Making a bed the proper way is a lifelong skill that everyone should know. First off, there’s no better way to start your day because it leaves you feeling accomplished and ready for anything. Plus, coming home to a nicely-made bed is perfect for decompressing and helping you relax.

Making your bed is essentially the same as getting yourself dressed. You start with something underneath (like a mattress pad or protector) then layer on the basics – i.e. the sheets, pillows and comforter. Lastly, you can accessorize with decorative pillows and a throw.

The Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab tests bedding of all kinds, from mattresses to duvets, so we know a little something about making a bed the right way. Here are our expert tips for making your bed, from time-saving tricks to insider secrets that make it look luxurious.

Step 1: Protect and cover your mattress

You won’t need to put it on every time you make your bed, but using a mattress protector can help extend the life of your mattress by preventing stains from spills and damage from wear and tear. It’s also a good idea to use pillow protectors so you won’t need to wash your pillows as often. These protectors are especially important for anyone with allergies because the fabric blocks household allergens from settling into your pillows and mattress.

You can also add a mattress pad (which goes on like a fitted sheet) or a mattress topper (which sits on top of the bed) to increase the comfort or support of your mattress. And if you want to use a bed skirt for decorative purposes, you’ll need to place it underneath the mattress first.

Step 2: Add the bed sheets

The right sheet set can make all the difference in a comfy bed; after all, it directly touches your skin all night long. First, place the fitted sheet over your mattress and any of its toppers, making sure all four corners are tucked in well.

Next up: the top sheet. (Though the top sheet is optional and some brands are starting to sell sets without it). Here’s how to make it look neat so it doesn’t stick out:

First, lay the sheet across your bed with the top fabric facing down — that means if there’s a pattern on the sheet, the dull side should be face-up so that it’s visible when you turn down your sheets! The sheet should be centered with the sides evenly hanging over the edges of the mattress.

Next, create hospital corners (don’t let the name fool you; luxury hotels use this method, too!). First, tuck the sheet under the mattress along the foot of the bed. At the right corner, lift the hanging side of the sheet up and lay it on your bed. There will be an extra flap of fabric hanging down; tuck that piece under the mattress. Fold the side down again and tuck it under. Repeat this step on the other side for a nice, tightly-made bed

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