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Home & Design December 12, 2017

The truth behind 1000 thread count sheets

In January 2010, Christina and Ben were excited about starting The Hotel Sheet. They wanted the best, so asked their Portuguese producer for 1000 thread count sheets, 2000 if they made them.

“Honestly, you could have heard a pin drop,” reminisces Ben.

“After an awkward silence, the experts laughed (politely) and explained that 1000 thread count sheets are a bit of a joke because you can’t physically fit more than 500 visible threads into a square inch.”



Super high thread counts, the Portuguese explained, are achieved by counting the invisible threads in a multi-ply yarn. Invisible threads?

Multi-ply yarns are made by twisting two or more threads together. The simplest form of multi-ply yarn is called a two-ply yarn (illustrated). In a two-ply yarn, each visible thread is made up of two invisible threads (see 1 & 2 in the illustration). In a three-ply yarn, there are three invisible threads, and so on.

So in a four-ply yarn with 250 visible threads, there are 1000 invisible threads (250 x 4), and counting them results in a thread count of 1000.



Retailers counting the invisible threads in a multi-ply yarn is considered misleading by many and has resulted in a class-action lawsuit in the USA, and prompted the US Federal Trade Commission to warn the textile industry.

“…we believe that consumers could be deceived or misled by the practice of stating an inflated thread count, achieved by multiplying the actual count by the number of piles within the yarn.” — US Federal Trade Commission

The reason many feel high thread count sheets are misleading is that we as consumers equate higher thread counts with higher quality. So we naturally assume that 1000 thread count sheets must be made from the finest quality threads.

But the truth is that 1000 thread count sheets can be made from some of the worst cotton available, so thread count by itself is not a great way to judge quality.


Cotton quality dictates everything. Therefore, beautiful sheets are less about the number of threads and more about the quality of threads.

Good quality cotton delivers the two things most people are looking for; sheets which feel amazing, and sheets which feel amazing for years to come.


Cotton comes in grades; short-staple, medium-staple and long-staple. The longer the staple, the finer and stronger the thread and the more beautiful the sheet feels and lasts.

Ideally, look for sheets made from medium or long-staple staple cotton and expect quality long-staple cotton to cost more.

Of course, few brands state a cotton grade and very few retailers seem to understand what they are. In the absence of information or knowledgeable staff, price is probably the best indicator of quality.


Egyptian cotton has a reputation for being the best long-staple cotton in the world.

This has lead to brands and retailers leveraging the reputation of Egyptian cotton by blending Egyptian cotton with another cotton, using cheaper quality Egyptian cotton, or not using Egyptian cotton at all!

In fact, the Cotton Egypt association got so tired of the practice in early 2017; they used a new DNA test to check products found in various New York stores and discovered 90% of the ‘Made in Egypt’ products didn’t contain any Egyptian cotton.


Newly introduced DNA testing is lifting the lid on these practices, and in late 2016, US retailers Target and Wal-Mart stopped selling Indian-made Egyptian cotton products after they couldn’t guarantee authenticity (Wal-Mart is also facing a class action suit).


Others including JC Penny and Bed, Bath & Beyond have reportedly launched investigations into their product lines.


We’re sad to report that our industry has engaged in such behaviour and recommend looking for DNA tested Egyptian cotton to ensure you’re getting the genuine article.


At The Hotel Sheet, our Egyptian cotton has been DNA tested, and certified as genuine, long-staple Egyptian cotton.



Better cotton for your money
We use single-ply yarns. They result in fine sheets that breathe better and use less cotton. By contrast, multi-ply yarns often trade quality for a higher thread count. That’s why we use single-ply yarns, better cotton for your money and sheets that feel good after years of washing.

Free NZ delivery
We offer free shipping to anywhere in New Zealand, including rural delivery. Shipping typically takes 3-4 days or a little longer for rural areas.

Tested and certified
A new DNA test is currently highlighting a fake Egyptian cotton problem. Sleep easy knowing all our Egyptian cotton is DNA certified, 100% long-staple Egyptian cotton. And all our bed linen is OEKE-TEX II certified no harmful or illegal substances.

60-night trial
Sleep on our bedding for 60 nights, and if you’re not happy, return for a full refund. All we ask is for honest feedback to help improve our bedding. Used items go to the Auckland Woman’s Refuge, some conditions apply.

The Hotel Sheet

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