The Best Mattress Pads and Protectors You Can Buy Right Now

updated Jul 18, 2023
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Minimalist bedroom with bed with black and white bedding, small side table with lamp, white walls, wood floor. Seal in upper left corner reads Apartment Therapy the Best List 2023 Mattress Pads & Protectors
Credit: Federico Paul

Mattresses are the unsung heroes of our lives. They help us get the much-needed rest we need to take on early mornings, help us relax after way-too-long stints at work, and are there for us when we need them the most (during Netflix binges that are so serious, the couch simply won’t suffice). So, why is it that we invest in a good mattress, then do nothing to ensure its quality remains for as long as possible? If you’ve got a mattress you want to last, you’ve got to do something to protect it. That’s where mattress protectors and pads come into play. Yeah, they’re not a super sexy purchase, but they’re a necessary one if you value your bedtime even a little bit. 

Mattress pads and protectors aren’t like the toppers you might already have on your bed that make it comfier or fluffier to sleep on. Think of pads and protectors more as a security layer around your mattress that’s built to keep away anything that might damage it, like water, stains, and even dust mites. These items should be staples for your home, especially if you have kids or perhaps a new puppy in the mix. Think about all of the potential accidents and spills in your future. These layers also come in handy when you’re moving. They’ll keep dirt, grime, and allergens from cementing onto your bed and ward off any creepy crawling critters that may potentially live on board the moving truck (just saying!). Plus, how nice would it be to simply throw a pad in the washer versus scrub and bleach a whole mattress?

Another very important reason to get a mattress protector: Liquids can break down the foams in mattresses, so stains will void your warranty. So, if for no other reason than to protect your investment, it’s a smart idea to get a mattress pad. You can thank us later for the warning.

After testing out a bunch of different mattress pads and protectors ourselves, our editors have narrowed down a list of truly terrific options that will fit into your budget and lifestyle seamlessly. Check them out below.


The Best Mattress Pads and Protectors

What to Consider When Buying a Mattress Pad

Mattress pads are there to protect the mattress you so generously invested time and money into, so there are a few things you should keep in mind when shopping for one. The key is deciding how you want it to protect your mattress or, really, what your mattress pad can do for you — after all, you’ll be getting pretty cozy with it.

Purpose

Waterproof: While many mattress covers are water resistant, you’ll want to specifically look for a waterproof mattress protector if you have younger kids or pets who sleep with you, or if you just like to enjoy a glass of wine in bed. Doing so will protect your mattress from stains and anything else you don’t want to be lying in every night — not to mention, a damp mattress can lead to mold and bacteria growth. If you want a totally waterproof mattress pad, look for options that are made without phthalates, PVC, vinyl, or other potentially harmful chemicals. We found three great options that aren’t treated with chemicals to make them waterproof.

Hypoallergenic: Mattress pads can prevent allergens like dirt, dander, and dust mites from settling into your mattress, and they can also keep you more comfortable if you have sensitive skin. There are also mattress protectors designed to keep bed bugs out — which could be enough information to force us all to look for a mattress pad of our own. For the most effective hypoallergenic mattress protectors, look at the encasement style. Ones that fully zip all the way around the mattress (rather than cinching around the top like a fitted sheet) and have a tightly woven fabric work best at keeping dust mites and their waste from passing through. Another rule of thumb, if you have bad allergies, is to wash your mattress pad (and other bedding) once a week in hot water.

Temperature regulating: Whether you sleep hot or cold, a mattress pad can help you sleep more soundly. Hot sleepers should look for breathable materials like cotton, wool, bamboo, and eucalyptus lyocell, and avoid polyester, which tends to trap heat. Also keep in mind that mattress pads will keep your mattress fresh if you tend to sweat during the night.

Style

There are two types of mattress pads: those that fit like fitted sheets and those that fully encase the mattress. The most common type is the fitted sheet-style mattress pad, so all of the picks on our list are that style. These are easier to find and clean, as you can simply pull them off the mattress, but they do leave the bottom of your mattress exposed. If you have severe allergies or are in need of ultimate protection from bed bugs and other pests, look into zippered protectors that fully cover your mattress.

Certifications

There are a few material and textile certifications we mention that are worth looking out for when shopping for bedding of any kind, including mattress pads.

  • OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certifiedProducts are free of harmful synthetics and dyes.
  • Made in Green by OEKO-TEX certifiedMaterials used in products are traceable and have been tested for and are free from harmful substances.
  • GOTS certifiedProducts align with the Global Organic Textile Standard, which defines the worldwide recognized requirements for organic textiles.
  • Cotton LEADS program: A reliable cotton supply chain providing raw material that is responsibly produced and identified.
  • Made Safe certified: Products are nontoxic and made with safe ingredients/materials.
  • Fair Trade certified: Products are created in alignment with the economic standards in place for manufacturers to equitably distribute the benefits of ingredient, material, or product trade.
  • Global Cotton Initiative partnerThe production process uses fewer synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, increases cotton yields, reduces water usage, improves soil health, and applies decent work principles.
  • Climate Neutral certified: Products created by a company that actually offsets more carbon emissions than they generate, making them carbon negative.
  • ETL certified: This certification might be found on heated bedding, and indicates that the product complies with North American safety standards.

What We Look for in a Mattress Pad

We tested a wide range of mattress pads for our list, judging them on the following criteria:

  • Feel: How comfortable is the mattress pad? Does it have any padding? Does it move around during the night?
  • Construction: How durable is the mattress pad? Is it sturdy? Will it hold up to use and washing?
  • Effectiveness: Does it effectively protect the mattress?

The Best Mattress Pads

If you’re a hot sleeper, or somebody who needs complete silence to get some much-needed rest, the Saatva Waterproof Mattress Protector is the one for you. Charli, Apartment Therapy’s Executive Lifestyle Director, tested this model and noted that it was “super quiet underneath our fitted sheet and very breathable and easy to wash — win, win!” This is likely due to the super thin polyurethane material that protects against liquids but allows airflow at the same time. What’s more, this mattress pad comes in a wide variety of size options, is finished off with a comfortable cotton lining, and has an elastic band that keeps it fitted and shaped to whatever mattress you have. “I think the price point is excellent for the quality of this mattress pad,” Charli says. “I highly recommend it!”

Specifications:

  • 100% organic cotton with polyurethane moisture barrier (cotton knit top and jersey knit bottom)
  • Available in 7 sizes 
  • Fits mattresses up to 16″
  • Waterproof
  • Machine wash cold on gentle cycle, then tumble dry low
  • 1-year limited warranty

Who It’s Best For: Those who are sensitive sleepers; those with pets and/or children; those looking for a quiet mattress protector.

Good to Know: Micro-perforations in this mattress protector help air to flow through it and increase breathability.

Best Budget-Friendly: INGALIK Mattress Pad

This affordable and ultra-comfy pad from INGALIK can fit mattresses between 8-21 inches thick, thanks to its stretchy fit and secure snugness. Made from moisture-wicking 100 percent cotton, it makes for a soft addition to your bed and can be fluffed up to 1.5 inches, according to the brand. So, you’ll get some added comfort if you choose. “I recently purchased a boxed mattress, not realizing how firm it would be. Adding the INGALIK Mattress Protector really was the perfect solution,” says AT ad operations coordinator Nicole. “It  transformed my firm mattress to be softer and more comfortable. I think this is a great option for anyone looking to add a softer feel without having to buy a new mattress.” What’s more, it’s machine-washable and quick-drying. A win for clean freaks and chore haters alike.

Specifications:

  • 100% cotton with 450GSM microfiber filling
  • Available in 2 colors and 6 sizes
  • Fits mattresses up to 21″
  • Machine wash on gentle cycle, then tumble dry low
  • OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified
  • 3-month warranty 

Who It’s Best For: Those who want to save on a quality mattress pad; those who want a fluffier mattress pad; those who want a mattress pad and topper combo.

Good to Know: To extend the life of this mattress pad, rotate it on your mattress after washing.

For those who unabashedly invest in their sleep and home, this high-end mattress protector should surely be on your list of must-haves. The Cozy Earth Bamboo Mattress Pad is made from 100 percent viscose from bamboo that’s both breathable and moisture-wicking, making it the ideal choice for hot sleepers or for people who live in hot areas. You might recognize the brand name, too, as it’s an Oprah favorite. Senior commerce editor Alicia tested out this pad on two mattresses with different sizes and it fit over each. “I love how silky it is and how it doesn’t shift at all when my boyfriend and I are sleeping,” she says. “I do think it’s a great protector — probably the nicest one I’ve owned.”

Specifications:

  • 100% premium viscose from bamboo
  • Available in 5 sizes
  • Fits mattresses up to 20″
  • Spot clean or dry clean recommended
  • Machine wash on rinse cycle only (no spin); dry on delicate, low heat, or hang dry
  • 10-year warranty
  • 100-day trial

Who It’s Best For: Those who sleep hot; those living in a humid climate; those who want a long-lasting mattress protector.

Good to Know: Due to its deep pockets, it’s best to check the dimensions of this protector before purchasing it to ensure a good fit on your mattress.

The machine-washable Legends Hotel Waterproof Mattress Pad is perfect for homes with pets or children prone to accidents. It’s completely waterproof and has inner and outer layers of cotton and polyfill to ensure a leak-free finish. Executive lifestyle director Charli says the model “exceeded” her expectations. 

“The quality and fit were great, and slipping it onto my mattress really felt like I was giving it an extra shield of protection — especially from our pets — and I appreciated that confidence,” she says. “It was super comfortable under our fitted sheet and provided an extra layer of softness — something you don’t always expect from a traditional mattress pad.”

Specifications:

  • Cotton shell with synthetic polyfill filling and a thermoplastic polyurethane barrier
  • Available in 2 heights and 6 sizes
  • Fits mattresses up to 11″ or 18″, depending on protector height
  • Waterproof 
  • Machine wash on gentle cycle, then tumble dry low

Who It’s Best For: Those with children and/or pets; those needing a protector for a slimmer mattress.

Good to Know: According to Charli, the quality of the mattress protector holds up after washing; however, it takes a while to dry. “I had to run two-and-a-half dryer cycles to get it nice and dry,” she says. “Hopefully we won’t have to wash it as often as our bedding!”

This Serta mattress pad has an added bonus — heating. The protector comes with 10 different heat settings so that you’ll feel nice and toasty, to your exact liking. Plus, the cover has an automatic shut-off timer to ensure safe use every single time. A note: Queen and King models come with dual heating and two remotes, which allows for customizable experiences for each side of the bed.

“I loved that it had the dual-zone temperature features,” says AT’s special projects senior director Tara. “My husband and I tested multiple variations of the temperature/intensity levels, and the temperature difference between both sides was apparent. I can see this product being a huge hit for cooler months — and I can’t wait to continue to use it.”

Specifications:

  • Poly-cotton top with polyester fill and microfiber bottom
  • Available in 5 sizes
  • Fits mattresses up to 18″
  • Features specialized heat setting, overheat protection, shutoff timer
  • Includes power cord and controllers (1 for Twin XL, and 2 for Queen, King, and California King sizes)
  • Waterproof
  • Machine washable
  • ETL certified
  • 5-year limited warranty

Who It’s Best For: Those who sleep cold; those who share a bed; those looking for a mattress protector that will be good for cooler months.

Good to Know: Queen and King sizes have dual-zone temperature settings.

On the market for an eco-friendly addition to your bed? This protector from My Green Mattress is made with 100 percent organic cotton that is constructed in a GOLS Organic Factory. It protects against dust mites, allergens, and moisture, thanks to the two layers of GOTS certified material. “I really like this mattress protector from the perspective of keeping my mattress from smelling like dog — it’s super easy to pop in the wash and, combined with new sheets, you can’t smell any lingering pet odors,” says home projects director Megan.

She notes that the protector did ward off sweat and wet spots from her furry friend. “A couple reviews said it was noisy, but I do not find that to be the case. Topped with a fitted sheet it is no noisier than a regular bed,” she adds. “The cotton is smooth to the touch and tightly woven. Even fresh out of the box it didn’t have any weird chemical smells (though they do advise that you wash before using the first time, which I did).”

Specifications:

  • 100% organic cotton with thermoplastic polyurethane barrier
  • Available in 8 sizes
  • Fits mattresses up to 14″ and crib mattresses up to 6″
  • Waterproof
  • Made in the USA
  • GREENGUARD GOLD compliant and GOTS certified
  • Machine wash on gentle cycle, then tumble dry low
  • 1-year warranty 

Who It’s Best For: Those who want an eco-friendly mattress pad; those with pets and/or children.

Good to Know: These mattress protectors are not pre-shrunk. For best fit, wash it prior to use so it can adjust to its intended size.