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What, how & why of thread count in bedding

Defining thread count & breaking through the marketing lingo & tricks

At BeddingCo we ask you please take into consideration more than just thread count when choosing your bedding. We have compiled this information to help you make informed decisions about your bedding to gain the maximum benefit and achieve a better night’s sleep.  

Thread count

Thread count in Australia, is the amount of threads per 10cm2 (3.16cm x 3.16cm). The measurement counts both warp and weft combined (300 warp + 300 weft = 600 thread count). Seems simple enough doesn't it?

Tricks to watch out for:

  • 2 ply, 4 ply or other multiple yarns included in the thread count for bedding products.
  • Some manufacturers and retailers claim that their products have a 2000 thread count. To make this claim they have used the dubious method of including each yarn as a thread. So a 4 ply sheet that is truly 500 thread count (or sometimes less) is labelled as a 2000 thread count sheet. An extremely high thread count sheet at a very low price is exactly what it sounds like; too good to be true.

Please note: We are not saying you need to spend a fortune on quality bedding, just don’t fall into the marketing thread count trap.

Egyptian Cotton

We define our Egyptian cotton products as being pure 100% Egyptian cotton that is not mixed nor blended cotton.

High thread counts holds little meaning when the fibres used are of poor quality or short staple length resulting in poor quality products.

Egyptian cotton standards maintain a fibre length being within the range of 31.5mm - 48mm. These larger staple fibres mean there are less ends exposed and are less likely to pill.

As a comparison cotton/polyester blends may not wrinkle as much, but they will not be as porous (or breathable), which will make you feel warmer with less temperature regulation while you sleep.

Tricks to watch out for:

We want to start by being open and stating there are no Australian regulations for labelling a product Egyptian cotton.

  • Some manufacturers try to cut costs and mix different grades of cotton. Some have been found to have as little as 1% - 5%, with the remaining threads being inferior short stable fibres.
  • Price is also an indicator or the “too good to be true deal on Egyptian cotton bedding”, we have found these deals are not 100% Egyptian cotton.
  • Short warranty periods are an indicator of something not being 100% Egyptian cotton (this high quality fibre should last many years if cared for properly).

Fibre quality

There are so many types of cotton available, which one is the best you ask? Here are the four types of cotton grown for commercial cotton use.

Gossypium Barbadense

It is commonly referred to as extra-long staple cotton. Grown natively in tropical South America (which is around 8% of the world’s production). It is grown on trees that are bushy and need full sun with a high amount of humidity and plenty of rain. This species is used for the following;

  • Giza 45 (the rarest, longest cotton fibre available in the world)
  • Egyptian
  • Pima
  • Supima
  • Suvin
  • Barakat
  • Sea Island

Gossypium Hirsutum

This species was cultivated to serve the American market. It is native to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean (with over 90% of the world’s production from these regions). These plants are used in the following:

  • Short Staple American Upland
  • Long Staple American Upland

Gossypium Arboreum

This is a tree cotton that is native to India and Pakistan (less than 2% of the world’s production). As we mentioned earlier this is one of the cotton products used to enhance claims of Egyptian cotton and is generally used in inferior products.  

Gossypium Herbaceum

Also known as Levant cotton, this quite low quality cotton is native to the southern parts of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula (producing less than 2% of the world’s production). Needless to say this is also used in inferior products and is not a popular cotton.

So what does all this information mean to you?

  • The higher the thread count (of 100% Egyptian cotton – not inferior cotton blends) the more durable and the better value for money over time.
  • Watch out for the deal of a lifetime and mislabelled products with little or no information on the qualifying factors that support the retailer’s claims.
  • There is a limit to the amount of threads that can fit in a specific area.
  • Find the right thread count that suits your needs. 1200 thread count may be too heavy for you and a lighter thread count of 600 (which is a looser warp and weft) could be perfect for your climate.
  • Buy your bedding from a specialist with great guarantees and service you can trust.

We have more information in our sheet buying guide on which sheets will suit you to improve your night’s sleep.