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What are Hospital Corners?

By Elizabeth West
Updated May 16, 2024
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Anyone who has ever been in the military surely knows about hospital corners. This bed-making technique involves tucking bedclothes in tight, sharp folds at the foot of a bed so that they stay put. If hospital corners are done properly, even blankets won’t come undone through a night of the worst tossing and turning.

Many military organizations drill their recruits to make perfect hospital corners as part of their initial disciplinary training. Focusing attention to the smallest details and learning to follow the rules without question produces a good soldier. Hospital corners on both ends of the bed can hold a flat sheet in place if a fitted sheet isn't available. Most modern flat sheets, however, aren't big enough to tuck both ends under the mattress. Almost all bedding sets available on the market contain a fitted sheet.

To make a bed with hospital corners, one puts the fitted sheet on the bed first. The flat sheet is then over it, and the edge is pulled up even with the head of the mattress, where the pillows will go. Any wrinkles that appear are then smoothed out.

If blankets are desired, they are added at this point. The blankets are pulled even with the top end of the sheet, and the sides are made to hang evenly as well. If the bed is up against a wall, it can be pulled slightly away from the wall so that reaching behind it is easier.

The sheet and blankets are then tucked under the mattress at the foot of the bed all the way to either side. They should not be bunched underneath, or they won't stay in place very well. The sides should still be hanging loose.

Next, the side piece near the foot of the bed is pinched and pulled up over the top. There should be an angled fold pointing to the center of the bed. This is the first part of the hospital corner.

The fold is then smoothed out, and the hanging part of that piece is tucked under the mattress. The back of the hand goes flat against the side of the mattress, and the linens are brought down over the hand. This creates another angled fold, like an envelope.

The rest of the linens are then tucked under the mattress all the way up to the head of the bed for a neat look. The blankets are then smoothed, and the pillows are added. The bed is then ready for inspection by even the toughest drill sergeant or head of housekeeping.

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Discussion Comments

By Wisedly33 — On Oct 02, 2014

My dad learned to do hospital corners in the army. He could make up a bed so you really could bounce a quarter off it. Fortunately, he didn't see much point in making up a bed like that, so we never learned. He showed us, but I didn't care about learning to do it.

I can make up a neat bed, which to me, is really all that matters.

Anyway, the most important part of making up a hospital bed is to have a draw sheet under the patient, so you can bring the patient up the mattress without the person physically getting off the bed and repositioning himself. Makes life a lot easier for nurses and other patient care givers.

By Scrbblchick — On Oct 01, 2014

My mom worked in a hospital and tried to teach me to make hospital corners on a bed, and I never did get the knack of doing it right.

That's probably a good thing, since I'm one of those people who can't sleep with the covers tight around my feet. I have to be able to move my feet around and wrap the covers around them if I want to. I just can't deal with tight sheets around my feet. That's supposed to be some kind of neurosis, but it's a harmless one.

I'm sure I could do hospital corners if I absolutely had to, but I don't really have to. It's kind of like driving a stick shift -- nice to know, but not something I'll use on a regular basis.

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