Mattress law—not to be confused with Murphy’s law—goes something like, “Whatever can go wrong on your mattress, will go wrong…unless you use a protective cover.” Ok, that’s not really an old adage, but it could be. Some of our most troubling moments as mattress owners come from unexpected spills and stains, microscopic allergens, and accidents we swore would never happen.
While there are several ways to effectively clean your mattress, many issues can be prevented or easily resolved by using a mattress protector. These accessories are optional, but consider adding one if you relate to any of the follow statements:
I have pets or kids. I spend a lot of time in bed. I sweat or drool while I sleep. I’m sensitive to dust mites and allergens. I’m concerned about getting bed bugs. I’m prone to accidents in bed. I eat and/or drink in bed regularly. I want to add a little softness to my bed. Spot cleaning is the bane of my existence. I just want to protect my investment and/or keep my warranty active.
Before you go shopping, let’s discuss the most commonly used mattress protectors: encasement, fitted sheet, and padded.
Pros: An encasement cover, or a zippered mattress protector, fits around the whole mattress. They protect against spills and stains, and can slow down wear and tear. Most feature a zipper closure—providing security against dust mites and bed bugs, and making the cover less likely to move or come off (perfect for kids and active sleepers).
Cautions: It’s important to choose a material that won’t trap moisture or heavily block airflow. Encasement covers made from fabric blends tend to be thin, breathable, quiet, and easy to clean. Materials like vinyl or plastic can change the feel of the mattress, make noise, and trap heat and moisture (which could cause mold growth). If you're looking for a bed bug mattress protector, the only true way to prevent your mattress from being infected is with a full encasement. If you're in an area where this is a concern, you may have to make a trade off when it comes to airflow.
We recommend Hospitology Sleep Defense Mattress Encasement.
Pros: These protectors go over a mattress like a fitted sheet. They are easy to put on and take off, and usually machine washable. Fitted sheet protectors are designed to keep bacteria and fluids at bay. Often marketed as hypoallergenic, they are a popular choice for people with allergies, too.
Cautions: Leaves bottom of mattress uncovered, not as effective as encasement covers at preventing bed bugs and dust mites.
We recommend our own protector, made specifically to prolong the life of your Tuft & Needle. Learn more about it here.
Pros: Pads can offer softness and slow mattress breakdown.
Cautions: Changes the feel of the mattress, may not be machine washable, susceptible to lumping and clumping over time (depending on the filling), less protective against spills and stains, may not be a waterproof mattress protector.
We recommend Classic Brands Defend-a-Bed Mattress Protector.
Other Factors to Consider
Sleeping Hot Protective covers can block airflow and cause heat retention on any mattress.
Warranty The Tuft & Needle mattress comes with a 10-year warranty that does not require use of a protector and is not made void by small stains or spills. Still, not every mattress warranty or company appreciates fine wine as much as you do—just one small spill could void decades worth of coverage. Know the details of your warranty, including its limitations. People with sensitive warranties should consider a protective cover as a preventative measure.
Care Covers reduce the need to clean your mattress, but how do you keep protective covers clean? Consider how low or high maintenance you want your cover to be. For example, do the care instructions allow for machine washing or do they call for professional cleaning?
When it comes to care, an important feature to consider is can you wash a mattress protector? Most are machine washable just like the rest of your bedding, but specific care instructoins should be labeled clearly on the tags.
Pore Size If allergens are your main concern, research pore size—this is measured in microns and refers to the size of openings in a fabric weave. Generally speaking, the smaller the pore size, the lower the likelihood of allergens taking up residence in your mattress. Keep in mind this decreased pore size can also limit airflow causing you to sleep warmer.
Own a Tuft & Needle? Click here for information on the cover that comes with your mattress.