Living Well: 6 Secrets To Folding a Fitted Sheet

July 10, 2013

6 Secrets to Folding a Fitted Sheet  |  Design Mom

Photos and text by Lindsey Johnson for Design Mom.

There are few parts of doing laundry quite as exasperating as folding fitted sheets. Not even missing socks can compare with the frustration of not being able to fold it just right so it sits nicely on the linen cupboard shelf. Fold and refold. Repeat. Get frustrated, roll the sheet into a ball, shove into cupboard, close door, walk away and find chocolate.

6 Secrets to Folding a Fitted Sheet  |  Design Mom

Before I developed my mad sheet folding skillz, if I didn’t roll the fitted bed sheets into wadded up balls, then I made sure I immediately put the clean sheets back on my bed thereby rendering the folding task obsolete and saving myself from uttering a colorful string of (mild) expletives under my breath.

But really, why is it so difficult to fold fitted sheets? Why must the elasticized edge that lovingly hugs our mattresses as we slumber, or while we host tickle fights on our beds, cause so much angst and exasperation?

folding-fitted-sheet-76 Secrets to Folding a Fitted Sheet  |  Design Mom

It doesn’t have to! Once I figured out the proper way to fold fitted sheets, I no longer hollered out in frustration. I no longer feared the weekly chore of laundering the bed sheets. And best of all, my linen cupboard has never been quite so tidy and organized.

For this how-to I’ll be showing a crib sheet because it’s easier to demonstrate in the photographs, but this works just the same way for King, Full, and Twin-sized sheets. (I know because I tried out every one just to make sure.)

I’m going to demonstrate two different folding methods. Both ways give you perfectly folded fitted sheets. I happen to prefer the first method, but I can see the appeal of second method too. Method #1 works well with any size sheet. And honestly, I had never seen this way of folding before, but observed the way a set of new sheets were packaged, and thought, “Well, if the manufacturer can get it to fit in the package, I’m going to take notes!” : )

6 Secrets to Folding a Fitted Sheet  |  Design Mom

In my opinion Method #2 is better for larger sheets because there is less bulk from the elasticized edges. With smaller sized sheets there is less fabric in the center to offset the bulky elasticized edges. Of course, you have to experiment a little and see which method you prefer and works with your linen cupboard.

The key thing to remember for the tidiest looking folded fitted sheet is to flatten and smooth out the sheet and even out the corners with each step. Those pesky rounded, elasticized corners can be tackled!  I’ll show you how as we go along.

6 Secrets to Folding a Fitted Sheet  |  Design Mom

METHOD #1

This way works best if you have a flat surface — like a bed, table, or floor — to lay the sheet on while folding.

6 Secrets to Folding a Fitted Sheet  |  Design Mom

I begin by folding the sheet in half. (If you remember back to elementary school, we called this the “hamburger way.”) Secret#1: To get crisp corners, I turn two of the corners inside out so they fit neatly into the other side. Keep reading for how to do this.

6 Secrets to Folding a Fitted Sheet  |  Design Mom

For the corners, I turn one of the bottom corners inside out and place my hand inside it.  I put my pointer finger in the corner seam so I can match it up exactly with the other corner on the other side of the sheet.

6 Secrets to Folding a Fitted Sheet  |  Design Mom

Then I put that corner right inside the corresponding top corner.

6 Secrets to Folding a Fitted Sheet  |  Design Mom

I repeat that with the other side and then it looks like this (above).

6 Secrets to Folding a Fitted Sheet  |  Design Mom

Then I even up all of the corners, top and bottom.

6 Secrets to Folding a Fitted Sheet  |  Design Mom

Next we start folding again. Secret #2: I fold crib sheets in thirds, like a letter. You can begin with folding the top down or the bottom up, it doesn’t really matter. For larger sheets, I draw an imaginary line in the center of the sheet and fold both the bottom and top edges evenly towards the imaginary central line. (The larger sheets end up being folded in fourths.)

6 Secrets to Folding a Fitted Sheet  |  Design Mom

Secret #3: Again make sure to square off the corners for crisp edges and pointed corners!

6 Secrets to Folding a Fitted Sheet  |  Design Mom

Fold the next side up or down. It will be long and narrow like the picture (above).

6 Secrets to Folding a Fitted Sheet  |  Design Mom

Again match up the corners the best you can and try to square them off  the best you can. Secret #4: You’ll notice that because of the rounded, elastic edges, it won’t be totally square on the one side. That’s okay. The other side (the one opposite of the elastic) will have edges and corners that are more square. Those are the edges that will be facing outward when you finish folding.

6 Secrets to Folding a Fitted Sheet  |  Design Mom

Next you’ll bring one of the sides towards the center, folding in thirds again. For larger sized sheets, you can either fold towards the center again as you did in the earlier step — in fourths, or you can fold it over several times on itself. Depending on the size of the sheet, you may have a few more folds.

6 Secrets to Folding a Fitted Sheet  |  Design Mom

The last step is to fold it over again and tidy up the corners and edges.Yay! You did it. It’s all ready to be put in the linen closet!

6 Secrets to Folding a Fitted Sheet  |  Design Mom

METHOD #2

This is the more common method of the two. Chances are you’ve already seen this one, but it’s always good to have a little refresher. To begin, we start as before.

6 Secrets to Folding a Fitted Sheet  |  Design Mom

Secret #5: This time, however, we are going to take folding corners inside-out a step further. When we get to this point, we will take one of the (double) corners and turn it inside-out once more, bring it over to meet the other side, and tuck it inside the other side’s corner.

6 Secrets to Folding a Fitted Sheet  |  Design Mom

All of the corners will be tucked neatly into each other. This is what it will look like (above). Straighten the corners and even them up so it looks neat and tidy when it’s all folded.

6 Secrets to Folding a Fitted Sheet  |  Design Mom 6 Secrets to Folding a Fitted Sheet  |  Design Mom

Next fold the right side towards the center, again in thirds like a letter. Larger sheets can be folded in thirds or fourths depending on how big you want the folded sheet to be when you’re finished. Secret #6: I usually go with fourths on the larger sheets because it fits better on my shelf and matches the folded flat sheet better too.

6 Secrets to Folding a Fitted Sheet  |  Design Mom

Fold the left side over.  Straighten corners again.

6 Secrets to Folding a Fitted Sheet  |  Design Mom

Lastly, turn it and fold in half. Again, with bigger sheets, you’ll have to play around with how many times you need to fold it so it’s the right size for your shelf.

6 Secrets to Folding a Fitted Sheet  |  Design Mom

All done! It might seem a little confusing at first, but spend an hour in front of your favorite show with a pile of fitted sheets, and it will become second nature, I promise. And that formerly nasty chore of folding fitted sheets will be a breeze!

I’d love to know: Are you a balled-up-sheet-in-the-corner-of-the-closet person? Or do you like to keep things neat as a pin? Any other tips you would add?

P.S. — Love secrets? Find all the posts in this series here.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carla July 10, 2013 at 11:42 am

I am definitely fall into the neat as a pin category. I like all my sheets folded the same and stacked neatly on the shelf. (I also make my bed as soon as I get out of it – crazy!) This is almost the same method I learned from watching my Mom years and years ago and also demonstrated by Martha Stewart. Thanks for the reminder!

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2 Mary July 10, 2013 at 12:18 pm

I learned method #1 in massage school, actually. It works great! The only difference is I fold my sheets inside out, so they are easier to put right on the bed/massage table without having to unfold the whole thing first. You can just unfold to the first step, then flip two corners over the mattress, then do the next two.

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3 Melinda Ke July 10, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Awesome, I’m going to try both methods!!! Thanks! :)

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4 Kristen E July 10, 2013 at 4:59 pm

OMG, I needed this so badly. I always do Method 1 but fail miserably at it. Well, it’s not THAT bad, but it’s never as neat as I want it to be. I’m going to attempt Method 2 and see if it works better for me! Thanks! :)

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5 Amy July 10, 2013 at 9:04 pm

No matter how hard I try, fitted sheets continue to boggle my mind. Thank you for posting this!

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6 Ellie July 10, 2013 at 9:16 pm

The tip that saved my sanity is to put a set of bed sheets in one of the pillow cases. No need to look for a whole set in a crumbling pile of sheets anymore! I also roll towels. My laundry cupboard closes and that is key. The towels are personalized to limit them to 1 per person, 2 for the husband, a guest towel and beach towels. I still have the towel I had as a girl and never wish for more.

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7 Brigitte July 10, 2013 at 9:37 pm

Thanks! I learned the first method from a nun at a mission. Quite a revelation for me at the time.

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8 Jenny O'Brien July 10, 2013 at 11:20 pm

I learned how to fold fitted sheets from Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson, my favorite housekeeping book. However, I’ve lost my way and was so happy to see this. I had three sets of sheets to fold this evening and I was very successful with method 1. Yay! I love when my top and bottom sheets fold to the same size and look so neat in my linen closet. Thanks!

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9 Deborah July 11, 2013 at 5:08 am

This couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been cleaning and purging room by room this summer and it time for the linen closet. I dream of the perfectly folded & stacked sheets a la Martha and while it’s neat, it’s not exactly what I pictured in my head. Thanks for the step by step instructions, I’m going with method #1.

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10 Mandy July 11, 2013 at 5:12 am

So that’s how its done! I’ve always wondered what others do. I gave up years ago and started stuffing all my sheets in a pillowcase and then stuffing that in the closet. I’m hopeless! However, I do want to give this a try. Thanks!

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11 Jaime July 11, 2013 at 8:52 am

Great tutorial, Gab. I just roll mine up and stuff them in the closet and call it a day. Luckily, no one looks inside my closet.

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12 Alissa July 11, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Lindsey, Can you tell me where those sheets are from? They are so pretty.

Also, what a brilliant tutorial. I will definitely be incorporating this into my future life.

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13 Ann July 11, 2013 at 3:13 pm

100x thank you! I once heard Martha Stewart on her radio show say she never bought fitted sheets. She would just buy flat sheets for both the mattress and top sheet. Is this true? Then a friend told me she used the fitted sheet to place the top sheet and pillowcases into and wrapped it like a present with the fitted sheet and put it in the closet. I’ve never seen this either but thought it was an interesting idea.

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14 Michelle July 23, 2013 at 9:23 am

I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve never known how to fold a fitted sheet. I must have missed Home Ec 101. But I finally remembered to check back to this tutorial, and it worked brilliantly! I am thoroughly proud of my domestic abilities right now. Thank you!

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15 Nancy Lavan August 6, 2013 at 1:26 pm

here is a great tool to held fold it perfectly layflatlinens.com
check it out!!!

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16 Michele September 28, 2013 at 11:33 pm

I immediately place my sheets back on the bed after washing to prevent folding many, but I still have to fold and put away the sheets the kids sleep on when they visit on the weekends. I’ll admit: I’ve found it easiest to ball up the pillowcases, flat and fitted sheets all together in one loose ball, then crush it flat — fits on my linen closet shelf just fine. :-)

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17 James November 1, 2013 at 8:06 pm

I always used to be able to find fitted really fast- they were the ones in the closet with the lumpy fold job. Now it’s a little harder to discern between fitted and regular sheets, but I guess that’s a good thing!

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18 Ryan December 1, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Thanks for this. The static images and actual descriptions of steps are just what I needed. All the animated .gifs and videos where they go way too fast were just frustrating me to death.

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19 Edna January 6, 2014 at 3:53 pm

I struggle with folding my king and queen fitted sheets in such a manner. The sheets I use are deep (from http://www.thomasleeltd.com ), but not as deep as many! Right now, I just try the method of folding the flat sheet within, which I think saves more space anyway, even if the fitted sheet gets more wrinkly. And I love the crisp Thomas Lee sheets, so I guess its worth it!

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