Mattress Protectors Guide

Updated December 28, 2022

Hands putting a mattress protector onto a mattress

Best Mattress Protector

The best mattress protectors will be breathable yet waterproof. They'll also stay in place without shifting around when you change positions or if you use an adjustable base. 

Our Picks

These are our favorite mattress protectors, and they are all waterproof and machine washable! We especially love the Bedgear mattress protector options, they have a great warranty and all of them provide excellent protection without ruining the feel of the mattress.

Best Mattress Protector for Cooling (and for Adjustable Bases)

Best Mattress Protector for Moisture-Wicking

Best Natural Mattress Protector 

Best Mattress Protector for Maintaining the Feel of the Mattress

Best Mattress Protector for Budget

Ver-Tex Cooling Mattress Protector in packaging Dri-Tec Moisture-Wicking Mattress Protector in packaging Joybed Natural Mattress Protector folded up Stretchwick Mattress Protector folded on bed next to packaging Sleep Calm Mattress Protector in packaging

If you sleep hot, this is the protector for you. The Ver-Tex fabric is cool-to-the-touch and deflects heat. It features a powerband to help it stay on the mattress whether you're tossing and turning or using an adjustable base.

If you want a protector that'll ensure you stay dry throughout the night, the Dri-Tech protector from Bedgear is our favorite option.

For an all-natural protector, this cotton and wool option from Joybed hits the mark. Waterproof and washable, it's naturally hypoallergenic and breathable enough to help regulate temperature.

The Stretchwick option from Bedgear will add a layer of waterproof protection without making your mattress feel any different. No plastic crinkly feel here! 

If you need a protector under $50, this one by Leggett & Platt is soft and breathable. Most importantly it's waterproof and will protect against stains and bed bugs.

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Benefits - Why Do You Need a Mattress Protector?

Protecting Your Mattress and Your Health

A mattress protector is a fitted piece of bedding, usually waterproof, that serves to protect your mattress. It can also protect the sleeper, from allergens, bed bugs, etc. It's different from a mattress pad or mattress topper because it doesn't usually add padding for more comfort. Most protectors go on top of your mattress like a fitted sheet, but some are a full mattress encasement.

Mattress protectors are important for two major reasons: keeping your mattress free of stains and preventing exposure to dust mites, dead skin cells, microbes, and other potential allergens. While mattress protectors are beneficial in other areas, these are the two most important.

Keeping Your Mattress Free of Stains (and under warranty)

Did you know that even the smallest stain on your mattress will void your mattress warranty? A mark from a pen, a smudge of makeup, or a spilled soda stain will erase your valuable warranty. The manufacturer will not honor any claim on your stained mattress.

It's important to make sure your mattress protector is waterproof. Spills can cause stains, so if you don't purchase a waterproof mattress protector, your mattress won't receive full protection. Since the mattress protector keeps your bed clean, it can get pretty dirty itself, so make sure it's machine washable. Washing a mattress protector is significantly easier than cleaning a mattress. 

Since mattresses are not cheap, a warranty can be very valuable. It is in every sleeper's interest to protect your investment as best as possible.

Make Your Mattress Last Longer

Mattress protectors can also extend the life of your mattress, providing a layer to take the brunt of normal wear and tear. It's an easy way to save money and prevent having to buy a new mattress too soon.

If you have a mattress with foams (and most do) then you'll really want to make sure you have a waterproof protector on there. The salt in sweat shreds foams and breaks them down prematurely. The comfort life of your mattress will be shortened if you don't protect it. 

Healthy Sleeping

Mattress protectors can also help guard your mattress against bed bugs, which are a large nuisance to deal with. They can even cause you to have to discard your mattress and other expensive items. Protectors also guard you against dust mites and other allergens that can build up in your mattress.

Sleep plays an important role in your overall health. It's in your best interest to make your resting hours as healthy as possible. We spend a third of our lives sleeping, and mattress protectors can help to ensure that time is well spent.

Dust Mites and Mattresses

woman vacuuming

Wood photo created by -

Uninvited Roommates

mattress topperDust mites and other microbes may find your mattress a cozy place to live. Dead skin cells can provide enough organic material for these microscopic beings to sustain themselves, multiplying in your mattress over the years.

While dust mites aren't usually much of a problem, roughly 10% of the population has sensitivities to dust mites that can induce allergic reactions and asthma. For this reason, it is important to keep your mattress and bedding clean and protected.

Allergen Concerns

According to The American Lung Association (ALA), dust mites are one of the biggest indoor triggers for people with asthma and allergies. They also advise that "A dust mite allergy can range from mild to severe. A mild case may cause an occasional runny nose, watery eyes, and sneezing. In severe cases, the condition is ongoing, or chronic, resulting in persistent sneezing, cough, congestion, facial pressure, or severe asthma attack. People with asthma who are sensitive to mites face an increased risk of flare-ups or asthma attack."

Eliminating Dust Mites

While it's nearly impossible to completely eliminate dust mites from your home, there are some steps you can take to diminish their presence and protect yourself from potential allergic reactions:

  • Purchase a mattress pad or protector that is designed to prevent the growth of dust mites and other potentially harmful microbes.

  • Wash your bedding linens frequently in water at 130 ℉.

  • Thoroughly vacuum your mattress frequently.

  • Purchase a hypoallergenic pillow and mattress cover.

  • Reduce humidity levels to minimize the growth of dust mites.

  • Keep your room clear of dust and anything that collects dust such as flat surfaces, carpet, or drapes.

  • Dust mites can sustain themselves on the dead skin cells we all shed in bed at night. In order to reduce the number of dust mites, reduce their food source by keeping your mattress clean.

Preventing With Proper Care

Properly caring for your mattress can help it last longer and also improve your health. Typically, your mattress warranty will provide guidelines on proper mattress care.

Taking steps to ensure your mattress is clean will greatly diminish the growth and spread of dust mites and other microbes, but unfortunately, many people neglect their mattresses and only focus on cleaning the bedding. While it is vitally important to clean and rotate your bedding linens, it is equally important to keep up the condition of the mattress itself. The biggest key to that is using a good quality mattress protector.

If you are concerned about the buildup of dust mites in your mattress over time, then a good rule of thumb is to replace your mattress when the warranty runs out. By that time, the comfort materials of the mattress will likely have worn considerably, so you will probably feel like you need to replace your mattress anyway.

Even if you purchase a mattress and mattress protector that resist and prevent dust mites, the best defense against those pesky critters is a clean, well-maintained mattress. As mentioned above, lowering humidity levels are a great way to fight dust mites.  They cannot survive in dry environments.

Protecting Your Health While Sleeping

With the pandemic of the Coronavirus or COVID-19, having a clean and healthy sleep environment is more important than ever before. We're here to help you to know how to properly protect yourself while in bed. These simple tips can help you with cleaning your bed and maintaining a clean sleep environment.

Keeping Your Mattress Free of Contaminants

According to reports from authorities, it's entirely possible for you to have had a mild case of COVID-19 without knowing. Exposure to the coronavirus, or any other pathogens, is highly possible. Cleansing your sleep environment to ensure you're protected is crucial. For more information on how to clean your mattress, check out our page on mattress cleaning. Try these things to help protect yourself while sleeping:

  • Fresh Sheets - Changing all of the linens and washing everything you had on there in hot water is a great start. In some cases, you might just want to replace your sheets with a new set.

  • Pillow Protectors are a Thing - Just like a mattress protector, a pillow protector, or encasement, can protect your pillows from damage.

  • Clean Your Mattress - Most experts, including this one, don't recommend that you clean your mattress with harsh chemicals. The general idea is to strip your bed bare and wipe down all surfaces with hot water and mild soap, and use the sun's UV light to sanitize the bed. For more information on the sanitizing process, you can read our article here.

  • Use a Comforter with a Duvet - A duvet is a removable (and typically washable) cover for your comforter. This is a great benefit when you wash your bedding regularly, so you don't have to wash the bulky comforter.

  • Don't Cross-Contaminate Your Bed - You can avoid contaminating your bed in a few different ways. If you are sick, regularly change the sheets with fresh ones. Don't let dirty laundry lay on the bed, put it in a basket or hamper. If you have pets then you may want to keep them out of your bed for a while if you've been ill, or are sick now.

  • DUST! - Allergens are the worst, particularly for people with severe allergies. Believe it or not, dust can adversely affect all people, regardless of whether you have allergies or not. That's why it's a good idea to keep your bedroom cleaned up. Frequently dust all the surfaces in your bedroom, and vacuum if you have carpeting. If you have washable carpets, run those at least once a month.

  • Open the Curtains/Windows - The best way you can sanitize your bed is by using UV rays from the sun. Don't make your bed and let the sun hit it for as long as you can. This simple act can help ensure a cleaner environment better than most other actions.

Mattress Pad vs Mattress Protector

What's the difference between a mattress pad and a mattress protector? Simply put, a pad is designed to add padding while a protector is designed to protect the mattress. Both go on top of the mattress and beneath the sheets, but they have different purposes.

A protector can serve as a mattress pad sometimes, some of them have added padding. However, a mattress pad will not protect your mattress from stains and spills unless it's waterproof. Your best bet is to go with a protector that has a bit of padding or to layer a protector beneath a pad.

Mattress pads are usually used to add to the comfort of the mattress, which you can also do with a mattress topper. Toppers are usually made of foam or thicker layers of cotton and/or wool, while pads tend to be a bit thinner and made with cotton batting or something similar.


Q. Can you wash a mattress protector?

Yes. If you're wondering how to wash mattress protectors, the first thing is to check the label. Different protectors have different laundering requirements. There are plenty of machine-washable protectors.

Q. How often should you wash your mattress protector?

Definitely wash your protector before using it for the first time. After that, it's good to wash it every month or so. Since it's covered by sheets, it doesn't need to be washed as often as your linens, but you'll still want to launder it regularly.

Q. Is a mattress protector necessary?

Yes! It's always best to cover your mattress with a protector even if you don't sweat a lot or deal with incontinence issues. Mattresses are an expensive investment, and you don't want to risk staining, breaking down the foams prematurely, or voiding your mattress warranty.

Q. Can you dry a mattress protector?

Although air drying is usually the best option, you can tumble dry most mattress protectors. it's a good idea to use a low heat or delicate setting. Putting it in the dryer with other linens can help keep it safe. Check the label of your protector to make sure.

Q. Do you put a mattress pad over a mattress protector?

You don't necessarily need a mattress pad if you have a protector. If you want to add cushioning with a topper or have some other reason for using a mattress pad, you'd put it over the protector.

Q. Do mattress protectors make you hot?

If you buy a cheap mattress protector that has a plastic feel, it can trap heat and cause you to sweat. Look for one that is breathable or that has cooling features if you tend to overheat.

Q. Do mattress protectors prevent bed bugs?

Yes, a mattress protector can help protect against bed bugs, especially if it fully covers the mattress. Many protectors will indicate whether or not they're good for bed bug protection.

Talk to Our Team

For more information, or to talk to a mattress expert for more assistance, feel free to call us at 800-455-1052. Our bedding experts can help you with all aspects of creating the safest and most protected sleep environment for good health!

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