Your bed is probably missing this crucial element.
woman sleeping
Credit: Getty / Adene Sanchez

There's a difference between a mattress pad and a mattress protector. The former is often used to change the way your bed feels, while the latter protects your mattress from dust and spills. And while you probably already know the benefits of a mattress pad (who doesn't love an extra plush layer?), you're likely wondering whether or not you really need a protector. We tapped Guy Bottorff, the owner of Mattress USA, to walk us through why they are, in fact, essential.

A mattress protector increases your bed's longevity.

While mattress pads can add softness to your bed, they cannot protect it from stains, dust mites, or moisture. "The average person sweats a pint a night, and once perspiration gets down into the mattress foam, it breaks it down and reduces the life expectancy of the mattress itself," Bottorff says. If you want to increase the longevity of your mattress, and protect yourself from allergens, you should consider adding a protector to your bed. They are often thin and lightweight, so they don't change the feel or function of your mattress.

They save you money in the long run.

In addition to protecting the mattress itself, using this type of liner can also help your wallet. "Most, if not all, mattress warranties, require that you use a protector, since stains void the terms," adds Bottorff. Since protectors are a fraction of the cost of a new mattress, buying one before you need one will likely pay off.

Find the right one for your bed.

When shopping for a mattress protector, Bottorff suggests looking for one that is waterproof to keep spills and perspiration at bay. "Also make sure it is breathable, so you don't sleep hot," he says. "There are a lot of phase change materials out there to look for, like Tencel, Outlast, and natural bamboo." Pro tip: If you are looking to add plushness, purchase a mattress pad and add the protector last (it should protect both the mattress and the pad).

Handle with care.

While cleaning your protector, follow the manufacturer's laundry instructions; Bottorff adds that you should never use bleach, since it can break down the liner's fibers. Be sure it has thoroughly dried before you return it to your bed, to prevent mold or mildew from setting in. Luckily, it's perfectly safe to put them in the dryer—just be sure to put the appliance on low so you don't damage the protector.


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