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What Does a Mattress Protector Do?

With sleep experts recommending the average adult get 7-9 hours of sleep each night, people spend a good amount of time resting and getting rejuvenated in bed. A mattress is meant to provide a comfortable mattress surface for you to rest your head after a long day.

But accidents happen. Whether you enjoy a hot cup of coffee in bed, have young children sharing the bed, or share a bed with pets, it is important to protect your mattress. No matter how neat and tidy a person you are, it is beneficial to have an extra layer of protection to keep your mattress clean.

What is a Mattress Protector?

A mattress protector is a thin layer of materials designed to cover a mattress, similar to that of a fitted sheet, depending on the type of mattress protector. Mattress protectors come in a variety of sizes, and are offered with many different comfort features that can increase the final price of the product. Some features for enhancement may include an extra padding layer of comfort, temperature regulation, and breathable materials.

Most mattress protectors provide a waterproof barrier between most sleepers and the surface of a mattress, and are designed to protect mattresses from accidents, liquid stains, bed bugs, dust mites, and other allergens that can damage or alter the quality of a mattress.

A mattress protector is not only the first line of defense against allergens, but it is an affordable option for improving one’s sleep quality, and elongating the life of your new bed. As a barrier of protection, mattress covers prevent stains and protect the top layer of your bed from spills, dead skin cells, and other liquid fluids that may cause mold and mildew to grow.

Mattress Pads and Mattress Toppers vs Mattress Protector

Many people confuse, and often use the terms interchangeably, mattress pads and mattress protectors, and while both can help to protect your mattress, there are key differences.

Mattress pads offer a thick layer of added comfort, designed to alter the feel of your current mattress. A mattress pad sits directly on top of your mattress, beneath the fitted sheets, but does not generally cover all sides of a mattress. While mattress pads provide some protection against spills and general wear and tear, not all mattress pads provide mattress protection.

Similar to a mattress pad, mattress toppers can noticeably change the way your mattress feels. Mattress toppers are known for providing exemplary pressure relief, even when used with an old, worn-out, or sagging mattress. The best mattress toppers can help you sleep better; however, a mattress topper cannot change the firmness level of your existing mattress.

If needed, a mattress topper can be used alone in place of a mattress for those who cannot afford to or do not care to purchase a new mattress. Mattress toppers can help you to feel comfortable, but are only a temporary fix for things like mattress sagging, or natural wear and tear.

A mattress protector is best for those seeking more protection than mattress-altering changes.

Types of Mattress Protectors

If you are unhappy with your current mattress, or need a new mattress but cannot afford one, a mattress pad or mattress topper are great options to help make your mattress more comfortable, without breaking the bank. However, when shopping for a brand-new mattress, you will want to invest in a waterproof mattress protector to help your recent purchase last longer. There are a few different types of mattress protectors, and it is important to understand the difference before leaping.

Encasement Mattress Protector

A full encasement mattress protector is just as it sounds — a mattress protector that fully surrounds (encases) a mattress, providing a protective barrier to all sides of the mattress that is closed with a zipper seal. Encasement mattress protectors provide the most protection against stains, dust mites, and other allergens that may try to penetrate a mattress.

Elastic Strap Mattress Protector

A mattress protector made with elastic straps is the most cost-effective protector for most sleepers. These mattress protectors, while affordable, provide the least amount of protection among all protectors available. These mattress protectors are secured at all four corners of a mattress with elastic straps only to cover one side (the top layer) of a bed.

Fitted Mattress Protector

A fitted mattress cover provides a moderate amount of protection, and is secured with built-in straps of elastic material. A fitted mattress protector is similar in appearance to a fitted sheet, is easy to remove for routine cleaning, and is machine-washable, making it very popular among mattress covers. Though a fitted mattress cover is easily washable, it is often only water-resistant on top.

Not all mattress covers are made the same. They are made using a variety of materials, each with unique qualities, like temperature regulation for hot sleepers, organic materials including wool and cotton that help reduce noise, and waterproof materials for the strongest protection against liquids and bodily fluids.

Benefits of Mattress Protectors

Shopping for a new mattress can be daunting, and a mattress investment is a huge undertaking that can be expensive. The best mattress protectors are those that cover the entire mattress surface.

Unlike mattress pads that are designed to alter the feel of an older mattress when you need a new mattress, mattress protectors have many benefits beyond protecting against liquids and other fluids. Even a tidy person can reap the benefits of mattress protectors.

Mattress Protectors Prevent and Reduce Stains

Accidents happen, especially in a household with small children that are potty-trained, and it can be nearly impossible to protect your mattress amid a liquid spill. Preventing stains is one of the most common reasons that sleepers add a new mattress protector.

For obvious reasons, liquid spills should be immediately cleaned and dried to avoid the production of mold and mildew, but it can be difficult to dry the deepest layers of mattresses. No matter how comfortable your mattress feels, you should add a mattress protector with water-resistance properties.

Mattress Protectors can Lessen Allergies

If you, your spouse, children, or other family members suffer from allergies, it may be time to find a mattress protector that can help. A mattress cover can protect you while sleeping by providing a barrier between your mattress and common household allergens like dust mites, bed bugs, pet dander, and more. Although allergens will collect on a mattress protector, the topper is easily removable, and often machine-washable, to keep you healthy while sleeping longer.

Mattress Protectors can Off Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are a huge problem in the United States and other countries. No matter how neat and tidy your home is, these pesky little bugs can burrow into your luggage, and return home with you after traveling and staying at a hotel, airBnB, or a resort. Bed bugs are difficult to see to the naked eye, but are even more difficult to get rid of once they have made a home in your bedding.

For many, the only way to rid their home of bed bugs is to throw out their mattress, and purchase a new mattress after professionally cleaning and fumigating the entire home. To avoid having to fork out money on an expensive new mattress, cover your mattress with a mattress protector to provide a barrier that is difficult for bed bugs to penetrate.

Mattress Protectors Protect from Dust

Dust particles accumulate throughout your home, and in even the smallest cracks and crevices that you might not be able to see or reach. Even with constant dusting and thorough cleaning, it can be hard to get dust out once it has settled into your mattress.

A mattress that is covered in dust particles can cause a person’s allergies to flare up, and increase allergy symptoms like cough, congestion, wheezing, sore throat, or a runny nose. A mattress protector can keep dust at bay while you are sleeping, and is easily washable to maintain a clean surface.

Mattress Protectors Extend Mattress Warranties

Most premium mattress companies offer extended warranty coverage on their mattresses, often 10 years or more. Several warranties are limited to what is covered, and do not protect against the production of mold or mildew, mattress discoloration, smells, or wear and tear. A mattress protector will cover the entire top layer of your mattress to protect your mattress from general wear and tear, and help your warranty remain valid as long as possible.

Mattress Protectors Add Comfort to Your Mattress

Mattress pads are known for adding a significant amount of comfort to change the way an old mattress feels, but for those looking for more protection, a mattress protector is best. A mattress protector will add a small amount of comfort while sleeping, but is not the right choice when searching for more comfort than protection.

Mattress Protectors can Help to Reduce Liquid Infiltration Due to Bedwetting

With small kids and the elderly, accidents are common while sleeping. Without a mattress protector, urine can soak into deep layers of mattresses, and can be difficult to clean fully. By adding a mattress protector, you can reduce the risk of mold or mildew growth by reducing liquid infiltration.

Do Mattress Protectors Work?

A basic mattress protector can cost as little as $30, but these protectors may not provide full coverage protection, and have very minimal comfort features. For a mattress cover made of high-quality materials, the price may be significantly more expensive, but the investment can be worth it.

Additional features may include things like temperature regulation, a soft layer similar to a foam topper for more comfort, noise-canceling material, and much more.

That said, what makes a good mattress protector stand out from the competition?

They are Waterproof

Moisture-wicking, waterproof, and water-resistant properties are non-negotiable characteristics to be included in the construction process of a mattress cover. Many bodily fluids can penetrate a mattress, one being sweat. Sweat from the human body can break down mattress materials when it infiltrates the inner parts of a mattress, because it is filled with fat from uric acid and excess salt. A waterproof mattress protector provides a solid barrier of protection between you and your mattress.

They are Hypoallergenic

Finding a truly hypoallergenic mattress topper can be difficult, and it is important to read all ingredients that are listed on the label of a mattress protector to see if it will cause a flare-up of allergy symptoms. A hypoallergenic mattress should be a fully encased protector that covers the entire mattress, and one that is made with tightly woven materials that cannot be penetrated easily by allergens, like bed bugs or dust mites.

They are Quiet

While you are sleeping or spending time in bed, you do not want to be laying on materials that will crinkle beneath you, and make excessive noise. Noisy materials, like plastic or other materials, while providing the most protection against liquids and other fluids, can disrupt sleep due to increased noise from your mattress cover. Not only are plastic and vinyl materials noisy, but they also lack breathability, making it difficult to maintain cool temperatures throughout the night.

They are Made of Breathable Material

Whether you are shopping for new bedding, a mattress, or a mattress protector, breathable material is a must! Polyurethane materials are often flexible and thin to allow adequate airflow throughout the product. Not only does this help your mattress protector stay silent as you change positions while sleeping, but polyurethane material can also keep you cool all night, as it allows optimal airflow for temperature regulation.

How Often Should a Mattress Protector be Washed?

A mattress protector, when laundered appropriately, and in accordance with manufacturer recommendations, can last upwards of 10 years — if not longer. A protector should be laundered at least twice a month, often at the same time you wash your bedding, including sheets and/or comforter. To avoid a breakdown in mattress protector materials, you do not want to apply high heat to the product.

How can Latex For Less Help You Get a Good Night’s Sleep?

At Latex For Less, we have curated America’s most affordable organic sleep available on the market. For decades, only the most serious sleep experts knew that latex was the most recommended material to sleep on; however, we have let the secret out!

Our mission from the beginning was to provide healthy, affordable sleep products for all, and we have done just that. We partner directly with farmers that use sustainable farming and harvesting techniques to ensure that the quality of materials is not compromised.

After more than a decade of research, we found several flaws in the construction and manufacturing processes of mattresses that other companies have missed - or ignored. Unlike other companies, we handcraft all of our products in-house to avoid any potential compromise in the purity or quality of a product.

Many mattress manufacturers offer a variety of firmness levels, but it can be difficult to know which firmness level is right for you without trying them all. For pressure relief, a Medium or Firm mattress is the most recommended. At Latex For Less, we considered that when constructing our two-sided, flippable mattress. One side is a Medium firmness level, while the other side is Firm, so you can choose the amount of support that is best for you.

Though we offer more than one firmness level, our prices are among the most affordable for those in the market for a natural latex mattress made with organic wool and organic cotton. Our mattresses are offered in all standard sizes, including Twin XL, California King, Split Queen, and Split California King. Whether you are shopping for yourself or a loved one, we have the perfect mattress for you.

Elizabeth Magill

Elizabeth Magill is a professional freelance writer and editor who holds an MBA. Liz specializes in writing about health news, medical conditions, healthy living, small business, career and work, personal finance, and green-living, including news and trending topics in these specialties. Her clients include Healthline, The Motley Fool, GoBanking Rates,, Big Interview, HealthNews, Intuit Small Business Blog, Intuit Health, American News Report,, IFX Medical, and many others. She’s also a published eBook author and ghost writer for various clients in the health, medical, career, small business, and personal finance niches.