CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our advice is expert-vetted and based on independent research, analysis and hands-on testing from our team of Certified Sleep Coaches. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

How to Wash Your Mattress Cover the Right Way

Your mattress cover is designed to help prolong the life of your mattress. Keep it clean with these steps.

Sean Jackson
Sean Jackson is a creative copywriter living in Florida. He's had work published with Realtor.com, theScore, ESPN, and the San Francisco Chronicle. In his free time, Sean likes to play drums, fail miserably at improv and spend time at the beach.
Sean Jackson
4 min read
Hands putting the bedding cover on the bed

Remember to always use a mattress cover.

Getty Images/penkanya/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Mattresses are expensive, which is why it's recommended to protect them by using mattress covers. These essential bed toppers help by becoming barriers to your mattress, protecting it from stains, dust mites, sweat and more. There are different types of mattress covers that you can choose from. Some slide over your bed like a fitted sheet while encasement covers come with zippers, which can prevent unwanted guests, like bed bugs.

With that said, it's important to always have a clean mattress cover to not only keep your bed smelling fresh but to also prolong its use. Our guide on how to wash a mattress cover explains how often it needs washed, best practices for stain removal and drying tips. For more, here are 12 tips to make your mattress last longer.

How to wash a mattress cover 

Using spray to remove stains

Keep your mattress clean

Getty Images/Oleksii Bilyk/iStock/Getty Images Plus

When you buy a mattress protector, it comes with care instructions from your manufacturer. Usually, this is in the form of a tag affixed to the protector. Since mattress covers come in different materials and types, following the manufacturer's instructions are essential for proper care. Some might require spot cleaning only, whereas others can be washed like regular sheets. 

Further, the difficulty of washing them depends on the type of mattress cover and its size. Encasement mattress protectors are beneficial until you have to remove them–trying to get them off a king-sized bed takes some doing. If you have a king bed cover and it doesn't fit into your washing machine, you might have to take it to a dry cleaner. 

Alternatively, if you can wash it, here are some steps for proper care: 

Remove stains 

Inspect your mattress cover for stains. Treating them before placing them into your washing machine can help to remove or even loosen tough stains. If you find some, add some detergent onto a nylon brush and work it into the stain gently. Let it absorb for at least 10 minutes to break up the grime before washing it. 

Health Tips logo


Keep in mind, how you wash your mattress protector depends on your manufacturer's care instructions. Therefore, be sure to consult it before starting. 

Hand wash: Examine the mattress cover for stains and treat it with detergent compliant with your manufacturer's care instructions. You can also sprinkle baking soda onto the protector to give it a fresher smell. 

Machine wash: Most mattress covers use regular detergent. For down-filled options, you'll want to use specialty down cleaners, such as Nikwax Down Wash. If you're using a washer, load the cover on its own. That way, it keeps the washer in balance and it cleans evenly. You can use cold or warm water with the normal or bulk cycle. The bulk cycle is ideal for larger (king-sized) protectors. 

Dry clean: If your mattress cover doesn't fit into your washing machine or the care instructions dictate dry clean only, you'll want to take it to the pros. However, don't take waterproof mattress protectors to dry cleaners, as they can damage the bedding. And if you don't want to wait or spend the extra coin, you can purchase home dry clean kits at Target. 

Dry your mattress cover

The mattress cover's material, weight and size all influence how you'll dry it. 

Machine dry: With most mattress covers, you can use the normal cycle on your dryer. Place the protector into the dryer by itself. Once completed, inspect the protector to ensure it's evenly dry. 

Air dry: You can also let the mattress cover dry on a drying rack. Make sure it's spread to ensure it dries all the way. 

How often should you wash your mattress cover? 

You'll want to wash your mattress cover at least once a month. However, make sure to check your manufacturer's care instructions. And if you have kids or pets sleeping in the bed, you might want to wash it on a more regular basis to keep it and your mattress fresh. It's also ideal to have another mattress cover on hand to swap out when you wash your dirtier cover. Doing so ensures you keep your mattress protected during cleanings. 

Things to consider when washing your mattress cover

Cleaning supplies for bedding

Be wary of some cleaning supplies when washing your mattress cover.

Getty Images/wera Rodsawang/Moment

When washing your mattress cover, you want to be mindful of items that can harm its material such as: 

  • Bleach: Can damage waterproof mattress protectors 
  • Hot water: Can damage waterproof bed covers, weakening them and reducing their effectiveness 
  • Fabric softener: Can decrease the mattress cover's ability to absorb wetness
  • Dry cleaning materials: Can damage the materials in a waterproof bed cover 
  • Dryer sheets: Also can decrease the absorbency of a mattress cover

Care best practices

When you wash your mattress cover, examine it for signs of damage. Addressing a small tear or rip now prevents it from increasing in size with regular use. You'll also want to be mindful of the age of your protector, as most last one to two years. 

Also, if you plan on using a mattress pad, you might wonder if your protector or pad goes on first. You can apply the protector over the bed before the padding unless the mattress pad is not waterproof. If this is the case, put the pad on first and place the protector over it. 

For more, read about why you should replace your mattress and everything to know about mattress sizes.

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.