Is it time to say goodbye to top sheets for good? This is one question that really has us tossing and turning. Chances are if you’re under 40, you make your bed with just a fitted sheet and a covered duvet. Readers over 40 might notice that there is an ingredient missing from the bedding mix…the top sheet.
Forget old arguments about whether to make hospital corners or should a patterned top sheet face the sleeper or the ceiling? Those burning questions matter no more because Millennials have deemed the top sheet obsolete!
Adapting yet another European custom (notice that many Millennials eat Continental style), younger adults are replacing top sheets, blankets, and bedspreads with a covered duvet. The pros for breaking from century-old tradition go like this:1
- Making the bed in the morning takes less than 30 seconds—just pull the duvet evenly over the bed and walk away.
- It adds up to less laundry: You only wash the fitted sheet, pillowcases, and duvet cover. Theoretically, this is less work than cleaning a set of sheets, pillow cases, blanket, and bedspread.
On the con side…this is where Baby Boomers get twitchy…using a top sheet could protect you from all sorts of nasties. Business Insider asked Philip Tierno, a microbiologist from New York University School of Medicine to weigh in about the dangers lurking between our sheets and got this discomforting reply:
“You have spores of fungi, bacteria, animal dander, pollen, soil, lint, finishing agents of whatever the sheets are made from, coloring material, all sorts of excrements from the body including sweat, sputum, vaginal, and anal excretions, urine milieu, skin cells … “2 Oh my!
Remember, the word “theoretically” was used above when describing the pros of tossing the top sheet? The problem is, whether you go with a top layer or not, you need to wash the bedding that touches your body—including the duvet cover—about once a week2 to avoid sleeping in the bedtime equivalent of Love Canal.*
One duty for the trusty flat sheet was to protect the blanket and quilt from over-laundering. Another consideration for those losing sleep over the dilemma is that some duvet covers may not weather weekly washing because their fabrics are more substantial than what is typically used for a flat sheet.3
Some may consider the work of wrestling to stuff a duvet into a freshly washed cover every week to be little gain over the energy burned in making a bed every morning with a top sheet, blanket, and bedspread. Could this really be the critical factor in the generational divide? Are millennials just lazy or do they simply have different priorities?
Of course, we really shouldn’t concern ourselves with what other people do in the privacy of their bedrooms. True, some people stand to lose from this trend, such as those who manufacture and sell top sheets, but we understand that companies are already adapting to this disruption by selling fitted sheets with pillowcases while making the flat sheet an optional extra. 1
Maybe this article will serve as a warning for unsuspecting older relatives making a weekend visit to younger adults. When it is time to turn in for the night, don’t be shocked when you can’t actually crawl between the sheets! Your sweet Millennial didn’t forget anything. The flat sheet is not missing. You are now entering the brave new world of the duvet, and hopefully, they have it covered!!
Or maybe, you have traveled in outside of the U.S. and experienced the snuggly warmth of a duvet and thought to yourself, maybe these people are onto something. What side do you take in this passionate debate?
1Krieger L. It’s Time to Say Goodbye to Top Sheets For Good. Town & Country. 18 June 2018.
2Calderone J. The uncomfortable truth about how often you should wash your bed sheets. Business Insider. 15 October 2015.
3Plante C. Yes, Millennials, Science Says You Should Probably Use a Top Sheet. Inverse. 28 March 2018.
4Beck EC. The Love Canal Tragedy. US Environmental Protection Agency Journal. January 1979.
*Millennials might not remember that it is the name of a housing community built on top of an extremely toxic chemical dump that the EPA calls “one of the most appalling environmental tragedies in American history.”4