A mattress pad is a thin layer of material placed on the surface of a mattress to provide additional soft cushioning and to help protect the mattress surface from accidental spills. They are usually about 1” inch thick and are available in a range of materials.
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WHAT DOES A MATTRESS PAD DO?
A mattress pad serves the dual role of providing added cushioning and an additional layer of protection for your mattress. They are used to add a soft plush feel to the surface of a mattress and to help prevent accidental spills from reaching your mattress.
They are easy to use, cost-effective, and can add years to the lifespan of a mattress. Pads are available in a variety of materials and there are models to suit all budgets and personal tastes. If you want to add some soft cushioning and a protective layer to your mattress – a mattress pad could be the perfect solution.
MATTRESS PAD PROS & CONS
What are the benefits and disadvantages of using a mattress pad? Below we take a look at the pros and cons of using a pad.
Mattress pads are usually about 1” inch thick. They come in various shapes and sizes but most pads add a soft cushioning layer on top of your mattress. If you want to change the feel of your mattress and add some comfort – you can try fitting a mattress pad.
A mattress pad acts as a protective layer for your mattress. It creates a substantial physical barrier that will help keep your mattress clean. Adding a pad will help prevent spills and stains from reaching your mattress.
Mattress pads are very affordable bed accessories – especially when compared to mattress toppers. For a small outlay of cash, you are getting a product that adds significant cushioning and a protective barrier to your existing mattress.
EXTEND MATTRESS LIFE
Adding a mattress pad to your bed can extend the life of your mattress. If you have an old mattress that needs some extra cushioning – you can try adding a mattress pad. It may deliver the comfort you need and you won’t have to splash out on a new mattress.
EASY TO USE
Mattress pads are incredibly easy to use. They look just like fitted sheets – but with padded cushioning on the top layer. All you have to do is position it directly on the mattress surface and pull the sides down to hold it in place. Then, place your regular bed sheet on top of the pad.
Mattress pads don’t deliver the same level of protection as a mattress protector. Most pads are not waterproof, so spills can pass through and reach your mattress. However, they are quite thick, and most come with about 1” inch of padding.
LIMITED CUSHIONING EFFECT
Mattress pads provide only a small amount of cushioning. If you want to significantly change the feel of your mattress you should consider a mattress topper. Mattress toppers are thicker and provide more cushioning.
TYPES OF MATTRESS PAD
Mattress pads are available in a variety of materials. The most common types of pads are cotton, polyester, and memory foam. Each type has a distinct feel and set of characteristics, see below.
Cotton mattress pads are one of the most popular options on the market. It is a natural, breathable, and soft cushioning material. They are also easy to clean and most models can be put through a machine wash. Cotton pads are durable and retain their soft feel even after multiple washing cycles.
Polyester mattress pads are made from synthetic fiber and are highly durable. They provide a soft cushioning feel, similar to cotton, but are much cheaper. These pads are naturally hypoallergenic so they are a great choice for people that suffer from allergies. Polyester pads are lightweight and machine washable.
Memory foam mattress pads are a good option for people that want to change the feel of their mattress. These foam pads mold around your body and provide pressure relief. The foam responds to pressure and changes shape to gently cradle body weight. They are a more expensive option compared to cotton and polyester.
Feather mattress pads are made using duck or goose feathers. They are a great choice for people looking to add some soft cushioning to their mattress surface. These pads deliver a plush feel and can be used to make a firm mattress feel softer. Feathers are a natural material and are breathable – which helps keep your mattress surface cool.
Wool mattress pads are made using sheep wool. It is a natural material and is a good choice if you want to add some soft cushioning to your mattress. Wool is breathable and naturally wicking – which means it draws moisture away from the sleeping surface. It is also a naturally fire-retardant material.
HOW TO USE
Using a mattress pad is easy. All you have to do is remove any sheets from your mattress and place the pad directly on your mattress surface. Make sure it is the right way up, then align the four corners with the corners of the mattress.
Once the pad is in position pull the sides of the pad down along the sides of the mattress – just like a fitted sheet. This will hold the pad in place and prevent it from moving during the night. When the pad is firmly on the mattress you can dress your bed as normal. Place your best sheet on top of the pad and then add your blanket and pillows.
HOW TO CLEAN
In general, mattress pads are very easy to clean. Most pads can be put through a machine wash and cleaned in the same way as your regular bed sheets. However, mattress pads are available in a variety of different types of material – and this means you will have to check the cleaning instructions for your specific model.
Cotton and polyester pads will be the easiest to clean. These materials are robust and can almost always be washed in a regular laundry cycle. Memory foam, feather, and wool pads will have specific cleaning instructions. Refer to your manufacturer’s instructions to find out how your pad should be cleaned.
DO YOU NEED A MATTRESS PAD?
You should buy a mattress pad if you want to add an extra layer of cushioning to your mattress without spending a great deal of money. They are a lot cheaper than investing in a new mattress. If you want to change the feel of your mattress and add a little extra comfort without breaking the bank – then a mattress pad is a great option.
Additionally, mattress pads help protect your mattress. They create an effective physical barrier on the surface of your mattress. This helps protect your mattress from spills and stains and preserve its cleanliness. Pads can add years to a mattress and extend its lifespan.
MATTRESS PAD vs TOPPER vs PROTECTOR
What’s the difference between a mattress pad, a mattress topper, and a mattress protector? Pads are like a halfway house between mattress toppers and mattress protectors. They add soft cushioning and a moderate amount of protection. So, how do they compare to mattress toppers and mattress protectors?
A mattress topper is like a mini mattress that sits on top of your existing mattress. They are much thicker than mattress pads and ad a lot more cushioning and support. Mattress toppers are used to change the feel of a mattress and to extend years to a mattress that is beginning to show signs of its age. For more see What Is a Mattress Topper?
As the name suggests, a mattress protector is specially designed to protect your mattress. They are much thinner than pads and are usually waterproof. They prevent accidental spills from reaching the mattress surface. Protectors do not provide any additional support or cushioning. For more see What Is a Mattress Protector?
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
CAN YOU WASH A MATTRESS PAD?
Yes, you can wash a mattress pad. Most pads can be washed in a regular machine wash. Check the cleaning instructions for your pad to see if it has any specific cleaning instructions.
CAN YOU SLEEP WITHOUT A MATTRESS PAD?
Yes, you can sleep without a mattress pad. Adding a pad to your mattress is optional. Pads are used to add an additional layer of cushioning and protection to your mattress.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU WASH A MATTRESS PAD?
You should wash your mattress pad every time you strip your bed to wash your bedclothes. To prevent the odors and keep your pad feeling fresh it should be washed as often as you see fit.
IS A MATTRESS PAD THE SAME AS A MATTRESS COVER?
No, a mattress pad is not the same as a mattress cover. A mattress cover, often referred to as a mattress protector, is designed to protect the surface of your mattress and keep it clean and dry. A mattress pas is designed to provide both protection and an additional layer of soft cushioning.
DO YOU PUT A FITTED SHEET OVER A MATTRESS PAD?
Yes, you put a fitted sheet over a mattress pad. Your pad should sit directly on your mattress surface and you should place your sheet directly on the surface of the pad.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JOSH HARDY – Senior Editor
Josh is senior editor at Mattress Comfort Guide. He is an industry expert with over 30 years of experience in the bed and mattress industry. Josh is a native of Albuquerque and is a graduate of the University of New Mexico. He holds an M.S. in Project Management and a B.S. in Earth & Planetary Sciences.
He has worked in both the retail and manufacturing industries where he has held consultancy roles on mattress design and technologies. Josh has a particular interest in how different mattress types complement body size and sleeping position, and deliver optimal lumbar support. Josh is a keen sports fan and when he’s away from the office he likes to play basketball and catch the New Mexico Lobos games with his two sons at the Pit.