how to make hospital corners

When Grandma showed the Damsel how to make hospital corners, long, long ago, she had just one question.


Grandma had a perfectly good explanation, but first let’s ask another question.

What the heck are hospital corners?

They are simply a way of folding and tucking in bed linens. Apparently they were named “hospital corners” because nurses made up beds in hospitals this way, but you don’t have to be sick to enjoy a nicely made bed.

Grandma explained that just cramming the sheets under the mattress wouldn’t work as well. The sheets would come untucked more easily, and there really is something cozy about a bed that’s made right. Besides, once you learn how, you’ll see it’s so simple and easy, it hardly takes two seconds longer than cramming.

First, smooth out the item you’re putting on the bed, whether it’s a top sheet, a blanket, or what-have-you. Make sure it’s positioned right on the bed before you begin. Shortsheeting, another ancient skill, isn’t in today’s class.

The Damsel usually thinks of hospital corners as something she does to sheets, but today she’s using an ancient bedspread, made back at the dawn of time, because it showed up better in the photos.


Tuck the end of the bed in nice and smooth, letting the sides hang.

IMG_2985On the hanging side, grasp the edge of the bedspread/sheet/thing about 12-18 inches from the end of the bed. Pull straight up, forming a sort of triangle. Just lay it there.

IMG_2986Leaving the triangle thing still lying across the top, tuck in the part that hangs down on the sides.


Pick up the triangle thingy, pull it straight down, making a diagonal line.

IMG_2989Now just tuck in that last bit. Now, doesn’t that look nice?

It’s kind of like wrapping a gift to yourself. It’s so much nicer to crawl into a bed with fresh, smooth sheets than a crumpled heap of blankets. As a matter of fact, the Damsel feels a nap coming on.

12 thoughts on “how to make hospital corners

  1. Sometimes I just get too lazy to do them at home. They taught us at nursing school that they used to fold all sheets this way before fitted sheets came about. So if you run out of a nice elastic sheet just do these corners on every corner and voilà a fitted sheet. Neat huh? Get it? Neat? ….

  2. My husband is in charge of making our bed precisely because he’s great at making hospital corners–his mom taught him. I can’t seem to do it, even though he’s shown me a bunch of times. Of course part of that might be that I like not having to make the bed… 🙂

  3. I am very sesitive to this and have a diagram-filled dossier on the subject – well, on many – I cannot tolerate incorrect or sloppy corners. It just looks as if no one cared how the job was done. But my Mom, who was once in a convent, is the real master here!

  4. Are fitted sheets too modern to be considered on this post? I have never been able to fold a fitted sheet!

    • You’re not the first one to wonder about folding those dratted fitted sheets. That’s a great idea for an upcoming post!

  5. I second the fitted sheet folding post. Get on that, would you?

    My mother-in-law prefers the hospital corners and I actually know how to do them because me sister-in-law learned in nursing school (weird, but true…I think). I don’t like them because my feet feel too confined and can’t move around enough. I think I’m in the minority, however.

  6. Dear Damsel,
    Found your website and its great! However, your photo of your hospital corners is kinda messy. Yes, this too is how I learned to make them. But I’ve gotta say mine are much neater…sorry 🙂 But then again, I’ve also got two sons in the military who REALLY know how to make “hospital” or “military” corners on sheets. The trick is getting the sheet (or blanket) to fit securely without any extra little “folds” as I see in your photo. But hey, once you learn the basics, you can work on it until you perfect it. 🙂 BTW, I also learned how to iron properly, or so I thought. But then again, my two sons “taught” me “how to do it right, Mom!” after they’d completed Marines boot camp and Air Force basic training.

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