Most people recognize bedding thread count to be a general indication of comfort or softness of fabric. While this is often true, there are other factors involved.

Having a higher thread count for bed sheets is actually very important but with down comforters, this may actually not be the case. A lower thread count for comforters actually allows the material to breathe, which is usually desired with a heavier blanket.

What is thread count?
Once you actually understand the meaning behind this term, you will find yourself much more capable of picking out the best product for your needs – whether it is a bed sheet, fitted sheet or comforter.
thread count
Take a piece of fabric, and cut out exactly one square inch of it. Then, count how many threads are in that piece – both horizontal and vertical threads. The number you get is the thread count of that fabric.

Initially, this concept may seem pretty simple, but many bedding manufacturers have actually figured out a way to make this simple number very misleading.

Think about piece of yarn string. Although it is a solid piece of string, it can actually be made to unravel into numerous smaller strings.

In this same manner, the thread count of a piece of fabric can be artificially increased by simply using a thread that is 2-ply or 3-ply (2 or 3 strings in each thread). This allows a 200 thread count bed sheet to become 400 or even 600.

Although this increased number is technically deceiving, there are actually benefits to a multiple ply fabric – it is thicker and warmer. For this reason, 2-ply or 3-ply is often desired for fitted or flat sheets but may be overkill for a down comforter.

Beyond the actual thread count and plys, the actual fabric of the thread can make a major difference in overall comfort and softness. Egyptian cotton is considered to be softer and more luxurious than standard cotton, for example.

Down Comforter Thread Count
A thread count of 400 is often ideal for down comforters, which actually refers to the fabric used to contain the down feathers. Lower numbers may still be comfortable but allow easier leakage of feathers.

Different construction designs, fabric weaves and fabric materials seem to play a role in whether the down feathers can leak out of a comforter through the fabric. More information on this subject can be found in our article on leaking feathers in down comforters.

For more information on specific down comforters with ideal thread counts of 400-420, take a look at our Pinzon guide.