Flat Sheet vs Fitted Sheet: What’s the Difference?

Flat Sheet vs Fitted Sheet: What’s the Difference?

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Last Updated on Jan 12, 2023

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    Waking up on your mattress instead of your bed sheet? Annoying, we know! An average person spends almost 8 hours snuggled up in their bed every day. Your sheets play a major role in how comfortable you feel at night.  In this blog, we will understand one of the most common and debated topics when it comes to bed sheets i.e. Flat sheet vs fitted sheet: what’s the difference and what’s better? 

    Let’s find out the difference between fitted and flat sheets, how they are used and which sheet can make you feel like you’re sleeping on cloud nine. 

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    What Is a Fitted Sheet?

    A fitted sheet, also known as a bottom sheet, is easily identifiable by its four elastic corners. Fitted sheets protect your mattress and provide an extra layer of comfort. Fitted sheets even out the surface of your mattress making it easier for you to lay your flat sheet and to make sure the flat sheet stays put. (We will get to what flat sheets are.) 

    Fitted sheets have several advantages and some of them are: 

    • Easy to clean - It is super easy to clean your fitted sheets and saves you a trip to the dry cleaner. 
    • Protects your mattress from premature damage - Most mattresses last up to 7-10 years, but you can extend this lifespan by using fitted sheets and protecting your mattress from dust build-up, staining and wear and tear. 
    • Increases comfort - Your mattress may be as soft as a cloud, but a fitted sheet can increase comfort by making the mattress softer and warmer. 

    If you’re wondering how to use a fitted sheet, continue reading! 

    How to Put a Fitted Sheet on a Bed?

    Putting a fitted sheet on your bed is a fairly simple task as it has elastic on its four corners. 

    Here’s a step by step process to put a fitted sheet on a bed: 

    1. The first step is to ensure that you have the right size of the fitted sheet for your bed. For example - if you have a king-sized bed, your fitted sheet should be king-size too. 
    2. Every fitted sheet has a tag, make sure this tag is near the area that is near the foot of the mattress. 
    3. Lay the sheet on top of the bed and pick a corner at the bottom of your mattress to begin assembling it. Take one corner of the sheet and put it under one corner of the mattress and tuck the elastic under the mattress. 
    4. Repeat what you did at the other corner at the foot of the mattress and then follow similarly for the top two corners as well. 
    5. Once all the corners are secured, you may want to adjust the sheet by pulling on a few corners to make the sheet wrinkle-free. 

    What Is a Flat Sheet?

    A flat sheet, also known as a top sheet, lays flat on top of the mattress. It is tucked directly under your mattress and does not have elastic-like fitted sheets do. But you’re probably wondering what is a flat sheet used for. Sometimes, a flat sheet may be laid over a fitted sheet for extra protection and a wrinkle-free look. Sometimes, it may be used as a duvet or blanket replacement. 

    Flat sheets are not used much in Europe. Although, the purpose of a flat sheet really depends on your preference. Europeans usually find a simple duvet and fitted sheet combo to be more comfortable. On the other hand, Americans prefer comforters that do not have an extra layer of protection that a duvet has. Hence a flat sheet is used for hygiene purposes. 

    Many older Americans suggest that a fitted sheet is a bedding essential; the younger generation finds them to be unimportant or unnecessary. 

    Here’s why top sheets or flat sheets are beneficial:

    • Cleanliness -  Flat sheets protect your duvet from getting dirty or stained. 
    • Cooler night sleep - Top sheets can keep you feeling cool during the warmer months. 
    • Hygiene reasons - They are easier to wash regularly than your duvet. 

    One major drawback of a top sheet is that it can get messy when you’re sleeping. Alternatively, you can use a popular method amongst hotel staff called “triple sheeting”, wherein you lay your duvet between two flat sheets, and the fitted sheet acts as a base. 

    How to Put a Flat Sheet on a Bed?

    Have you wondered how to use a flat sheet on a bed? Well, it is a pretty simple task with very easy to follow steps. 

    Here’s how you can put a flat sheet on a bed:

    1. Lay the sheet on the mattress and make sure the sides hanging down are of the same length on all the sides of the mattress. 
    2. Lift the mattress, tuck the corners at the head and oot first, and then get to the sides. 
    3. To tuck the side part of the flat sheet, pull the sheet towards you once and then tuck the sheet under the bed. 
    4. Follow the above step for the other side as well, and you should have a well tucked flat sheet on your bed. 

    How to Use a Flat Sheet as a Fitted Sheet?

    If someone has asked if you can use a flat sheet as a fitted sheet, then tell them you can! Using a flat sheet instead of a fitted sheet is easy. 

    Here’s how you can avoid your flat sheet becoming a mess at night and ruining your sleep by turning it into a snug and well-fitted bottom sheet: 

    1. The first step is to ensure you get the right size of the sheet for your mattress. You should have enough cloth hanging that can be tucked under the mattress. But do not get sheets that are too large for your mattress. It can make it harder for you to tuck in the sheet. 
    2. Now, lay the sheet flat on your mattress, making sure all the lengths on all the sides are equal. Smoothen out the sheet to prevent clumping. 
    3. The best way to ensure that your flat sheet acts as a fitted sheet is to make four corners while tucking in the sheet. This is a popular method used by hotel or hospital staff. 

    Here’s how to get snug and crisp corners that will ensure your sheet stays in place all night:

    1. As you stand at the foot of the bed, lift the mattress and slide the hanging fabric of the flat sheet under the mattress and across the entire foot of the bed. 
    2. Over the top side of the mattress, fold the untucked fabric from either side and make it in a triangular shape. The lower portion of the drape of this edge should be tucked under the mattress. The rest of the fabric should be left straight down. Fold this piece tightly under the mattress to complete the corners. 
    3. Repeat the above steps at the head of the bed to create four snug and tightly tucked corners that give you a fitted and crisp sheet. 

    Are Fitted Sheets Better Than Flat Sheets?

    Fitted sheet vs flat sheet: What’s better? Well, only you can answer this question! 

    This debate boils down to one conclusion - personal choice! As with shoes and clothing, bedding is a personal possession that comes down to your individual preference. What’s comfortable for you might be uncomfortable for another. So choosing between using a flat sheet and using a fitted sheet is really up to you! 

    Some sleepers cannot sleep without a flat sheet, and some may just be okay with a duvet or a comfy blanket. And as we have covered before, a fitted sheet may not be necessary at all if you’ve mastered the art of tucking a flat sheet to be like a fitted sheet. 

    Fitted sheets do offer slip resistance, whereas flat sheets can slip easily. If you’d like to skip flat sheets completely, you should get a duvet cover to keep your duvet clean. 

    How to Choose Between A Flat Sheet and a Fitted Sheet?

    If you’re wondering what would be better for you, flat or fitted sheet, don’t worry because the following tips will help you out! 

    • Experiment with an extra flat sheet - Use a flat sheet for a whole week to cover your mattress. See if you are comfortable with the tucking, washing and folding. Also, notice if you get a better sleep when you’re using only a flat sheet. 
    • Now, use a fitted sheet and no flat sheet - Use your duvet cover, pillows and just the fitted sheet. See if this new sleeping arrangement is more comfortable for you and gets you a good night’s sleep. 
    • Try both - Use the fitted sheet as a cover for your mattress and the flat sheet to cover yourself. If you wake up and find your flat sheet at the bottom of your bed, you might not need a flat sheet. But if you wake up snug and happy with your flat sheet intact, flat sheets might be the one for you. It’s important to wash, dry and remake your bedding regularly. If you’re already used to the flat sheet tucking method, that might be better for you than a fitted sheet with elastics. 

    The flat sheet vs fitted sheet debate can go on forever, but there is only one right answer, and only you can figure out the right answer for yourself. Everyone’s sleep preferences are different, and you should figure out what works best for you. 

    How to Care for Your Bed Sheets?

    Caring for your flatbed sheet or fitted bed sheet should be taken seriously. You spend almost 8 hours lying on these sheets every day, so you’ve got to make sure they’re clean and hygienic. Bacteria, sweat and skin cells can build on your sheets pretty easily, so it’s important to maintain a regular cleaning schedule. 

    An article by Headline states that sleeping on dirty bed sheets can cause skin problems like contact dermatitis or eczema. Additionally, 24 million Americans suffer from different kinds of allergies. Sleeping on dirty sheets can only make this condition worse by amplifying symptoms such as sneezing, coughing and congestion. 

    Here are a few tips for caring for your bed sheets: 

    • Maintain a regular washing schedule. It is recommended to wash your sheets once a week or once every two weeks. 
    • Remove your makeup before going to bed. Sleeping with your makeup can transfer it to your sheets and pillows. 
    • Shower at night to prevent dirt, sweat and bacteria from transferring to your bed. 
    • Try not to let your pet sleep on the bed. 
    • If your sheets can tolerate hot water, washing them with hot water can remove germs more efficiently. Check the bed sheets’ labels before washing them with hot water. 
    • If you’ve been hurt, properly bandage your wounds or cuts to prevent any fluids from transferring to the bed. 
    • Avoid eating food or drinking in bed; small crumbs can stay hidden in corners for a long time. 
    • Different bed sheet types require different care, so read the label for proper instructions regarding washing and extending the life of your bed sheet. 

    Take good care of your bed sheets, and they’ll repay you by giving you a worry-free good night’s sleep that keeps you healthy and happy. 

    The debate on flat vs fitted sheets will go on forever. Only you can decide what works better for you. And now that you know the difference between fitted and flat sheets and how you can experiment with the two, you should be able to find your most comfortable sleeping arrangement in no time! 

    This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.
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