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household hacks

Fitted sheets are a pain in the you-know-what to fold, but there are ways.

With younger generations ditching top sheets, it may seem like the basic household task of putting sheets away in the linen closet or drawer should be getting easier. But the top sheet was never the problem when it comes to folding and storing. It's that cursed fitted sheet with this wonky elastic corners and bulbous, amorphous shape that gets people's goat, every time.

If only it were a simple as this:

However, if you know what you're doing, it's not actually as hard to neatly fold a fitted sheet as people think. There are just a couple of principles to keep in mind.

First, it's much, much easier to fold a fitted sheet with a flat surface. You can try to do it in the air, but you're just going to frustrate yourself.

Second, the goal of folding the fitted sheet is to keep the ugly on the inside. You're never going to get the perfectly flat, neat square you get with a folded flat sheet, but you can get pretty close by remembering that the bumpy elastic parts won't matter if they're folded up inside the straight parts of the sheet.

Now let's get to it.

Step 1: Lay the sheet out as best you can on the bed. Tuck your hands into the corners of one short end of the sheet, then tuck those corners inside the corners of the other end. This is the part that gives people the most trouble, but once you see what it looks like, it's pretty clear.

It takes this woman about 5 seconds to do that part (but it takes a bit of practice to get that quick). Watch:

Step 2: You now have a fitted sheet that's essentially folded in half, but ugly. Now you want to make a somewhat uniform shape out of it, by pulling those elastic corners in so that the top is evenly rounded. (Basically, make it look like an old-timey wagon carriage.)

Step 3: Pull the bottom of the sheet taut so you have a straight fold, then fold it the width you want the folded sheet to be (about a foot, generally). Do that fold twice.

Step 4: Here's the "ugly on the inside" part. Now fold the round top down twice, putting the second fold over the first two folds you made. (This part does not need to look super neat because, again, the ugly is going to be hidden on the inside.) Flatten it out with your hands. Now you have a nice, long, somewhat flat burrito with ugly ends.

Step 5: Fold in from both ends (ugly on the inside, always). If you want to tuck one end into the other like she does in the video, great, but that's not even necessary. You can just double fold from each end and call it good.

Voila! Neatly folded fitted sheet. It may look hard and may not end up this neat on your first try, but keep going. Once you get the hang of it, it gets faster and easier.

If that method just doesn't work for you, here's another to try from Linen House. It looks a lot more complicated at the beginning, but once you see what she's doing, it's clearer. She's essentially folding it in half and then half again, keeping the corners tucked into one another going the same direction. (You could also do that part on a bed, which might be easier than trying to do it in the air. Everyone has their preference.)

One caveat: Some sheet material is harder to fold than others. Basic cotton or poly blend? Super doable. Silk sheets are slippery, but often fold down very flat. Flannel sheets stick to themselves a bit, but are still amenable to the folding. Jersey sheets, though? Far more challenging. They have no clear shape and get more misshapen with every wash. You might be justified in giving up and wadding those ones however they will go.

What's even the point of folding fitted sheets in the first place? Well, they fit far better in a cupboard or drawer when folded than they do when wadded, for one, so if space is important to you, that's one reason. It's also just far more aesthetically pleasing. Once you get the hang of it, it takes like 30 seconds, which is totally worth it.