How to fold a fitted sheet

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On laundry day, are you always left wondering how to fold your fitted sheets so you can store them neatly? You may not believe it, but there are simple ways to fold a fitted sheet. You just have to learn how. Read on for easy-to-follow steps.

A woman holding a stack of white sheets.
Photo credit: YayImages.

You didn’t always have to fold a fitted sheet

If you’ve ever stayed in a hotel and looked closely at the bed, then you know that fitted sheets aren’t a requirement. In fact, chances are that hotels use flat sheets — the ones without elastic edges — as both a top and bottom sheet, so it is easier for housekeeping to make beds.

Unfortunately, that’s not how stores sell sheet sets. And if you’ve recently purchased a new mattress size and therefore need new sheets, you know this well.

Invention of the fitted sheet

In addition to hotels not using fitted sheets, most households didn’t either until the mid-twentieth century. That’s when a Canadian woman invented the fitted sheet, so said the Royal Alberta Museum. Convenient, yes, but also a folding nightmare — the museum even said that.

You probably didn’t grow up knowing how to fold a fitted sheet and may not have learned it in adulthood. You’re not alone. The Good Housekeeping Institute said folding a fitted sheet is one of the most common how-to chores they get asked to explain.

Even if lots of people don’t know how to do this chore, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn. Just think about that old adage of practice makes perfect. Well, it’s definitely applicable to folding fitted sheets. Just ask Laura Sampson of Little House Big Alaska.

“I worked at a motel as a maid when I was in my late teens,” she recalled. “One thing they demanded was properly folded fitted sheets. Once the supervisor shared how she folded them, I just kept practicing until I got it perfect. I still use her method to this day. Once neatly folded, they stack so nicely.”

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Steps to fold a fitted sheet

There are a number of different ways that people teach how to fold a fitted sheet. You can do it standing up or on a flat surface, like a bed, table or the floor, as long as your carpet is clean.

While some methods have more steps than others, all involve the same premise: tucking in the corners of the fitted sheet so, at the end, you’ll be able to fold it like a flat sheet. These steps work for any fitted sheet, regardless of mattress size. However, if your sheet has elastic the whole way around, it will not come out as neatly and square. OK, onto the steps.

Turn the sheet inside out

To begin, take your fitted sheet and turn it inside out. You’ll know that the sheet is inside out when you can see the seams in the corner. You want the long side of the sheet to be running horizontally. Or, in other words, make sure the shorter side of the fitted sheet is running vertically. Now, you can do the next steps standing up or with the inside-out fitted sheet laid flat on the aforementioned table, bed or floor.

When folding a fitted sheet, it’s all about tucking the corners

The next step is putting each of your hands inside the corners along the long side. If you don’t have the wingspan to hold the corners out so that the sheet is fully extended, no worries. The sheet doesn’t have to be completely stretched out for these methods to work.

A woman standing in front of a bed, demonstrating how to fold a fitted sheet.
Hands inside corners of fitted sheet. Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Now, take your right hand inside the sheet corner and have it meet your left hand inside the sheet — almost like you were making praying hands — and then fold the right corner over the top of the left. In the process, you’ll turn that inside out corner so that it is right side out.

A mannequin on a bed, demonstrating how to fold a fitted sheet.
Making prayer hands. Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Replace your left hand with your right hand inside the corner, and slide your left hand down until you find the two remaining corners. Nest them inside each other. Now each of your hands will be inside two nested corners.

Bring your hands together in a praying motion again. You can take the nested corners in your left hand and tuck them over your right or vice versa. At this point, the hands don’t matter as much. Either way, one of your hands will now have all four corners nested on top of it.

Work on a flat surface

It’s a good time to put the sheet down on a bed, table or the floor. It’s easier to do the rest of the steps with the sheet lying flat.

A white and black blanket on top of a bed and how to fold a fitted sheet.
Fitted sheet should resemble a rectangle. Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Now, the sheet should resemble a rectangle with a rounded corner where the elastic is. As mentioned earlier, if your fitted sheet has elastic that goes all the way around, the rectangle will not be as rectangular and crisp as a fitted sheet with elastic on the corners only.

Smooth out the edges to make the sides of the sheet as rectangular as possible. It doesn’t have to be perfect but making the sheet as smooth as possible will make it easier for you to fold the sheet neatly.

At this point, your fitted sheet should resemble a flat sheet that you have started to fold. That’s a good thing. Now to do the final folds of your fitted sheet, which you’ll do in thirds.

A white and black pillowcase on a bed, demonstrating how to fold a fitted sheet.
Folding fitted sheet in thirds. Photo credit: Leah Ingram.
  1. Fold the sheet down, top to bottom, in thirds.
  2. Take the bottom edge and fold it up in thirds towards the top.
  3. Now, fold the sheet in thirds again, from left to right, and you should have a neat square.
  4. Admire your perfectly folded fitted sheet.
A black and white floral pillow on a white bed with a folded fitted sheet.
Neatly folded fitted sheet. Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Work with sheets just out of the dryer

Good Housekeeping says that it’s best to fold sheets after you’ve done the laundry and they’ve come out of the dryer. This ensures that you’re not dealing with wrinkled material, which may be harder to work with.

While Michelle Price of Honest and Truly learned how to fold a fitted sheet while in college, sometimes she avoids the chore all together. How does she do that? As soon as she washes the fitted sheets and pulls them out of the dryer, she uses them on beds that need to be made.

Final thoughts of how to fold a fitted sheet

Here’s an easy hack for decluttering your linen closet and storing sheet sets: store the sheets in one of the set’s pillowcases. That is, once you have a neatly folded fitted sheet and the matching flat sheet folded as well, slide them into one of the pillowcases. Then, fold the second pillowcase and put it inside, too. Finally, fold under the end of the pillowcase and store in your linen closet like a nicely wrapped sheet present.

A floral bag sitting on top of a bed.
Folded sheets stored in a pillowcase. Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Leah Ingram is the author of 15 books, including “Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less” and “The Complete Guide to Paying for College.” She shares shopping advice for getting the most value for your time and money at Leah Ingram Real Sophisticated Consumer.

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