Difference Between Fitted Sheet and Flat Sheet

We spend a good chunk of time on our beds. Having the right bedsheet is required to keep the bedding in place. Bedsheets are important for three main domains home, hotel, and hospital. Every sheet aims to look stylish and feel comfortable and cozy. There are two types of bedsheets available – fitted sheets and flat sheets.

Fitted Sheet vs Flat Sheet

The main difference between fitted and flat sheets is that a fitted sheet has the corners fitted with elastic while a flat sheet is a sheet of cloth spread over the bed. The fitted sheet protects the mattress while the flat sheet protects the fitted sheet and the duvet.

Fitted Sheet vs Flat Sheet

Fitted sheets have to be bought according to the exact measurement of the mattress. Even a difference of an inch would not fit perfectly over the mattress. The material of fitted sheets is thick and not ideal for sleeping over directly as it can cause skin irritation.

On the other hand, flat sheets can run large and the excess cloth can be tucked underneath. Flat sheets are used as top covers or sheets. The material of flat sheets is thin and feels cool. Hence, it is ideal for sleeping, especially in hotter months.

Comparison Table Between Fitted Sheet and Flat Sheet

Parameters of ComparisonFitted SheetFlat Sheet
Fabric There are various fabric options available and the material is mostly thickThere are various fabric options available and the material is mostly thin
FunctionTo protect the mattress and add a soft even layer on the bed To protect the duvet and provide cooler nights in warm months
Another name Bottom sheet Top sheet
AdvantageDo not move or come off from the bedding, easily changeable Protects the underneath mattress, duvet, or fitted sheet underneath and temperature control
DisadvantageDifficult to fold and takes up space during storage It gets wrinkles, crumbles, and comes off the bedding during slumber

What is Fitted Sheet?

Fitted sheets have stretchable elastic bands which are sewed at the seam of the bedsheet. The function of fitted sheets is that they prevent the bedsheet from coming off the bedding. They do not move and stay in the place. Fitted sheets are also known as bottom sheets.

Fitted sheets are easy to change or remove. Loosening one corner and pulling the sheet, would remove the sheet easily. Fitted sheets protect the mattress and form an outer shield or layer. It does not give wrinkles or crumbles on the sheet.

Initially fitted sheets were used to cover mattresses but now they are widely used as bedsheets too. A major drawback of fitted sheets is that they take up a lot of space for storage. Before buying a fitted sheet, it is important to have the exact measurements because even a difference of an inch would not create the right fit.

Fitted sheets are bound to the corners of the mattress and extend the longevity of the mattress. It also acts as a soft surface during slumber. Fitted sheets are loved for their secure stay on the mattress. The users who love a neat, smooth and flat look on the bed, prefer fitted sheets.

What is Flat Sheet?

Flat sheets as the name suggests are flat without any fitting. Flat sheets are large pieces of cloth with the seams stitched. They do not have the provision for an elasticated end. A flat sheet is either spread loosely over the mattress or can be tucked under the mattress. A flat sheet is also known as a top sheet.

The name top sheet was derived from the traditional usage type as flat sheets were spread over a fitted sheet as used as a top cover. Flat sheets when used over fitted sheets, protect the underneath fitted sheet. It also protects the duvet from accidental stains and regular dust and dirt. A combination of the flat sheet with a fitted sheet provides additional comfort.

Flat sheets are best for the skin. It acts as a barrier for the skin from irritants like bacteria, mites, parasites, dust, and other allergic substances. People who have skin allergies, sensitive skin, or get night sweats, prefer flat sheets to keep the skin cool.

Flat sheets are great temperature controller and widely used in hotter countries as it provides a cooler experience. Linen flat sheets are the best in the feature of temperature controllers. There are various fabric material options available. Organic materials like cotton are not only softer on the skin but also breathable and easily washable and expensive. The cheaper alternatives are synthetic materials and polyester sheets.

Main Differences Between Fitted Sheet and Flat Sheet

  1. Fitted sheets have elasticated ends while flat sheets have simply stitched ends.
  2. Fitted sheets are used as a bottom layer while flat sheets are used as a top layer.
  3. Fitted sheets can be hugged to the corners of the mattress while flat sheets can be dropped loose or tucked below the mattress.
  4. Fitted sheets need to be bought in exact size and dimension to have the right fit while flat sheets can be bought even in the larger size and the excess can be tucked underneath.
  5. Fitted sheets lay neat, stretched, and smoothed while flat sheets get centered and bunch up and do not remain neat all around the day.


Having the right combination of sheets is essential for sleeping. Both fitted sheets and flat sheets have their functions, advantages, and drawbacks. Every user has his/her priorities and preferences. Some like the look of fitted sheets and prefer sleeping directly over those while some people like the cool thin fabric of flat sheets and do not mind the crumble.

Yet some people prefer both, the fitted sheets topped up with flat sheets. They feel that the combination of both provides the right amount of comfort as well as protection. Bedding is a personal possession and depends entirely upon the user and his/her habits, sleeping patterns, and preference. The end goal of every sheet is to provide comfort.


  1. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4634&context=extensionhist
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