It’s time for bed…

This is an entry in our current non-fiction writing contest  By Lake Lili

I interrupt your garden planning to bring you this special bulletin… As we begin out prepping journeys that we always talk of beans and bullets. But as the basic needs are fulfilled, we need to expand our acquisitions to daily items used without thought.  In this case I am talking about beds and linens.  My concern is that come the evening of the day the SHTF, we are going to collapse in exhaustion and what you lay your body down on might suddenly become vastly important.

For most of us, our beds are made up of a headboard, bed frame, box spring, mattress, pillows, linens, blankets and quilts.  In the days to come, how easily replaceable are they going to be?  Hay ticks and goose down toppers have served for thousands of years, but do you have the raw materials and skills to make them?  Many of us have camped but long term, as we age, sleeping on the ground just plain hurts.

So let’s look at the bed in closer detail.  For each bed in your house you need to have, hardware-wise a headboard, frame, box spring, and mattress.  Headboards are good for protecting walls, cutting drafts, and warmth against outside walls – but they are easily made with plywood and paint or covered in quilt batting and two sheets. (One to stretch over the batting and the second to act like a slip cover that can be taken off and washed as it gets dirty.)

I will be the first to admit that I love my mattress, but its 15 years old and needs to be replaced.  So on the list of items that need to be acquired is a new one.  The old one will get stored for guests.  There are lots of tips online about buying mattresses but the best one I ever heard was take you time.  Go and lie on them for 15 or 20 minutes.  Wear sweats and roll over.  Take your spouse so you can make sure you are both comfortable.  As you are rolling around, make notes about comfort, smell… is it off-gassing? Some foam does.  Don’t buy one that is really firm with the expectation that it will soften over time.  There is nothing to be gained by several years of discomfort.  If you and your spouse have different needs then buy twin mattresses that suit each of you and a queen box spring.  Cover it then in a queen topper and mattress pad and linens.  The bed will act then as a queen but you will each be comfortable.

I have always had a metal frame that the headboard was screwed to.  They are cheap and easy to store several. When you use a metal bedframe, you need to have the box spring in order for the mattress to be properly supported and at the right height. There are also older beds with wood rails and wood slats – pop in the plywood base and throw the mattress on top and you are good to go.  There are also rope beds, where the rope is strung between the rails.  The Country Bed Shop has an excellent page on the stringing of rope beds  (  YouTube also has several excellent videos of the process.

Many frames currently allow for the frame to be moved.  Making use of hospital technology, many people have found them to be of real assistance in getting a good night’s sleep.  The problem though is that if they don’t have a manual feature then it is yet another dead appliance after an EMP or grid failue.

Regardless of how you choose to support the mattress, the mattress itself needs to be turned over quarterly and rotated in order to even out the wear.  As long as you are able, you should try to vacuum it weekly to keep down dust and mites.  Once the S has HTF, you might want to consider taking it outside and beating it several times a year.

In the last decade, mattress toppers have once again become popular.  They are ideal for softening a firm mattress.  They are not great for small children and often people who move about a lot at night find that they make the body work much harder to turn over.  They are a matter of choice but can add greatly to the expense.

Over top of the mattress should go the mattress pad.  Again this is to protect the mattress.  For very young children, the elderly or people with medical concerns, a rubber sheet should also be put down.  I buy mattress pads that have a rubberized backing to them that protects against spills and accidents.  They are also ideal to help absorb sweat when it gets really hot out.  I wash these weekly with the rest of the linens.

Then there is the matter of pillow – and we all have our favorites and our favorite configuration that gives us the best sleep.  Pillows come in a variety of material and stuffed with any one of a dozen materials – feathers, hard or soft foam, millet or lavender.  They should be covered in a pillow protector which should be washed with the rest of the linens.  We have all seen what pillows look like when they are not covered by protectors (yuck!) and as our ability to easily replace items like this vanishes, the adage of an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure should be taken to heart.

When it comes to the linens, people talk in fancy terms about all sorts of weaves, and percentages of fabric types.  Cotton is a dream.  Linen will wear like iron, but you have to iron it too.  Cotton/poly blends will last forever. Flannel warms like nothing else.  Moreover it can have a softness that is a balm to the spirit as you ease your aching bones onto your bed.  The process of weaving the lengths of fabric needed to cover your queen or king bed is mind-numbing in its complexity (grow the materials, card and spin the thread, weave the thread) and in the PAW, the cost in time and materials may well be beyond your means.  Eventually sheets off a floor loom will become the only means of replacement, but how many weavers do you know and even today can your currently afford their products. Will you be willing to trade your milk cow for new sheets?

So you’ve got the bed, and it’s made up with your linens, you now have to get to the warm snugglies.  No, I am not going to address who you sleep with – male, female, stuffies or puppies.  Except to say that if your dog sleeps with you, you might want to break that habit because as much as we love our dogs, they are hard on the linens.

Regardless of whether you love blankets or duvets, this is a part of your bed that requires as much attention as the parts that went before.  If you live in Alaska you might want heavier warmer blankets than is you live in Georgia – although if winters like this one continue to happen, there might not be as much difference as we all like to believe.  Blanket come in wool, fleece, cotton and a host of other materials.  Usually they are used as a pair, with the layer of air between acting as part of the warming system.  They should be covered with a cotton duster (my mother’s were always seersucker) that helps to keep the blankets clean.

Duvets come in in a cotton or poly/cotton casing with anything from foam to cotton batting to feathers on the inside.  The man-made fibers tend to come with promises of being hypoallergenic.  Be that as it may, they key to the man-made fibers is that they are easy to clean and dry, quickly.  All you ever need to do once is get goose down wet… not an experience to repeat.  Duvets are best slid inside covers, again to help keep them clean.

I am now going to touch on my favorite part of a bed.  Quilts!  I love them.  Even the really garish 1970s versions with questionable materials…  A couple of them piled on any bed warms the soul as well as the body.  For a while they got really expensive but you can now find them again.  They are not hugely difficult to make, especially crazy quilts that have no pattern and if you tie them instead of quilting them properly, they don’t have to take a lot of time.  I have several that I made by sandwiching space blankets and cotton batting between layers of flannel.  They are a treat to keep in the truck for cold drives.

Linens, blankets, duvets and quits can all be picked up fairly inexpensively at yard sales, thrift shops, estate sales and Walmart or Sears.  The key is to get them and put them away.  We wash then and then store ours inside green garbage bags, with a handful of moth balls and then put in old steamer trunks.  Currently, we have five sets for every bed. My goal is to have a dozen.  Now back to garden planning.

Prizes for this round (ends May 24 2014) in our non fiction writing contest include…

  1. First place winner will receive –  A $150 gift certificate for Hornady Ammo  courtesy of LuckyGunner, a Wonder Junior Deluxe grain millcourtesy of Kitchen Neads, a one year subscription to the Personal VPN service courtesy of unspyable and Three Survival Seed Vaults courtesy of LPC Survival.
  2. Second place winner will receive – Brand New, Sealed Case of Military MREs (Meal, Ready-To-Eat)  a $119 value courtesy and a Survival Puck  courtesy of Innovation Industries.
  3. Third place winner will receive – a copy of my book ”31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness“ and “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” courtesy of a copy of “The Survival Medicine Handbook” courtesy of and a copy Herbal Antivirals and Herbal Antibiotics .


  1. Great article, Lake Lili! By coincidence, we just bought some extra sheets (of my favorite variety) to stash. As another advantage, sheets are large enough to be made into a variety of things – in case we run out of clothes before we run out of sheets. 🙂

  2. I am still in the process of convincing the dh I *need* a duvet. Lol, he looks at the mound of blankets we already have and just shakes his head at me. We have a bunch of those ‘mink’ blankets, I probably cant count how many crocheted blankets, a wool blanket for everyone in the house, and a few quilts. Although Moma J mentioned a quilt she has a while back, made out of denim. I have been collecting everyones old jeans since so I can make one myself, I think I just about have enough to get started.

    Every time I go to the flea market I pick up old blankets, sheets, and whatever other house linens I can find. I figure the stuff that is old and ratty can be turned into rags or dog beds. Some of it can be bleached and turned into bandages, and other stuff can be turned into sewing material. One of my old neighbors turned some fabric shower curtains into a beautiful bed set. I also use old blankets for ‘room dividers’ so I can block air flow in the house. The kids use old blankets for making tents and such.

    A vinyl table cloth can be put under the sheets to help protect the mattress from spills and accidents, I would think a regular shower curtain could do the same. Ok, so I’m cheap and dont want to spend the money on actual mattress covers.

  3. Good article, since my wife is an extreme OCD( she would put it CDO so the letters were in order) we have lots of spare bedding, so we could go a while on sheets and blankets and such, we also have sleeping bags, liners for them, and good folding cots that are quite comfortable. I plan currently to stay where we are, when TSHTF, but if we had to move/relocate, I have made beds before so that is not an issue. I also have a few dozen quilted moving blankets( we had to move around a lot in previous employment), and they can also be used, as well as hammocks, the real issue comes down to cleaning, which I believe is an area that we as a whole do not prep enough for, making soap, having enough water, wash tubs, etc.
    This is why I think some sort of community living in bad times may be the answer, since it is a lot easier to share duties, such as laundry . I remember my dad telling me when he was a kid back in the depression, his extended family shared a washing machine, and Monday was laundry day, he was the youngest but the only boy so he would carry the wash up and down the stairs of the building for his relatives, the older sisters and girl cousins helped his mother and aunts do the washing.

  4. What a good reminder, Lake Lili. I have made a quilt for every year of my life, so far. I have given away or sold a couple of dozen quilts over the years. We still have stacks of quilts in the top of every closet.

    This past winter, when it was so cold, I made a twin quilt with a split in the middle going crosswise. It made a wonderful “poncho” to wear around the house and kept my hands free for working on other things.

    One year, I went to the thrift stores and bought every wool skirt that I could find. I cut them into 6 inch squares and made wool quilts (very inexpensively) for the whole family. I usually put a blanket in the center and a sheet for the backing. These were rustic looking and VERY warm.

  5. “If you and your spouse have different needs then buy twin mattresses that suit each of you and a queen box spring. Cover it then in a queen topper and mattress pad and linens. The bed will act then as a queen but you will each be comfortable.”

    A queen bed is 60″x80″. A king bed is 78″x80″ or TWO twin mattresses wide. I would also suggest if you go the twin route to accommodate different sleeping needs to make sure you purchase twin XL mattresses as they are 39″x80″ instead of the 75″ length of a standard twin. One other reason to consider two twins is most couples do not sleep in the center of a king mattress and ‘ruts’ develop even if you rotate your king mattress.

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one that caught the 2 twins are a king, not a queen thing. The DH and I essentially have separate beds as we have two Twin XL mattresses with their own platforms. They are like hospital beds and sit next to each other. I have a love/hate relationship with the bed(s) as there is no way to snuggle, but we don’t fight over covers and if I want to read in bed, I can raise the head and foot to do so comfortably. It is also great for the DH’s back. The last time I bought sheets, I bought two sets because they only last three or four years with continuous use. I also just noticed a hole forming in one of the fitted sheets.

      • I agree on the snuggle thing, but as an asthmatic I have discovered breathing is waaaay more important to me than the snuggling. LOL Hubby has, also, discovered that keeping his share of the covers on a cold winters night is wonderful.

  6. When I was young with an almost toddler and very poor, I took two old bath towels and pieced them together to get the measurement I wanted for a larger crib blanket and then covering the towel with the old type flannel: soft on one side only. Basically I made a sack of the flannel then inserted the towel. I pinned, tied, and closed the opened end. That was the best blanket my son ever had as a youngster.

  7. BTW: That towel was pieced together on a treadle White sewing machine. Now have a Singer base with a new top available on Amazon that operates as a treadle machine.

  8. I get the vinyl zip around mattress covers that cover the entire mattress, meaning both sides. Works great and you just wipe them down to clean. They run about $15 for queen size at Wal-Mart, Target, etc. We have them on every bed.

  9. Tactical G-Ma says:

    Lake Lili
    Great article. I too am a quilt person. The can serve as a mattress pad but the best part is that 3 quilts will keep anyone warm on the coldest night. Quilting was also a social activity as well as prizes for raffles at church and school. Always the perfect wedding gift.
    Quilts need to be washed routinely in a front loading washer and may take days to thoroughly dry even after a couple of hours in the dryer. Always repair stitching after each wash as thread rots quicker than fabric. Never store linens in plastic unless there is dessicant in with it. My mother always saved the finest linens for special occassions and for houseguests. After she passed, we emptied the cedar chest and almost all were rotten. She lived in Florida where humidity was always high. I still have some quilts and linens that are close to 100 years old. One thing…make sure hubby keeps toenails trimmed. When storing be sure to use acid free tissue as well. I still love my lace trimmed embroidered pillow cases and doilies! They were made with love!

    • T-Gma, my grandma had a quilt for 30 something years and when she passed it was given to me. This one wasnt cared for all that well. I have had to remove all the embroidery off of it, and am replacing 90% of the seems. It is a lot of work, I have been doing one seem at a time and it is taking months.

      Thanks for the tips on storing them. I have a lot of crochet work that I would like to pass down to my kids, including doilies, bedspreads and tablecloths.

    • I was given a set of sheets with hand made tatting on the edges of the sheets and pillow cases when I married the first time. I still have them in a closet somewhere. I was duly impressed with the craftsmanship of the maker of the tatting. I hope it is not a lost art.

  10. Kim Hahn says:

    I am sorry to ask, but what are prepping for?

    • Happy Camper says:

      I’m confused why you would seek, find, click, read on this blog and then ask that question.
      Would you mind enlightening me ?
      I’m preparing for many things, I pay my house insurance in case my house burns down, my car is insured in case of accident. Is on this blog are collectively like minded in sharing ideas to take care of ourselves, family, neighbours, flock, whoever. This is for the case of scenarios including economic collapse, EMP, terrorist attack on the water supply, Civil unrest, bio threat, natural disasters.
      The history of the world dictates feast and famine, preppers on this site are trying to learn, plant and stockpile in this time of prosperity so a time of misfortune will be taken care of.
      Noah built the Ark before it started to rain.
      Look at what’s happening around the world, what position would you like to be in ?
      I hope this has answered your somewhat stupid question.

      • Kim Hahn says:

        I ask this question because I wanted you to think about prepping and why are you doing it.
        I have prepped for total off the grid living since I was 19.
        I still have bug out bags for almost every emergency and I still stock up on foods, tissues, stoves, you name it.
        I know why I stock all kinds of stuff….I was just asking why do you?
        So to speak, what would have Noah done if the flood waters never lowered? A freezer full of food is great, till the electric goes out. A pantry full of food is great, till the food is gone. I do not think there are somewhat stupid questions by the way. I learn every time someone speaks.
        I now know my limitations.
        I am also aware that this will never reach you without the monitors push.

  11. Kim Hahn says:

    You prepping for? Freezer full of food is nothing. All the guns in the world will not help you, if you know not how to use them. Gardens and livestock just bring the hungry and the people you did not stocked up for. I don’t watch the tv shows that have caused the price of everything to rise so high. Stock up well…I may get lucky and this 60 year old man may get all he needs.
    Once again I ask what you are preparing for?

    • Kim, a freezer full of food will carry over on those weeks my dh doesnt work that much and we have bills to pay. I dont have to choose between paying bills or feeding my family.
      The garden, well that is my balm. When I am angry, upset or frustrated, I can go get all that out of me with physical work. It gives me quiet time to think tthrough my problems. It also gives me the freshest produce around and saves me money, better spent elsewhere.
      It doesnt require end of the world scenarios for store shelves to be empty, water to be shut off, or the power grids to have failures. I may not be able to prep for everything, but I know I am less likely to be one of those people running to the grocery store to pick up the last can of tuna the store has before the storm hits.

    • Kim,

      My pantry is my insurance plan for job losses, power outages due to weather and major emergence expenses. My stash of water in two litter bottles is for when the water is turned off for mechanical reasons or weather. My camp stove, lantern, ice chest and other assorted camp gear serves two purposes, as recreation (I like to go camping.) and if the power goes out because of severe thunderstorms/tornadoes and ice storms.

      I have a gun because it is fun to shot clay pigeons. I like eating wild game. And it takes 30 seconds for someone to break-n-enter my home and 5 minutes IF I live in a town with a LLE to respond to my call for help. Expected ETA where I live is 2 hours.

      I garden because I like to. I raise chickens because I like to. I come from an agrarian background, I feel better when I’m digging in the dirt even if it is flowers. I feel good caring for animals, even if it is a jar of sourdough starter.

      And most of all, it is un-American and in my opinion treasonous to NOT do what I can to take care of myself and my loved ones!

  12. Sherree Hartwig says:

    I wouldn’t store bedding in moth balls. Its not good to breath the fumes left behind and hard to wash those fumes out of material. I’d use Cedar in chips or bar form to store bedding etc. I know some people use Bounce fabric softener sheets.
    Quilts are the best for the top cover with a cotton blanket in between the quilt and sheet top. Homemade are the Best.
    Yes,TWO twins mattress on top of a King box spring.
    We have been spoiled with the washing machines we have today. You can still purchase the wringer washers at Lehmann’s who sells products to the Amish. It’s a days work to wash laundry and would be helpful to have someone helping out.

    • Sherree – I still have a cedar chest that belonged to my grandparents. It is full of… well, I’m not entirely sure, come to think of it. I know it has some fabric in it but I haven’t opened it in many years and when I did move it, I wasn’t actually in an emotional state to take inventory of it. My mom used it to store extra bedding and fabric. I don’t think it was emptied when we moved it from her house so it probably still has what she left in it. I think I have something else to add to my to do list – look in the chest.

  13. Encourager says:

    Good article, Lake Lili. You did not mention the proper washing of bed pillows. They should be washed often to remove body oils – that yellowish stain on pillows next to the drool marks. I find that using the original Dawn dish washing soap and scrub it into the yellowish stains helps the body oils release. Good pillows can withstand washing and even drying in the dryer. The cheapy ones with fall apart. Some pillows have to be opened a few inches on an end seam and then pinned shut with safety pins to prevent them splitting the seams and the contents pushing out.

    I second pillow protectors; in fact, with people that have oily skin or use lots of creams at night, use more than one pillow protector. They are so much easier to wash than the entire pillow.

  14. Northernwolf says:

    I like to have an old insulated sleeping bag as the topper on my bed and try to get flannel sheets on sale or at thrift stores when I can find them.the sleeping bags ( I have 4total but only use 1 at a time) work good and I sometimes get to warm,I get home late so don’t usually fire up my wood stove and stay pretty warm all night,and having spares works for when I house sit.

  15. Kat's Tale says:

    Wonderful article. A good nights sleep can restore you body & soul. Bedding is one of those things that I buy the best quality that I can afford. That does not always mean the most expensive. We sleep on flannel sheets about 9 months of the year. The ones that I like the best I found at the Vermont Country Store. They are heavy duty flannel and last for a long time. They fit thick mattress’ and stand up to being washed every week. I also order my regular cotton sheets from them. One thing that I think helps sheets and other bed linen last longer is hanging them on the line to dry instead of drying them in the dryer. Nothing like going to sleep surrounded by the smell of fresh line dried sheets. Takes me back to my Grandma’s.

  16. I made it a point last year to get 2 more sets of sheets plus some extra fitted sheets to replace the ones that wore out on other sets. Also got another blanket contrary to my dp’s (dear partner’s) wishes, plus 6 new bath towels (for that same “his holiness”) and some kitchen towels & dishcloths.

    Now if I could just get a few sleeping bags and find a place to stash them where “his worship” won’t see them. Ah, not likely.

    Please note that the % of cotton is going down down down. Considering the way prices are going up up up, I’d highly recommend stocking up during sales.

  17. mom of three says:

    This is an area I need to get more bedding. I’m going to start looking for flannel sheets, also. The thing with being prepared is a comfort level that unless you do it many don’t understand. Three years ago hubby had neck surgery, from January until April, I bought until my shelves could not hold anymore food. For three months after we ate with out any worry, it took 6 months for him to go back to work full time I still had food. The last three years have been the hardest on us yet. We are starting to get out of debt from credit cards, I can make two buffalo nickles squeal, and I have. I never took SNAP, or have gone to the food bank ever , even though we could have. It sickens me to see women, who have their nails done getting a latte, driving a BMW, or Lexus, pay for their food with a snap card. I get ugly remarks for using cash and coupons, buying wholesome foods very little junk food when I go to the store.
    I love it when the cashiers, say in loud voice how much I bought for how little I paid. I even had one guy clap for how much I saved and said my husband must be very proud. So for all of us preparing clap, clap, clap:)

  18. Great article and comments. I have given away a truck load of linens. Now I need to inventory my stash and make sure I have sufficient for emergencies — or illness (always a consideration). I think I’ll try to check out estate sales for bargains.

Before commenting, please read my Comments Policy - thanks!