Mattress protectors come in many shapes, sizes, and fits. Some fully encase your mattress while others sit on top. Here’s the 101 on the different kinds of mattress protectors and why you might want to choose one over another.
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Size and shape of mattress protectors
Mattress protectors are made to fit standard mattress measurements. That means you’ll need a queen-size mattress protector for a queen-size mattress, a king-size for a king-size mattress, and so on.
So far, so good. What you want to pay extra attention to, though, is the depth to which the protector fits, especially if you’re adding a mattress topper or pad to your mattress. This applies to all three of the main styles of mattress protector.
Mattress protectors – style and fit
Most mattress protectors fit your mattress in one of three ways:
- Encasement – Has a 360-degree zipper and fully encloses and protects your mattress, top, bottom, and sides
- Fitted – Slips onto your mattress like a fitted sheet, with elasticated corners or full perimeter elastic (typically protects the top only, or top and sides)
- Anchor – Has corner ties or elastics to secure a flat sheet-style protector to the top of a mattress (no side protection).
Each of these has its pros and cons.
Encasement mattress protectors
As for encasement style mattress protectors, these usually have the same densely woven fabric on all six sides for full protection. Some only protect the sides and top though and have a polyester gauze or other synthetic material on the bottom. Again, check all materials to be sure!
If you’re looking for a 360-degree encasement style mattress protector, also check the position of the zip. Mattress protectors may have a zip in the following places:
- Half way down the side of the mattress, which can create a ridge or bump but makes for easy on-and-off for washing
- At the top of the side, which makes it easy to put on and remove but can be irritating it you like to hold onto the edges of your mattress
- At the bottom of the side, for easy use but tucked neatly out of the way
- Running lengthways underneath the mattress, which makes it harder to get the encasement on and off but keeps the zip entirely out of sight.
If you don’t foresee having to launder your mattress protector very often, a less convenient zip location may not matter much. Otherwise, I strongly suggest a side or bottom zip location for a full encasement.
Fitted mattress protectors
Many fitted style mattress protectors have a cotton top but spandex or polyester sides, so make sure to check all materials before buying. Similarly, many anchor style protectors have synthetic elastics, although some have organic cotton corner ties.
As with encasements and anchor style protectors, you’ll want to check the measurements of your mattress against the protector before you buy. Most protectors aren’t returnable once opened.
If you have an especially deep mattress or mattress and topper combination, be sure your chosen protector has enough side depth to properly fit. Conveniently, some mattress companies (such as Avocado, Naturepedic, and Savvy Rest) also sell protectors designed to perfectly fit their mattresses.
Anchor style mattress protectors
Anchor style mattress protectors are less common than fitted protectors but are a good choice if you want to minimize bulk, especially on laundry day.
This style is basically a flat piece of layered fabric with four elastic loops, one at each corner. You slip the loops over and under the corners of your mattress to hold the protector in place.
Some protectors use corner ties instead, with no elastic. These require you to tie a knot yourself at each corner to hold the protector in position. For this style, I recommend untying the knots before washing and drying the protector. Otherwise, shrinkage can make the knot very hard to undo and may also make the ties too short to slip back over the mattress.
Some mattress protectors don’t have anchors or elastics and just lay flat (ideally) on top of your mattress or mattress topper and are held in place by your fitted sheet.
While I like the simplicity of this style, it’s not always practical as the protector can easily slip, slide, and bunch, making it uncomfortable and less effective overall.
As such, I don’t recommend this style of mattress protector if you:
- Move around a lot while sleeping
- Have kids who bounce on the bed a lot
- Have poorly fitting bed sheets
- Intend to use the protector to safeguard your mattress during vigorous sex.
The main advantage of this simpler style of mattress protector is that the protector will work even on a very deep mattress where a more structured, fitted, protector wouldn’t work.
Final thoughts on mattress protector size, style, and fit
The ideal mattress protector will fit your mattress perfectly to fully protect it in the way you want. This might mean a full encasement as a barrier to bed bugs and dust mites or it might just be a flat wool puddle pad that slips under your fitted sheet to help shield your mattress from the odd spill.
Before buying a mattress protector, make sure the design and fit are right for your needs. Pay special attention to the care and maintenance of a mattress protector too as these can make a big difference in how effective the protection is and how much use you get from the product.