A mattress could be one of the most expensive home purchases you make this year. When you make that kind of investment, it makes sense to protect it, too.

With a mattress protector, you can prolong the life of your mattress while protecting it against stains, spills, and other grime. When a mattress protector gets dirty, you can throw it in the wash, which adds a level of convenience to keeping your mattress clean. A huge range of people can benefit from using a mattress protector, but they’re particularly useful for families with small children or other situations where accidents can and do occur.

In this guide, we take a closer look at what mattress protectors do, what makes a mattress protector, and what you need to consider when choosing one. We’ll also give you our top choices for the best mattress protectors available.

Our Top Picks: Summary

Best Overall: Malouf Sleep Tite Pr1me Protector
Best Value: Saferest Premium Mattress Protector
Best Waterproof: Brooklyn Bedding Mattress Encasement
Best Organic: Plushbeds Organic Cotton Mattress Protector

The Best Mattress Protectors: Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Malouf Sleep Tite Pr1me Protector
Malouf Sleep Tite Pr1me Protector

A protector combining function, features, and value.

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Why We Picked It

Combining function, features, and value, the Malouf Sleep Tite Pr1me Protector is our Best Overall mattress protector. This fabric protector comes with an elastic, universal fit to suit mattresses up to 22 inches and combines comfort with waterproofing and hypoallergenic protection. The waterproofing is provided by a proprietary laboratory-certified H2Pro® liquid-proof membrane, which is quiet and breathable. The protector is also free of vinyl, PVC, and phthalate.

The Malouf protector comes with a 15-year warranty, which helps to ensure value for money.

Keep in Mind

The Tite Pr1me Protector offers great protection, but not full encasement. The bottom of your mattress is still exposed.

In a Nutshell

  • 15-year warranty
  • Waterproof
  • Quiet and breathable
Best Value: Saferest Premium Mattress Protector
Saferest Premium Mattress Protector

Cut the cost without cutting the performance.

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Why We Picked It

For sleepers on a budget, mattress protectors can prove to be an expensive extra. While they may protect the long-term investment of a mattress, that doesn’t soften the blow of buying one in the moment. For budget-conscious shoppers, however, the Saferest Premium Mattress Protector is the perfect compromise between value and function.

The Saferest Premium is available for around half the cost of its closest competitors but doesn’t sacrifice functionality. The protector is a hypoallergenic terry cotton top backed with a waterproof polyurethane membrane. The protector is a fitted sheet that uses elastic to stay in place. The cotton top keeps the sheet breathable, cool, and quiet.

The sheet is machine-washable and perfect for sleepers on a budget thanks to its 200+ wash lifespan. On top of that, it comes with a 10-year warranty.

Keep in Mind

The Saferest mattress protector lacks resistance to bed bugs as it’s a fitted sheet, but otherwise competes with more expensive protectors.

In a Nutshell

  • Low price point
  • 10-year warranty
  • 200+ wash lifespan
Best Waterproof: Brooklyn Bedding Mattress Encasement
Brooklyn Bedding Mattress Encasement

Full encasement that keeps liquids at bay.

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Why We Picked It

A truly waterproof mattress protector sometimes comes at the cost of breathability and comfort. That’s not the case with the Brooklyn Bedding Mattress Encasement, which is why it takes our Best Waterproof category.

The encasement is a 100% polyester, zippable protector that encloses the entire mattress to keep it safe from spills and grime. Despite being waterproof, it’s also breathable. On top of that, the protector is hypoallergenic, protecting against common allergy triggers like dust mites. As a complete mattress encasement, it also keeps the mattress safe from bed bug infestation.

The encasement comes protected by a 30-day refund policy.

Keep in Mind

Although there’s a 30-day refund policy, there’s no warranty available.

In a Nutshell

  • Waterproof
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Full mattress enclosure
Best Organic: Plushbeds organic cotton mattress protector
Plushbeds organic cotton mattress protector

All the benefits of a mattress protector, but organic, too.

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Why We Picked It

Made from GOTS-certified 100% organic cotton and delivered in bio-degradable packaging, it’s no surprise that the Plushbeds organic cotton mattress protector takes our Best Organic category.

The organic cotton cover is backed with a waterproof layer of polyurethane and fits the mattress like a fitted sheet. While it doesn’t enclose the entire mattress, it provides an effective barrier against dust mites. The natural materials keep this protector quiet, so it’s a great option for light sleepers.

Customers can return an unopened product and the protector is also covered by a 15-year warranty.

Keep in Mind

As this protector doesn’t encase the entire mattress, it won’t resist bed bugs.

In a Nutshell

  • GOTS-certified organic cotton top
  • Waterproof
  • 15-year warranty

How We Chose the Best Mattress Protectors

To choose the best mattress protector for you or your family, you need to weigh up the pros and cons. To select our top picks, we take a look at a few key categories that buyers will want to keep in mind when choosing a mattress protector.

Here are some of the categories we use to see how they stack up:

Waterproofing

While some mattress protectors are waterproof, others are only water-resistant, and it’s important to differentiate between the two, as the difference can mean replacing a mattress. Protectors can also keep liquids from reaching the mattresses in a few ways, whether by absorption or pooling. These can affect the sleep experience and level of protection offered.

Fit

There’s nothing more annoying in a mattress protector than a bad fit. A mattress protector should be easy to fit and sit flush against the mattress so that it’s almost unnoticeable when sleeping. In contrast, bad protectors may bunch up, slip off the mattress, and otherwise make a nuisance of themselves. This is why we look at the fit of the mattress protector when making our assessment. Mattress protectors typically fit using elastic or full encasement, with only the latter offering full protection against bed bugs.

Special Features

Mattress protectors may not strike you as feature-rich, but sleepers with specific needs will look for certain special features. Waterproofing, protection from bed bugs, and hypoallergenic properties are all popular mattress protector features. We take a look at the features of the mattress protector so you can decide if it does what you need it to do.

Noise and Breathability

If a mattress protector disturbs your sleep experience, then it may prove to be a bad investment. Some protectors are noisy or have low breathability, which can cause heat retention. We take a look at the noise and breathability of the protector to give you a good idea of how it’s likely to sleep. There’s no point in purchasing a protector that will negate the quality of your mattress by keeping you up at night, so we only focus on protectors that allow for a good night’s sleep.

Customer Satisfaction

The true test of a bedding item is always going to be how well sleepers like it. We take a look at the level of customer satisfaction on each item to give you a sense of its overall popularity, along with any issues that customers frequently flag up.

What is a Mattress Protector?

If you’re shopping for a mattress protector, you’ll first want to understand exactly what they are and what they do.

A mattress protector can take several different forms, but its purpose remains the same: it’s there to protect the mattress and extend its lifespan by resisting spills, stains, and general dirt and grime. It’s much easier to prevent these things from reaching a mattress than it is to clean the mattress afterward, so mattress protectors offer a preventative way to keep mattresses clean.

Mattress protectors are typically made from cotton and polyurethane, with some being made of other synthetic materials, such as polyester. The polyurethane layer often provides waterproofing and a barrier against allergens and dust mites. Only protectors that fully enclose a mattress are able to protect against bed bugs, which can find their way around a fitted sheet protector. Most protectors are on the thin side, as their purpose is to protect the mattress rather than provide comfort. In fact, the best mattresses protectors are unnoticeable, as they shouldn’t disrupt sleep.

Like mattresses themselves, mattress protectors range from the cheap to the expensive and the natural to the synthetic. Most protectors exist somewhere between those two points, and which you choose will depend a lot on your personal preferences.

One of the biggest advantages of a mattress protector lies in protecting your investment. Mattresses are expensive items, so the longer you can go without replacing one, the smaller a hole they will make in your finances. For a fraction of the cost of a new mattress, a protector can prolong the life of your existing mattress and you can simply throw the protector in with your laundry when it gets grubby—which isn’t an option with your mattress!

Mattress Protectors Vs. Mattress Pads Vs. Mattress Toppers

Along with mattress protectors, you may also have heard of mattress pads and mattress toppers. It’s a misconception that these are the same thing. Each plays a distinct role, and knowing which you need is vital if you want to make the right purchase.

In this table, we lay out the different functions of a protector, pad, and topper, along with their standard materials, how they fit, what they’re best used for, and their average thickness.

 Mattress ProtectorMattress PadMattress Topper
PurposeTo protect the mattress and extend its lifespan.To add an extra layer of comfort to the mattress.To add height, depth, and cushioning to a mattress.
Standard MaterialsCotton, polyurethane, polyesterCotton, latex, polyesterVarious materials of the kind found in mattresses and pillows: latex, memory foam, etc.
How it Fits on MattressA mattress protector is usually fitted like an elasticated fitted sheet or encases the mattress with zippable openings.Fitted sheet or elasticated straps.Held in place by fitted sheet or straps, typically heavy enough to rest on mattress.
Best ForProtecting the mattress against spills, accidents, stains, etc.Sleepers who need more comfort from their mattress.Sleepers who need to make small adjustments to the mattress, such as boosting its height or adding more comforming.
Average ThicknessUnder 1 inch1-3 inches1-4 inches

How to Choose a Mattress Protector

When choosing a mattress protector, there are a few key things you should bear in mind. Here are some things you’ll want to consider:

Waterproof Qualities

Waterproofing can go a long way to protecting a mattress, particularly for those used by kids. However, it’s important to differentiate between waterproof and water-resistant protectors. If you need a high level of protection, you’ll want to opt for the former. Waterproofing typically happens in one of two ways: either absorption or pooling. Both affect the sleep experience and level of protection offered, with each having their pros and cons. However, both have the same emphasis on protecting the underlying mattress.

Materials Used

Materials can greatly change the performance of a mattress protector, affecting both the quality of that performance and the nature of it. For instance, while natural materials typically absorb liquid, synthetic materials often allow it to pool on top. Some synthetic mattresses protectors include materials like vinyl, which has been linked to some health problems. Always look for the detail specifications of your mattress protector so you know exactly what’s in it. Typical mattress protectors are made with cotton or polyester, often including a polyurethane layer for waterproofing and to create a hypoallergenic barrier.

Bed Bug Protection

Bed bugs can lead to absolute misery for anyone with an infestation. If you’re at risk of bed bugs or are struggling with a problem, then you need a mattress protector that offers full encasement. Other solutions won’t even slow the bugs down!

Hypoallergenic Properties

For young children or sleepers with allergic conditions, a mattress protector with hypoallergenic properties will be important. These keep dust mites and other allergy triggers at bay, allowing for disturbance-free sleep.

Breathability

While a mattress protector can extend the lifespan of a mattress, that could come at the cost of the sleep experience. Some protectors can retain heat, leading to uncomfortable sleeping conditions. Choosing a protector made with natural materials is a good way to go, as natural materials typically retain less heat.

Noise

A noisy mattress protector is another candidate for causing sleep disturbances. A noisy protector can wake up light sleepers when they move around during their sleep. Choosing a protector made of soft, quiet materials can alleviate this issue, providing protection without the drawbacks.

Related Resources

If you’ve found this guide useful, take a look at some of our other in-depth guides for sleepers:

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Daniel James