Flat vs. Fitted Sheet

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Do you need one or two sets of sheets? Is a flat sheet or fitted sheet better? Read on to learn the best sheet setup for your bed.

Whether you like to layer up or keep your bed basic, sheets are a must-have. However, there’s a big debate about whether or not a flat sheet is necessary. Today, we’re covering the major differences between the traditional flat sheet and the elastic fitted sheet.

What Is a Flat Sheet?

The biggest difference between flat sheets and fitted sheets is right in their names. While flat sheets and fitted sheets can both be made from a variety of materials, a flat sheet will always have a rectangular or “flat” design, sort of like a big, thin blanket. And, like a blanket, you sleep under these kinds of sheets too. So, for that reason, flat sheets are often referred to as a “top sheet”. 

But, a flat sheet can also be a bottom sheet as well, the kind of sheet that is directly between you and your mattress. If you’re trying to imagine what two sets of flat sheets look like, you can find this kind of setup in hotel rooms where the bottom sheet protects the mattress and the top sheet protects the comforter or blankets above. 

At the same time, you can also have a fitted bottom sheet with a flat top sheet, or just a single flat bottom sheet. Ultimately, this depends on your preference, but the reason why hotels double down on flat sheets is because they’re easier to wash, dry, and fold.


  • Easier maintenance—Folding a flat sheet is like folding a piece of paper; all you have to do is line the corners up and fold. And, whether you’re washing one set of bedding, or a whole hotel’s bedding, flat sheets also take up less space in washing and drying machines. As an extra bonus, they also dry quicker than fitted sheets and with fewer wrinkles.
  • Protects bedding—Any kind of sheet above your mattress will protect it and keep it hygienic, but a flat top sheet will also provide the same benefits for whatever other bedding you sleep under. By minimizing skin contact and friction, your comforters and blankets will get extra longevity. 
  • Hypoallergenic—Not only are flat sheets a great way to protect both your bedding and your actual bed itself, but they can also reduce allergies and skin irritation. Since some sleepers are sensitive to dust, pollen, or other sources of allergies in their bedding, tightly woven flat sheets offer a barrier without compromising on warmth.
  • Temperature control—In terms of comfort, flat sheets are great for making your bed cozier in the winter or cooling it down in the summer with the best cooling sheets. This is because, by sleeping with a flat sheet under your comforter, you can get extra insulation and warmth. And, when it’s hot or humid out, just using your flat sheet as a thin blanket will keep you airy and cool.

What Is a Fitted Sheet?

Similar to a flat sheet, fitted sheets are also used as bottom sheets (between you and your mattress). However, unlike flat sheets, a fitted sheet can only be used as a bottom sheet. This is because fitted sheets are designed like a pocket that fits around your entire mattress. And, to keep from shifting around, fitted sheets often come with an elastic band or additional straps to hold them in place.


  • Easier adjusting—Where flat sheets are usually tucked underneath the mattress to keep them put, fitted sheets can be stretched over the bed without having to lift it or tuck underneath it at all. Additionally, assuming you have fitted sheets with pockets deep enough for your bed, adjusting your fitted sheet shouldn’t be too much of an issue as long as you don’t accidently yank a corner off. 
  • Easier bed-making—The whole process of making a bed with a fitted sheet is notoriously difficult due to the struggle of finding a corner or keeping it put, but also there’s much less folding and tucking required. And, since elastic fitted sheets tend to naturally stretch themselves out, you won’t have to remake that part of your bedding every morning unless you’re washing it.
  • Mattress protection—Whether you go with fitted or flat sheets, you’re not only doing yourself a favor, but your mattress too. Since we tend to sweat throughout the night, sleeping directly on a bare mattress is not only less hygienic for our skin, but can add to the wear and tear of your mattress. 
  • Fewer wrinkles—This one is sort of a draw because fitted sheets accumulate more wrinkles in the drying process, while flat sheets accumulate more wrinkles from actual use. However, if your main goal is to have sheets that look crisp on your bed for longer, fitted sheets are definitely the more wrinkle-resistant option.

Flat vs. Fitted Sheet Sizing

Made up your mind about flat versus fitted, but don’t know which size to buy for your mattress? Check out our quick guide on sheet sizing below:

Mattress SizeFitted Sheet SizeFlat Sheet Size
Twin (38” x 75”)39” x 75” x 12”–18”71” x 100”
Twin XL (38” x 80”)38” x  80” x 12”–18”71” x 108”
Full (54” x 75”)54” x 75” x 12”–18”86” x 100”
Queen (60” x 80”)60” x 80” x 12”–18”96” x 108”
King (76” x 80”)76” x 80” x 12”–18”112” x 108”
Cal King (72” x 84”)72” x 84” x 12”–18”108” x 112”

Also, it’s worth noting that, for sleepers who prefer a flat bottom sheet, there’s more flexibility with upsizing your sheets since extra width or length can be tucked under the mattress. 

For sleepers who prefer a fitted bottom sheet, it’s also worth noting that the height of your mattress is important when considering sheet size. If you’re looking for fitted sheets for a mattress over 15” tall, you’ll likely want to shop specifically for deep-pocketed fitted sheets.

Flat vs. Fitted Sheet FAQ

How Do I Fold a Fitted Sheet?

Believe it or not, fitted sheets are foldable. To fold your sheets, simply grab them inside out by the top two corners (along the seam) and tuck them into each other. After doing this for both sets of corners, then fold your fitted sheet in half into a square shape.

Is My Mattress Too Tall For a Fitted Sheet?

If your fitted sheets are the correct size for your bed, but they keep coming off, it’s possible that your bed is too thick. For mattresses over 15” tall, deep pocket sheets or non-slip sheets are a great way to keep your bedding more secure.

Can You Use a Flat Sheet as a Bottom Sheet?

Yes. You can combine a fitted bottom sheet with a flat top sheet, and you can also use a flat sheet as a bottom sheet. To use a bottom flat sheet, you would tuck the corners of the sheet under your mattress instead of using an elastic band.

TLDR: Is a Flat or Fitted Sheet Best For You?

Want to skip the reading and get right to sheet shopping? Here’s some quick bullet points about the benefits of flat sheets versus fitted sheets.

Ready to make a decision? Check out the best sheets on Amazon.

Flat Sheets

  • Can be used as either top of bottom sheets.
  • Are easier to clean and to fold.
  • Offer skin protection and temperature control as top sheets.
  • Require more tucking and folding when making a bed.
  • Require you to remake your bed more often.

Fitted Sheets

  • Are easier to take on and off your bed.
  • Are more resistant to wrinkling overnight.
  • Don’t have to be remade as frequently.
  • Are more difficult to wash with other laundry or sheets.
  • Are bulkier and more challenging to fold or store.