Bedding Shopping Guide: Fitted Sheet vs. Flat Sheet vs. Top Sheet

Aug 10 , 2021

Amily Han

As humans, we treasure our sleep. After engaging in various laborious activities during the day, we think of getting a good night's rest. The coziness of our bedding set determines the quality of sleep we get.

Bedding Sheets are one of the simplest parts of our bedding sets, yet they are instrumental in making us comfortable when sleeping. Bedding sheets were first introduced in the 15th century and have become a popular part of our bedding components.

Bed Sheets History

The first bed sheets were made of linen and were very expensive such that only the elites were able to afford them, but as time progressed and the inception of the industrial revolution, they became affordable such that even people from the middle class were able to afford them.

By this time, they were already being made from other materials such as wool and cotton. Then, in the 20th century, the production of bed sheets with adjustable design began. During this time, fitted sheets were designed and started gaining ground because it's an adaptable design. Before this time, bedding sheets were extremely thick and expensive. 

Bed Sheets Today

Whether it is a fitted sheet or a flat sheet, they provide the comfort needed to get through the night. Bedding sheets are now mass-produced in various sizes, colors, and fabrics, which come in varieties such as cotton sheets, Egyptian cotton sheets, bamboo rayon, microfiber, sateen, and weave amongst a host of other fabrics.

linen sheet

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Individuals must be aware of the differences between these bedding sheets if they want to go bed shopping. The availability of an enormous pool of information on bedding sheets will serve as a guide for people as bedding sheets tend to have many confusing options.

This article clarifies the diverse array of bed sheets on the market, such as flat sheets, fitted sheets, top and bottom sheets. This would allow people to shop for bedding sheets with the knowledge of how they work, the pros and cons of the various sheets, and the kind of fabric they would want them in.

Bedsheets are commonly categorized into the top sheet and bottom sheet. So what is the bottom sheet?

Bottom sheet can be a fitted sheet

Fitted sheets were introduced in the 1950s and became increasingly popular as people found them easier to use as bottom sheets. It saved them the stress of folding and tucking flat sheets under the mattress all the time. Fitted sheets have elastic bands sewn into their hem, creating a pocket that helps to keep the sheet tightly in place at the edges of the mattress.

Fitted sheets, also known as bottoms sheets, usually have elastic bands sewn into their corners and are designed to provide a tight and snug fit when drawn on the mattress.

Nevertheless, they do not lie flat on the bed, and they always prove difficult to fold. On the other hand, flat sheets are rectangular pieces of clothes that also serve as Top sheets. As their name implies, they lie flat on the mattress's surface, and they are very easy to fold.

A bottom sheet is placed directly over the mattress, and the occupants lie on it instead of lying on the bare mattress. It is either a fitted or a flat sheet, depending on the preference of the bed occupant, but people prefer using a fitted sheet as a bottom sheet because of the perfect fit it provides.

Advantage of the fitted sheet

The advantages of fitted sheets are numerous: it saves one the stress of tucking bed sheets under the mattress; you pop it on the mattress for a snug fit. It also protects the bed from stains as it absorbs the sweat and collects the dead skin cells that pop off human bodies during the night.

How to choose a fitted sheet

To choose the right size of the fitted sheet for one's mattress, one must check for the handy label where various textural and size descriptions are noted. This handy label is usually located at the bottom right-hand corner of the sheet.

It is this label that provides information on the width, length, and thickness of the sheet. One will have to choose one that fits the width and length of their mattress.

How to use it?

The elasticized corners of the sheet will be pulled over the mattress and hung on the corners, and adjusted until it provides a snug fit, which ultimately prevents the bedding from being messy and getting worn out.

Bottom sheet can be flat

A flat sheet, also popularly known as a top sheet, was originally designed to serve as a barrier between a bed's occupant and the bed covers on top of the mattress. It is a rectangular piece of fabric, and It was introduced as far back as the 15th century when bed sheets were first introduced.

How to use?

There is a wide range of ways in which you can use a flat sheet. For example, it can be used instead of blankets, especially by people living in warmer climes or during the summer in cold climes.

On a humid, hot, and sticky night, no one would sleep comfortably under a duvet or comforter. Therefore, it is also utilized as a bed cover in place of fitted sheets. To hold it tightly in place, one would need to tuck its flapping edges and corners under the mattress.

What is the difference between a flat sheet and a fitted sheet

The major and only significant difference between the flat sheet and the fitted sheet is that the flat sheet can be used as a top or bottom sheet. At the same time, a fitted sheet is best and solely used as a bottom sheet because of its elastic hems.

Flat sheet vs fitted sheet


Flat sheet and fitted sheet can be used at the same time, and some people only use a fitted sheet

It depends on the individual preference of people. It is not strange to see people differ in the ways they use their sheets. For example, in Europe, people prefer to use only fitted sheets and duvet to cover up but, it doesn't strike out the fact that you can use flat sheets and fitted sheets at the same time with the fitted sheet being used to cover the mattress and the flat sheet being used as a top sheet.

What is the top sheet?

The top sheet is usually a flat rectangular piece of clothing placed on the bed's occupant and sometimes used to protect duvets and comforters from getting stained and messed up. A top sheet and a flat sheet are the same; the only thing that might differentiate them from each other is their mode of usage.

How to use it?

Top sheets are popularly used to cover up a bed's occupant when they are sleeping, and it can also be useful in protecting the mattress and other bedding components as it is also double as a flat sheet.

What is the difference between the top sheet and bottom sheet?

Unlike the bottom sheet, which is meant to cover and protect the mattress, you can use a top sheet to protect both the bed's occupants and the bed covers. The top sheet does not always allow other bed covers to touch the bed’s occupant.

Disadvantage of top sheet: easy to get messy

One of the disadvantages of a top sheet is that it gets messy and dirty easily. This forces you to redress the bed daily and wash it regularly, mostly weekly on its occupant. This is one of the constraints why people steer clear of using a top sheet

Advantage of a top sheet, no need to wash comforters

One of the advantages of having a top sheet is that it saves the user the stress of washing their comforter or duvet all the time. Incessant washing of these comforters and duvet will eventually lead to the fading and leading to the loss of their heavily sequined designs to lose their beauty within a very short period.

The top sheet is not common to use in Europe - people prefer fitted sheets and duvets.

On the other hand, Americans use fitted sheets, and top sheets as their comforters don’t have protectors. Although collected data have shown that a lot of young people do not fancy the idea of having a top sheet in their bedding sets, it is still a trend amongst the much older people as they feel that it is quite important to have a flat sheet between the bottom sheet and the blanket.