Best Mattress Pads and Protectors – Top Picks and Buyer’s Guide
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Tuck’s mattress and bedding recommendations are based on more than 300,000 verified customer experiences and our team’s exhaustive testing procedure. We never recommend a sleep product we haven’t personally experienced and tested in our lab. You can rest assured, when you’re ready to buy, the product you pick meets Tuck’s lofty standards.
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A mattress pad is a thin layer of material that is placed on top of a mattress to help protect the surface against dust, stains, and other types of contamination. Pads may also provide slight firmness adjustments. Mattress protectors, on the other hand, are solely used to keep mattress surfaces clean and contaminant-free. They are usually waterproof. Both products typically measure 1″ thick or less. These factors differentiate pads and protectors from mattress toppers, which tend to be thicker and are solely designed to adjust the firmness of the mattress with little to no protective qualities.
Most pads and protectors are made from polyester and/or cotton; some pads may also be made using down. They usually have elasticated edges that allow owners to secure the corners and stretch the pad/protector over the entire surface of the mattress. Pocket depth – which indicates the maximum mattress height the pad or protector can be used with – is an important consideration for shoppers. Size is another important factor; most pads and protectors are available in the six standard mattress sizes (Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, and California King), but the sizing options may be more limited for some models.
Read on to learn more about mattress pads and protectors, including material composition, expected prices, and performance ratings. Below you’ll find our picks for the best mattress pads and protectors sold today. Our choices are based on verified customer and owner reviews, as well as intensive product research and analysis.
Our Editor’s Pick for mattress pads is the Organic Mattress Pad from Saatva. This product is made of certified organic cotton, a breathable material that helps sleepers stay cool throughout the night and wicks away sweat from their bodies. The pad features a diamond-quilted surface and elasticated corners that allow it to be used on mattresses up to 16″ thick. The Organic Mattress Pad can be washed and dried in a machine, as well.
Saatva offers free shipping for the Organic Mattress Pad, and the product is backed by a 45-day trial and return policy; Saatva requests that customers wash their pad before returning it. The Organic Mattress Pad has an above-average price-point, making it a good pick for shoppers with bigger budgets.
Mattress pads with natural materials tend to provide better temperature neutrality than those made from synthetic fabrics, though the price-point for natural pads tends to be significantly higher. Our pick for the Best Natural Mattress Pad is the Wool Mattress Pad from OrganicTextiles, which is constructed with natural Australian wool encased in an organic-cotton cover. These materials are highly breathable, and will keep the mattress temperature cool and comfortable; they also help wick away moisture from the sleeper’s body. The wool provides extra cushioning, as well, which can make excessively firm mattresses feel softer.
The Wool Mattress Pad is available in all six standard mattress sizes; it has a pocket depth of about 17″. OrganicTextiles backs this product with a 30-night sleep trial. Free shipping is available too.
Mattress pads can be somewhat expensive, with select models costing more than $200. The Fitted, Quilted Mattress Pad from Utopia Bedding – our Best Value pick – is a notable exception. This diamond-quilted pad is widely available for less than $30 in all six sizes, and is also sold in packs of 10 that cost less than $170. The pad is filled with polyester fibers and encased in a microfiber cover, making it hypoallergenic and resistant to dust and other contaminants. Its edges are fully elastic, as well, making it easy to secure to any mattress that measures 16″ thick or less.
The Fitted, Quilted Mattress Pad is currently the top-selling product in the ‘Mattress Pads’ category on Amazon.com. It is backed by a 30-night trial.
Our Editor’s Pick in the mattress protector category is the Nest Bedding Cooling Mattress Protector, which is a standout for several reasons. One advantage – as the name implies – is temperature neutrality; the quilted protector is made from breathable polyester fabric that keeps the mattress feeling cool and comfortable for most. The Cooling Mattress Protector is also waterproof, allowing it to provide complete protection against stains as well as dust, and other contaminants. It can be machine-washed and dried on cool or no-heat settings.
Nest Bedding offers free shipping, as well as a 100-night sleep trial and a two-year warranty for the Cooling Mattress Protector. Its price-point is somewhat high, making it a good option for those with bigger shopping budgets.
The Brooklyn Bedding Mattress Encasement is unique, in that it is designed to encase the entire mattress (rather than fitting over the top surface). This allows owners to protect the bottom of their bed from stains and liquid damage, as well as dust and other contaminants. The zip closure is snug to prevent too much space from building up between the mattress and the protector. The encasement is made of waterproof polyester that can be washed and dried in a machine without risk of shrinkage.
Brooklyn Bedding backs the Mattress Encasement with a 120-night sleep trial, which is much longer than the average trial period for pads and protectors. The company also offers free shipping for customers in the contiguous U.S.
Eight sizing options, including Split King/Cali King
Our eco-friendly mattress protector pick is the Organic Cotton Mattress Protector from PlushBeds, which is made entirely of certified organic cotton jersey. This soft, breathable material provides complete stain and contaminant protection without retaining body heat from sleepers and feeling excessively warm (a common complaint about protectors made from synthetic fibers). The PlushBeds Organic Cotton Mattress Protector is also laminated on the bottom side with a thin layer of polyurethane for added absorption. In addition to the six standard mattress sizes, this protector is available for Split King and Split California King mattresses. It can be washed and dried in a machine.
PlushBeds ships the Organic Cotton Mattress Protector in eco-friendly packaging made from hemp and corn film. The protector is backed by a five-year warranty; comparatively, most other protectors do not come with any sort of warranty coverage.
The average mattress protector costs between $50 and $60. Our Best Value Protector, the SafeRest Premium Mattress Protector, is widely available for less than $35 in all six standard mattress sizes. However, it offers the same levels of stain and contaminant protection as many of its more expensive competitors. The Premium Mattress Protector is made of soft, breathable cotton terry and has a PVC-free vinyl liner for added absorption. It is also exceptionally thin and will not affect how the mattress feels. Its pocket depth of 18″ is also deeper than average.
SafeRest backs this protector with a 10-year warranty, which is much longer than average. It is also registered with the FDA as a Class 1 Medical Device, making it a great option for medical and home-based care settings.
Mattress pads and protectors are highly useful when it comes to preserving a mattress and protecting sleep surfaces from contaminants, stains, and physical damage. Although the terms ‘mattress pad’ and ‘mattress protector’ are often (and erroneously) used interchangeably, these two products perform slightly different bedding functions. This page will discuss the similarities and differences between mattress pads and protectors, offer some buying tips, and share our top picks as voted by pad and protector owners.
What Are Mattress Pads and Protectors?
A mattress pad acts as a barrier between the sleeper and his/her mattress cover. Many are quilted to provide an additional layer of cushioning to the sleep surface, but their primary purpose is to shield the bed from dust mites and other allergens, as well as bacteria. Some pads are also hypoallergenic. Most pads measure no more than one inch thick, and fit over the edges of the mattress much like a fitted sheet — although some rest freely on the top mattress surface.
Mattress protectors, like pads, keep contaminants like dust mites, allergens, and bacteria off the sleep surface. Additionally, most protectors are waterproof in order to shield mattresses from sweat, urine, and other stains. Many protectors are hypoallergenic, as well. Although some pads may be waterproof, for the purposes of this page: ‘mattress pad’ refers to non-waterproof layers, while ‘mattress protector’ refers to waterproof layers. Protectors are rarely quilted, and most will not alter the feel of a mattress to any noticeable extent. Protectors usually measure no more than one inch thick.
It’s important to note that the term ‘mattress topper’ is also used interchangeably with ‘pads’ and ‘protectors’; this is also inaccurate. Toppers are specifically designed to provide extra cushioning to mattresses, and most provide little to no protection against contaminants or stains. Most toppers are one to three inches thick, and some weigh as much as 30 to 40 pounds.
The table below illustrates the key differences and similarities between mattress pads, protectors, and toppers.
To act as a mattress barrier and protect the bed from contaminants, as well as minor comfort adjustment
To protect the mattress from both contaminants and liquid spills
To provide an additional cushioning layer that makes the mattress feel more or less firm
What Are the Pros and Cons of Mattress Pads and Protectors?
Some notable benefits of using a mattress pad include the following:
Pads protect against dust mites and other allergens, bacteria, and other contaminants that may infiltrate the sleep surface and affect sleeper health.
Thicker pads can be used for moderate comfort adjustment.
When used with a topper, fitted pads can help keep the cushioning layers in place and prevent uncomfortable bunching.
Drawbacks of mattress pads include the following:
Mattress pads do not normally protect against liquid spills and stains; waterproof pads are somewhat rare.
Mattress pads tend to deteriorate quickly, often due to machine washing and drying.
Thin mattress pads do not improve softness or comfort to any noticeable extent.
Next, let’s look at some benefits of using a mattress protector:
In addition to acting as a contaminant barrier, most protectors are waterproof and will shield beds from bodily fluids like urine and perspiration, as well as drinks and other liquid spills.
Many protectors are hypoallergenic, and will not trigger any allergies from sleepers.
Fitted protectors can help keep toppers in place and prevent bunching up, which negatively affects the feel and comfort level of the sleep surface.
Some drawbacks of using a mattress protector include the following:
Most mattress protectors will not improve the feel or comfort level of a mattress surface to any noticeable extent.
Waterproof mattress protectors can sometimes cause a slight noise when moving around a mattress due to their composition – think crinkling plastic wrap.
Because they are frequently washed and dried in machines, mattress protectors tend to degrade rather quickly.
Some sleepers claim that using a mattress protector will cause the mattress to sleep warm or hot.
Frequently Asked Questions about Mattress Pads and Protectors
This next FAQ section will look at some common questions and concerns about pads and protectors
How to pads and protectors attach to the mattress? Most pads and protectors can be attached to a mattress in one of two ways. Most models have elastic corners, and will stretch around the edges of the bed much like a fitted sheet. Some pads and protectors have an anchored design the item is attached to the corners of the bed using elastic bands. Select pads and protectors do not have elastic corners at all, and are simply draped over the top surface of the bed.
Will a pad or protector make the mattress feel softer? In most cases, a pad and protector will provide little to no feel and comfort adjustment. Thicker, quilted pads may be an exception to this rule.
Are pads and protectors suitable for children’s bedding? Pads and protectors can be great bedding accessories for kids’ bedding. They protect against dirt, grit, and other contaminants that little ones may track in. Waterproof protectors can also be highly beneficial for children that wet the bed.
How should pads and protectors be cleaned? Most pads and protectors can be machine washed. Although this can cause them to deteriorate quickly, machine washing and tumble drying is usually the only way to effectively clean and sterilize the product. It’s also important to note that care instructions are often stipulated in the warranty of a pad or protector (see below).
Will a pad or protector make the mattress sleep hot? Most pads do not sleep hot or warm. Protectors, on the other hand, have a tendency to sleep somewhat warm; cotton protectors may sleep cooler, since cotton is a more breathable fiber than polyester or rayon.
How can customers make sure their pad or protector will fit? The pad or protector size should always match the mattress size. For mattresses that are more than 12 inches thick, be sure to check the pocket depth of the pad or protector; some — but not all — provide extra coverage for mattresses with above-average thickness.
How much should someone pay for a new pad or protector? The average price-point for a standard mattress pad is $60 to $100, while the average protector is priced slightly higher at $50 to $60. Some pads and protectors are made from luxury materials (such as organic cotton), and may have much higher price-points.
Do pads and protectors come with warranty coverage? Some do. Warranty coverage for pads and protectors typically lasts no more than 10 to 15 years. It’s important to note that many manufacturers require owners to wash their pad or protector whenever it is soiled; otherwise their warranty may be voided. Additionally, most manufacturers will not warrant against certain types of damage, such as permanent stains from cosmetics, food, or bleach.
Buying Considerations for Mattress Pads and Protectors
Next let’s look at some important factors to consider when shopping for a new mattress pad or protector, or when comparing both products to decide which one will work best.
Size: Pads and protectors are typically sold in sizes that correspond to standard mattress sizes, including Twin, Full, Queen, and King. However, certain brands may not be available for other, more specialized sizes, such as Twin XL or California King. Pads and protectors that don’t properly fit can be a major nuisance, so measuring a mattress before buying one is highly recommended.
Pocket Depth: Pocket depth is often associated with fitted sheets, but it also applies to pads and protectors with fitted edges. Pocket depth refers to how far the fitted edges of a pad or protector will stretch over the sides of a mattress. This measurement is particularly useful for mattresses that are thicker than 14 inches, which are often too thick for standard fitted sheets. Pads and protectors generally have a pocket depth of 14 to 18 inches, but this varies by brand.
Liquid Protection: In some cases, a waterproof protector will be the best choice. These include bedding for young children who may wet the bed, as well as adults who are incontinent or tend to sweat in their sleep. Select pads are waterproof, but protectors typically offer a better waterproof barrier against bodily fluids and liquid spills.
Comfort Adjustment: Most pads and protectors are no more than one inch thick, and will not greatly affect the comfort level of a mattress. Thicker, quilted pads may provide some cushioning — but for those seeking a major adjustment, a mattress topper is recommended instead.
Weight: Most pads and protectors are lightweight, and weigh no more than four pounds, making them easy to move and adjust for most adults. This puts them at an advantage over certain types of toppers, such as latex and memory foam models, which can weigh more than five times as much.
Price: Because pads and protectors tend to be low-priced, cost is not a major concern for most shoppers. However, some models may be priced at $200 or higher.
Warranty: A select number of pad and protector manufacturers offer warranty coverage for their products, while most do not. Warranty coverage may last anywhere from three to 15 years. However, given the low price of replacing pads and toppers, warranty coverage is not a major selling point for most shoppers.