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Why do does hotels use flat sheets instead of fitted?

Sep 20, 2023 | News, Trade News

Hotel beds are one of the best parts of travel. The sheets are always perfectly white, incredibly soft yet still magically crisp, and the absolute best part is that you don’t have to make it. When you do un-make the bed, though, you may notice something peculiar—most hotels don’t use fitted sheets. Instead, the bottom sheet is a flat sheet tucked in with hospital corners for a perfectly smooth fit.

Fitted sheets have always been a challenge. They are difficult to fold neatly, are hard to put on (which side is the bottom again?), and, if you’re a restless sleeper, the bottom sheet can spring loose in the middle of the night. Plus, the elastic can wear out making an otherwise perfectly good sheet into something for the rag pile. That’s part of the reason that hotels choose not to use fitted sheets. “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.”

Wear and tear is not the only reason that hotels skip fitted sheets, they also opt out for inventory purposes—it’s just easier to have flat sheets for everything—and for laundering. “With fitted sheets, they can’t be pressed or folded, whereas with a flat sheet it’s much easier,” Shah said. While hotels tend to buy a lot more sheets than most of us civilians, the pressing and folding facts remain the same—fitted sheets are more of a challenge.

That’s not to say that fitted sheets don’t have their proponents. In fact, a California legislator attempted to pass a law requiring hotels to use fitted sheets to protect the backs of housekeepers, who reportedly have “the highest rate of lower-back injuries in the hotel industry.” While the bill didn’t pass, some folks really do consider fitted sheets easier to put on a bed than making hospital corners with a flat sheet. That may be hard to believe for those of us who have wrestled with the final corner of a sheet that refuses to go on a mattress.

This is all to say that, as with most things in this world, fitted versus flat sheets are a matter of taste and personal preference. If you want your bed at home to mimic that of a hotel, consider skipping the fitted sheet. Don’t mind if we do.