Year of the Clean Person is guided yearlong cleaning and organizing project; its focus is on tackling areas or tasks that are often overlooked in daily or weekly cleaning sprees and can be overwhelming when it comes time to rassle them back under control. This month, we'll be working on creating some new habits by making our beds every day.
Welcome to the third installment of Year of the Clean Person! This month is one that I am SO excited about and I hope you will be too: This is the month in which we're all going to make our beds.
Yeah, that's all. Not too bad right?! But there's a catch. (Of COURSE there's a catch!) The catch is that we're going to make our beds every single day for the entire month. Or at least, that's the goal. Pretty simple stuff. Still though, you will have questions and declarative statements! And I have answers and responses!
Why should I make my bed?
- Making the bed is the quickest way to a tidier looking bedroom
- It doesn't take very long, especially when you do it every day (the covers tend to get less mangled when they're straightened up every day)
- Sliding into a made bed feels better than getting into a tangle of covers
- If you struggle with sleep issues, turning down a made bed in the evening is one way to establish rituals that tell your body that it's time to go to sleep
- If you have pets, it keeps their hair and drool and general petishness off of your sheets
Here's the thing though: I can talk (type?) until I'm blue in the face (fingers?), but the best way to convince yourself that I am either right or wrong is just to try it out for yourself. It's only a month! This isn't, like, a life sentence. Think of it this way: Either way you're going to have a positive outcome. If I'm right, you've made a change of habit that makes your life a little bit better. If I'm wrong, you can come blowing back in here on April 1 and be a giant asshole to me about how I was so wrong, just so so so so so wrong, and did I mention that YOU'RE WRONG, CLEAN PERSON WHO IS WRONG?!? And won't being a giant asshole to me be so satisfying for you? Yes, of course it will.
What is this 'LAMOB' malarky all about?
LAMOB is an acronym for Let's All Make Our Beds; it originated in the previous iteration of Ask a Clean Person. The idea was that for one month, we were all going to make our beds every day. LAMOB was actually not what I intended to use as shorthand/a hashtag for the month-long event (from the original kickoff post: "we should have a hashtag for this thing! How about #LAMOB? That's terrible actually. I dunno. I'll work on it.") But as these things tend to do, LAMOB was so bad that it stuck. And now it's a running joke that I cannot bring myself to take away from the group of readers who followed me when I moved this weirdo operation over to Jezebel and Deadspin.
If you noodle around in hashtag-y places, you might notice people talking about LAMOB or LAMOBing—check out what they have to say. I still hear from folks who participated in that first LAMOB how much of an impact it made. Which I mostly mention so that you know that my claims about the power of bed-making aren't entirely baseless.
I don't make my bed because it's unhealthy
Every time the subject of bed making comes up, someone inevitably trots out this BBC article from 2005 and carries on about how making the bed is so totally unhealthy because it leads to dust mites.
I have, as you might imagine, a few gentle points to make about this article, and the notion of dust mite control in general:
- Unless you are allergic, or have respiratory issues like asthma, dust mites are not really something you need to be overly concerned with. You also already have them, as do I, as does the Crown Prince of Denmark. They're just a fact of life.
- If you are allergic to dust mites or have respiratory issues, regular laundering of your bedding (including the pillows, comforter, mattress pad, etc.) is the best defense against them. A mattress protector will also be a key weapon in your anti-dust mite arsenal. And since humidity is a thing that creates a happy environment for the mites, getting a dehumidifier isn't a bad idea. As always, however, you should check with your doctor and follow the advice provided by her or him.
- It is absolutely a good idea to allow your sheets some time to air out after you've gotten out of bed. But unless you've had a particularly vicious case of night sweats—in which case, if this dust mite business is a big concern for you, you should consider stripping the sheets and laundering them—15 or so minutes is all the time the sheets need to air out. Now, most people I know don't get out of bed and walk out the door, which means that even the speediest getter-readyiers among us takes 15 minutes to use the commode, brush our fangs, put on pants, etc.
- The expert quoted in the article has a vested interest in making great hay out of the findings of his research. "Don't make the bed!" is a pretty sexy headline, and he knows that, which means you need to take what he says with a grain of salt.
- Somehow everyone who trots out this article every time the subject of bed making comes up fails to note the final expert quote, "I find it hard to believe that simply not making your bed would have any impact on the overall humidity." [MEANINGFUL LOOK]
- It is perfectly fine to say, "I don't make my bed because I don't want to." You don't need to cast about for excuses, okay? I really mean that! If you don't want to make the bed, don't make the bed.
If, after reading all that, you still feel that leaving the sheets exposed is the right choice for you, I've got some unwelcome news for you: You can still make your bed.
Here's how you make a bed in order to leave the sheets exposed to air out:
1. Pull the top sheet and comforter/duvet/blanket/coverlet all the way down to the foot of the bed, and remove the pillows from the head of the bed.
2. Pull the bottom sheet taut and retuck it under the mattress.
3. Straighten, and retuck if necessary, the top sheet by pulling the top edge back up to the head of the bed, then fold it halfway back on itself.
4. Shake out the comforter/duvet/blanket/coverlet and fold it into thirds or fourths; place it at the foot of the bed.
5. Straighten the pillowcases and put the pillows back at the head of the bed.
There! Now your bed is made and tidy looking in a way that still allows for the bottom and top sheets to air out during the day.
See now how grateful you are for that "I don't make my bed because I don't want to." option I gave you?
I can't make the bed because my sleeping partner leaves the house after I do!
This is a difficult problem to solve, of course, and there's no perfect answer I can give you because you're essentially at the mercy of another human with free will of his or her own. The best suggestion I can make is just to ask him or her to make the bed. Maybe trade a chore they hate doing in exchange for the bedmaking agreement? Is a tricky one, I know.
I don't use a top sheet/I eschew pillows/I sleep under a piece of sackcloth/why do people bother with decorative pillows?
As far as I'm concerned, there are no rules about your bedspace other than to make it right for you. I don't use a top sheet! I just don't like 'em. And you know what? It's my bed (well, and also my husband's bed but it was mine first!), so I get to decide how I want my sheets and blankets and pillows to look and feel. You also get to do the same. If you think decorative pillows are silly, don't have them. If you love the way they make your bedroom look? Go nuts. If you don't want to make your bed, that's okay too. I'll just be off somewhere weeping softly.
How the #&$* do I fold a fitted sheet?
The secret is to use the corners. But to be totally blunt about it, written sheet folding instructions are maddening for everyone involved, so I'm going to try to make you a video THIS MONTH. I'm also going to leave you with Martha's demonstration and a note that my technique is slightly different and actually a bit easier. (Also she's so mean to that poor audience member!)
Because this month's assignment to make your bed every single day is a relatively easy one, I've gone heavy on the extra credit suggestions. It's probably unrealistic for you to take on all of these, so pick two or three to keep your goals reasonable and manageable.
- Launder pillows, duvet, mattress pad, throw blankets, etc.
- Steam clean and spot treat mattress, as needed
- Vacuum and/or wash floor under bed
- Purge and reorganize underbed storage containers
- Vacuum and/or wash bedroom floors and baseboards
- Clean out and beautify the nightstand
- Use your made bed as a staging area for an underpants drawer purge
- Improve bedroom lighting
- Fancy or cozy set of sheets
- Replace your pillows and/or duvet
- Decorative pillows or throws to gussy up the bedspace
- New lamps or lampshades for bedside table
- That vibrator you've been eyeing