It was the summer of 2014, and I was traveling around southern Germany with my family when I discovered a phenomenon I’d never encountered before: Beds without top sheets. At first, I was taken aback by how gross that seemed to me. But the more hotels we went to, the more I realized how efficient the whole thing is: One blanket is easy to clean and there are no sheets tangling up throughout the night. Needless to say, I had the best sleep of my life on that trip. After that trip, I never really thought about it again, and continued to use a top sheet on my bed.
Fast forward a few years. I’m hitched and married to an absolute top sheet–hater. He despises top sheets and has never used them in his life. And yes, that’s not just in college, but back in his childhood home as well. He finds them incredibly uncomfortable and unbearably hot, and is perfectly comfortable with a simple blanket, duvet, or quilt. Since I didn’t have much of an opinion on the matter, the compromise was pretty easy. No top sheets in our house…and yes, I find myself experiencing delectable sleep without the tangled-up hassle. Get to the bottom of another bedsheet conundrum with our guide to how to fold a fitted sheet.
The top sheet debate
Since it’s easy to blame millennials for “killing” different trends or industries, it seems that millennials are the key opposers in the top sheet debate. USA Today explored the debate back in March 2018, stating that “While some appreciate the top sheet, that flat sheet placed atop sleepers to keep blankets on the other side clean, others see it as an unnecessary addition that just ends up tangled at the bed’s end.”
This article sparked some controversy around the web, particularly with people who find sleeping without a top sheet an absolutely rancid practice. Some even pulled up a 2015 study titled “Fungal contamination of bedding,” which was able to find “a substantial load of many species of fungi, particularly A. fumigatus” within examined feather pillows. This study also states that humans can sweat up to 100 liters (over 26 gallons) of sweat per year. Between the amount of sweat, fungi, and all the other germs on your skin, people make the argument that a top sheet helps your bed stay healthy. Speaking of germs, this is why you should never sit on your bed in outside clothes.
Why you should ditch the top sheet
But does the top sheet actually make your bed a cleaner place to be? I’m going to have say no, in my opinion. Rarely do I wake up after a night’s sleep with my top sheet perfectly folded over my body. Typically I wake up with the top sheet crumbled up at the bottom of the bed, or tangled up around my body. My skin cells still come in contact with the top blanket during the night, so what’s the point?
The fact that I didn’t experience top sheets in Europe is actually not surprising. Most European households and hotels will simply use a duvet over the bed. A duvet cover can easily be taken off, washed, and replaced.
Here’s my argument: If you use a top sheet, how often are you cleaning that comforter or duvet? I’ll be honest and say that when I was using a top sheet, I never once washed my top quilt (it’s okay, judge me, quilts are hard to wash in college). If anything, not using a top sheet gives us the incentive to clean our other blankets regularly. Make sure to avoid these other common bedroom items that are secretly toxic.
I agree that the bed is a gross place to hang out, especially since we spend almost a third of our lives in our beds. But if you are properly washing and taking care of it, what is the point of a top sheet? I’ll end by saying this: Don’t knock it until you try it. You may just find yourself having the best sleep of your life without it. Read on to find out how often you should really be washing your sheets, top sheet or no.