How to Make Your Bed (So Mom Would Be Proud)

Sadly, throwing pillows around doesn't count.

May 18, 2020
Photo by Julia Gartland

I know what you’re going to say: "Who needs to be told how to make a bed?" So, I’m prepared with a response: plenty of people. I've been witness to so many iterations of a “neatly made bed” that I’m surprised I still know how.

The thing is, bed-making is deeply personal, and the choices before us, endless: top sheet, no top sheet or triple-sheet, comforter or blanket or both, one pillowcase or two (we wrote about it here and a surprising number of people use two!), mattress protector, hospital corners...I get it, it's overwhelming.

The idea then is to develop a process that works for you. Skip the top sheet if you wish, or forgo the decorative pillows. Time yourself so it takes under two minutes if your mornings are pressed for time. Or go the whole hog: pressed sheets, lavender linen spray and all.

Here is my method for making a bed—from the very start to the flourish at the end—including some tips and tricks. Follow some of it, follow all, it's your choice. Just remember, when in doubt, ask yourself: would mom approve?

What you’ll need:

  • A mattress protector (yes, please)
  • A fitted sheet (or flat sheet, if you prefer)
  • A flat sheet
  • A comforter
  • A duvet cover
  • A decorative blanket (optional)
  • 2-4 pillowcases for bed pillows
  • 2 bed pillows plus 2-4 decorative throw pillows (optional, but nice to have)

How to do it:

  1. If you’re changing the linens, once you take them off, shake off the things that you aren’t washing this time around, like the comforter, mattress pad, and mattress protector.
  2. If you think you need it: grab a handheld vacuum, or your vacuum cleaner's upholstery attachment, and run it over the mattress to suck up those dust bunnies.
  3. Put the mattress protector on—a lot of people skip this step, but it prolongs the life of your mattress and is far easier to throw in the wash than deep cleaning a mattress. Make sure it’s stretched and smoothed out. No one wants to sleep over a crinkly mattress protector.
  4. Put on the fitted sheet, starting with the corners that are hardest to reach. If you always get jumbled up by which is the top or side, make a little iron-on label for the tag that says “TR” for top right. If your bottom sheet is a flat one, and you like the idea of hospital corners, Here is a tutorial.
  5. Shake the top sheet out onto the bed, with the top fabric facing down — that means if there's a pattern on the sheet, the dull side should be facing-up so that it's visible when you fold your sheet down over the top of your duvet! Remember to center it so that the sides hanging off the bed’s edges are more or less equal on both sides.
  6. The top of the sheet should skim the bed frame—that’s the extra space at the top to fold it over the duvet, if that’s what you like. Tuck the bottom under the bed with some more hospital corners—if you so choose. A basic tuck is just fine for those who like their beds a little more loosely made.
  7. Insert the comforter into the duvet cover, starting with the top, and tie or button the comforter corners to the inside corners of the duvet. While holding each of the top corners, shake it out, then tie the top corners of the comforter and duvet together, like the top. Button, tie, or zip up the bottom of the duvet and gently shake it out over the top sheet. Again, make sure the sides are evenly hanging over the edges. Here's a quick and easy trick to wedge your comforter into that seemingly endless cave that is the duvet cover.
  8. If triple-sheeting is your thing, go on and do it now.
  9. Fold over the duvet and top sheet if you desire (or line up the pillows over it) towards the base of the bed—about 6-12 inches.
  10. Don’t forget to give the pillows a shake and fluff them up in their cases.
  11. How you stack your pillows is a personal choice. Stack them vertically in twos, or prop them upright in twos. Add on some decorative throw pillows in any way that makes you happy. We love two square pillows and one lumbar for some dimension, but you could even use five—four square and one lumbar.
  12. Have a throw or blanket? Fold the decorative blanket into about a 1.5 foot-wide strip, widthwise, and drape over the bed. Or, go for a more loosely styled look and drape it naturally over the side.

Remember, the best thing about your bed looking too good to mess up, is that it's much more fun to jump in and do exactly that!

Daily bed-making—pain or pleasure? Tell us in the comments below!

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  • Christina
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Caroline Mullen

Written by: Caroline Mullen


Christina December 30, 2021
If the bed is made, the room seems to be clean. If the kitchen is also clean, the entire house seems to be clean.
Amy May 24, 2020
I love the sheets used in the video, are they linen? Any further information you can offer on the sheets and duvet cover I would appreciate. Thanks!
GigiR May 24, 2020
Love it all. Making my bed sets me up to get on with starting the day.

If you want to remove ‘winter dust’ from pillows and duvets, try this. Get a good size garbage or recycling bag. Put you pillow or duvet in it. Clutch the top of the bag around the open end of the vacuum cleaner hose and turn on the vacuum. It will suck out the air, dust and other nasties into the vacuum. It will make the pillow etc squish flat. When you’re satisfied that you’ve vacuumed enough out, turn the machine off and open the bag to remove your refreshed pillow or duvet.

Some people might prefer not to do this to their down filled pillows or duvets over the concern of breaking the quills of the down or feathers.

Typically, what tends to happen is that the feathers align themselves and won’t break, but there’s always chance.