You’ve heard the sound byte before: we spend over a third of our lives on our mattresses (some of us, much more). Maybe you’re diligent about washing your bedding, or you’re more the whenever-I-happen-to-remember type. Either way, we spend a lot of time in bed, and we know how important it is to keep our cushy sanctuaries clean and the linens fresh.
What about the mattress itself, though? No matter how often you swap out your sheets, there’s dirt and oils getting through your top sheet and into your mattress. These can worsen dust mites and allergies, cause faster wear and tear in your mattress’s materials, and even void your warranty.
Enter a mattress protector: a cheap, easy way to keep your mattress clean and help it last longer. Before you start shopping for one, take a look at our buyer’s guide. We’ll answer some consumer questions about mattress Protector types and benefits, and showcase some of our top picks for this oft-ignored accessory.
Lucid Super Soft
What is a mattress protector, exactly?
In basic terms, a mattress protector is fabric that goes around your mattress, similar to a fitted sheet. Some go all around completely, and some sit only on top, but most have elastic to wrap around the edges so the protector doesn’t slide around.
Protectors keep the mattress cleaner by acting as an additional barrier, so that our bodies’ dirt, oils, fluids, and more don’t seep through the sheets and into the mattress itself. Instead, the cover is designed to block most of these, and can often be removed and thrown in the wash just like the sheets.
I keep my bed really clean; I even shower before bed. Do I really need a protector?
Even beacons of cleanliness and impeccable hygiene sweat in their sleep, and not one of us doesn’t have oil in our skin—which, by the way, sheds its old, dead cells nearly constantly. Most of us don’t shower before bed (at least, not every night), and a lot of us sit or relax on the bed during the day, in our regular street clothes.
We snack in bed. We have kids who climb in beside us for thunderstorms and bad dreams. We have pets who think our bed’s much better than that fancy cushion on the floor meant for them. And most of us engage in some…adult activities, let’s say, which leave the bed in less than pristine condition.
The point is: we’re all human, and humans are never 100% clean, 100% of the time. Our mattresses are going to get dirty, and a protector helps…well, protect it! They act as a barrier between our sheets and mattress that can be removed and washed, right along with our bedding. It’s much easier to clean a protector than an entire mattress.
In short, yes: you need a mattress protector, no matter who you are, what you do, or what your lifestyle is like.
Of course, protectors don’t just keep the mattress clean; they can help protect you, as well, by blocking dust mites, mold, and other allergens from the mattress.
I’ve noticed that some mattresses come with removable/washable covers.Are these the same thing/just as good?
Some mattresses do come with protectors as an add-on, but most that boast removable covers are talking about the thicker fabric encasing the inner workings of the mattress (usually memory foam). The covers often unzip all the way around so you can remove the entire thing, or just the top portion, and throw them in the wash; some need to be dry-cleaned, though, so take that into consideration.
Do you still need a protector if you’ve got a removable, washable cover? This is partly up to your preference and budget, but we think the answer should be yes for a couple of reasons.
First, light protectors are still easier to wash than bulky, thick covers. The harder it is to clean something, the less likely you are to do it (admit it: when was the last time you dusted the baseboards?). If getting your cover into the washer takes a feat of superhuman strength, or if it calls for dry cleaning and you know you’ll never find time to take it there, chances are it’s going to stay on your bed for a long time between cleanings. If it’s covered by a protector that slips right off with the fitted sheet, though, the chore is more likely to get done regularly.
Second, you don’t want to void your warranty. Many manufacturers won’t accept returns on stained mattresses, even if an unrelated defect has presented itself—and if the warranty states it will be voided by stains, you won’t have much recourse in the event of a failed return.
Another point to consider: those removable covers are probably manufactured in the same place as the mattress itself. They’re shipped together and assembled together, too. So whatever’s in the mattress—allergens, for instance—could very well be in your cover. A protector is a much easier fix than unpacking your bed and immediately shoving the cover in the wash.
My bed is already a few years old.Should I even bother with a cover by this point?
Because your mattress already has its share of dirt and grime embedded inside, it’s probably tempting to skip the protector. After all, what good is it when the bed’s already dirty?
However, if you’re still a ways away from purchasing a new mattress, adding a protector still provides protection for you. The moisture, oils and skin on and inside your mattress can attract dust mites, harbor bacteria, cause mildew…all ready to escape back up onto your skin or into your lungs the next time you lie down. With a washable barrier, however, you can keep those substances contained inside the mattress.
Should kids’beds have protectors, too?
Yes. Even the tiniest of humans sweat, shed dead skin cells, and sneak a midnight snack, now and then. Add in the fact that kids are likely to spill, urinate, and who knows what else in their beds, and you’re looking at one gross Petri dish.
Mattress protectors for kids are usually waterproof, which has its share of pros and cons. On the one hand, it helps keep the mattress dry and prevents mildew and bacteria from forming inside. It also makes nighttime accidents much easier to clean up—simply blot the cover dry, clean and disinfect it per the manufacturer’s instructions, and put it back on the bed.
On the other hand, all waterproof materials aren’t created equally. Avoid vinyl or PVC. These plastics contain toxins called phthalates, which have been linked to sterility, asthma, hormonal imbalances, and even cancer. There are vinyl types labeled non-toxic and phthalate-free, which are a bit of a gray area; while they don’t carry the same warnings as regular vinyl, that’s largely because they haven’t been tested as thoroughly yet. Parents should get these types of covers at their discretion.
PEVA and EVA, vinyl derivatives, are less toxic, but not necessarily safe. Polyurethane, wool, and cotton are considered safe, although the effectiveness of protectors made with the latter two depends on the design and quality of the materials themselves.
No matter what you choose, make sure your child’s cover is always dry and clean; leaving a damp or soiled one on the mattress too long defeats the purpose, and can pose a risk to your child’s health. Even if you’ve cleaned it, lack of proper drying can introduce that remaining moisture into the mattress and produce mildew or mold.
Some parents purchase multiple mattress covers for each of their children’s beds, especially if the pads aren’t plastic (meaning they can be wiped clean and disinfected, rather than washed, like cotton or wool). You don’t want to throw their cover in the wash, put them back in an unprotected bed, and have the same accident occur again. It’s much simpler to remove the soiled one for washing and slip a fresh one in its place.
Top 4 Best Mattress Protector Reviews
1.SafeRest Premium Hypoallergenic Waterproof Mattress Protector
With soft cotton on top and a waterproof membrane backing, this protector from SafeRest is hypoallergenic, affordable, and promises a 10-year warranty. Not only can it protect your mattress from fluid, bacteria, and more, but it can also help overly hot beds feel a little cooler, thanks to cotton’s breathability.
- Vinyl- and phthalate-free; cotton terry surface with waterproof backing.
- FDA Registered Class 1 Medical Device; does not affect way mattress feels.
- 10-year warranty.
- Very affordable.
- Can be washed and dried normally (use low heat to avoid compromising waterproof backing).
- Not a full encasement (which zips around entire mattress), but rather fitted like a sheet. Will not be suitable for those looking to prevent bedbug infestation.
SafeRest guarantees this protector won’t affect how your mattress feels, as well as noiseless and hypoallergenic protection. The low price makes this one worth a shot, especially when it’s backed by so many positive customer responses.
2.SureGuard Mattress Encasement
Also waterproof and hypoallergenic, this protector from SureGuard is nearly identical to the one offered by SafeRest: cotton terry top, waterproof membrane, machine washable…but its higher price is due to one distinct difference: this isn’t a typical protector, but rather a full encasement—it covers every side of the mattress, instead of slipping overtop like a fitted sheet.
- Complete/six-side encasement; zips around entire mattress. Zipper is sealed, as well, making this cover impermeable against bedbugs.
- Also repels liquids, bacteria, etc., just like a standard protector.
- Machine-washable and dryable.
- Money-back guarantee; 30-day, risk-free trial. 10-year warranty.
- Reviews frequently state less than ideal waterproofness in event of large spills (i.e. children wetting bed).
We wouldn’t recommend this to parents whose children wet the bed frequently, but for bedbug prevention and treatment, the encasement aspect is perfect. It also seems like a good general protector to keep your mattress clean and absorb sweat—but if that characteristic is your primary reason for buying a protector, it can be had for a lot less.
3.LinenSpa Zippered Encasement Protector
With a price cheaper than the SafeRest model—but a full encasement like the SureGuard—this protector from LinenSpa seems like a great compromise. It’s made of polyester, but is also soft and breathable, with a waterproof backing.
- Full encasement; covers entire mattress.
- Can be laundered in machine.
- Breathable and soft; makes no noise.
- 10-year warranty.
- Zippered covers protect against bedbugs, but aren’t as easy to remove for washing like sheet-style protectors.
- Synthetic polyester, rather than 100% natural cotton like other covers.
If you’re getting a mattress protector for a dirt and oil barrier you can wash frequently, consider a fitted sheet-style option instead. If, however, you’re more concerned with bedbug prevention, this protector from LinenSpa is an excellent choice—especially since it’s one of the cheapest full encasements on the market.
4.Lucid Super Soft Rayon Bamboo Jersey Mattress Protector
With a bamboo rayon-cotton composite fabric, this protector is more durable than cotton alone. Pair that with the incredibly low price and generous warranty period, and you’ve got an unbeatable bargain that’s even softer and stronger than its competitors.
- Fitted-sheet style; easier to remove for washing than full encasement.
- 70% bamboo rayon; 30% cotton.
- Waterproof; noiseless.
- Machine-washable and dryable (low heat).
- 15-year warranty.
- Will not protect against bedbugs.
Comparing a fitted sheet-style protector to an encasement isn’t really fair, since the latter is intended more for bedbug prevention than anything else—but with that in mind, this protector from Lucid is our favorite featured in this guide. It’s beyond affordable, comes with an outstanding warranty, and features a textile strength cotton alone can’t achieve.
A mattress protector is one of those add-ons nobody really wants to add on, especially when they’re already dropping hundreds on a new mattress. But overlooking this extra component can cause a lot more trouble than you’d think—all of which can be prevented with a quick click of that “Add to Cart” button. We hope our buyer’s guide has been a valuable tool in your hunt for the right mattress protector for you.