You just spent a lot of money on a brand new mattress. Do you really need a mattress pad or protector too? Is it worth the money? We think so, and here’s why.
Table of Contents
- #1. You sweat more than you think
- #2. Mattresses can be terribly unhygienic
- #3. Mattresses are a breeding ground for bed bugs and mites
- #4. Mattress protectors and pads are washable – mattresses aren’t
- #5. Some mattress warranties require you to use a mattress protector
- #6. Mattress pads make guests happy!
- #7. Mattress pads and protectors make travel more comfortable
- #8. Mattress pads are great for all seasons
- #9. Mattresses are expensive
- #10. Mattresses are very resource intensive
- Final thoughts on why a mattress protector and pad are worth it
Mattress pads and protectors are an inexpensive and simple way to keep your mattress clean and in great shape for longer. They make for healthier, happier sleep and by extending the life of your mattress are also part of an eco-friendly, sustainable bedroom.
The trick, as always, is to find a mattress protector and mattress pad that is made with greener materials in a sustainable way. So, if you’re already sold on the benefits of these two bedding items, check out our top choices here:
- The best eco-friendly, non-toxic mattress pads
- The best sustainable mattress protectors
Still unsure if a mattress protector is a good idea? Curious about mattress pads but not committed to the idea?
Here’s why I strongly recommend a mattress protector and/or pad for every mattress.
#1. You sweat more than you think
No offence, but you’re a sweaty sleeper, whether you sleep hot or not.
Every adult loses about a pint of moisture every night. Where does it go? Some of it we breathe out as water vapor. The rest evaporates as sweat, soaks into sheets and other bedding, or… soaks into your mattress.
Over time, all that sweat can start to degrade your mattress and make it unhygienic and uncomfortable.
Sweat isn’t the only concern though. Mattresses are ruined every day by spills and accidents, as well as by infestations and contamination.
#2. Mattresses can be terribly unhygienic
Without a protector or washable pad, mattresses can quickly become unhygienic and unhealthy. All mattresses are exposed to moisture, even if you don’t spill tea on them (mea culpa) or co-sleep with a toddler.
Where there’s moisture, there’s almost always a chance that mold and mildew will develop. And once those are in a mattress, it’s incredibly hard, if not impossible to remove.
Mold and mildew can cause serious health effects, including headaches, increased allergy symptoms, fatigue, and respiratory difficulties. A washable mattress protector can be the difference between living with mold and mildew and having a clean, hygienic mattress you can happily sleep on for years to come.
#3. Mattresses are a breeding ground for bed bugs and mites
Aside from mold and mildew, a moist mattress is also a haven for dust mites and bed bugs. While dust mites are present in every bedroom, a washable mattress pad or protector significantly decreases their number. Washing your mattress protector or pad regularly also reduces your exposure to dust mite feces. And that means less likelihood of allergy symptoms.
Mattress protectors are also a great way to protect your mattress from bed bugs and other nasty surprises. In fact, I’d say they’re a must-have if you:
- Have a lot of visiting guests
- Run a guest house
- Travel a lot.
To protect yourself against bed bugs on unknown beds, a protector is a very smart investment indeed.
#4. Mattress protectors and pads are washable – mattresses aren’t
Last time I checked, my mattress didn’t fit in my washing machine. The beauty of most mattress pads and protectors is that you can quickly whip these off the bed and throw them in the wash if you have a spill or other incident.
That means your mattress stays clean, dry, hygienic, and comfortable. And you get a fresh sleep surface even when the worst happens.
For this reason, it can be a good idea to have two mattress protectors, one on the bed and one ready for action. If you co-sleep with a toddler, having two mattress protectors is super convenient for those bleary-eyed nighttime accidents.
My top tip: If your household is especially accident prone, or your toddler is sick, consider having both mattress protectors on your bed at the same time, with a fresh fitted sheet in-between.
This way, you won’t have to wrangle a protector and sheet onto the bed in the middle of the night while a toddler sobs in your arms (this is no fun; believe me).
FYI, when I was planning a home birth, this set-up was also recommended by my midwife. Birthing is messy; there’s no way around it. If you have a double layer of protection on your mattress, once your baby is born, your midwife (or whoever) can quickly remove the top sheet and protector for laundering and get you and your brand new baby into a clean, cozy bed in a matter of minutes.
#5. Some mattress warranties require you to use a mattress protector
A mattress pad or protector can potentially double the lifespan of a mattress. And even if its effects are not quite so astounding, chances are that a protector will at least avoid the need to replace a mattress prematurely.
This is why the small print in many mattress warranties includes a caveat that you must use an effective mattress protector for your warranty to remain valid. You’ll find this most often in longer warranties, such as the 20-year mattress warranty from Soaring Heart.
If you haven’t checked the warranty on your mattress, do so now. Chances are you may want to get a mattress protector ASAP.
Many mattress warranties won’t cover a replacement if your mattress suffers due to:
- Liquid stains
- Dust mites or bed bugs
- Bacteria, fungi, mildew, or mold growth
- General dirt, skin cells, and mattress wear and tear.
#6. Mattress pads make guests happy!
While I love visiting family and friends, I often miss my own bed terribly. I like a firmer bed and find most mattresses too soft. I know I’m in the minority here, though, which is why the guest beds in my house have more medium-firm mattresses.
Whatever your own mattress preferences, it’s nice to be able to offer any houseguests a choice of comfort levels. That need not mean rejigging an entire layered mattress (though you could!). A far easier option is to have a mattress pad that offers extra plushness to those who want it. And if they don’t, you can leave the pad off the mattress and let your guests enjoy a slightly firmer sleep surface.
Simple, affordable, and a great way to keep the in-laws happy.
Oh, and it’s super easy to wash a mattress pad and protector, meaning you won’t have to worry about less careful guests ruining a costly mattress.
#7. Mattress pads and protectors make travel more comfortable
If you travel a lot, you run the risk of bringing more than just memories back home. Having slept in a hostel where bed bugs crawled out of the walls the second I went to sleep (seriously, the stuff of nightmares), I strongly recommend taking a mattress protector with you to minimize sleep disturbance and health impacts when traveling.
And in case you think bed bugs are just a thing for cheap hostels, I’d note that I’ve also found bed bugs in the seams of a hotel mattress and at a friend’s house (cue serious panic and a massive sanitization effort!).
If you do travel with a mattress protector for this reason, be sure to store, transport, and launder the protector so as to minimize potential contamination between beds.
Mattress protectors also offer good peace of mind if you have concerns about damaging a hotel mattress or such when traveling. As parent to a toddler and companion to a senior dog, mattress protectors are on my packing list for every trip.
As for mattress pads, these are also a smart choice for travel. While it’s tricky to take a full mattress topper with you on a trip, a mattress pad can add some much needed comfort and softness, as well as familiarity, to any mattress you encounter.
Mattress pads are even useful when camping, car-camping, or sleeping in an RV on the road.
#8. Mattress pads are great for all seasons
For extra softness and support, consider a wool mattress pad. Wool pads are ideal for people who need additional support for medical reasons, or to augment a mattress that is too firm or too old.
Wool mattress pads are also great for supporting thermoregulation, i.e., how well your body maintains a consistent temperature. That makes wool mattress pads a good choice all year round as they help you stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
In addition to providing a more cozy night’s sleep, a comfortable mattress pad made of wool helps to muffle noise from you or your sleeping partner.
- Provide balanced and resilient body support.
- Help to prevent overheating or overcooling during sleep.
- Quickly wick away moisture without making you feel cold or clammy. Less time is spent tossing and turning.
#9. Mattresses are expensive
There’s a huge difference in price between a good quality mattress protector or pad and a brand new mattress. For a good quality adult-sized mattress you’re often looking at upward of $1500. In many cases, the best mattresses can easily run to more than $3,000 or $4,000.
In contrast, a mattress protector might cost just $100 or so. And a mattress pad may set you back around $400. Prices vary, of course, but it’s highly unlikely you’ll spend more than $1,000 on a mattress pad.
All in all, you’re always going to be better off investing in a pad or protector that’s machine washable or (should the worst happen) replaceable for a low cost, rather than needing to buy a brand new mattress.
#10. Mattresses are very resource intensive
When we put together our lists for the best sustainable mattresses, we factor in durability and longevity. This isn’t just to help you save money and have comfortable sleep for longer. It’s also because making a mattress requires a lot of raw materials and energy, with plenty of associated carbon emissions and other environmental impacts.
Understandably, then, it’s very wasteful to have to replace a fairly young mattress that has become unusable due to a major spill, infestation, or accident.
A big part of living an eco-friendly lifestyle is to reduce how much we consume. This means purchasing fewer consumer goods and taking care of what we have.
Final thoughts on why a mattress protector and pad are worth it
A mattress protector or pad may seem like an unnecessary expense and waste of resources right now, but I’d urge you to reconsider.
Over the lifespan of your mattress, it’s highly likely there’ll be at least one spillage or accident. Even everyday wear and tear and sweat can decrease your mattress’s useful life (and void your warranty).
A mattress protector and mattress pad will prove their worth time and again. And, overall, these less bulky, less expensive items are less wasteful compared to replacing a mattress every few years due to preventable damage and premature mattress deterioration.
Mattress protectors help safeguard your health and the health of your mattress. As such, these are a necessary accessory, whatever your sleep style.
Check out our top choices for mattress protectors here. Looking for a non-toxic, eco-friendly mattress pad? You can find our carefully curated choices here.