Everything You Need to Know About Bedskirts & Dust Ruffles

After posting about the new bedding I got for my bedroom a few weeks ago a couple of questions came up in the comments about bed skirts that I thought would be a good topic for a new blog post.

The first question was about my existing pom-pom trim dust ruffle and how I keep it in place. Another reader wanted to know if bedskirts are outdated?

In this post I will answer those questions about bedskirts, dust ruffles and a few decorating tips when adding a bed skirt to any bed in your home.

Dust Ruffle vs Bed Skirt: What is the Difference?

First up, no matter if you call the item of bedroom decor a bed skirt or dust ruffle, they are the same item that performs the same function – which is to cover the area between the bottom edge of the mattress to the floor.

A bed skirt is used to not only enhance the overall bed and bedding, but to hide what is under the bed and just as the term dust ruffle implies, having one keeps dust from getting under the bed. So no matter if you refer to it as a dust ruffle or bed skirt, both terms are correct.

Are Bedskirts Outdated? Dust Ruffles Out of Style?

A gathered dust ruffle, flat paneled, one with pleats or pleated corners and other styles of bed skirts offer a classic look when it comes to decorating a bed. The colors and styling may change with decorating trends, but as an item of decor they will never go out of style since they perform a function.

Over time, bedskirts have evolved from being a single piece of fabric with side panels and a decking fabric that stretches under a mattress and over the box spring. These are the type of bed skirt that you would have to remove the mattress to place the bedskirt over the box spring which can be difficult to do.

Now bed skirts are better designed in a “wrap around the box spring” style. These newer designed bedskirts have two panels for each side of the bed, as well as one for the foot of the bed. An elastic band along the top of the bed skirt or adjustable straps secure it to the box spring.

When using one of these detachable bed skirts there is no need to have to remove the mattress to place this style of bed skirt on a bed.

Types of Bed Frames That Look Better With a Bedskirt

As decorating trends evolve, upholstered and decorative bed frames have become more popular and look fresh and modern to our eyes.

These types of beds don’t need a bedskirt as the bed frame itself is part of the overall decor, unlike mattresses and boxsprings that are placed on traditional adjustable metal bed frames.

Bed with mattress and box spring that is on a standard adjustable metal bed frame with wheels.

If your box spring and mattress are on a standard adjustable metal bed frame, a bed skirt makes the bed look better as it hides the utilitarian frame. It is the type of bed frame my bed is on.

Bed Frames That Don’t Need a Bedskirt

When the bed frame is part of the decorative furniture in the room like these bed frames, no bed skirt is needed.

Master Bedroom at the 2020 HGTV Dream home

Or like this bed frame. You would not want to hide the decorative aspect of the bed frame with a bed skirt.

Bedroom popcorn ceiling after getting WoodHaven Plank installed over it.

Platform beds that are either on the ground or low to the ground like this bed, are another type of bed that does not need a bed skirt.

canopy bed in showhouse bedroom

A four poster bed or a bed with a separate headboard and footboard that is low to the floor doesn’t need a bedskirt.

decorating a guest room with a mix of bright colors

But if the frame with four posters or a headboard and footboard is higher off the ground like the bed in the above image and you don’t want to see what is under the bed if you use it for under-bed storage, you will need a 3-piece designed bedskirt with Split Corners that open up to accommodate for the upright supports of the bed frame.

How to Keep a Bed Skirt in Place

This is an age old problem, but there is a very easy solution that will keep your bed skirt from ever moving until you want to take it off.

To make sure your bed skirt stays in place, first make sure you are buying the right bed skirt, not only for the size of your bed – king, queen, etc. But also the drop height from the top of the box spring to the floor.

How to determine a bed skirt drop length.

Most bed frames run between 14” and 18” inches from the top of the box spring to the floor. So measure this drop length before you purchase a bed skirt.

If you can’t find a bed skirt in your exact drop length, you can get one that is longer and adjust the length as you attach it following the directions below.

How I Keep My Bed Skirt in Place

Deep in my blogs’s archive I wrote a post about handy items to have around the house that help when decorating. Twist pins were one of the items featured in the post. They come in handy when you need to hold or manipulate fabric into place.

If you are not familiar with twist pins, they are used to hold upholstery and slipcovers in place. They work exceptionally well to hold bed skirts in place and come in a pack.

You can also use bed skirt pins. They are made with two pins on a bar that you push into the fabric and box spring to secure the skirt.

how to use a twist pin to hold a bed skirt or bed ruffle on a bed.

Once you have the bed skirt in place, twist in a few twist pins to attach the top edge of the dust ruffle on each side of the bed to the top of the box spring to secure it. I space about 4 – 6 twist pins on each side of the bed.

If you don’t have twist pins or bed skirt pins, I have also used large safety pins to attach the skirt to the box spring. You can also use Velcro tape with hook and loop tabs, but these need to be glued on and don’t hold up when it comes time to remove the dust ruffle to launder it.

How to Use a Twist Pin to Hold a Bedskirt in Place

An elastic topped white bed skirt with twist pins to hold it in place.

To Use a Twist Pin: Hold the top of the bed skirt fabric in place with your non-dominant hand and then place the point of the twist pin into and through the fabric and twist it into the softer part, not the wood frame of the box spring with your dominant hand until it is pushed in all the way.

To remove a twist pin, simply twist it in a counter-clockwise motion until it comes out. They can be used more than once as long as the twisted metal pin section is still intact.

If your bed skirt is the old style with the fabric spanning over the box spring, you can use twist pins in the same manner to keep the bed skirt from shifting after placing the mattress back on top.

DIY: Bed Skirt Hack

If your bed skirt has the fabric spanning over the box spring, use a pair of scissors to cut that fabric off, leaving about 2″ of it all around where it connects to the side and foot sections of the skirt. Now you have a bed skirt where the mattress doesn’t need to be removed first before adding the bed skirt.

Before attaching the cut bed skirt to the box spring as detailed earlier in the post, fold over the raw cut edge and press it to create a crease, then attach to the box spring.

Bed Skirt Alternatives

If you can’t find or don’t like any of the bed skirts sold in stores, here are two options on how you can cover up a box spring in a decorative way without the need of a traditional bed skirt.

box spring and mattress both covered with fitted sheets for a decorated look.
  1. Buy Two Fitted Sheets. One to cover the mattress and the other for the box spring. It is what I did for this platform bed where a bed skirt wouldn’t look good.
  2. To do this, I bought two sets of plaid flannel patterned sheets. The first set I made the bed with. For the second set, I made a headboard with the flat sheet and covered the box spring with the fitted flannel sheet.
bed wrap on standard bed frame to make it look modern.
Modern Bed Wrap on Amazon

2. Try a Bed Wrap. These wrap-around bed skirts are made of fabric that you wrap around the bottom of the bed and secure with straps or elastic bands on the back of the bed. When in place they make the bed look more like a modern upholstered bed frame.

colors of modern bed wraps

This style of bed wrap comes in many colors.

There is also another style of bed wrap. This style is stretchy and fits snug around a box spring.

Using either of these bed wraps will give a bed a more modern look.

I think I covered all there is to know about using a bed skirt or dust ruffle on a bed. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.

RESOURCES: Stylish Bed Skirts & Securing Pins

Matlasse | Eyelet | Split Corners | Bed Wrap | Jersey Wrap Around

Twist Pins | Bed Skirt Pins

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  1. Heather C says:

    Diane very informative. I just got king bed and a skirt and you’ve solved my problem of putting the skirt on without moving mattresses. My question is what is the source for the first picture with the green pillows and white coverlet – I’m in love with anything that color green. Thanks

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Heather – The photo of green and white pillows and coverlet is in this post on how I reused items in my decorating stash to update this room. You can read the post here: https://inmyownstyle.com/green-and-white-decor-ideas-for-a-room.html

      Sadly the green and white upholstery fabric that I used to make the pillow covers and coverlet was fabric I had since 2010. I tried to find something similar for readers, but so far I have not found anything. If I ever do, I will contact you.

  2. We now have an adjustable bed, so bedskirts of any kind do not work since the bed has the ability to move. I have found all I can use is a bedspread now and they are harder to find theses days. But I found this post very interesting. Just wish our bed was a bit easier to work with, adjustable beds are nice but they do have their own set of issues.

  3. Elisabeth Crowe says:

    Hi Diane,
    In Australia we call them valances.

  4. Nan, Odessa, DE says:

    I have a four poster with storage under the bed.
    I buy lined curtains that I choose to hang at the windows and on the corners of the bed. I purchase extra curtain panels and use them as panels between the mattress and box spring. Can adjust to any height, stay in place, and easy to clean. I have also used drop cloths for the skirt.
    Our bedroom is a show stopper!

  5. Lou Clifton says:

    I use a bed skirt during winter months and during the summer boxspring cover, I have found the air circulating under bed keeps cooler in the summer and the bedskirt during winter keeps it warmer. I keep on boxspring cover and add bedskirt during winter months.

  6. Margaret Langenberg says:

    I have a twin extra length size bed consisting of just a mattress and one of those foldable metal frames. I have not been able to find a quilt, bedspread or comforter that will fit this bed. I live in a studio apartment so you can see the bed from everywhere. I have to store things under the bed and it always looks tacky to me. What would you suggest as I don’t think a dust ruffle will work with this type of setting.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Margaret – How high off the floor is the mattress? Could you treat it as a daybed? Another option would be to attach two pieces fabric all around where the bed isn’t against a wall. Bring the two pieces together on one end or a side or slightly overlap them. Use velcro to attach it to the metal frame. You can see how I did this to create a utility sink skirt so that my cat could get to his litter box. You can see the post here: https://inmyownstyle.com/hidden-storage-idea-table-sink-skirt.html