Buying Guide – How to Shop for Waterproof Mattress Pads and Protectors
Whether you’re currently in the marker for a waterproof mattress protector, or interested in learning why one may be a good investment, this guide will give an overview of the benefits and provide the information you need to help identify the best purchase option for your home.
Why Buy a Waterproof Mattress Pad or Protector?
Your mattress is a serious investment, and a mattress pad or protector can provide some insurance for your purchase. If you take a close look at your mattress warranty, odds are it doesn’t cover damage caused by moisture or spills. As a result, a pad or protector can be a cost-effective way to protect your mattress.
This added protection can help extend the life of your mattress by lowering the risk of mold and mildew buildup caused by moisture getting into the mattress. Of course, it’s great for keeping those unwanted stains out of your mattress as well. And for people who may have issues with incontinence or children who occasionally wet the bed, a mattress protector can help there, too.
Additionally, using a waterproof pad or protector reduces the build-up of allergens and other particles in your mattress. Keep an eye out for a hypoallergenic pads if this is an important feature for you.
And finally, a waterproof pad or protector makes cleanup so much simpler. When an accident occurs, just remove the protector and any bedding and throw them in the wash.
Key Considerations for Waterproof Pad/Protector Shoppers
As you compare and contrast your options, it can be useful to know about some of the factors that allow you to differentiate between the various mattress pads and protectors on the market.
There are four general styles of waterproof mattress pads and protectors available.
- Fitted sheet: These go over the top and sides of the mattress and use a fitted corner to help secure the protector in place. This works the same way as a standard fitted sheet with the main difference being that a waterproof protector has a specialized backing to protect the bed.
- Six-sided protector: This encases all six sides of the mattress and is normally sealed with a zipper. This is the most complete form of protection for the mattress and may be referred to as a mattress encasement. These tend to be especially useful for people who have concerns about bed bugs or allergens.
- Fitted pad: This is similar to the fitted sheet except that there is a thicker material on top that generally provides a softer feel than the simple fitted-sheet style protector.
- Pad: Pads are designed to offer protection to a specific area on the bed and are often placed above the bedsheet. Unlike other options, you aren’t able to secure pads in place.
Fabrics used in waterproof pads and protectors can be classified in two categories: The top cover and the waterproof backing. Materials that are often used in the top cover include:
- Cotton: This material is generally soft and smooth and for that reason employed in a huge variety of textiles like clothes and bedding. But cotton is also absorbent, so it needs a strong waterproof backing to work well in a protector or pad.
- Polyester: This synthetic material can be produced to have different feels, but the most common have some softness (though less than cotton) but with more breathability and less absorption.
- Rayon: Rayon is a semi-synthetic material (made from natural materials but using various chemicals) that often has a smooth, cooling, and breathable feel.
- Lyocell: This is a wood-pulp based textile often marketed as Tencel. It tends to have a soft feel; and though not fully waterproof, does hold up better against liquids.
- Blends: It’s not uncommon to find blends of the materials listed above. Manufacturers may compose these blends to provide a specific feel or performance of the fabric.
Pads and protectors use an adhesive to apply a waterproof backing to the topmost fabric. Some of the waterproofing materials that may be used include:
- Vinyl: Vinyl maintains a powerful waterproof seal and is highly effective as a backing in pads and protectors. However, many vinyl products contain phthalates, which raise some health concerns, especially for pregnant women and children. However, some vinyl products are sold as phthalate-free.
- Polyurethane: This is a plastic polymer material often used for waterproofing. It can be laminated or thermally bonded to a fabric to hold it in place. Thermally-bonded polyurethane may also be referred to as TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane).
Cleaning and Care
It’s important to know about the cleaning process for any mattress pad or protector. Most can be washed and dried in the washing machine, but it’s important to use low temperatures. This is because high temperatures can degrade the adhesives that are necessary to maintain the waterproof backing. You can also hand wash and line dry the pads and protectors. W
hen necessary, such as in the case of spills, you can easily spot clean most pads and protectors with a mild soap.
The more you wash a pad or protector, the faster it will start to break down. That said, you still want to try to have a somewhat regular schedule for washing it. You don’t want or need to wash it as often as your normal sheets, but it can be good to clean it so that there is no buildup of dust or odor.
In addition, always remember to check the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning because there can be some variation from product to product. Following these instructions carefully can help extend the life of your purchase.
Mattress pads and protectors eventually wear out as the top layer and/or the waterproof backing gives out. This usually happens from washing, which causes slow degradation of these materials. Depending on how frequently you wash your pad or protector, you can expect it to last anywhere from several months to years.
Expected lifespan can also depend on the materials and their quality since poorly produced adhesives will be more inclined to wear away rapidly. If you notice the material wearing thin or failing to protect against spills, it’s time to consider replacing your pad or protector.
Other Important Factors
Now that you know the key components of a waterproof pad or protector, it’s time to review some of other considerations when looking to purchase this product.
- Noise: Some materials used for these products can make noise when you move on top of them. This tends to be more of an issue with pads that have a more plastic-like feel. Materials like cotton and blended synthetics tend to be quieter.
- Breathability: For people who are worried about sleeping hot, look for materials that can promote breathability, such as rayon or synthetic blends. These can help avoid heat retention in a mattress pad. Some pads may also have specific materials intended to promote cooling.
- Comfort: The amount of thickness of the top of the pad or protector can affect how your bed will feel. If it’s a thin protector, it probably won’t affect comfort as it fits underneath your sheets. But a pad with a thicker top may be able to protect your mattress and add softness and comfort at the same time.
- Bed bug protection: If you are wanting a shield to protect your mattress from bed bugs, look for an encasement that protects all 6 sides of the mattress with a zippered closure.
- Allergens: While most pads and protectors reduce allergen buildup, if you are highly sensitive to allergens, a full encasement is usually the most powerful product available to you.
- Return policy: Some pads or protectors come with an in-home sleep trial, but many do not offer any kinds of returns. Check with the seller before making your purchase to find out what your rights are for making a return.
- Warranty: Some protectors are sold with a warranty ranging from 1 to 10 years. Some warranties have so many exclusions as to make them of limited use, but it’s worth reading the fine print to see what is and is not covered.
For more information about mattress pads/protectors and other bedding accessories, please visit the Tuck.com guides listed below.