You have no items in your shopping cart.

Mattress Pad vs Mattress Protector vs Mattress Topper

Mattress Pad vs Mattress Protector vs Mattress Topper... What’s the Difference?

Mattress Pad vs Mattress Protector vs Mattress Topper…What’s the Difference?

What is the difference between a “mattress pad” and “mattress protector”? While they may seem interchangeable, they actually are quite dissimilar and serve different functions. Throw in the term “mattress topper” and things get even more confusing.  Want to know the difference? Here’s an overview:

What is a mattress pad?

A mattress pad can often be visually identified by light padding and a quilted top. It’s placed on a mattress just like a fitted sheet and forms a layer between your sheets and the mattress.

The primary purpose of a mattress pad is to enhance comfort. In addition to the plush feeling offered by the light padding, a typical mattress pad can help keep you cozy by managing heat and moisture through special fabrics.

Most mattress pads, as a secondary benefit, do offer a degree of protection from stains and spills. Some accomplish a small amount of protection simply by placing additional layers between you and the mattress. Others purposefully offer spill and stain resistant properties built into the fabric. All that said, protection is an ancillary benefit of a mattress pad, with comfort being the primary feature.

What is a mattress protector?

As its name implies, the primary job of a mattress protector is to protect the mattress from stains, spills, and bedwetting. It will generally lack any sort of padding or the quilted appearance of a mattress pad.

By protecting the mattress, you can dramatically slow down the rate at which the mattress’ internal padding materials deteriorate, preserving the “like new” performance for many years. And by preventing spills from seeping into the fibers, you can stop potentially dangerous mold from forming.

Most mattress protectors will be installed on a mattress in the same manner as a fitted sheet, covering the top and sides. Some variations will completely cover the top, bottom, and sides, and feature a sealed zippered enclosure, offering 360-degree protection of the mattress. These can also be referred to as “mattress encasements.”  As you’d expect, a mattress protector uses purpose-built fabrics and features to act as a protective layer between your sheets and your mattress, shielding against spills and stains.

What you may not expect is that many mattress protectors can also enhance wellness and quality of sleep by sealing out allergens (like pollen), dust mites, and even bed bugs.  While not a primary purpose, some premium mattress protectors can offer heat and moisture management through special fabrics that capture moisture and transport them through the threads themselves, this process is known as wicking.  It’s also worth noting that mattress encasements can also be used as a box spring cover/box spring protector. This delivers 100% protection for your expensive bedding, preserving performance and in many cases doubling life to the product.

What is a mattress topper?

A mattress topper will feature a thick layer of padding - typically memory foam - to enhance the support and comfort of a mattress. Simply laid on top of your mattress, the mattress topper will be held in place by the fitted sheet.  Through high-tech padding materials, a topper will typically form to the contours of your body, providing customized, evenly distributed support while eliminating hot spots that can cause pain.

As a secondary benefit, many mattress toppers will feature special fabrics that wick away moisture and manage heat to keep your cool and comfortable.  By the simple act of placing additional inches of materials between you and your mattress, a topper will provide an extra layer of protection from stains and perhaps some spills. However, a topper isn’t designed to provide any real protection.

Product Mattress Pad Mattress Protector Mattress Topper

Identifying Features

Quilted top, light padding on top, fits tightly over sides of mattress No padding, some models completely encase the mattress with zipper closing Very thick layer of padding, often memory foam, does not drape over sides of mattress

Primary Use

Enhance comfort through heat and moisture management, light padding Protect mattress from bedwetting, spills, and stains, with some models also protecting against allergens, mold, dust mites, and bed bugs Enhance comfort and support through increased padding

Secondary Use (some models)

Protects mattress from spills and stains Enhance comfort through heat and moisture management Enhance comfort through heat and moisture management

Featured Technologies

Nordic Chill cooling fabric, Tencel® hypoallergenic and moisture wicking fibers Miracle Membrane® fabric, BugLock® Secure Seal three-sided zipper Gel-infused adaptive foam, cradled foam

Where else is protection beneficial?

While pillows are often an afterthought, they are another great place to consider adding protection. If you think about it, this makes sense since a pillow sits inches away from your nose and mouth for hours on end. As such, the same shielding against allergens and sleep inhibitors that a mattress protector provides can deliver measurably more comfortable sleep when used on a pillow. As an added bonus, many pillow covers offer the same moisture wicking and heat management that a quality mattress pad offers.

Lastly, a pillow protector can save you money. Typically, it’s recommended that a standard pillow is replaced every six months. With a pillow protector, the lifespan of a pillow can be extended well beyond a year.

Get the most out of your bedding

Considering the sizable investment quality bedding represents, it makes sense to maximize performance and longevity with quality mattress pads, mattress protectors, pillow covers/protectors, and if you seek additional support, a mattress pad.  Here are some proven Protect-A-Bed products that accomplish all of the bedding goals mentioned above, and more:

Please wait...