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A quality mattress is a big investment, so doing what you can to protect it from damage should be just as important as the mattress itself. Unlike mattress toppers, mattress pads and protectors aren’t meant to change the feel of your mattress or give it extra support — although you can and should use both if you’re so inclined. Instead, mattress pads and protectors fortify your mattress so you can enjoy it longer, avoid staining, and keep things hygienic. If you have kids or pets, are a city dweller and move from place to place (this is Apartment Therapy, after all), or are sensitive to allergens, getting a mattress protector should be the first accessory you purchase along with your mattress.
Even if none of the above apply to you, may we kindly suggest: Just get a mattress protector. You spend hours and hours on your mattress every day and night, leaving behind sweat, dirt, dead skin, drool (yep), and more, all of which build up after years of use and lead to faster deterioration of your mattress. While you can’t just throw your mattress in the laundry, you can do that with a mattress pad, which will act as a barrier and absorb spills, sweat, and other stains instead of your mattress. Mattress pads also prevent dust mites, which love to feast on the dead skin we shed, from making a home out of your bed and causing undue allergies. Another very important reason to get a mattress protector: Liquids can break down the foams in mattresses, so stains will void your warranty. So, if for no other reason than to protect your investment, it’s a smart idea to get a mattress pad.
Ready to buy one for yourself? Check out our editor-approved picks for the best mattress pads and protectors out there.
Mattress pads are there to protect the mattress you so generously invested time and money into, so there are a few things you should keep in mind when shopping for one. The key is deciding how you want it to protect your mattress or, really, what your mattress pad can do for you — after all, you’ll be getting pretty cozy with it.
Waterproof: While many mattress covers are water resistant, you’ll want to specifically look for a waterproof mattress protector if you have younger kids or pets who sleep with you, or if you just like to enjoy a glass of wine in bed. Doing so will protect your mattress from stains and anything else you don’t want to be lying in every night — not to mention, a damp mattress can lead to mold and bacteria growth. If you want a totally waterproof mattress pad, look for options that are made without phthalates, PVC, vinyl, or other potentially harmful chemicals. We found three great options that aren’t treated with chemicals to make them waterproof.
Hypoallergenic: Mattress pads can prevent allergens like dirt, dander, and dust mites from settling into your mattress, and they can also keep you more comfortable if you have sensitive skin. There are also mattress protectors designed to keep bed bugs out — which could be enough information to force us all to look for a mattress pad of our own. For the most effective hypoallergenic mattress protectors, look at encasement style. Ones that fully zip all the way around the mattress (rather than cinching around the top like a fitted sheet) and have a tightly woven fabric work best at keeping dust mites and their waste from passing through. Another rule of thumb if you have bad allergies is to wash your mattress pad (and other bedding) once a week in hot water.
Temperature regulating: Whether you sleep hot or cold, a mattress pad can help you sleep more soundly. Hot sleepers should look for breathable materials like cotton, wool, or bamboo/eucalyptus lyocell, and avoid polyester, which tends to trap heat. Also keep in mind that mattress pads will keep your mattress fresh if you tend to sweat during the night.
There are two types of mattress pads: those that fit like fitted sheets and those that fully encase the mattress. The most common type is the fitted sheet-style mattress pad, so all of the picks on our list are that style. These are easier to find and clean, as you can simply pull them off the mattress, but they do leave the bottom of your mattress exposed. If you have severe allergies or are in need of ultimate protection from bed bugs and other pests, look into zippered protectors that fully cover your mattress.
There are a few material and textile certifications we mention that are worth looking out for when shopping for bedding of any kind, including mattress pads.
We tested a wide range of mattress pads for our list, judging them on the following criteria:
Rarely in life is there a ‘total package’ product that checks all the boxes, but the Sijo Eucalyptus Mattress Protector actually does just that. If you’re looking for comfort, utility, temperature regulation, sustainable materials, and an affordable price point all in one, look no further. Not only is it 100 percent waterproof, but it’s also made from eco-friendly Tencel lyocell, a fabric made from responsibly farmed bamboo and other wood sources. Don’t let the thought of sleeping on bamboo or wood scare you: These natural fibers actually create a super soft fabric that is naturally cooling, antimicrobial, and hypoallergenic. And unlike many other waterproof mattress pads that crinkle and have a plastic-y feel, Sijo’s Tencel fabric makes zero noise as you move around in bed. AT contributor Stella was impressed by how undetectable the Sijo mattress protector was when she tried it: “You can’t even tell it’s on with a sheet on top of it, and it doesn’t change the texture of my mattress either. I love that it’s 100 percent waterproof so my mattress can stay feeling brand new. It’s no hassle to put on or take off, and I really can’t emphasize enough how silent it is.” With a continuous elastic hem that wraps securely around the mattress, it stays snugly in place and won’t bunch or shift.
Who It’s Best For: Those who want a waterproof mattress protector without having to feel or hear a waterproof mattress protector; those who sleep warm and want a cooling layer.
Good to Know: There are no chemical treatments or coatings used, and yet, both the mattress protector top and sides are 100 percent waterproof with a protective barrier. While that may sound like music to a parent’s ears, unfortunately for those with young kids, Sijo does not make this mattress protector in Twin size.
Shoppers looking specifically for waterproof mattress protectors likely know they’ll be put to the test — and then replaced when they become spent. The budget-friendly price of Coop’s Ultra Luxe Waterproof Mattress Protector certainly makes having to replace these less of a pain, but it doesn’t mean they’re any less effective. Reviewers have said the mattress protector, made with a proprietary polyurethane backing, withstood everything from spilled drinks to pet throw up to potty training accidents and kept mattresses dry even after several washes. Plus, after said accidents, stains washed out well. Made of a bamboo-derived material that feels soft not crinkly (frankly we would never recommend a mattress protector that felt like you were sliding around on plastic), is wonderfully silent, cool to the touch, and hypoallergenic, it’s a great choice even if you don’t need waterproofing protection. The Coop mattress protector gets AT Best List writer Kendall’s stamp of approval “because of its awesome price, but also because it pretty much never slips off, is undetectable and silent, and effectively repels liquid (read: wine).”
Who It’s Best For: Those looking for an affordable waterproof option that doesn’t crinkle or feel plastic-y. Those who want a generous sleep-trial period (of up to 100 nights), as Coop will gladly take back your mattress protector if you’re not 100 percent satisfied.
Good to Know: The sides of this mattress protector do not have waterproof backing. If you do decide to purchase, use, and wash, do not dry on high heat as this could damage the waterproof membrane.
We talk about Avocado a lot on these Best Lists, but that’s because their products really are that good. Their mattress pad protector is one of the best if you’re looking for something luxe and don’t mind paying for quality. Made of quilted organic cotton with reinforced edges, it has a sturdy construction and thicker, plush feel — so you’ll likely feel a little extra padding but also have no doubts that it’s strong enough to hold up for many years. Even better? It’s free of polyurethane, spandex, thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPUs), formaldehyde, PVCs, vinyls, laminates, adhesives, chemical finishes, and waterproof coatings, making it about as natural as you can get. The Avocado mattress pad earned rave reviews from shopping editor Britt: “I’ve never found a mattress protector that I’ve loved until this one! It’s so luxurious that it almost doesn’t seem like a mattress protector at all. I got a stain on it, but the stain didn’t bleed through to the mattress, so it did exactly what it was supposed to do,” she said. “I’ve recommended this mattress pad to a few people already, and while it is pricey, I think it’s totally worth it.” We also love Avocado’s dedication to high ecological and social standards. This mattress pad is woven from sustainably and ethically sourced cotton and is handmade in California in a carbon-negative, GOTS-certified facility that pays just living wages.
Who It’s Best For: Those with sensitive skin; those who want organic bedding; those who want to support a carbon-negative business.
Good to Know: This is not a waterproof mattress protector. According to Avocado, “it’s intended to protect your mattress from stains, skin oils, and perspiration; absorb moderate spills and accidents; and keep your mattress clean.” It’s also ivory, not white, which is good to keep in mind if you intend to use thinner white sheets over top.
One of our favorite brands for organic bedding, Coyuchi, makes an Organic Mattress Pad that reviewers say is “perfection.” Made with 100 percent GOTS-certified organic cotton (so you can sleep easy knowing it’s free from pesticides, harsh chemicals, and unsafe flame retardants), the Coyuchi mattress pad is luxuriously soft, lightweight, breathable, and doesn’t have so much padding that it’ll change the feel of your mattress, but just the right amount to make all those nighttime hours that much more comfortable. We also appreciate that the all-organic cotton fill is sewn in two-inch quilted squares so it won’t bunch or shift unevenly after washing. Coyuchi was one of the pioneers that introduced all-organic bedding to the U.S. more than 30 years ago, and they’ve always made a firm commitment to strict environmental and social standards, including efforts to reduce post-consumer textile waste. The brand’s 2nd Home Take Back Program is an exemplary initiative to renew and recycle old linens: Send them back using a pre-paid shipping label and get 15 percent off your next order — and the peace of mind that your linens won’t end up in a landfill.
Who It’s Best For: Those who want organic bedding; those who want to spend their dollars with a company that has a recycling program; those for whom price is not a deciding factor.
Good to Know: This is not a waterproof mattress pad. Also, quality, organic materials, and ethical supply chains do not come cheap, so prepare to shell out — but reviewers say it’s “worth every penny.”
Parents, pet owners, the accident prone, and those of us who like to enjoy drinks and food while watching TV in bed deserve the assurance of organically grown and non-toxic materials, too. Enter the Naturepedic Organic Waterproof Mattress Protector. Made with organic cotton jersey layered around an ultra-thin waterproof barrier made of GOTS-certified polyurethane, it’s the perfect choice for those who specifically want organic bedding but also need to protect against accidents and spills. While “polyurethane” may raise suspicions, Naturepedic (whose company motto is “comfort without chemicals”) uses medical-grade pure polyurethane rather than foam polyurethane, which can be problematic — an important distinction. And despite having a polyurethane layer, rest assured this mattress protector is whisper quiet and not plastic-y feeling. Several reviewers said that after buying these for their kids, they went ahead and bought them for the rest of the beds in the house — a testament to their quality and comfort despite being waterproof mattress protectors.
Who It’s Best For: Those who want an organic mattress pad with waterproof protection as well.
Good to Know: Naturepedic’s founder wanted to find an organic but also waterproof baby crib mattress for his first grandchild but couldn’t find one. So he set out to create the very first organic baby crib mattress designed with a patented food-grade waterproof surface. The company now also has full lines of organic mattresses, bedding, and protectors specifically for babies and kids.