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How to Make the Bed

Simple Instructions for Sheets, Blankets, Bedspreads and Pillowcases

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People who make their bed in the morning return at night to a welcoming, restful place. People who leave a rumpled, tangled mess of a bed behind them return to a rumpled, tangled mess in the evening.

If asked, many people would say they make the bed in case someone comes to their home and sees the unmade bed. It used to be a shameful thing for a woman (always a woman) not to have her housework always perfectly done.

Making the bed is a hygienic thing to do.

Basics of Bed Making

There are many ways to make the bed but they all have the same basic steps.

First, start with the right equipment. If the bed is king size, use king size sheets. If the pillows are king size, use king size pillowcases. You may have a bed that’s one size and pillows that are another. Just make sure the pillowcases fit the pillows and the sheets fit the bed.

Start with everything clean and fresh. Bed linen always smells better when it has been dried outside in the sunshine. Some people say life’s too short to iron pillowcases. Others can’t sleep (they say) unless the sheets and pillowcases are wrinkle-free. For guests, it is nice to give them your best effort – iron the bed linens if they need it. Then decide what you and your family prefer for everyday use.

Putting the Bed Linen Onto the Bed

Two optional things will make life easier in the long run. One is a quilted mattress cover, and the other is one pillow cover for each pillow you use. These are bed linens that no one sees, but they keep the mattress and pillows from becoming soiled.

A dust ruffle is a very nice accent to have, and something to look for when buying a set of sheets. If you have one, make sure it’s clean and hanging freely and straight before you make the bed.

Put the quilted mattress pad onto the mattress and anchor it or tuck it in, depending on its design. Smooth the pad so there are no lumps or ridges to bother the sleeper.

Use a contour, or fitted, sheet next. This is the sheet with elastic at the four corners. Gently tuck each corner of the fitted sheet under a corner of the mattress and smooth the top again. If you don’t have a fitted sheet, use a flat one and make sure it is well tucked in all around the mattress.

Next comes the flat sheet. It has no elastic and is usually a simple rectangle. At the top, where the sleeper’s head is, there is a hem about 3 or 4 inches deep. It feels like a shirt cuff and is heavier than the rest of the sheet. Put that at the top of the bed.

Many sheets have a fancy design. People argue about whether the bright, decorated side of the sheet should be facing down toward the sleeper’s body, or up toward the sky. The answer is: bright side down. One reason for this is so the hem feels smooth against the sleeper’s skin when the sheet is unfolded and pulled up to its full length during the night. Another reason is so the sleeper will enjoy being inside the pleasantly decorated envelope the sheets create.

At the bottom two corners of the mattress, tuck the flat sheet neatly under the mattress. Make hospital corners if you know how, otherwise just be neat. Anchor the bottom end of the sheet by tucking it under the mattress too. You don’t have to tuck the top sheet in to the sides of the mattress, or it may be too tight for the sleeper to move around.

Get the Pillows Ready

If you have pillow protectors (covers), put these on first. Some of them have zippers at one end. Holding the pillowcase open like a bag, put the pillow in with the zipper going first. That way the zipper will be covered up and won’t accidentally scratch anyone’s face when they’re sleeping.

Smooth the pillow and finish making the bed as follows.

Blanket or Duvet

For warmth, add a blanket or duvet on top of the flat sheet. Generally, when you use a blanket, you fold back the top of the sheet to make a little sandwich – the top edge of the sheet is wrapped around the top edge of the blanket. Try and make the fold along the hem line of the sheet so the heavy “cuff” part of the sheet is lying on top of the blanket. Then put the bedspread on top of this, and fold back the top part to make room for the pillows.

If using a duvet instead of a blanket, fold back the flat sheet first, at the hem, and then lie the duvet on top of the sheet. The duvet should be inside a clean duvet cover. Usually these work like giant pillow cases. Make sure there are no twists or folds in the duvet once it’s inside the cover. Shaking the duvet by holding it at one end will get it nice and smooth.

Put the Pillows On

With a blanket / bedspread combination, the pillows go under the bedspread at the top of the bed. Place them on top of the folded-back bedspread. Then pull the bedspread gently over the pillows, letting a bit of the bedspread stay tucked under the pillows.

With a thick duvet, the pillows go on top. Arrange them so they look pleasant and inviting.

Making the Bed Without Changing the Sheets and Pillowcases

Between laundry days, re-use the sheets and pillowcases. Take time to smooth out any creases in the sheets before pulling up the sheet, blanket and bedspread or duvet. Plump the pillows and smooth the pillowcases. If time allows, let the bed air out for a while before making it.

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