactic. Additionally, sheets with thread counts above 400 will have threads that are thinner and weaker (see above).

Experts also suggest that sheet material is more important than thread count.

As it so happens, S&G sheets are not only 400 thread count, they're also made from a superior material: silky soft, eucalyptus lyocell.

What are the odds that S&G's eucalyptus sheets tick both boxes? Extremely high as we wouldn't have written this blog post if it didn't make us look good somehow.

But, seriously, our sheets are nice.

a dog lying on a bed

"These eucalyptus sheets have 400 threads per square inch." -our Senior Thread Count Counter and potentially your new boss

Learn more about your bedding: Sateen vs Percale

2 comments on Why thread count is a scam

  • Antonio
    AntonioOctober 19, 2021

    Love this article!

    The last pair of sheets I ordered are old and worn now so I need another sale soon!!!

  • Richard R. Gallagher
    Richard R. GallagherOctober 11, 2021

    I really giggled reading your cleverly written thread count article. For a comedian you have good material. You add a new wrinkle to noctambulism.

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