All about mattress protectors

A mattress protector is a thin covering for a mattress that helps to protect it against damage and allergens. Mattress protectors typically tuck into a mattress or cover a mattress entirely and close with a zipper. A mattress protector will provide safeguard against the following:

  • Spills and crumbs
  • Bedwetting
  • Bed bugs
  • Dust mites
  • Sweat and moisture

The purpose of a mattress protector is to increase the life of a mattress, not to provide additional comfort. A good mattress protector will go practically unnoticed by the sleeper, although some feature cooling technology for those who sleep hot.

Mattress protectors are normally made from materials such as polyester, down, and cotton and also contain a waterproofing material like vinyl or polyurethane. There are many different mattress protectors to choose from. The right mattress protector for each sleeper depends on a variety of factors such as mattress type and sleep style.

Before making a purchase, it’s important to know exactly what each mattress protector provides. We’ve worked hard studying top industry specs and real customer input to compile the details you need in our guide to the best mattress protectors.

Do I need a mattress protector?

A mattress is a big and costly investment, and why shouldn’t it be? The average American spends over eight hours a night in bed, meaning over a third of our lives are spent on a mattress.

This doesn’t change the fact that spending over a thousand dollars isn’t particularly enjoyable, even if it is for an essential household item. Mattress protectors offer a way to protect this investment by shielding a mattress from wear and tear. The life of a mattress can be greatly extended if it is not worn away over time by any of these hazards:

  • Bed bugs: Bed bugs are parasitic insects that feed off of human blood. They make their home in fabrics of all types but are known especially for living in mattresses and feeding on people as they sleep. A bed bug infestation can be incredibly costly and typically requires the destruction of the infested mattress.
  • Dust mites: Dust mites are tiny insects that make their home in mattresses in order to feed off of dead human skin. Dust mites are known for causing all kinds of allergies, and it is believed that they are the most common cause of year-round allergies. If that wasn’t bad enough, the quantity of live mites, dead mites and dust-mite waste that can accrue in a mattress over the years is disturbing.
  • Moisture: A spill or an accident can leave your mattress damaged and your warranty voided, but many believe they won’t encounter these problems. The truth is, damage from moisture can even come from sleepers themselves. Most have experienced the discomfort of waking up sweaty at night. This condition, called night sweats, is much more common than previously thought. Overtime, it can cause excessive moisture to be absorbed by a mattress and even cause permanent damage to foam mattresses.

Some assume that they don’t need a mattress protector if their mattress is covered by a warranty. This is normally not the case. Warranties are often limited and can be voided after a simple spill.

A mattress protector is an easy purchase that can go a long way. Here are some types of sleepers who may want to consider buying one.

  • Those who have made a substantial mattress investment: Mattress protectors are an especially wise purchase for those who have paid a lot for a mattress that they are hoping will last a long time.
  • Those with young children: Children are accident-prone and often spill drinks or wet the bed at a young age. Those with children should consider protecting their children’s mattresses and their own with mattress protectors.
  • Those with guests: Mattress protectors are essential for those who often host family and friends or who rent a room out to vacationers. A mattress protector will allow a good host to offer his/her guests a hygienic place to stay while protecting the mattress from spills or moisture from recreational activities.
  • Those who suffer from allergies: As noted above, dust mites are one of the most common causes of allergies. Dust mite infestations often go unnoticed, and sleepers can continue suffering for years without knowing why. A mattress protector will help to alleviate allergies in many sleepers.
  • Those who may come into contact with bed bugs: Anyone can come into contact with bed bugs, but some are more at risk. Bed bugs commonly find their way into luggage, hotels, basements, cluttered rooms, and common carpet. Those who travel a lot or work often in unclean environments will want to purchase a mattress protector.

What to look for in a mattress protector

Mattress protectors come in a variety of sizes and styles. Many protect against a wide range of hazards, while others are meant to protect against a specific type of damage, like moisture, for example. The versatility of a mattress protector will affect its cost.

Mattress protectors come in three basic styles.

  • Zippered: This type of protector encases the entire mattress and shuts firmly with a zipper. A zippered mattress protector is ideal for those who want complete protection or for those who flip their mattress from time to time.
  • Fitted: Fitted mattress protectors resemble fitted sheets. They have elastic edges and pocketed corners so they can be easily tucked into the corners of a mattress. These protectors are cheaper and effective at waterproofing but don’t provide the complete coverage of a zippered protector.
  • Strapped: The strapped protector is fitted with elastic straps that fit around the corners of a mattress. A strapped mattress protector provides a tighter fit than the fitted protector but may not completely cover the sides of a mattress.

Mattress protectors are made from various materials such as cotton, down, polyester, polyurethane, and vinyl. Some are made from just one type of material, while others feature a top layer and a bottom layer. The upper layer is usually a comfortable fabric like cotton or polyester, while the bottom layer is a waterproofing material like vinyl.

Although mattress protectors are made from comfortable fabrics, their purpose is not to add comfort to your mattress. This, instead, is the job of a mattress pad or mattress topper.

Mattress toppers

Mattress toppers are additional comfort layers that one can buy and place on top of a mattress. They are made exclusively to increase or adjust the comfort of a mattress. Mattress toppers are made from materials like wool, memory foam, latex, and down, and they are quite thick. Mattress toppers are not intended to help protect a mattress. Read our full guide to the best mattress toppers here.

Mattress pads

Mattress pads offer benefits of both mattress toppers and mattress protectors, but to a lesser degree on both fronts. They are not as thick as mattress toppers and add less comfort, but are normally much cheaper. Mattress pads often have a protective element as well, similar to mattress protectors. Mattress pads are more expensive than mattress protectors, so they are not recommended for sleepers who need protection but are happy with the comfort level of their mattress.

Pros and cons of mattress protectors

Purchasing a mattress protector is a wise choice, but there are some drawbacks that sleepers should be aware of.

Pros:

  • Protects your mattress and its warranty: A mattress protector will safeguard your mattress against moisture, intruding insects, and allergens.
  • Affordable: Mattress protectors are much cheaper than mattress pads and toppers. Many effective protectors are priced at around $20.
  • Easily washable: Most protectors are easy to clean. They can be simply slipped off and placed in the washing machine (wash and dry on low heat).
  • Lightweight: unlike some pads and toppers, mattress protectors are lightweight and easy to put on a mattress and remove.

Cons:

  • Sleeps hot: Some have reported that their mattress protector has caused some heat retention. Look for a breathable protector to avoid this.
  • Loud: Certain protectors have been said to produce a crunchy, plastic sound when sleepers move around on them due to the waterproofing material.
  • Can bunch: Mattress protectors, especially fitted ones, can sometimes shift and bunch up under the sheets, causing discomfort and minimizing protection.
  • Doesn’t add comfort: A mattress protector will not add any additional comfort to your mattress. Its sole purpose is to protect.

The best mattress protectors

To arrive at this list of the best mattress protectors, we’ve consulted pages of consumer data, customer reviews, and manufacturer specs. We’ve combined all of this with our own first-hand knowledge and professional opinion to bring you the most accurate recommendations possible.

Protect-A-Bed AllerZip Smooth Mattress Encasement

The Protect-A-Bed AllerZip Smooth Mattress Encasement is a zippered offering from Protect-A-Bed that provides 100% protection against moisture and mattress intruders. This mattress topper fits both mattresses and box springs and comes in multiple sizes.

Highlights:

  • 100% intrusion-proof: The AllerZip mattress protector is guarded by a unique 3-sided zipper which firmly secures any mattress from dust mites and bed bugs. Its protective capabilities have been certified by Bug Lock and the FDA.
  • Waterproof: The AllerZip Smooth is completely water- and liquid-proof.
  • Breathable: The AllerZip mattress protector is made from a waterproof yet breathable polyurethane fabric. This allows for all the waterproofing benefits without any heat retention.
  • Quiet: The AllerZip Smooth is very soft and doesn’t “crinkle” under the sheets like other mattress protectors.
  • Warranty: The AllerZip guarantees uninterrupted protection for 10 years under its warranty.

The AllerZip Smooth mattress cover is more expensive than other mattress covers, but it provides optimal protection and guaranteed durability. This mattress protector is recommended for sleepers who need a high degree of protection or for those who have recently purchased a mattress that they would like to last longer than a decade.

To purchase your AllerZip Smooth mattress protector, visit Amazon.

Luna Hypoallergenic Waterproof Mattress Protector

The Luna Hypoallergenic Waterproof Mattress Protector is a fitted-style protector that guards against moisture and allergens like dust mites. It features dual-layer protection to combine hypoallergenic cotton with a liquid-proof membrane.

Highlights:

  • Waterproof: The Luna mattress protector is 100% waterproof and protects against spills and moisture of all kinds.
  • Hypoallergenic: The Luna protector features a layer of hypoallergenic cotton terry cloth that is resistant to allergens and dust mites.
  • Silent: The Luna protector’s waterproof layer is vinyl free and guaranteed to make no noise.
  • Breathable: The Luna mattress protector features Luna Airflow Technology, which allows air to pass while blocking liquids. This prevents the Luna from sleeping hot.
  • Warranty: The Luna Hypoallergenic Waterproof protector comes with a 15-year warranty.

The Luna mattress protector is an ideal choice for a sleeper who suffers from allergies but doesn’t need the complete, yet more costly, protection of a zippered option. The Luna mattress protector is easy to use, simple to wash, and comes in six sizes.

Buy the Luna Hypoallergenic Waterproof Mattress Protector now from Amazon.

The Purple Mattress Protector

As far as fitted options go, the Purple Mattress Protector is one of the top mattress protectors. It’s made of three different materials (polyester, spandex, and polyurethane) to provide optimal waterproofing, and its five-sided design locks insects out.

Highlights:

  • Waterproof: The Purple mattress protector’s polyurethane layer guards against moisture and spills of all kinds.
  • Soft: The Purple is stretchy and flexible, not hard and crunchy like some other protectors. This ensures that it will go unnoticed and not decrease the comfort of a mattress.
  • Quiet: Soft polyester and polyurethane combine to keep the Purple from making noise even during tossing and turning.
  • Stain-resistant: The Purple is impervious to stains, making it long-lasting and easy to wash.
  • Cool: Breathable materials make the Purple as cool as a normal bed sheet.

The Purple Mattress Protector is a good choice for those who want the best waterproofing technology. This mattress protector is fitted and doesn’t provide full coverage, but it is available at a lower price than protectors that do. The Purple is also made with spandex, which provides it with stretch and versatility. This makes it a good choice for sleepers who are thinking of buying a new mattress in the next few years and want to use the same protector. The Purple Mattress Protector comes in six sizes.

The Purple Mattress Protector is on sale now at Amazon.

Malouf Sleep Tite FIVE-5IDED Mattress Protector

The Malouf Sleep Tite FIVE-5IDED Mattress Protector claims to be the most advanced mattress protector on the market. This fitted protector is made from eco-friendly and moisture wicking Tencel as well as Omniphase fabric, which helps to regulate mattress temperature.

Highlights:

  • Above-average coverage: The Sleep Tite’s five-sided design covers the top and sides of a mattress–and even a large area under the mattress–to provide above-average protection from dust mites and other intruders.
  • Liquid-proof: The Sleep Tite features a special H2Pro membrane that furnishes 100% waterproof protection.
  • Thin and quiet: The Sleep Tite mattress protector is ultra-thin and unnoticeable under the sheets.
  • Temperature controlled: Advanced Omniphase material renders the Sleep Tite highly breathable and cool.
  • Warranty: The Sleep Tite comes with a 15-year warranty.

The Malouf Sleep Tite FIVE-5IDED Mattress Protector is a highly effective and more luxurious mattress protector, and it comes at an appropriate price. This mattress protector is ideal for sleepers who want to spend a bit more for advanced quality and durability. It is available in ten sizes.

Find out more and buy the Malouf Sleep Tite FIVE-5IDED Mattress Protector from Amazon.