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Bedclothes in a retail store

Bedding, also known as bedclothes, refers to the materials laid above the mattress of a bed for hygiene, warmth, to protect the mattress, and for decorative effect. Bedding is the removable and washable portion of a human sleeping environment. Multiple sets of bedding for each bed will often be washed in rotation and/or changed seasonally to improve sleep comfort at varying room temperatures. In American English bedding generally does not include the mattress, bed frame, or bed base (such as box-spring), while in British English it does. In Antipodean English the term for bedding used is often Manchester.

A set of bedding usually consists of (see #Terminology for more info on all these terms) a flat or fitted sheet which covers the mattress; a flat top sheet; either a blanket, quilt, or duvet, sometimes with a duvet cover which can replace or be used in addition to the top sheet; and a number of pillows with pillowcases, also referred to as pillow shams. Additional blankets, etc. may be added to ensure the necessary insulation in cold sleeping areas. A common practice for children and some adults is to decorate a bed with plush stuffed animals, dolls, and other soft toys. These are not included under the designation of bedding, although they may provide additional warmth to the sleeper.


Lightweight white, solid-colour or printed plain weave, satin weave, or flannel cotton or cotton/polyester blends are the most common types of sheeting. Goose or duck down and other feathers are frequently used as a warm and lightweight filling in duvets and quilts. But such fill can protrude in part even from tightly-woven fabric, and be an irritant for many people particularly those with allergies. Natural and synthetic down alternatives are marketed. Cotton, wool or polyester batting is commonly used as fill. These are less expensive and more easily laundered than natural down or feathers. Synthetic fibres are best in the form of thermofused (where fibres cross) batting. Thick-woven or knitted wool, cotton, acrylic or other microfiber synthetics, or blends of these, are typically used for blankets.



Around 3400 BC Egyptian pharaohs had their beds moved off the ground and slept on a raised surface. Roman Empire mattresses were stuffed with wool, feather, reeds or hay. The beds were decorated with paint, bronze, silver, jewels and gold. During the Renaissance, mattresses were stuffed with straw and feathers and then covered with silks, velvets or satin material. The arrival of the 18th century brought bed frames made from cast iron, and mattresses that were made of cotton. The 19th century saw the invention of the bed spring, also called the box spring. The 20th century brought the inner spring mattress, futon, water bed (starting in the 1960s), air mattresses, foam rubber mattresses and pillows.


  • Air mattress: An air mattress is an inflatable mattress/sleeping pad.
  • Bed: A bed is a piece of furniture used as a place to sleep or relax.
  • Bed base: A bed base, sometimes called foundation, is the part of a bed that supports the mattress.
  • Bed sheet: A bed sheet is a rectangular piece of cloth or linen cotton used to cover a mattress. It is this sheet that one typically lies on.
  • Bed skirt (also bed ruffle, dust ruffle or valance): A decorative piece used to cover the boxspring and legs of the bed. It fits between the mattress and boxspring and hangs to or almost to the floor.
  • Bed spread (also bedcover): A bed cover, often decorative, with sides that go to or near the floor. Protects bedding during daytime from dust or other contamination. This does not require a bed skirt, and was particularly popular in North America after World War II.
  • Blanket (also throw): A blanket is a small covering usually used for warmth and decoration; it's usually placed at the end of the bed.
  • Bolster: A long, narrow and commonly cylindrical pillow filled with down or feathers. Used for decoration or lumbar support when lying against the headboard.
  • Boudoir pillows (or Breakfast pillows): Small rectangular decorative throw pillows.
  • Box spring: A box-spring is a type of bed base typically consisting of a sturdy wooden frame covered in cloth, and containing springs.
  • Comforter: A bed cover also usable like a blanket that is quilted by batting and is not exceptionally fluffy. It is usually reversible and machine-washable. Comforters typically are paired with a bed skirt to form a complete ensemble, as the comforter's sides only go about halfway to the floor. (Also see "duvet").
  • Divan: A divan is a piece of couch-like sitting furniture; or in the UK, a box-spring based bed.
  • Drop: The vertical dimension of a bed skirt.
  • Duvet: A soft flat bag traditionally filled with down or feathers, or a combination of both, and used on a bed as a blanket. Typically not as thin as a comforter, but may be called a "down comforter".
  • Duvet cover: A decorative and protective covering for a duvet. Most duvet covers have a button or tie closure at one end. Australians use the term doona cover rather than "duvet cover".
  • European pillow (or Continental pillow): A Euro or Continental pillow--a large square pillow--is a decorative pillow that sits back against the headboard. These are often placed behind the standard size pillow shams as a backdrop, or on top of standard pillows as a coordinated set with a duvet cover.
  • European sham (or Euro sham): a decorative pillow covering which fits a large 26” × 26” pillow; also called a Continental sham.
  • Feather bed: feathers contained within a fabric shell that lies on top of a mattress as a mattress topper. The featherbed will normally have elastic straps or even have a fitted sheet on it so that it fits over a mattress and stays in place.
  • Flat sheet: The top sheet. The flat sheet is tucked in around the mattress over the fitted sheet with the fourth side, at the head of the bed, undone. Some duvet or comforter sets do not include a top sheet; the duvet/comforter has a cotton bottom that replaces the sheet.
  • Fitted sheet: This is the bottom sheet used to fit tightly over a mattress. Fitted sheets are available in a variety of pocket depths, which refers to the thickness of the mattress. Standard North American pocket size is 7” to 9”. Deep pocket corners are usually 10” to 13”. Extra deep pocket corners are very generous in size, and range from 14” to as much as 22” and used for extraordinarily high/deep mattresses.
  • Flanged: Including a decorative band of fabric that is straight or tailored; often used to describe pillows or pillow shams.
  • Futon: A futon is traditional Japanese bedding consisting of padded mattresses and quilts pliable enough to be folded and stored away during the day, allowing the room to serve for purposes other than as a bedroom.
  • Hotel bedding: sheets with a high-thread count and unadorned designs, marketed to replicate the bedding materials that hotels use. The expansion of business travel has created a consumer demand for such products.
  • Mako cotton: A high grade of cotton, the long staple or long fibre of Egyptian-grown cotton has more continuous fibres to use when creating threads or yarns. The yarn is smaller in diameter yet stronger than other cottons. Smaller yarn means that more threads per square inch can be used to create stronger fabrics which are lighter in weight yet breathe well. Mako cotton is frequently used to make upscale sheets and towels, which are marketed as a luxury product.
  • Mattress: A mattress is a large pad for supporting the reclining body, used as or on a bed. Mattresses may consist of a quilted or similarly fastened case, usually of heavy cloth, that contains hair, straw, cotton, foam rubber, etc.; a framework of metal springs; or they may be inflatable.
  • Mattress protector: Also known as a mattress pad, mattress topper, or underpad. This is typically used underneath a fitted sheet to add comfort, protect against allergies, and protect the mattress.
  • Memory foam: Memory foam is polyurethane with additional chemicals increasing its viscosity and density. It is often referred to as "viscoelastic" polyurethane foam, or low-resilience polyurethane foam.
  • Neck roll: Small cylindrical decorative throw pillows; used for cervical vertebrae support or pure decoration. Neck rolls typically do not have an opening such as a zipper; they are usually sewn closed, although some designs have an integrated opening at the ends.
  • Orthopaedic mattress: As its name suggests, an orthopaedic mattress has been influenced by the medical study of Orthopaedics which focuses on disorders or deformities of the spine and joints. Orthopaedic mattresses have, therefore, been created to combat the problems one might experience with a bad back or joints by providing a firm mattress which offers targeted, tailored support. An orthopaedic mattress is a mattress designed to support the joints, back and overall body.
  • Percale: Percale or Percalcos is a closely woven plain-weave fabric often used for bed covers.
  • Pillow shams: Decorative coverings for pillows, often designed with trims, ruffles, flanges, or cording. Shams are normally placed behind the pillows used to sleep on, which would be covered with regular pillowcases.
  • Pima cotton: A high grade of cotton. It has the long staple similar to Mako cotton, which is what gives it its softness and lustre, as well as its durability. Its superior characteristics improve with wear. Pima cotton is used to make upscale sheets, towels and clothing, which are marketed as a luxury product. Peru produces the most of the world's Pima cotton.
  • Pleated: Material that is sewn in folds, like a fan.
  • Quilt: A quilt is a type of blanket, traditionally composed of 3 layers of fiber: a woven cloth top, a layer of batting or wadding and a woven back, combined using the technique of quilting.
  • Sleeper couch: A sofa bed or sofa-bed, (in the US often sofabed, hide-a-bed, couch bed or sleeper-sofa), typically is a sofa or couch which has underneath its seating cushions a metal frame and thin mattress that can be unfolded or opened up to make a bed.
  • Sleeping Pillow: is the medium-sized rectangular pillow that you lay your head on when sleeping. A sleeping pillow can come in many sizes such as standard (20" x 26"), Queen (20" x 30"), or King (20" x 36") and differing firmness for back, stomach or side sleeping.
  • Tailored: Fitted closely, i.e. made to fit the bed exactly.
  • Tatami: A tatami is a type of mat used as a flooring material in traditional Japanese-style rooms.
  • Thread count: The number of threads per square inch or per 10cm square in a woven fabric.
  • Throw pillow: A decorative pillow that comes in numerous shapes and sizes.
  • Waterbed: A waterbed, water mattress, or flotation mattress is a bed or mattress filled with water.

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