Fitted sheets, the elastic bound fabric most of us use to cover our mattresses, are bullshit. The elastic linens are the worst kind of scam—one that tells you it’ll save you money and time but does the exact opposite. Fitted sheets are impossible to fold, wear out fast, and often come loose in the middle of the night. I’ve long hated fitted sheets, but never having known anything else, just accepted them as an unavoidable part of modern life.
Twitter user @spindleypete opened my eyes to the truth in a series of passionate tweets on March 29. “Since there seems to be some confusion,” she wrote. “This is what a flat sheet is for. You use it instead of one of those elastic ones which I maintain are a scam. This is called a ‘mitered sheet’ or ‘hospital corners’ and it is the bed of a person with Principles.”
She wanted her followers to know that, more than just inconvenient, fitted sheets are a scam. “I believe firmly in the following conspiracy theory: fitted sheets were invented by crooked bedsheet barons to save on fabric and they tricked American housewives into believing they were indispensable when in reality they are a con,” @spindleypete Tweeted. “Hate it all you want but until the 1950s this was the way everybody made their beds and the way beds are still made in lots of places.”
She’s right. Most hotels, prisons, and the American military don’t use fitted sheets for various reasons. “I don’t think they would last as long,” Hersha Hospitality Trust CEO Jay Shah told the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2015. “The elastics would wear out. Also, in a hotel, when you imagine inventories, particularly for linen and terry…it’s easier to have two flat sheets. With fitted sheets, they can’t be pressed or folded, whereas with a flat sheet it’s much easier.”
Storage is one of the things I’ve long hated about fitted sheets. It’s impossible to fold after it comes out of the dryer and, despite the hundreds of folding lessons I’ve researched on YouTube, I can never get it right. I always end up rolling the fitted sheet up like a tube sock. It’s awful.
Worse, putting a fitted sheet on the bed is often a nightmare. The last corner is always an exercise in frustration and I’m not a restful sleeper, so the sheet often comes loose in the middle of the night and I wake up wrapped in elastic-laced sheets knowing that I’ll have to go through the whole process again. There are solutions for that problem, but buying straps to keep my fitted sheets in place feels like doubling down on the scam.
@spindleypete showed me a better way: hospital corners—which involve using a large sheet as the mattress cover then squaring off the corners almost like when you’re wrapping a christmas present. It’s pretty much the same fold I use to secure my top sheet , so it won’t be much of a challenge and it’s much easier than folding up a loose fitted sheet.
Other Twitter users pushed back against @spindleypete in her thread about the truth about fitted sheets. She’s since muted the thread. When I reached out to her via Twitter, she said she’d started the whole thing to blow off some steam. “[I don’t know] if you’re on ‘weird left twitter’ much, but there’s been something of a discourse betwixt the socialists and anarchists of twitter [with regards to] bedsheets in the last few days. We do this periodically, get really invested in a very mundane argument, maybe It helps blow off steam so we’re less sectarian, I don’t know. 2018 is a hell of a time.”
In the mundane linen wars, another heated topic of discussion is whether a right-thinking person should use a top sheet or not. (They should) “A lot of people were arguing for or against using a top sheet,” @spindleypete said. “And I was seeing all these bad takes and I just felt like I had to step in, for the good of the Revolution, y’know?”
She’s only half joking and fitted sheets really are bullshit. “The elastic wears out faster than the fabric forcing you to throw the whole thing away, it’s wasteful,” she said. “When old flat sheets started to wear out in the middle, people would cut them in half and stitch the two halves together backwards…but you can’t do that with a fitted sheet. Another way the crushing rule of global capitalism is forcing us into wasteful hyper-consumptive lifestyles! It’s in the vested interests of the robber barons to keep all us workers using fitted sheets! I am only 50% kidding!”