Tips on How to Make a Hospital Bed

Making a bed quickly, safely, and neatly is a core caregiver skill. A clean and comfortable bed promotes health and hygiene, while a soiled or poorly made bed contributes to infection, discomfort, and even injuries such as pressure sores. 

The nursing profession perfected bedmaking long ago, both for occupied and unoccupied beds. But making a home hospital bed can be challenging when your only experience of bedmaking is changing the sheets of your regular bed at home. 

This article will look at some top tips nurses use to make hospital beds quickly to provide a healthy and comfortable environment for their patients. 

What Kind of Sheets Do You Use for a Hospital Bed?

Before we get to the practicalities of making a hospital bed, we should talk about bed linen and its impact on the bedmaking process. If you would like to learn how to choose the best linen for an adjustable bed, take a look at our Hospital Bed Sheets Guide.  For now, we’ll summarize some advice relevant to bedmaking. 

  • Fitted sheets can be a big time saver. They’re easier to put on when you haven’t mastered the art of hospital corners, and they are less likely to slip off when the bed’s adjustments are raised or lowered. 
  • Ensure that the bed’s sheets are the right size. Undersized sheets quickly become untucked, and oversized sheets wrinkle and bunch up, creating fall hazards and pressure sore risks.
  • Waterproof sheets can expedite cleanup, but you may want to consider a soft waterproof mattress cover instead. All of our home hospital bed mattresses are available with a waterproof stretch fabric cover.

Preparing to Make a Hospital Bed

Bed making should be as fast and straightforward as possible, especially if you are changing the bed while it’s still occupied. It’s best to prepare yourself and your equipment in advance. 

You may need:

  • An upper and a lower sheet.
  • Clean pillowcases. 
  • A laundry bag or basket to put the old linen in. 
  • Cleaning products.
  • Disposable gloves. 
  • A facemask if infection control is an issue ( during the current pandemic, it almost certainly is an issue). 

Before you begin making the bed, you should wash your hands and put on suitable personal protective equipment. 

Making an Unoccupied Home Hospital Bed

Here’s a simple seven-step process for efficiently making an adjustable bed. If you are making a height-adjustable bed, set it to a comfortable height before you begin. Excessive reaching and stretching can cause back and shoulder injuries. 

  1. Remove the old sheets and pillowcases, placing them in the laundry bag. Clear them away immediately to avoid cross-contamination. 
  2. Wipe down the bed’s surfaces with an antibacterial cleaner, including the waterproof mattress cover, to remove moisture and bacteria that may be growing there.
  3. Place the bottom sheet on the bed, ensuring it’s centered with an even overhang on all edges and that it fits the mattress properly. If you are using a fitted sheet, make sure the elasticated edges are firmly tucked under the mattress. 
  4. If you are not using fitted sheets, miter the corners by tucking the overhang at the bed’s foot under the mattress, followed by each side, creating a neat 45° fold. 
  5. Be certain there are no wrinkles or rucked up areas on the sheet. This is a crucial step because wrinkles are a health hazard; they harbor moisture and microbes, and they increase the risk of pressure sores. 
  6. Add the top-sheet following the same procedure, but fold it down at the top, leaving sufficient space for the bed’s occupant to get under it. 
  7. Put the pillows in fresh cases, put them on the bed, and add any top blanket or covering. 

Be sure to dispose of your PPE and wash the soiled sheets as soon as possible. 

Making a Hospital Bed When It Is Occupied

Making a bed with someone on it is a more complex procedure. The standard approach is to make the bed in “halves‘, rolling the patient over as you complete each half. For example, to remove the bottom sheet:

  • Position the patient on one side of the bed.
  • Untuck the sheet on the other side and tightly roll the free part towards the center of the bed. 
  • Move the patient to the opposite side of the bed and remove the sheet. 

For many patients, this will involve rolling them on their side, but you may need to make the bed lengthwise, the top, and then the bottom, for patients who cannot be rolled on their side. 

Making a bed is an essential aspect of caregiving. If you have any doubts about safely completing the process, ask a friend or family member with nursing experience to show you how it’s done. 


Questions? Contact a Bed Expert.

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Transfer Master

About Transfer Master

Transfer Master has built electric adjustable hospital beds for the home and medical facility since 1993. We started with a simple goal that hospital beds should allow wheelchair users to transfer independently in and out of bed. Thirty years later, our customers are still at the center of everything we do. You’ll feel the difference.