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Mattress Protector vs Mattress Pad: Which One is Right for Me?

Mattress Protector vs Mattress Pad: Which One is Right for Me?

Posted on 19 April 2018

The perfect bed and bedding has the potential to set you up for a perfect night’s sleep.  It can mean peace of mind and a blissful rest. In setting up such a dreamy bed, most of the information out there focuses on the mattress itself, and then on the bedding.  Yet, right smack dab in the middle can be a layer of confusion--the mattress pad...or mattress protector...or both...wait, which should it be?


Here is a definitive guide to the best solution for that in between layer in your bed.  But the first thing you should know is--yes, you should have one or the either (or both).  This is not a part of the bedding experience to skip.


Read on and you’ll soon know why.


Mattress Protection

The most important reason for a layer under your sheet and above your mattress has nothing to do with how you sleep; it’s much more pragmatic than that.  Most mattresses come with guarantees, but when you read the fine print of that warranty you will see that those warranties or guarantees require steps on your part--such as a clean, stain-free mattress.


Even if you do not eat in bed and consider yourself a sheet washing neatfreak, sheets do very little to protect the mattress itself.  For that, you need another layer. At the bare minimum you need a mattress protector.


Before you worry that mattress protectors sound like vinyl and resemble a urine guard for children, you should know that materials have greatly improved.  Today’s mattress protectors can:

  • Protect a mattress from stains or discoloration
  • Prevent mites and other allergens
  • Prevent bed bugs
  • Maintain softness, flexibility and breathability

Some mattress protectors do offer some layer of padding, but that is not their primary purpose.


Bottom Line: Use a mattress protector if you have allergies, a night sweater (or bed wetter), or if you do not plan to use a mattress pad.

Mattress Enhancement

Mattress pads come in a tremendous number of materials and serve a variety of purposes.  One of the main purposes of a mattress pad is to provide enhanced comfort. While you want your mattress to provide the comfort you desire, you may use a mattress pad if:

  • You wish to have a “flippable” mattress, without much padding, and prefer the mattress pad to provide the cushioning.
  • You wish to extend the life of your mattress for the time being, before purchasing a new mattress.
  • You like the feel of mattress pads over the padding that mattresses provide.
  • You have different needs to meet in the same bed, such as when one partner does not want a mattress pad and the other side of the bed does.

If you have two sleepers seeking two different levels of cushioning, it can make for a slightly “lopsided” looking bed, but it is rarely actually noticeable.  If you do plan to cushion only one side of the bed, though, do also use a mattress protector, so that both sides of the mattress are kept clean.


Mattress pads can do everything that a mattress protector can do, so there is generally no need for both.  


Bottom Line: Use a mattress pad if it feels better to you, such as wanting a layer of memory foam, being fond of egg crates, or customizing your mattress experience.


It’s Your Bed

You could almost say there are as many bedding experiences as their are sleepers.  Finding your ideal mattress, mattress covering, and bedding can take a little effort, but it pays high dividends in those hours spent at rest.


Happy sleeping!

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