Personal Growth

The Secret to Making a Bed Like a Soldier

If you've ever seen a movie or a TV show with a scene at a boot camp, then there was probably a part where the drill sergeant strode through the barracks, inspecting each recruit one by one. The sergeant would take a long, cold stare at their posture, their uniform, and most importantly, their bunk. There's one test that sets the standard for a properly made bed: the quarter test. It's possible to make a bed so snugly that you really can bounce a quarter off of it. Here's how to do it.

Turn a New Corner

If you're going to make your bed like a soldier (or, really, like a nurse), there's one skill you'll have to master: the hospital corner. First, unfurl a flat sheet and lie it across your mattress (no fitted sheets here!). Make sure it's flat and hangs evenly from all sides of the bed. Now, head to the foot of the bed, lift the mattress slightly, and tuck the sheet underneath it. At this point, you should have a lot of excess fabric hanging off the sides but tucked in at the foot of the bed.

Now, grab the corner of the excess fabric, lift it up, and place it on top of the mattress. The edge of the sheet should lie at a 45-degree angle emerging from the mattress corner. Tuck the rest of the hanging fabric under the mattress while keeping that corner on top.

Now for the last step: Take the corner that's sitting on top and tuck it under the mattress. All the while, make sure to keep the sheets smooth and the tucks clean — because if it doesn't look good, what's the point?

Make Your Bed and Lie in It

Practice those hospital corners until you've got them as tight as a drum. They'll be the foundation of the entire operation. Tuck all four corners of your bottom sheet in with a hospital corner and you'll be well on your way towards finishing the rest of the job. Next, take the top sheet and drape it across your bed with the seam at the head of the bed, perfectly straight. Lie the blanket down flat on top, and tuck both in together with hospital corners at the foot of the bed.

Now, you'll have to fold in the blanket and top sheet at the head of the bed. Fold them down about four inches, then do it once more. At the end, there should be about 18 inches between the top of the sheets and the head of the mattress. Finally, place the pillow on top — then pull out a quarter and drop it. If it bounces, you've got it made.

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Making your bed is step one toward living a tidy, disciplined life. Take it from Admiral William H. McRaven. "Make Your Bed: Little Things That Could Change Your Life" is the self-help book to end all self-help books, and it's free with your trial membership to Audible. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase through that link, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Reuben Westmaas January 18, 2019

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