Debunking the Higher-is-Better Thread Count Myth with Under the Canopy

Debunking the Higher-is-Better Thread Count Myth with Under the Canopy

For years now, there’s been a myth circulating among consumers about the importance of purchasing sheets with the highest thread count money can buy. The marketing world, and perhaps some misinformed “experts,” have craftily woven a story insisting that higher thread count (600, 800, to 1,000 plus) equates to a more luxurious, higher quality, and longer-lasting sheet.

Unfortunately, for most shoppers, until they’ve had their eyes opened to the truth, they will probably continue to seek out those ridiculous numbers in exchange for a sheet that’s actually subpar where it really counts.

Considering the average American spends approximately 6.8 hours a day sleeping already — a number medical professionals warn should be even higher — a new set of proper sheets might be just the kind of incentive needed to get some extra shuteye.

“Thread count, quite literally, is the number of yarns per square inch,” says Danielle Dorn, Creative Director at Under the Canopy. Having been in the textile industry for over 15 years, and currently serving as the creative lead at one of the most well-known and well-established organic bedding companies around, Dorn had much to say when it comes to navigating the misconceptions surrounding thread count.

“Historically, thread count is how consumers have shopped for sheets. They were told there was a direct correlation between the two,” Dorn says. “In reality, marketing was driving the thread count misconception. Thread count can sometimes be an indicator of quality, but you have to look at other factors as well when buying sheets. More important than thread count is the construction and type of cotton going into the sheets.”

Construction, as Dorn mentioned, is an important factor in the quality of your sheets. The yarns used to construct sheets can either be single or multi-ply yarn. And because multi-ply yarns (plied yarns) are made by twisting two or more yarns together, this typically results in a weaker weave (and a less durable sheet) when compared to a single-ply yarn.

As for industry regulation, Dorn comments on the lack of FTC mandate for determining thread count. “The FTC states that plied yarns should only be counted as one thread when determining thread count, but this is a voluntary enforcement. They cover the issue under a section which prohibits deceptive practices, but this can be open to interpretation and many companies proceed with these deceptive practices. It’s unfortunate there is not greater enforcement on the issue– consumers deserve transparency, always.”

In a letter to the FTC, one business owner points out the deceptive practices exercised by his competitors: “The common practice in the U.S. textile bedding industry for decades has been to count the number of thread in both the warp and filling directions. Yarns were counted as one yarn, regardless of weather the yarn was single ply or multi-ply yarn. In recent years, however, some textile bedding suppliers have changed the way they have determined thread count by counting plied yarns individually. This practice inflates the thread count numbers to levels which double or triple (or more) the thread count as determined by the long-standing, traditional way.”

As for material quality, Dorn believes “the better the fiber, the softer the hand” is true, and that “a low thread count sheet with a better fiber will last longer than a high thread count sheet with a lesser-quality fiber.” She also goes on to mention how “organic fibers are generally shorter in staple, but the fiber is superior, making it a longer lasting, better quality sheet.” This is why it’s recommended to choose quality materials that aren’t blends (remember, single is superior in comparison to multi-ply). And like Dorn mentioned, quality cottons are best, something you won’t need to worry about if shopping with Under the Canopy–all of the company’s sheets are cotton and organic.

Sheets with a thread count of 200 can indicate quality, regardless of the lower number. In fact, it’s all Under the Canopy sells, and this business isn’t afraid to display it proudly. “Under the Canopy is all about transparency, so we think the customer should know the thread count of our sheet,” says Dorn. “Our sheets are actually superior than a lot of our competitors in the market due to the quality fibers we use, and our single-ply construction. When we state what our thread count is, you can be sure that is the true number.”

As with any product available for purchase, research and knowledge are the threads that separate an informed consumer from an unsuspecting one. That’s why, before shopping for anything, even an item as innocuous as a set of sheets, it’s always wise to brush up on products and the company you’ll be shopping with. By purchasing your bedding from Under the Canopy, you can rest assured that the quality is top notch.

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Jamie Duncan

After starting out in public relations, Jamie finished college with a BFA in interior design. This combination of writing and design knowledge, coupled with her fashion and lifestyle expertise, has paved the way for an exciting freelance career. Her work has been published in magazines and online, plus she’s managed PR campaigns, and is no stranger to copywriting. Jamie’s a vegetarian and cruelty-free product fanatic. Connect with her on Twitter and check out her website to learn more.