How to Properly Make a Bed

a freshly made bed

The Spruce / Lucianna McIntosh 

In This Article
Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 10 mins
  • Total Time: 5 - 10 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $20 and up

It seems so easy to leave your bed a jumbled mess when you wake up—you're only going to mess it up again later. Making the bed has become one of those chores that very few people bother with, but a properly made bed can have a dramatic impact on the way a room looks and feels. Not only does it help the room appear less cluttered and chaotic, but it also sets the stage nicely for your night's rest. After all, it's so much nicer to slip into a bed with smooth, crisp sheets rather than one with rumpled sheets and a balled-up blanket. Start fresh and learn how to make a bed step by step and what you need for a bed so it looks and feels finished, welcoming, and cozy at the same time.

Before You Begin

It's helpful to start with a bed set because it has most of the basic elements that go on a complete bed. A bed set includes a fitted sheet, a flat sheet, and typically two pillowcases to fit the bed. For example, if you buy sheets to fit a twin bed, the pillowcases will be large enough for a standard-size pillow and if you buy sheets for a king-size bed, the pillowcases will be large enough for king-size pillows. There are other types of sets, such as comforter or duvet sets, which include matching or coordinated bedding pieces. A more complete comforter set, called a "bed in a bag," even comes with coordinating sheets, pillowcases, pillow shams, and possibly a bed skirt.

What You'll Need


  • Fitted sheet or flat bottom sheet
  • Top sheet
  • Pillowcases
  • Comforter, duvet, quilt, or blanket
  • Mattress pad (optional)
  • Decorative linens (optional)
  • Decorative pillows (optional)


How to Properly Make a Bed

  1. Gather Your Linens

    Choose bed linens that are comfortable and beautiful to you. If you like the way a bed skirt makes your room look, by all means, grab your favorite. If you're more minimalist in your approach, that's fine too. Even if you make up a simple bed without any extra layers of bedding or pillows, it's still a major improvement over a mass of pillows and blankets.

    used linens in a laundry basket
    The Spruce / Lucianna McIntosh
  2. Remove Used Linens

    Take off the used linens currently on your bed and put them in the laundry if they're ready for a wash. Shake out any mattress pads, pillow protectors, and comforters that don't need to be laundered to free them of lint, hair, or stray socks. If you use a bed skirt and it needs to be laundered, remove and replace it. If the mattress looks dirty, take the time to clean it

    woman removing sheets from the bed
    The Spruce / Lucianna McIntosh
  3. Put On Bottom Sheet

    A bottom sheet goes on first when making a bed. If your bottom sheet is fitted, simply slip the corner pockets onto the ends of the bed and adjust the fitted sheet around the perimeter of the mattress, atop the mattress pad.

    If your bottom sheet is flat, create hospital corners. Arrange the sheet so that approximately 12 inches hang beyond the edge of the bed on both sides and the bottom evenly. Tuck in the sheet snugly at the foot of the bed. At each bottom corner, lift up the loose sheet at the side, and place the flap on top of the mattress. Tuck in the sheet right at the corner, then lay the flap down so the fold forms a 45-degree angle away from the mattress corner. Tuck in the bottom edge of the angle, and continue tucking along the entire side of the bed. Repeat on the opposite side.

    woman tucking in corners of the fitted sheet
    The Spruce / Lucianna McIntosh
  4. Add a Top Sheet

    Place the top sheet evenly on the bed. At the top of the bed, you can leave some excess sheet to fold back over the blanket or you can arrange the sheet so that the top edge is even with the edge of the mattress.

    Tuck in the sheet at the foot of the bed and at each bottom corner using hospital corners, leaving most of each side untucked so it is easier to get into the bed. If this is a guest bed that is rarely used (or you're a stickler about folding under), you can tuck the top sheet into the sides completely. Just remember your comforter, quilt, or duvet will likely cover up the little bit of sheet hanging down.

    woman placing the top sheet on the bed
    The Spruce / Lucianna McIntosh 
  5. Add a Blanket, Comforter, or Duvet

    Spread your chosen blanket, comforter, or duvet evenly over the top of the bed, smoothing the edges as you go. The top edge of the blanket should be even with or slightly below the top edge of the bed. Fold any excess top sheet back over the edge of the blanket, if desired.

    woman buttoning up a duvet cover
    The Spruce / Lucianna McIntosh
  6. Position Your Pillows

    Place the pillows in your desired configuration. When placing pillows under the blanket, fold the top sheet down over the blanket, place the pillows flat atop the bottom sheet at the head of the bed, then fold the top sheet and blanket over the pillows toward the head of the bed. Alternatively, you can place the pillows upright against the headboard or wall at the head of the bed. Do whatever gives your bed the look you love. You can also finish with a few decorative throw pillows if you desire.

    woman positioning a throw pillow on a bed
    The Spruce / Lucianna McIntosh

Tips for Making a Bed

  • Make a ritual of it. The more often you make your bed, the faster it will go. Many people find that making their bed every day becomes a welcome ritual, signifying order at the start of a new day.
  • Wash your bedding routinely. You should plan to wash your sheets and pillowcases once a week, and your mattress pad every few weeks (or at least once a month).
  • Use a mattress pad. They're useful for adding a bit of comfort and protecting your mattress from sweat and other contaminants. Bonus: A mattress pad is much easier to clean than a mattress.
  • Do I need a top sheet on my bed?

    Most people have a love/hate relationship with their top sheets. You don't necessarily need a top sheet and it has its pros and cons. On the plus side, it can act as a buffer to keep your comforter or duvet cover cleaner and away from your bodily oils. It's also a great lightweight cover in warmer weather. But if you are a restless sleeper, the major con is that you can become tangled in a top sheet by the morning.

  • How many sets of bedding do I need?

    It's always a good idea to have at least one extra set of sheets and pillowcases so you're never without a fresh set when it's time to strip the bed to clean them.

  • Do I need a mattress protector?

    You don't need a mattress protector, but it is highly recommended as it can save your mattress from becoming dirty, moist, and potentially moldy. A mattress protector is not a mattress pad or topper (meant as cushioning); rather, its job is solely to keep your mattress safe from messes as well as dust mites that can trigger allergies.