It’s one of life’s mysteries that a new fitted sheet can fold up small enough to fit in its packet, but ever afterwards takes up half the airing cupboard. In most cases, you end up with a lumpy mess that makes ironing pretty pointless. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Learning how to fold a fitted sheet properly can save you both time and space. And it’s simpler than you might think.
Top tips for making folding easier
Make sure your sheets are fully dry before folding. Not only is it harder to fold a damp sheet, you’re also risking mould and mustiness. No one wants to sleep in a bed that smells like a wet dog.
If you’re using a tumble dryer, fold your sheet straight out of the dryer while it’s still warm. This will help to minimise creasing, meaning your sheet will sit flatter once folded.
If you iron your sheets, fold them immediately after ironing.
Laying a sheet on a flat surface (like a bed or table) makes it much easier to fold. You can fold a fitted sheet without laying it down, but it’s a lot trickier and you may well end up just tying it in a knot (or giving in and shoving it to the back of the airing cupboard).
How to fold a fitted sheet in four easy steps
Step 1: Hold the sheet up
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Hold the sheet so that one of the shorter edges is at the top (you can lay the rest of it on a flat surface, such as a bed or table, if it’s easier.) Turn the top two corners inside out and drape one corner over each hand, with the elastic edge facing you.
Step 2: Fold the sheet vertically
Bring your hands together so that you’re folding your fitted sheet in half vertically. Flip one top corner over the other top corner.
Lay the sheet down on a flat surface, and flip one of the bottom corners over the other bottom corner.
You should now have a long rectangle, with two pairs of corners on one side.
Tuck the gathered edge that’s facing up inside the one that’s underneath it.
Step 3: Fold the fitted sheet in half again
Put one hand inside a pair of corners, and the other hand inside the other pair. Bring your hands together so that you’re folding the sheet in half again.
Flip one pair of corners over the other pair, so that they’re all facing the same way and sitting neatly inside each other.
Step 4: Finish folding
Lay the sheet down onto the bed again. All corners should now be together and facing up.
Fold the elasticated edge inwards and smooth it down with the palm of your hand.
Fold the sheet again vertically so that you can no longer see the elasticated edge. Then fold it in thirds.
Step back and admire your handiwork. Easier than you thought wasn’t it?
Your sheet folding dilemmas solved…
Do you fold a single fitted sheet the same as a double or king size?
Pretty much yes, but you might not need to do that final vertical fold. It really depends how little space you want the sheet to take up on the shelf.
Is it better to iron first or fold first?
It’s always better to iron a fitted sheet first. If you try ironing it once it’s folded, you risk ironing creases into the sheet. Flat sheets can be ironed once they’re folded, however, as there are no gathered edges to worry about.
How do you iron a fitted sheet?
It’s easiest to start with the corners. Fold the sheet in half so you have two pairs of corners. Stretch one pair over the end of the ironing board and iron them (pull the material flat as you go, keeping your fingers well away from the iron!).
Repeat with the other pair. Then iron the rest of the sheet in sections, before folding it.
Are cotton or poly-cotton sheets easier to iron?
Poly-cotton is a blend of cotton and polyester. It’s designed to need minimal or no ironing.
However, it can sometimes feel stiffer than 100 per cent cotton and isn’t as breathable. So you’ll need to decide whether comfort is your priority or not ironing (or whether you can just live with some creases).
Does tumble drying help with folding?
Tumble drying can help to minimise creases, so the sheet will lie flatter and take up slightly less room when it’s folded.
It also means you can spend less time ironing (which is a bonus in our books). However, nothing quite beats the smell of line-dried cotton.
What about fabric conditioner?
Fabric conditioner may help to minimise creasing slightly, but it isn’t going to magically give your sheets that ‘just ironed look’ (sorry.)
It does, however, help to smooth fibres, so your sheets feel softer against your skin. It also keeps your sheets smelling fresher for longer.
How often should I wash my bed linen?
As a general rule, it’s a good idea to wash your bed linen after it’s been on a bed for one or two weeks, even if the bed hasn’t been slept in every day.
Washing regularly can keep bacteria from building up and will stop your bed linen from smelling.
You can usually get away with washing children’s sheets less often, as children don’t sweat as much (though they do have a habit of spilling things...). Wash bed linen straight away if it gets really dirty or starts to smell.
How can I keep my bed smelling fresh?
Always make sure your bed linen is completely dry before you put it away. Change your bed regularly and give the sheets and duvet cover time to air between changes. You can read more tips for a sweet smelling bed here.
What if it’s my mattress that smells?
Try sprinkling some baking soda (bicarb) over the mattress and leaving it for a couple of hours before vacuuming it up. If that doesn’t help, you may need to wash your mattress.
Where’s best to store bedding?
It really depends how often you use it and how much space you have. An airing cupboard or other cupboard is usually fine for bed linen.
Some people keep theirs under the mattress if they’re really short of space, although that will lead to creases. You could also invest in some storage bags to go under the bed or on top of the wardrobe.
Learning how to fold a fitted sheet properly will save on space as you’ll have a smaller, neater ‘parcel’ to put away, rather than a scrunched up mess. If you need to keep your bed linen in your wardrobe, you might find these storage hacks handy.
Help! I’ve got guests coming and my clean sheets smell musty.
Bed linen can smell a bit musty when it’s been stored for a while. Try popping it in the dryer with a tumble dryer sheet to freshen it up.
Even better, hang it outside for a while if the Great British weather allows for it.
Any other folding tips?
Now that you mention it… you might find these tips for folding your undies useful.