Key Takeaways

A mattress protector is an optional mattress accessory. However, many sleepers benefit from using one. Not only does a mattress protector prevent dirt and moisture from staining and degrading your mattress, it can also keep potential allergens in your mattress at bay. Additionally, a mattress protector can also help extend the lifespan of your mattress.

For sleepers looking to prolong their mattress’ lifespan or simply keep their sleep surface clean, purchasing a mattress protector might be a good option.

Like mattress pads, a mattress protector covers your mattress. However, a mattress pad adjusts the comfort level, while a mattress protector protects a mattress from allergen and bacteria buildup. Mattress protectors can also protect your mattress from stains that may otherwise void your mattress’ warranty. 

We’ll discuss how a mattress protector works as well as the various ways it can help protect and extend the lifespan of your mattress. 

Mattress Pad vs. Mattress Protector

A mattress pad is a comfortable, padded layer placed between a mattress and a fitted sheet to provide added cushioning to a bed. Mattress pads can be made of cotton, polyester, or down feathers for added plushness. 

While a mattress pad can help protect a mattress, it’s not as effective as a mattress protector. Mattress protectors are specifically designed to safeguard your mattress from spills, dirt, debris, allergens, and bacteria. They’re typically made from a waterproof material and are a great line of defense against common contaminants that can damage your mattress.

What Is a Mattress Protector? 

A mattress protector is a relatively thin layer of material that goes directly over a mattress, protecting it from liquid spills, dirt, and stains. Mattress protectors usually consist of a breathable top layer over a bottom coating of waterproof material like polyurethane. Mattress protectors have a similar design as fitted sheets, with deep pockets that fit over the mattress’ corners. They are also easily removable for washing. 

Can You Sleep on a Mattress Without a Protector? 

Mattress protectors are not necessary for a good night’s sleep. Due to their relative thinness, a mattress protector has little impact on a mattress’ comfort and feel, although some may provide temperature regulation. While they won’t affect your sleep quality, mattress protectors are a good idea if you want to protect your mattress and prolong its lifespan.

What Mattress Protectors Guard Against

Mattress protectors offer an array of benefits for both the mattress and the sleeper. We’ll cover some of the benefits of having a mattress protector below.

  • Prevents moisture buildup: Sweat, spills, and other debris can seep into your mattress and be difficult to clean. Moisture and other liquids can degrade your mattress, reducing its usable lifespan. A waterproof mattress protector can keep your mattress dry and clean.
  • Reduces allergens: Allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, and even mold can accumulate in a mattress. If you have allergy sensitivities, a mattress protector can be a great way of guarding yourself from potential irritants in your mattress.
  • Mitigates stains: Accidents and spills can easily seep through sheets and stain a mattress. Moisture from sweat can also lead to stains. A mattress protector can prevent moisture and liquids from reaching your mattress and guard it from unwanted stains.
  • Reduces dirt and debris buildup: Dirt and debris from pets, eating in bed, and dead skin cells can build up. A mattress protector can help keep your mattress clean by preventing debris from getting into your mattress.
  • Helps protect your mattress warranty: Many mattress warranties will be voided if your mattress is dirty or stained. Using a mattress protector can help prevent any unwanted accidents or stains from damaging your mattress.

Do Mattress Protectors Protect Against Bed Bugs?

Some mattress protectors are designed to offer protection against bed bugs. However, since mattress protectors do not completely encase a mattress, a mattress encasement, which completely wraps around a mattress, may be a better option.

Who’s a Good Match for a Mattress Protector?

Mattress protectors are a good option for those concerned with liquid, moisture, or debris coming into contact with their bed. Additionally, if you have allergies or sleep with pets, you may want to invest in a mattress protector. Sleepers who are looking to adjust their mattress’ comfort level might find a mattress topper or pad might better suit their needs. 

You’ll Want a Mattress Protector If…Keep Looking If…
  • You have allergy sensitivities
  • You want to protect your mattress from liquids, moisture, and debris
  • You want to extend your mattress’ lifespan
  • You primarily want to adjust your mattress’ comfort or firmness level
  • You want protection from bed bugs
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