While some call them "archaic", others can't sleep without one. Here, we settle the great bedding debate.

| By Juna Xu | Linen

Do You Really Need a Top Sheet? 6 Experts Weigh In

While some call them "archaic", others can't sleep without one. Here, we settle the great bedding debate.

There was once a time when only two types of people in this world existed: those who make their bed every morning and those who don’t. However, thanks to millennials, there’s now another divide when it comes to bedding: those who use a top sheet (aka a flat sheet) and those who don’t.

The top sheet has been rendered unwanted by younger generations who have even been spotted calling the humble traditional sheet “archaic” on Twitter. In a GQ op-ed, writer Maggie Lange called them “a scam” because they’re fiddly, ripe for tangling, flawed in design and overall a pure nuisance.

“Unless every element is perfectly aligned, making a bed with a top sheet will always look messier than if there were no top sheet. There are more ways to be disorderly than there are to be orderly,” Lange wrote.


When only a fitted sheet is used, it’s traditional to use a duvet as a topper because the cover can be washed regularly. But when a top sheet is added into the mix, comforters, blankets and duvet covers that are harder to clean can be used because that handy flat sheet acts as a hygienic barrier.

It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s unhygienic if you decide to ditch the top sheet - it simply depends on how frequently someone washes their sheets. Microbiologist and pathologist at the New York University School of Medicine Ingrid Johnson explained to Tech Insider that top sheet or no, a bed is a hotspot for a slew of living things that’ll be sure to make you squirm.

“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…” (something to keep in mind if you’re an especially sweaty sleeper.)

Most experts recommend washing your sheets at least once every two weeks, with once a week being the ideal timeframe. 

Mary-Louise McLaws, a researcher at Australia’s University of New South Wales, told Huffington Post: “Change and wash the doona cover weekly if you don’t use a top sheet, otherwise change it less often based on smells and visual cleanliness.”

But all this information still doesn’t settle the great top sheet debate, so we asked five different people of various ages and occupations, for their opinion.

6 people on whether a top sheet is necessary

Verdict: Is a top sheet necessary?

While all the above people voted in favour of the top sheet, it’s ultimately a personal preference. Whatever you decide, just ensure you’re washing your bed sheets regularly.

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