Which is a better bottom sheet: a flat sheet or a fitted sheet ?

Which is a better bottom sheet: a flat sheet or a fitted sheet ?

What to use as the bottom sheet? A flat sheet or a fitted sheet? When it comes to what type of sheet to put underneath the sleeper, conventional wisdom for hotels is that it is preferable to avoid the use of fitted sheets, and use only flat sheets on the bed.


The reasons to use flat sheets only and not use any fitted sheets are both practical and numerous:

  • Fitted sheets don’t last as long as flat sheets (a sleepers body makes more sustained contact with the bottom sheet and therefore, it is subject to more friction so it wears out faster)
  • The elastics may wear out making the fitted sheets useless before their time
  • Easier inventory management (also some additional shelf space will be needed for fitted sheets apart from the flat sheets)
  • Fitted sheets are more difficult and time consuming to fold and may require additional room in the laundry.


With all these reasons it is a wonder why any hotel would choose use fitted sheets! Nonetheless there are some important reasons:

  • It is a much nicer fit for the bed
  • Its easier and faster to change the bed sheets
  • Many, many housekeepers suffer back injuries each year lifting the newer-style heavy mattresses to replace flat sheets
  • Fitted sheets often come un-tucked as soon as the guest opens his or her bed or during the night, causing an uncomfortable sleep for guests.

Nobody likes their sheets all wrinkled up under them (and even worse when they wrinkle up with the mattress protector)! Turn down service can help the initial problem of the sheets coming un-tucked when a guest first climbs in bed, but as a general rule, most would agree that fitted sheets give a better overall sleep. On the other hand, it is obvious that the inconvenience and shorter life span of fitted sheets makes them more expensive. Balancing these two considerations (also the cost of housekeeper’s back health[1]) is key to deciding which alternative is preferable.



[1] The back problems that hotel housekeeping staff have suffered with the introduction of the deep heavy mattresses in hotels in the United States is serious enough, that at some point in time legislation was introduced to force hotels to use fitted sheets.

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