I consider myself to be an above-average shopper, well-versed in the nuances of doing grocery runs for just about anything my family needs. Breakfast cereal? You got it! Produce? I’m on it. We’re all out of toilet paper? No sweat! I am not one to brag or anything but these errands don’t take me too long to complete.
However, it’s an entirely different story whenever I am asked to purchase sheets for our bed. I literally spend hours perusing shelves at the local shop, trying to decide which one I should pick up. Most times, I am befuddled with these choices: flat sheet vs. fitted sheet?
It’s an age-old debate that many have not found an answer to. What is a Flat Sheet? What is a Fitted Sheet? What are their differences? What are the pros and cons of flat and fitted sheets? Can you use both? Or are you better off picking up just one?
In this article, I am going to try and give you answers to all the questions that you might have regarding this topic. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
This guide is a long read so here’s a nifty list of topics to help you find the details you need fast:
- What is a Flat Sheet?
- What is a Fitted Sheet?
- What are the Differences Between Flat Sheet and Fitted Sheet?
- Top Rated and Recommended Flat Bed Sheets
- Top Rated and Recommended Fitted Bed Sheets
What is a Flat Sheet?
Flat sheets are flat, plain, and just like any common bed sheet that you use to cover your bed. This piece of cloth lies flat and drapes onto the mattress.
A flat sheet is often placed right under the duvet or combined with the blankets. While it contours to the body, providing it with extra warmth, the duvet or blanket is less likely to get dirtied.
These sheets will not have elastic to fit down over the corners of the mattress. Instead, they have a stitched seam around the edges to keep the material from loosening when you are using it. Most bed sheets are made from threads that have been woven together to make a large panel of fabric, thus the need for a seam on the edges.
Flat bed sheets can be left loose on the bed or have it tucked underneath the mattress for a tighter fit. Any kind of movement while you are on it, however, can untuck the sheet, untangling it around your legs and feet. This can possibly create discomfort for light sleepers. Some of the advantages that you can enjoy when using a flat sheet are:
Flat sheets rest beneath the comforter or blanket of your bed and are the material that will cover your body while you are resting. It gives your fitted sheet protection from stains or rips. A flat sheet can also offer protection for the main covering on your bed, regardless if it is a comforter, duvet or blanket. If you have an injury or suffer from a skin ailment that causes discharge, a flat sheet can protect the most luxurious top covering from stains or rips.
A flat sheet can also function as a barrier for your skin against usual irritants like dust, mites, bacteria or parasites that can live up to five years in the dark corners of your mattress (gasp!). Specific irritants can irritate your skin to the point of itchy, rash-covered sections or even compromise your respiratory system. If you suffer from skin ailments, like eczema or psoriasis, a flat sheet made from a gentle material like cotton or linen or silk can help sooth the skin with its natural moisture repellants.
A flat sheet can provide you with temperature control. The use of a flat sheet during the hot summer months can let the body to naturally adjust its core temperature to a cooler one. Depending on the atmosphere that you find yourself living in, a flat sheet could be the only thing protecting you from irritants during those warm, humid nights. With specific materials offering natural moisture repellent, a flat sheet can be a savior and prevent you from waking up soaked in sweat. During cold winter months, a flat sheet can also add warmth and comforting layers to your bed.
What is a Fitted Sheet?
A fitted sheet features elasticized corners that can give you a snug and exact fit on the mattress. Because it is tucked in on each corner, the sheet stays firm and fit even when you move. It can also provide warmth but its main goal is to fully cover the mattress for a smooth and soft surface. The elastic lets the sheet to hug the corners of your mattress tightly so while you are moving around during sleep, the sheet will not get detached.
Some of the benefits that you can have with a fitted sheet include:
A fitted sheet can give protection for your mattress from normal wear and tear. Normal wear and tear can come from stains (bodily fluids, liquids, food, etc.), rips or tears. There is no question that mattresses are the most expensive part of your bed and when maintained the right way, it could serve you for a decade or even more than that.
Snug, Tight Fit for a Smooth Sleeping Surface
When fitted for your mattress, the fitted sheet will not be easily dislodged from each corner. Instead, it will fit snugly without any wrinkles. Using the correct measurements for your fitted sheet, you should be able to pull the sheet snugly over each corner of the mattress to make a flat but smooth sleeping surface.
It Can Be Easily Removed
A fitted sheet might fit snugly on your mattress, but should the need arise, you can remove it fairly easily. All it takes for removal is a simple pluck off one of those corners from its hold to loosen and remove the sheet. This easy removal is perfect for when you need to take your sheets to the laundry and a lot easier than trying to remove a quilted mattress cover – which tends to be bulky and hard to remove.
What are the Differences Between Flat Sheet and Fitted Sheet?
The primary difference between fitted and flat sheets is the fit. If you put up two mattresses side by side, with the first one covered with a flat sheet and the other one with a fitted sheet, the contrasting features between the two will be quite noticeable.
While a fitted sheet features stretchable sides that cover the mattress with a snug fit, a flat sheet is just a simple and plain rectangular cloth that lays flat on the bed.
However, there are some people that find it a waste of time and money to purchase a flat sheet. They think it’s just another sheet to fold and another addition to their laundry list.
As a flat sheet safeguards the fitted sheet, duvet, and blanket and helps keep the dirt off, a fitted sheet does the same for the mattress. That’s why flat sheets are more susceptible to dirt and thus, need to be washed on a consistent basis. But one thing’s for sure: they both can give you extra warmth to keep you comfortable when you sleep.
But if you’re still wondering what the differences are between these two kinds of bed sheets, I have listed down a detailed comparison of their most prominent characteristics, which are appearance, fit, versatility, storage, and cost. This comparison can hopefully give you a better view of their differences so that you can conclusively decide which one to buy.
The name pretty much gives away what a flat sheet looks like. A flat sheet is flat, rectangular, and plain. It just looks like any other blanket or sheet that just lies flat on the bed. You can get these in a wide range of colors, designs, material, and sizes.
A fitted sheet has four stretchable corners that give the mattress a tight fit. The elasticized corners highlight the edges of the mattress that can give it a smoother surface and a neat look.
Whether you possess a single, twin, queen, or king-sized bed, there is always an available flat sheet that would suit your preference. No elasticized corners. And if by any chance, you end up with a wrong length and width, it doesn’t really matter all that much as it just lays flat on the bed and drapes along the trails of the duvet and blanket.
Getting the right size is of the utmost importance when buying a fitted sheet. If you need to dress up your mattress for a queen-sized bed or whatever size you have, make sure to consult the labels first for the dimensions before you head out to the store. Otherwise, you won’t be able to use it on your mattress and you may have to go through all the trouble (and expense) of having it replaced or worse, buying another one. If you have a thick mattress at home, you can go for deep fitted sheets for better folding and tucking in.
Flat sheets are more versatile compared to that of fitted sheets. It is often layered on top of the fitted sheet and in between the duvet and blanket. But you can also use it as a blanket to keep yourself warm during the colder months of the year or you can just layer it along with your other blanket for extra warmth. Also called a top sheet, you’re less likely to wash more frequently as it keeps the duvet and the fitted sheet from the dirt and dust.
The very purpose of a fitted sheet is to cover the mattress and nothing else. It isn’t as versatile as flat sheets but it does give you extra warmth on your bed. It can also protect the mattress from the dirt and dust. And because it gives off a smooth and soft surface on your bed, you get to enjoy a comfy sleep all day.
After folding a flat sheet a few times, you can easily keep the flat sheet away for storage. It folds flat and does not at all take up a lot of space in your cabinet.
And since it isn’t bulky, it does not bulge out of your other folded sheets and helps keeps your storage orderly and organized.
Putting away a fitted sheet for storage is not much of a hassle, either. Just a few folds and it is good to go for keeping away in your cabinet or closet. However, you’ve got to be a bit careful folding it in due to its elasticized corners. Unlike flat sheets, a fitted sheet may not lay very flat and can come out a little bulky.
There are a few aspects that can influence the price of the flat sheet. This includes the kind of material used, its length or size, the brand, and the design.
Hence, there isn’t a set price range. The prices can go higher or cheaper than most. However, there are some that can also be affordable.
Fitted sheets are very much alike to flat sheets when it comes to price. You may come across expensive and affordable choices based on the material, design, brand, and size.
Top Rated and Recommended Flat Bed Sheets
1) Utopia Bedding Twin Flat Sheet
- Brushed velvety microfiber
- Soft and breathable fabric
- Fade and stain-resistant
Dress your bed extravagantly with this pack of microfiber flat sheets from Utopia Bedding that comes in four different sizes (Queen, King, Full, and Twin). It features a plain weave so that you can coordinate these easily with your current bedding set. This set was also designed with your utmost comfort in mind as it is made of the finest microfiber yarns, bringing a whole new standard of softness and breathability to your bedroom.
These sheets are also manufactured with a strong and durable fabric that maintains the overall brightness and shape of the sheet for years to come. Moreover, the microfiber material is processed in a fashion that makes the sheets wrinkle, fade, and stain resistant.
2) Basic Choice Flat Sheet
- Silky soft
- Double brushed microfiber fabric
- High quality workmanship
Basic Choice’s flat sheets basically embrace you in elegance, luxury and comfort with their silky soft, 100% brushed microfiber that is carefully crafted in every detail. These sheets are breathable, keeps moisture, dust mites and other allergens away, and are hypoallergenic, making them the ideal bedding for adults, kids, toddler, teen girls, and boys.
These luxuries bed sheets stay fresh, cool during hot nights and warm in cold nights — leaving you and your family well rested and ready to give a new day another go.
3) Empyrean Bedding Premium Flat Sheet
- Premium quality
- 100% brushed microfiber
- Hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant
If you have rested on luxurious, silky soft sheets before then be prepared to experience that over and over again with the Empyrean flat sheet. These sheets are of premium quality, elegant-looking and hypoallergenic as well, making you feel like royalty in the comfort of your own bedroom.
This incomparable flat bed sheet is made of 100% durable, silky soft, breathable, hypoallergenic, dust mite-resistant brushed microfiber. Apart from keeping you comfortable, cool during summer nights and warm during winter nights, this flat sheet will also save you time and effort. It is a wrinkle, shrink, stain and fade resistant and you can easily keep it clean as it is machine washable.
Top Rated and Recommended Fitted Sheets
1) Utopia Bedding Fitted Sheet
- Easy to wash
- Stain resistant
When it comes to a fitted model that will please most consumers, they don’t come any better than Utopia Bedding. The manufacturer offers this fitted sheet at a very reasonable price, and you can pick from four different colors.
The microfiber fabric is supremely soft, a bit breathable, so you should be able to sleep on this sheet year-round. The polyester fabric makes this sheet less likely to pick up stains or wrinkles, which adds to the convenience factor of this fitted model.
2) California Design Den 400 Thread Count 100% Cotton Fitted Sheet
- Good fit
- Resists pilling
This fitted sheet from California Design Den is made of 100 percent cotton and features a thread count of 400, making it nice and thick. That means you’re going to get warm fitted linen. The sateen finish gives you a bit of softness, but for some, it may feel coarse. Caring for this sheet is no-fuss – merely follow the instructions on the tag.
The cotton makes this a breathable fabric, even if it is made with a tight weave. One of the great features of this sheet has little to do with the fit of the fully elasticized fitted sheet or the extra deep pockets. It’s all about those head and foot labels. Making your bed will no longer be a guessing game.
3) Bare Home Fitted Bottom Sheet
- Smooth feel
- Easy to wash
This Bare Home sheet definitely has a softness in spades. The microfiber type of polyester has brushed fibers, making it incredibly smooth to the touch. Also, this sheet comes in a wide array of different colors, which are deeply dyed, and they don’t lose their color easily.
This bottom sheet is affordable, especially for such a durable sheet. The biggest concern with this fitted design lies in the fact that it doesn’t fit all mattresses very well, and the elastic is quite thin. Whether your mattress is thick or thin, you could have fit issues with this sheet.
The Bottom Line
Now that we’re finished discussing all that we possibly could about flat and fitted bed sheets, I’m fairly confident that you’ll be able to make a sound decision about what style you would prefer on your mattress. It really all boils down to personal preference and comfort levels for both you, your partner and your family, if it applies.
If you prefer to tuck flat sheets into your bed frame and mattress to leave a smooth surface for sleeping on; then go ahead and purchase just flat sheets and matching pillowcases! If you prefer to use a fitted and flat sheet for sleeping, then you can purchase a bedsheet set; which should come with a fitted sheet, flat sheet, and at least one pillowcase.