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4 Reasons You Need a Mattress Protector to Extend the Life of Your Bed

Mattress protectors are an easy way to ensure your bed doesn't collect allergens or moisture that could damage the integrity of the foam.

Taylor Leamey Senior Writer
Taylor Leamey writes about all things wellness, specializing in mental health, sleep and nutrition coverage. She has invested hundreds of hours into studying and researching sleep and holds a Certified Sleep Science Coach certification from the Spencer Institute. Not to mention the years she spent studying mental health fundamentals while earning her bachelor's degrees in both Psychology and Sociology. She is also a Certified Stress Management Coach.
Expertise Bachelor of Science, Psychology and Sociology Credentials
  • Certified Sleep Science Coach, Certified Stress Management Coach
Taylor Leamey
4 min read
Person pulling down a mattress protector over a bed.
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When I say mattress protector, you probably think of the noisy plastic layer covering the bed in your dorm room or latest Airbnb. Mattress protectors have come a long way from plastic encasements for your bed. Most modern mattress protectors are so unintrusive that you can't even tell they're there.

I know what you're thinking: Do I really need another thing on my bed? But mattress protectors are an essential part of your bedding setup. They're a small investment for the significant return of keeping your mattress safe. 

If you have children or pets or are a nighttime snacker, you should definitely add a mattress protector. Here's why.

What is a mattress protector?

Mattress protectors are sleep accessories that extend the lifetime of your mattress by repelling liquid and keeping out damaging debris. They're thin layers of fabric made from a mix of cotton, polyester and polyurethane. Many of them look like a more substantial fitted sheet. Given that the most common use is to repel liquid, many mattress protectors are waterproof. 

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There's a lot of variety in mattress protectors, some so basic that they look like a fitted sheet, while others rival the durability of a mattress pad. While they aren't strictly necessary for a good night's sleep, they will go a long way in mattress care. 

Like mattress toppers and pads, the average mattress protector does not safeguard your bed against bed bugs. You need to seek out specialized mattress encasements for that purpose. 

4 reasons to get a mattress protector

Reduces allergens 

Allergens are likely lurking in your bedroom. Not only could you be allergic to your bedding, but your mattress may even be the source of your allergies. Over time, our mattresses collect the dead skin cells we shed while sleeping. That attracts microscopic bugs that feast on the dead skin called dust mites. Four out of five American homes have dust mites. 

In addition to washing your sheets weekly and controlling the humidity in your bedroom, putting a mattress protector on keeps them from nesting in your bed and triggering your allergies

Woman sitting on her bed having breakfast and juice.
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Block debris buildup

From dirt from your pets to pieces of food, debris builds up on and in your mattress. No matter how safe you think you are, things are collecting in the nook and crannies of your bed. Debris buildup can cause allergy flare-ups, skin irritations or infections if not regularly cleaned. 

Most people don't clean their mattresses as often as they should. Protectors will save you time and the effort of dragging out the vacuum attachments to deep clean your bed. The vast majority of mattress protectors are machine washable. 

Limit moisture damage

Spills and stains aren't just bad for the look of your mattress but also degrade the construction over time. If your bed has memory foam layers, moisture can break down the foam and compromise its performance. It can also weaken the adhesive between the layers of your mattress. 

The foam won't absorb the liquid; it will just seep down and collect, which can lead to mildew development. Adding a mattress protector to your mattress is a low-cost way to ensure your bed is protected from spills and moisture from sweat. 

Keeps your warranty intact

Thanks to the Federal Trade Commission, every mattress you buy will have a warranty. It may be 10 or 25 years, up to a lifetime warranty from some brands like Saatva. Warranties cover if your mattress has a defect, including split seams, damaged coils, a lumpy surface or premature sagging. 

The vast majority of mattress warranties have a stain clause in them. So no matter if your mattress pops a coil and is rightfully covered, your warranty is void if it has a stain. Adding a protector from the start will make sure you don't take a chance on missing out on your warranty. 

Person cleaning a mattress with a vacuum handle attachment.
bymuratdeniz/Getty Images

What's the difference between a mattress pad and a mattress protector?

People often get mattress pads and protectors confused since so many look very similar. However, they perform very different functions for your mattress. 

A mattress protector is a thin layer of fabric that sits on or encases your bed. It protects your mattress from collecting allergens like debris, dust mites and moisture. It does not change the feel or firmness of your bed as a mattress topper would. 

A mattress pad is thicker, often boasting a quilted design. Yes, it offers some protection to your mattress, but it's meant to be a solution to an uncomfortable or old bed. It won't fix the problem forever, but it can help you get some sleep until you're ready to buy a new one. 

Too long; didn't read?

Buying a mattress protector is a good idea. They are a protective cocoon for your bed to ensure stains, debris and allergens don't speed up the aging process of your bed. The best mattress protectors are so comfortable that you can't even notice they're there. They range in price, but you can get some under $50, like the Linenspa Waterproof Mattress Protector

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.