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Mattress Pad & Protector Buying Guide

Mattress Pad & Protector Buying Guide

Mattress Pads, Mattress Protectors & Mattress Covers

From accidents and spills to pests, allergens, and infestations, mattress pad protection is essential to a clean, comfortable and healthy night's rest. Our mattress pad and mattress protector buying guide was created to help you get a better understanding of mattress protection, and how it can improve the health of your home. Read more below and follow the links for a deeper look into this bedroom essential.

mattress pad types
mattress pad fabrics
mattress pad buying tips

What is Mattress Pad Protection?

Mattress pad protection is vital to the longevity of your mattress, and more importantly, it provides a healthy sleep environment by guarding against bed bugs, dust mites, allergens, sweat, and stains. Since it’s almost impossible to wash a mattress, mattress protectors are removable, so they can easily be washed and maintained. Mattress covers come in different sizes, colors, styles, materials, fabrics, and with varying protection benefits.

Types of Mattress Protection

Mattress covers are effective in providing the following types of mattress protection:

Wear and Tear

mattress stains wear and tear

Mattress pads add a layer of fabric to protect against light wear and tear that comes from sleeping or laying on a mattress. Over time, mattresses get dirty, accumulate small rips or tears, or fade in the spots that are the most slept on. Mattress protectors, mattress covers, mattress pads, or box spring covers add a line of defense to combat these issues and prolong the lifespan of the mattress or box spring.

Spills, Stains & Incontinence

mattress spills stains incontinence

Waterproof mattress pads safeguard against spills, stains, and moisture resulting from accidents, fluids, and sweat. Mattress protection can prevent mold and mildew from growing in the mattress by blocking fluids from soaking into the bed. Waterproof mattress covers are ideal for sleepers who sweat, people who eat or drink in bed, families with small children, those who have issues with incontinence, pets that sleep on the bed or anyone seeking to keep the mattress stain-free.

Allergen-Free Bed

Dust mites are the most common household allergen, present in most home textiles. They feed off of human skin flakes and use mattresses as breeding grounds. The most effective way to combat dust mites, and enjoy a healthier sleeping environment, is to purchase a dust mite mattress cover that fully encases the mattress on all sides. For maximum allergy protection, consider implementing a box spring cover to prevent dust mites or other allergens from accumulating in the box spring.

Additional allergy asthma and triggers include pet dander, mold, and mildew, all of which can penetrate an unprotected mattress. Mattress covers shields pet owners from an unhealthy buildup of pet dander in the bed. Waterproof mattress pads can block fluids, and prevent the growth of mildew and mold inside the mattress.

Bed Bug-Proof Mattress

Bed bugs are small insects that live on human and animal blood, and therefore prefer to live inside mattresses and pillows, near their food source. One way to prevent these tiny insects from infesting your bed is by purchasing a bed bug mattress encasement. Bed bug-proof mattress covers encase the entire mattress on all sides and are too thick for bed bugs to enter or exit. For maximum protection throughout the entire bed, consider purchasing a bed bug proof box spring cover. For the best protection, make sure to look for pillow covers that are entomology lab certified.

Types of Mattress Protectors

There are two main types of mattress protectors, with each providing distinct benefits and protection:

6-Sided Mattress Encasements

6-sided zippered mattress encasement

A zippered mattress encasement encompasses the entire mattress. It’s like placing a mattress into a large protective fabric bag. Mattress encasements are ideal for shielding against bed bugs, dust mites, dander, allergens and other contaminants. For the maximum protection, select a model that includes a micro-tooth zipper, or a zipper small enough to prevent bed bugs from entering or escaping the mattress.

5-Sided Fitted Sheet Style Protection

5-sidded fitted mattress protector

A fitted sheet-style mattress protector is placed over a mattress just like a fitted sheet. It slides over the edges and corners of the mattress, includes a full “skirt” around the sides of the mattress, and uses elastic edging to ensure a snug fit. With top surface waterproofing, This type of mattress protection is an ideal safeguard against spills, stains, and incontinence. It can also be used for protection against normal wear and tear. While they may offer top or side surface protection against bed bugs and dust mites, they are less effective then encasements because the bottom of the mattress is not covered.

Mattress Pad Fabrics

Mattress protectors come in a wide range of fabrics, with each one offering unique advantages and disadvantages. The following is a list of the most popular fabrics used on mattress covers:

Cotton Mattress Pads

hypoallergenic cotton mattress pad

Cotton mattress pads are naturally hypoallergenic due to the organic composition of cotton. Cotton fabric is available without chemical and pesticide treatments, which is ideal for those with skin sensitivities. It’s also breathable enough to allow mattresses to stay cooler for a comfortable sleeping experience.

Polyester Mattress Pads

polyester mattress pad

Polyester is a durable fabric offered in a variety of textures and styles. Polyester is easy to wash and maintain and can be less expensive than other fabrics. Although polyester is not as cool as fabrics like Tencel®, it’s often blended with other materials to maximize protection and comfort. Polyester does not wick moisture, although it can be fast-drying, and is not considered hypoallergenic.

Tencel® Lyocell Mattress Pads

tencel lyocell waterproof mattress pad

Tencel lyocell is a bedding fabric known for its botanic origins and comfortable properties. Tencel is an eco-friendly textile that is sourced from sustainable resources. Tencel lyocell mattress covers are highly breathable, naturally hypoallergenic, moisture-wicking and inhibit the growth of odor-causing bacteria. Additionally, Tencel mattress protectors are ideal for those with sensitive skin because Tencel is very soft and smooth, not abrasive or itchy like wool or cotton fibers.

Plush Velour Mattress Pads

plush velour mattress pad

Velour or velours is a plush, knitted fabric or textile similar to velvet or velveteen. It is usually made from cotton but can also be made from synthetic materials such as polyester. Velour can be a woven or a knitted fabric, allowing it to stretch. It combines the stretchy properties of knits with the rich appearance and feel of velvet. A plush velour waterproof top surface, and sensually soft mattress protection infuses luxury into your down time with dry, warm comfort.

Bamboo Mattress Pads

bamboo mattress pad

Bamboo mattress pads are popular due to the natural benefits of soothing, comforting bamboo fabric. Much like Tencel, the fabric on bamboo mattress covers is moisture-wicking and inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria. Bamboo mattress protectors allow sensitive sleepers to rest soundly since bamboo is a naturally hypoallergenic mattress cover.

Cooling Mattress Covers

snow cooling mattress pad

Cooling mattress pads utilize specialty engineered fabrics that create a cooling sensation by lowering the temperature of the bed while you sleep, perfect for hot sleepers or those who prefer a crisp, cold sleep climate. Cooling mattress covers typically work by dissipating heat faster than other fabrics, keeping the bed feeling cool all night for a comfortable night’s rest.

Waterproof Mattress Pad Materials

Mattress protectors are typically made out of one of the following two materials:

Polyurethane Waterproof Mattress Pads

polyurethane waterproof mattress pad material

Polyurethane is a super-thin, flexible membrane that is used to waterproof fabrics while remaining totally undetectable and silent during sleep. It is a superior waterproof barrier, and is also highly breathable, with microscopic pores that allow air to pass through the mattress cover. This keeps the sleeper cool throughout the night, while effectively stopping the transmission of liquids, dust, bed bugs and dust mites. Polyurethane is a durable material that’s quieter and cooler to sleep on when compared to vinyl.

Vinyl or Plastic Waterproof Mattress Pads

vinyl plastic waterproof mattress pad material

Vinyl mattress pads are not nearly as breathable as polyurethane mattress pads but are effective against pests and liquids. Vinyl’s thickness provides an effective barrier against bed bugs and dust mites. However, vinyl has several drawbacks. It retains heat, which makes for a warmer bed throughout the night. It is not a breathable material, trapping in moisture and sweat, contributing to a wet or sticky sleep surface. Plastic mattress pads tend to be crinkly, loud and sleep very hot, but they are easy to clean and maintain.

How to Buy a Mattress Pad

Mattress pad protection is available in a wide range of options. Here are features to consider when shopping for mattress pad protection:


mattress pad size

The size of the mattress will determine what size mattress pad is needed. Measure the mattress size and depth before shopping for a mattress protector. It’s important to buy a mattress protector that fits the entire mattress in order to get maximum protection.


mattress protector features

Determine the benefits most important to you when selecting mattress protection. Consider features like waterproofing, cooling fabrics, guarding against bed bugs, and wear and tear prevention. Hypoallergenic mattress pads are ideal for sensitive sleepers who may be allergic to certain fabrics, dust mites or chemicals and pesticides - look for protectors that feature Tencel or bamboo.


mattress protector comfort

Mattress protectors with thick or layered fabrics can add soft comfort or cushion to the surface of the mattress. The type of fabric used and the knitting style can provide a plush finish with additional cushion and texture, while knits like jacquard add loft and also keep you warmer. If you prefer a cold sleep climate, consider a cooling mattress cover.


mattress protector breathability

For those that prefer a cooler sleeping experience, choose a mattress pad that allows the mattress to breathe. This guarantees efficient airflow, prevents heat from being trapped, and provides a cooler night sleep. Mattress protectors with polyurethane waterproofing allow more airflow and cooling than their vinyl counterparts.

Easy to Wash

easy to wash mattress protector

Since mattress protectors are designed to protect against spills, stains and other mishaps, it’s important that your mattress cover is easy to remove and wash. Regular washing of mattress protection will keep the bed clean, sanitized and odorless. Make sure that the mattress pad you select is machine washable, and always follow the care instructions provided.


mattress protector warranty

When shopping for mattress protectors and mattress pads, ensure the products you are looking at is back by a solid manufacturer’s warranty. The ideal warranty last about 10 years and covers defects in performance due to manufacturing issues. Once you make your purchase, ensure you read the warranty, register your product on the manufacturer’s website, and follow the care instructions as directed on the product label. With the proper care, a good warranty can ensure your mattress protector lasts for years.

Are you confused about the difference between a mattress pad, mattress protector, and mattress topper?  Learn more about the differences between the three types of protectors.

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