In a day and age when practically everything seems possible, it is somehow fitting that something as innocuous as the thread count of a sheet set could fall victim to fraud. As ABC News reported, there is sometimes a difference between advertised and actual sheet thread counts. In other words, that impressively high thread count number you see on the packaging may not be the real deal at all. Consumers shopping for sheets should be aware of this unfortunate practice. Simply boning up on this information could save you some money and ensure that your new sheets are truly of the best quality possible.
Inflated Thread Counts
Unfortunately, sheet manufacturers are not always on the up and up when it comes to reporting thread counts on their packaging. These companies are well aware that a high thread count is a big draw in sheeting, and occasionally the advertised figure is not in line with the actual figure.
The companies essentially get away with exaggerated numbers by counting each individual thread ply used on their sheets. For example, if a sheet is made with multi-ply yarns, or fine threads that are entwined with one another, then the company may include each separate thread in their final count. For example, a sheet made with 200 separate four-ply yarns could be falsely advertised as an 800 thread count product even though its actual count is really just 200. The advertised figure, then, is clearly misleading.
The Federal Trade Commission ruled in 2005 that each separate thread should be counted as one, whether the thread in question consists of a single ply or several plies of yarn. Thus, one strand of four-ply yarn would equal just one thread, and not four separate ones. Therein lies the fraudulent aspect of these inflated thread counts.
What to Look For
Knowing the difference between advertised and actual sheet thread count can be quite beneficial if you're shopping for new bedding. Simply being aware that a problem exists is one thing, but knowing when you're actually being misled may be difficult to determine.
Many sheet manufacturers have added additional language to their packaging in an attempt to prevent confusion and consumer complaint. Instead of multiplying the ply count by the thread count, companies might disclose their thread count by stating "200 thread count, made with four-ply yarn". This is a simple way to fully disclose the truth, and allows consumers to make a decision based on honest information and not an inflated number.