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Flat Sheet vs Fitted Sheet: Choosing the Right Bedding for Your Needs

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Written By Alex Petrović

Certified Sleep Consultant

Featured image for Flat Sheet vs Fitted Sheet

29 March 2024 4 min read

If you're in two minds whether you should get a flat sheet or a fitted sheet, you're in the right place! Let's see who comes out on top in the fight of flat sheet vs fitted sheet!

On a surface level, flat sheets and fitted sheets might seem rather similar. Both are bed sheets and serve as an added layer of protection that separates you from the mattress. They're not quite a mattress protector but they get the job done.

However, once you get into the nitty-gritty, the fight of flat sheet vs fitted sheet becomes a lot more interesting! So, let's take a closer look at the differences between flat sheets and fitted sheets, and determine which one you need!

What is a flat sheet?

An image of a flat sheet

Of course, to properly discuss the differences between a flat sheet vs a fitted sheet, we have to first define what they are. Basically, a flat bed sheet (or a top sheet) is a sheet that you place atop your bed so that there's something between you and the mattress.

Just like all bed linen, everyone needs a flat sheet as it's a lot easier to throw your flat sheets into the washing machine than to clean the entire mattress. And depending on the material, a flat sheet can be very soft and even promote beauty sleep. However, just like with a duvet cover, this varies from case to case.

So, let's talk about the benefits of a flat sheet. That way you can get a good idea of when to use a flat sheet and how they can be better suited for you than fitted sheets.

The advantages of flat sheets

A happy The Sleep Advisors presenter

The main advantage of a flat sheet is the fact that you just place it on top of your mattress. In fact, this is generally the main distinction between flat and fitted sheets. However, this one difference creates quite a few distinct advantages. So, let's go through a couple of them!

A flat sheet is easier to put on

We'd say that the main advantage of a flat sheet is that it only takes 10 seconds to put them on your bed. Unlike a fitted sheet where you have to hunt the corners and pray that the entire thing doesn't just unravel.

And, for some people, this is a huge plus. For example, if you don't like leaving your bed sheets on during the day, a flat sheet is infinitely more convenient. Especially if you have a sofa bed or some other bed frame that's used as a regular seating area during the day.

Flat sheets offer more choices

This might seem random but it's true. After all, since any top sheet can technically get the job done and protect your mattress, you're presented with a lot more options. If you want to, you can use a King-size flat sheet on your double bed. Sure, the edges will be picking up dust but the top sheet will still do its job just fine.

Now compare that to a deep fitted sheet that has to be the exact right size in order to stay firm! Plus, unlike a fitted sheet, a flat sheet can be used with any bed frame or mattress on the market.

Flat sheets take up less room

Another important thing to keep in mind when deciding between a flat or fitted sheet is storage. Bedding sets already take up quite a bit of space and it's good to keep things compact when you can. And fitted and flat sheets differ quite a bit in this department.

Since it doesn't have elastic corners, it's very easy to put away a flat sheet. You just fold it up and tuck it away somewhere. Even a Queen-size flat sheet takes up very little space so flat sheets have an enormous advantage in this department!

This is especially important if you have limited storage space or like to bring your own sheets when you travel.

The disadvantages of flat sheets

An image of a The Sleep Advisors presented dissapointed

The battle of flat sheets vs fitted sheets would be rather short if flat sheets only came with advantages. So, let's take a look at a few of the disadvantages that come with fitted sheets.

Flat sheets wrinkle more

Even when tucked into the sides, a flat sheet simply isn't going to have the same secure fit as a fitted sheet. So, if you toss and turn at night, the flat sheet is likely to be a mess in the morning. This goes double if you don't tuck the flat sheet into the sides of the bed frame.

And, just like with a mattress topper that doesn't have any straps, the sheet can even end up on the ground. So, if you choose flat sheets either be prepared to do a lot more ironing or tuck the fitted sheet in like your life depended on it.

Fitted sheets can collect more dirt

The second big disadvantage of flat sheets is that they can potentially pick up a lot of dirt. This goes back to the previous section, as the sides of the flat sheet can end up on the ground and collect dust.

Or, if you get a King-size sheet for a smaller bed frame, the flat sheet might be hanging off the edge from the beginning. Either way, the end result is that the flat sheet can end up carrying dirt around.

Not to mention that since it's not laid slick with the mattress, there could even be an accumulation of dirt under the sheet. So, more frequent washing might be necessary.

What is a fitted sheet?

An image of a fitted sheet

A fitted sheet (or a bottom sheet) is like a flat sheet but it wraps around the entire mattress.

This is typically achieved with elasticated corners that snap over the edges of the mattress. And this is what makes fitted bed sheets either a nightmare or a dream.

After all, on the one hand, said straps keep fitted sheets strapped snug to the mattress.

So, you don't have to worry about them moving around too much.

However, putting fitted sheets on is a frustrating experience we'd all rather avoid.

But let's go into more detail and see what fitted sheets are all about!

The advantages of fitted sheets

The sleep advisors presenter happy

Like with the flat sheets, we'll start things off by talking about the advantages first. As we've mentioned, unlike flat sheets, fitted sheets stick close to the mattress. And if you've been paying attention, you'll notice that this helps them avoid some of the pitfalls that flat sheets are a victim of.

Fitted sheets stay put

The biggest advantage of a fitted sheet is that it will stay in place, regardless of how much you toss and turn. This is especially true for deep-fitted sheets, as they wrap all the way around.

This is a big plus for some couples as well as anyone who wants their sheets to stay where they left them.

Fitted sheets stay clean for longer

On a similar note, unlike flat sheets, bottom sheets are very unlikely to end up on the ground collecting dirt. And whether you have allergies or just want to keep your sleeping surface as clean as possible, this is a big plus.

It's also rather reassuring in case you have high-quality sheets. For example, if you have a high thread count cotton sheets or silk sheets, you don't want them to ever end up on the ground! And not even the best “hospital corners tuck” of a flat sheet can offer the same amount of stability.

Fitted sheets can keep your topper in place

If your mattress topper doesn't have side straps, a deep fitted sheet could be the answer you've been looking for. By placing the fitted sheet over the topper and the mattress, you can make sure that your topper has no room to move around during the night.

In fact, we'd say that a good deep fitted sheet can hold a topper in place better than most side straps can! The only issue is that if you have a thick mattress, this could be a bit more difficult to pull off.

The disadvantages of fitted sheets

An image of a The Sleep Advisors presenter covering their eyes with their hand

Lastly, let's go over some of the disadvantages that come with choosing a fitted bed sheet. As you'll notice, all of these disadvantages are just the opposite of the advantages of a flat sheet. So, it's not like the problems are too serious. However, these differences can help you make a decision!

Fitted sheets are more difficult to put on

If every night you have to put on new bed sheets before getting a good night's sleep, a fitted sheet is likely going to test your nerves. Getting a fitted sheet onto a mattress, especially if it's a larger mattress size, is notoriously difficult and annoying.

And if you have to do it by yourself, you might find that you'll have to redo the entire thing multiple times. Now compare that to a rectangular sheet that you just lie flat atop the mattress. One is clearly a lot easier than the other.

Fitted sheets aren't compatible with all bed frames

Another important factor to keep in mind is that fitted sheets can't always be used. The vast majority of fitted sheets were made with standard mattresses and mattress sizes in mind. So, if you have a sofa bed or a custom mattress, a fitted sheet simply might not fit.

Plus, unlike a flat sheet, you can't use a King-size fitted sheet for a smaller mattress. Well, you can but there would be no point in doing so. And if you have a thicker mattress, even your mattress topper might be too big to fit within the fitted sheet.

So, even one of its strengths can be a disadvantage, depending on the situation.

Fitted sheets take up more room

A fitted sheet is not like a top sheet or a duvet cover. You can't just neatly fold it up and place it next to the other bed linen. A bottom sheet will crumple and take up a lot more space due to the elasticated corners and that's just how life goes.

So, if you have limited space for your bed linen, a top sheet might be a wiser choice. That being said, both flat and fitted sheets are still just bed sheets – it's not like they take up the same space as a winter duvet.

So, should you get a flat sheet or a fitted sheet?

An image of a The Sleep Advisors presenter thinking about something

In the battle of flat sheet vs fitted sheet, we'd say that there is no clear winner. After all, it's all up to personal preference!

Both flat and fitted sheets will give you a soft surface to lay on and protect your mattress.

But if you want sheets that are easier to put on, use a flat sheet.

If you want sheets that will stay in place, use a fitted sheet.

And let us know in the comments which side you think won!

Also, if you have any questions, regarding flat sheets, fitted sheets, or bedding in general, leave them in the comments or get in contact with us directly!

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About the author

Alex Petrović
Sleep Consultant
A CPD certified Sleep Consultant with more than 2000 hours of research into all the different ways we can get a great night's sleep. As a former insomniac, I know how difficult life can be without a nightly recovery and I love that I get to share everything I've learned with you all. So hopefully we can all sleep soundly!
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