What’s the best mattress protector—and why do you need one at all? Even though this encasement may not seem like an essential purchase, you’ll run to buy one once you hear about all the things that can seep or creep into your mattress—and how a mattress protector can help keep them out.
“It’s actually the most important thing you can buy for your bed,” says Jack Mitcham of MattressNerd.com. Here’s why, and the best mattress protector for you.
What is a mattress protector, and why do you need one?
And we’re not just talking about big spills or potty training accidents, although those definitely are a problem, too.
“It’s for things like sweat,” says Mitcham. Even a small amount of moisture over the course of time will damage a mattress.
A mattress protector also keeps dead skin cells from getting into the mattress. And if your protector encases the entire mattress (rather than just the top and sides), it can even lock out dust mites (which feed on the aforementioned skin cells) and, grosser still, bedbugs.
All in all, “mattress protectors keep mattresses more sanitary and healthy,” says Mitcham, noting that you can’t really wash the inside of a mattress, but you can (and should!) throw your mattress protector into the wash every week or two along with your sheets.
Here are the best mattress protector options for various types of budgets, sleepers, and beds.
Best budget mattress protector
When you think mattress protector, you might envision a crinkly, hot layer of plasticky material that’s unpleasant to sleep on. But new fabric technologies have made it possible for even inexpensive mattress protectors to be essentially undetectable. A thin layer of waterproof membrane faces the mattress, and on top, there’s a layer of soft fabric.
Mitcham’s budget pick is the SafeRest mattress protector ($26.95 for a queen bed on Amazon.com). According to reviews, it sleeps cool and does a great job guarding against liquids. Just keep in mind that it’s fitted along the top and sides of the mattress; it doesn’t fully encase the mattress. So while it prevents skin flakes from getting into the mattress, it doesn’t guard against bedbugs or mites, since they can still sneak in from underneath.
The Lucid mattress protector is the budget pick from Logan Block at Sleepopolis.com. It has similar features to the SafeRest, including a thin, noncrinkly moisture barrier and a terry cotton top layer. It is also a fitted sheet, so it doesn’t guard against bedbugs or mites.
Though it’s a tad pricier ($29.99 for a king, no queen option, on Amazon.com), it’s 22 inches deep, compared with SafeRest’s 18. If you use a mattress topper to add some comfort to your bed, this is the budget mattress protector for you. Because of its thinness, you will have no trouble feeling the gel or foam of your topper beneath the protector.
Best full-encasement mattress protector
The SureGuard mattress protector ($49.95 for a queen bed on Amazon.com) is a great all-around option. It’s zippered for full encasement; basically, it’s a bag with your mattress on the inside, closed along the side with a zipper.
This style of mattress protector guards against moisture, skin flakes, mites, allergens, bacteria, and bedbugs. It can be bit harder to get on and off because you have to scoot the protector under the mattress before zipping it closed, but it’s a worthy trade-off for the extra protection it offers.
Full disclosure: I have a SureGuard and I love it. When I’m sleeping, I can’t even tell that it’s there. I can install the queen-size encasement myself, though wrestling a king-size mattress is a two-person job.
Best mattress protector to keep out bedbugs
What sets the Protect-a-Bed BugLock mattress protector ($80.95 for a queen bed on Amazon.com) apart is its BugLock with Secure Seal, a zipper closure that is designed to keep bedbugs out. Though any full encasement should protect against bedbugs, the BugLock has been tested by an entomology lab.
Best mattress protector for hot sleepers
It’s a bit of a Catch-22: Mattress protectors are especially important for people who sleep hot because they’re prone to sweating at night, but hot sleepers are loath to add anything to the bed that might make it feel even hotter. Enter the Sleep Tite IceTech mattress protector ($199.99 for a queen bed on Amazon.com).
Made by luxury linen company Malouf, the Sleep Tite mattress protector is topped not by cotton but by IceTech, a fabric designed to promote cooling.
Though usually the best you can hope for with a mattress protector is that it won’t make your bed hotter, Block’s testing found IceTech made notoriously hot memory foam feel cooler during sleep. It comes with a hefty price tag, especially for a mattress protector that is not a full encasement—but if cool sleep is a must, it might be worth a try.
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