Buying Guide – How to Shop for a Bed Skirt
Bed skirts are decorative accessories and that also serve practical purposes. Most bed skirts are reasonably priced, and some are designed to resist stains and withstand wear and tear for years of use.
This guide discusses bed skirts in terms of construction, functionality, cost, and care. We’ll also dive into some common questions among bed skirt shoppers and provide tips for crafting a homemade bed skirt. Read on to learn more.
What Is a Bed Skirt?
A ‘bed skirt’ – also known as a ‘valance’ – is a section of fabric that covers the area between the bottom of the mattress and the floor. The product gets its name from its flowing, voluminous appearance, which resembles a wearable skirt. Bed skirts serve several purposes, including the following:
- Prevent Dust Buildup: Bed skirts that extend to the floor create a protective barrier that prevents dust mites and other allergens from accumulating under the bed or inside the box spring. Most skirts are made from hypoallergenic materials that resist dust contamination.
- Conceal the Box Spring: Because box springs are often unsightly, many use a bed skirt to hide this component from view. Alternatively, some sleepers who do not own a box spring may wish to conceal items stored under the bed.
- Reduce Drafts: Bed skirts can minimize air drafts that travel through bedrooms at night, which in turn improves the bed’s overall temperature neutrality. However, most skirts cannot block moderate to strong drafts very well.
- Improve Aesthetics: Bed skirts complement most bedroom decors. Customers can choose from a wide range of textures, colors, and shapes to match their personal tastes.
Most bed skirts sold today belong to one of the three following categories:
- Traditional: A traditional bed skirt is draped over the entire box spring, much like a flat sheet, and rests beneath the mattress to prevent it from slipping out.
- Tacked: A tacked bed skirt also rests on top of the box spring. However, this type of skirt has a large portion cut out of the center. Owners secure it to the perimeter of the box spring by hammering tacks into the material.
- Wraparound: A wraparound bed skirt is outfitted with an elastic band on the top end. Owners stretch the skirt around the mattress and slide it down until the bottom end touches the floor.
The ‘drop’ – or distance between the bottom of the mattress and the floor – is the most important consideration when selecting a bed skirt. Buyers should measure the drop prior to purchasing. Most beds have a drop measuring between 10 and 16 inches. For this reason, most bed skirts offer 13 to 16 inches of coverage.
If a buyer has a 15-inch drop, then a bed skirt with 14 inches of coverage or less will be insufficient. Likewise, a 16-inch bed skirt may bunch up against the floor, creating an unsightly appearance.
In addition to the drop, box spring size is also key. Some bed skirts come in sizes that correspond to the six standard mattress sizes: twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, and California king. For others, the sizing options may be more limited. Be sure to check the dimensions of a bed skirt in order to compare them against the mattress and box spring.
Bed skirts are generally inexpensive. Most are available for less than $20, and the price-point rarely exceeds $35. Cost somewhat depends on the skirt’s material and texture. In the next section, we’ll look at some of the most common bed skirt designs.
Bed Skirt Materials, Textures, and Colors
The vast majority bed skirts made today are made from polyester microfiber, a synthetic fabric that mimics the softness of natural cotton. The material may be brushed, which makes it more resistant to ripping and tearing. Some manufacturers also treat the fabric to repel water and other liquid stains, which improves the skirt’s overall lifespan. Polyester microfiber bed skirts are widely available for $20 or less.
Bed skirts may be made from different materials, such as cotton, or feature detailing made from silk or lace. These products tend to have above-average price-points compared to other bed skirts – typically $25 to $35.
Today’s buyers can choose from a wide range of bed skirts designs. Most offer one of the following three textures:
- Ruffled: A ‘ruffle’ – also known as a ‘flounce’ – is a strip of fabric gathered at one end to create a flowing effect along the trim. Ruffled bed skirts may be gathered across the center, which flattens the top and adds more volume to the bottom.
- Pleated: A ‘pleat’ or ‘plait’ refers to fabric that has been folded back and secured in place with tacking or stitching. The result is a clean, creased effect.
- Quilted: A quilted bed skirt is embellished with stitching detail. It is designed to rest flat against the box spring, rather than flow out like ruffles.
Some bed skirts may combine two or more of these textures. For example, a quilted skirt may feature ruffled detailing or small pleats along the trim. The texture is a purely aesthetic choice, and does not affect how well the skirt conceals the box spring or prevents dust buildup.
Color selection for bed skirts varies by brand. White, black, and neutral hues like grey and beige are the most common options. However, some brands offer more vibrant shades.
Cleaning and Caring for a Bed Skirt
Because they are made from polyester, most bed skirts can be washed and dried in conventional machines. Most manufacturers recommend the following steps for cleaning bed skirts.
- Wash ruffled or pleated bed skirts in cold water with like colors only and no bleach. This is especially crucial for white or light grey bed skirts. For quilted skirts, warm water may be recommended.
- Some brands recommend washing the skirt before first use. Others come pre-shrunk, so this step will not be necessary.
- Tumble dry ruffled or pleated bed skirts on low heat or no heat. Because they are heavier, quilted bed skirts may require drying on medium to high heat.
- If steaming is needed, iron the skirt on a low setting. However, be sure to check the label first – some skirts should never be ironed.
- Never dry clean a bed skirt. The dry cleaning process uses solvents that can ruin embellishments like ruffles, pleats, or stitching.
Next, we’ll discuss how to fashion a homemade bed skirt.
DIY Bed Skirts
Creating a homemade bed skirt from a standard flat sheet is fairly easy and significantly cheaper than buying a new one. Follow the step-by-step process below:
- Measure the drop from the bottom of the mattress to the floor. Also, take note of the box spring size.
- Find a flat sheet that matches the box spring’s size and covers the entire drop. Spread it over the top of the box spring so that it drapes to the floor and bunches up on all four sides.
- Make sure the sheet is flat against the box spring at both bottom corners. Then, secure the sheet to the box spring using upholstery pins. Space the pins about 6 to 12 inches apart, about 1 to 2 inches from the edge of the box spring – this ensures the mattress will conceal the pins from view.
- Gather up the excess fabric still draped across the floor and fold it toward the center of the bed until the hem is flush with the pinned section. Ideally, the skirt will lightly touch the floor. Once the two sections are aligned, secure it with one or two pins in the center.
- Lastly, secure the bottom corners with pins at the top and bottom. This leaves a creased effect that resembled classic pleats.
- Some prefer to style the top corners at the head of the bed in the same fashion. However, since these corners may be hidden from view by a wall or headboard, this step may be unnecessary.
This DIY bed skirt is fairly simplistic. Crafty individuals may be able to fashion more elaborate designs, such as ruffles or box pleats, using a sewing machine.
Key Considerations for Bed Skirt Shoppers
When shopping for a new bed skirt, be sure to take the following factors into account:
- How much does a bed skirt cost? Most bed skirts with ruffles or pleats are priced below $20. Quilted designs may be pricier, but don’t expect to spend more than $40 on a new bed skirt unless it is custom-made or has embellishments made from high-end fabrics like silk.
- Do you have strong allergies? People with serious dust allergies may benefit from using a bed skirt, provided it offers sufficient coverage from the bottom of the mattress to the floor. However, some dust is likely to build up even if you use a bed skirt, so be sure to wipe down the area beneath the bed on a regular basis.
- What is your bed’s ‘drop’? Most beds have a drop of 10 to 16 inches. Take time to measure the drop before buying a bed skirt in order to find one that provides full coverage without bunching on the floor.
- What bed skirt style do you prefer? Wraparound bed skirts are a fairly new innovation. They are easy to put on, remove, and adjust. However, the elastic bands may wear out quickly, leaving unsightly gaps between the skirt and the mattress. Traditional bed skirts don’t have this issue, but some owners complain that the skirt slips around beneath the mattress, leading to asymmetrical coverage. Upholstery pins or tacks can be used to secure traditional bed skirts and prevent them from slipping.
- Which bed skirt fabrics are most durable? Brushed polyester microfiber tends to withstand wear and tear very well. Customers can also opt for skirts with fabric treated to resist wrinkles and repel liquid stains.
- Will machine washing damage a bed skirt? No – in fact, it is usually the recommended cleaning method. However, owners should always follow care instructions listed on the product tag for best results. Always avoid dry cleaning bed skirts, since the potential for solvent-based damage is fairly high.
- Can you test out a bed skirt before buying one? Some brands offer sleep trials for bed skirts, but these rarely exceed 30 nights in length. Most sellers do not provide any sort of sleep trial, but may offer a satisfaction guarantee with full refunds for all returns.