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The best bedding to buy in the UK

May 28, 2020 3 min read

When it comes to buying bed sheets, most of us know that thread count is an indicator of quality

When it comes to buying bed sheets, most of us know that thread count is an indicator of quality. But what does a high thread count really mean? Is it the only feature you should be looking out for? In this article we take a look at what makes really great luxury bedding and offer some advice on how to make sure you're buying the very best available on the UK market.

What does thread count mean?
Thread count is simply the number of threads that are woven into a square inch of fabric. To calculate this, manufacturers count the number of threads that go vertically (called the warp) and add them to the number going horizontally (the weft). So a square inch of fabric with 150 warp and 150 weft threads would have a total thread count of 300.

Is a higher thread count better?
Thread counts can vary from 200 right up to over 1000, and many of us have been led to believe that higher equals better. But that's not necessarily the case. While it's true that a sheet with a low thread count (200 or below) will generally wear quicker and feel less soft than one with a higher thread count, there are several other factors that come into play. These include the type of yarn, the type of weave and the ply.

The widely-held belief that higher thread counts are automatically better has led some manufacturers to artificially inflate the thread count, in order to charge a higher price. They do this by using multi-ply yarns, where multiple threads are twisted together to make the overall thread count higher. Fabric woven with multi-ply yarn usually feels rougher than single-ply, because the shorter threads stick out of the weave.

Even in a good quality single-ply fabric, it's worth bearing in mind that very high thread count sheets will be more expensive, but also denser and less breathable, because there are so many threads packed in close together. So in summer you may find them too hot and heavy.

So what is the best thread count?
Single ply sheets with a thread count of around 300 provide an ideal balance of quality and breathability. There are enough threads to make the fabric feel soft, allow the sheets to drape well and provide strength so they'll last, but not so many that they are too hot. If you prefer a thicker, warmer fabric, then you could consider sheets with a higher thread count. Going lower than 300 is not recommended though, as they won't feel so soft and won't last as long.

What's the best type of bedding fabric?
If you're after luxury bedding, look out for long-staple cotton, as this is woven with extra-long cotton fibres. The longer fibres result in stronger and finer yarns, which are spun into even finer threads. The result is super smooth, soft and bedding that will last for years.

The type of weave also affects the quality of the sheets. There are two main types, plain – also known as percale – and sateen. The difference is the pattern that the yarn is woven in. In percale fabric the warp and weft threads alternate evenly, one over and one under. Whereas in sateen, there is one yarn under and several yarns over, which gives it a very smooth texture and subtle sheen similar to satin. Which you prefer is entirely down to personal taste.

Percale weave versus sateen weave fabric

What does OEKO-TEX® mean?

Some of the best luxury bedding will come with a guarantee that it's been certified in accordance with Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX. But what exactly does this mean? In essence, it means it's been manufactured in a way that guarantees it's free from harmful chemicals or other toxic substances. So the bedding is safe for you and your family to sleep in, without any worries.

(Photo by @home_sweet_home_46)