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Buying Guide: What Does Thread Count Really Mean?

Recently, several of our customers wrote to our customer service hotline ( to ask us about Thread Counts. One of our customers was asking if it’s simply a marketing technique to make Egyptian cotton sheets sound more luxurious.

So is it true? Is it simply a marketing plot? What does thread count really mean?

Understanding what thread count is

Thread count really is a scientific term, with strict standards on how those threads are counted. It’s actually the number of threads woven together in a square. You count both lengthwise (wrap) and widthwise (weft) threads. In other words, it’s the amount of threads that fill a certain area of your fabric. Therefore, the finer the material your fabric, the higher thread count can be found.

However, do note that different country’s standard is slightly different. For instance, the European standard is the amount of threads that occupy one square inch (as cited above), while in Australia, it’s more common to use 10 square centimetres. It’s precisely the lack of international standard making it difficult for ordinary people to understand what the true meaning is.

But basically, the higher thread count, the better quality of the fabric. A 100 lengthwise threads woven with 100 widthwise threads will produce a thread count of 200. Simple right?

So what’s the ideal thread count?

Thread count is now a buzz word for marketing luxury bedsheets, shirts or other woven fabric products. You learn from the shopping malls that the finer the threads you can weave together, the softer and finer the fabric, so the more luxury the product is and thus higher the price point.

However, our laundry professionals at my locker laundry doesn’t exactly agree with this. Uncle Leong explained, “It’s not always the case. According to many studies, a thread counts of 250 is good. 500 will be better but anything above 500 will likely only provide a higher price tag which you really can’t feel a lot of difference.”

In other words, a sweet spot is anywhere between 250 to 500. Different people prefer different style – a lower thread count is generally lighter, cool and crisp while a higher thread count will be more tightly woven, which means they will be warmer and silkier, with buttery-smooth softness feel.

A thread count below 250 might feel a bit rough by many.

Some sales people tell me that this sheet with a thread count of 1,200. Isn’t it better than 500?

Spending his entire life in the laundry care business, Uncle Leong, in his 60s, explained “Thread count is about putting the threads together. So how are counts such as 800, 1,200 or 1,600, which some manufacturers claim, even possible? How could you fit that many threads into a single inch? The short answer is: YOU CAN’T.”

Some manufacturers use creative math to boost thread count. How did they do it? They don’t only count each thread, but they consider each fibre that make up each thread. In short, a thread count of 1,200 is simply not possible using the standard counting method. However, some manufacturers are getting away by not using the thread as a whole, but instead, use each fiber or piles that make up the material in a thread when they are counting. Generally speaking, a single thread is typically made up of four separate piles that are twisted together. So a single thread might be four piles twisted together: one manufacturer will call that one thread, while another one will call that four threads.

So it’s important for you to understand the term real meanings – a rule of thumb, when a fabric says it has a thread count of more than 500, it’s pretty easy to figure out that they actually mean fibres and not threads.

Quantity of Quality Thread?

In addition to the quantity of thread, one needs to consider the quality of thread. In fact, high thread count doesn’t mean much if the threads made aren’t high quality. So, a thread count of 200 high-quality fibres can have a better hand and feeling to the touch than a thread count of 500 inferior-quality fibres.

In the world of cotton, the quality of cotton is determined by the length of the fibres, also known as the staple. Generally, shorter staple is about one and one-eighth inch long and it’s the lowest quality. Long staple is at least one and one-forth inch long and is considered as high quality. Extra-long staple fiber is one and three-eighth to two inch long and is the finest quality.

Egyptian Cotton

In the world of cotton, we highly recommend Egyptian cotton. It’s the finest and longest staple producing luxuriously soft, yet extremely durable sheets. When buying Egyptian cotton sheets, remember that real Egyptian cotton sheets will have a fabric tag that reads “Egyptian Cotton”. Also, the thread count will be high because of the thin staple. The prices on Egyptian cotton sheets is generally higher than other types of materials.

And why the name? It’s because last time, Egyptian cotton was primary grown in Egypt but today, it’s actually all over now.

Supima Cotton

It’s a trademark name used when a product is made with American-grown Pima.

Pima Cotton

It’s a nice fabric. It’s known for strength and durability. Pima cotton is a long-staple cotton fibre that produces soft weave and look and feel. It’s a high-quality cotton.

So there you go. Now knowing a little more about thread counts and the quantity and quality of threads, you can then select the most suitable type of fabrics during your next buy.

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My Locker Laundry

My Locker Laundry is an e-commerce + dry cleaning service provider in Singapore. We install hassle free electronic lockers, free of charge, to enable customers to do their dry cleaning: business shirts, winter jackets, bed sheets etc at a highly competitive price.

We integrate the utility of an Omni-channel digital-offline customer interface, micro services design architecture, proprietary customer relationship management system, factory optimization management and logistics management systems among other enterprise solutions to offer the most convenient, easy and high quality way customers to do their dry cleaning and laundry.

With a proprietary locker-based laundry solution. My Locker Laundry has eliminated the two biggest problems for our customers in Singapore: inconvenience locations and inconvenience hours.

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