Do I Really Need A Mattress Protector?

Last Updated on March 30, 2023

As an adult, do you really need a mattress protector?

We’ve seen that question asked on more than one occasion. Some people think that a mattress protector is just for kids. Others think that it’s just another vehicle for OCD.

Either way, the common view that we hear is that a mattress protector is kind of like a car cover. In other words, they’re helpful, but not necessary.

So let’s set things straight. Yes, regardless of your age, you should be using a mattress protector!



What type of mattress protector should I use?

For complete protection, you’ll want to use a protector that is waterproof, and that offers full zippered encasement.

Our pick is the Mattress Encasement protector from Linenspa.

a woman encasing a mattress in a mattress protector


Using a waterproof zippered mattress protector – as opposed to a fitted sheet style protector –  is the only full-proof way of protecting your mattress from both bugs and liquids.

A good mattress protector will have two key features:

  • A zipper – so that you have end-to-end and top-to-bottom coverage
  • A liner – which will make it waterproof

And avoid anything that is not machine washable!


How do you place a protector onto the mattress?

If you think of your mattress as a huge pillow, a mattress protector is basically just a huge pillowcase that zips shut. That’s all that it is.

The installation is really simple – place the mattress inside of the protector, and then close the zipper.

Something like this:


how-to-guide for using a mattress protector

You don’t necessarily have to stand the mattress up. You can also just place the opening of the protector on one end of your mattress, and then just wiggle it to the other end.

Once it’s all the way around, then just zip it shut.


Why should I be using a mattress protector?

There are many reasons to use a mattress protector. This is a list of our top 7.

As you read this list, keep in mind, the main purpose of a mattress protector is to protect your mattress. A mattress can last for 5 years, or it can last up to 10 years or more.

A lot of it depends on what gets inside.

Sleeping on a mattress provides some wear and tear, but liquids and bugs do as much, if not more damage.


1.) Smells and odors

You wash your sheets, pillows, comforter, etc. But you never wash your mattress.

Your mattress gets dirty and smelly just like your sheets do. You might wipe the surface clean every now and then, but most of the nasty stuff gets absorbed into the mattress itself.

a woman disgusted by something that stinks

If you smell something funky even after you do laundry, it’s probably just your mattress.

A mattress protector keeps everything out. This is particularly useful since you can’t throw the mattress into your washing machine.


2.) Sweat

The popular misconception about a mattress protector is that its sole purpose is to protect a child’s mattress when they wet the bed.

Everyone sweats while they sleep. A few drops every night might not sound like much, but it all adds up over the years.

Some of your sweat gets absorbed by the sheets, but a lot of it ends up inside your mattress.

a young man sweating in bed

There is a lot of fibrous material inside of a mattress, which warps when it absorbs liquid.

Have you ever seen what happens to a paper towel when it dries? It gets crinkled and bends in different directions, right?

That is the same thing that happens inside of a mattress.


3.) Bed bugs and dust mites

The inside of a mattress is a breeding ground for bugs and mites!

Bed bugs and dust mites prefer to eat natural fibers. If you have a traditional mattress – which is full of natural fibers – then you basically have an “all you can eat buffet” operating under you while you sleep.


multiple dust mites crawling around


Over time, they eat away at the insides of your mattress, which causes considerable aging. Beg bugs and dust mites do more damage than anything else on this list.

The problem with bed critters (among others) is that they don’t eat away at your mattress evenly. As certain sections are eaten away and degrade, uneven areas and lumps develop.

Oh, and sometimes they come out and bite you as well!


bed bug bites on a woman's back

A mattress protector has a super tight weave, as well as a polyurethane liner, which keeps the bugs out. It won’t fully eliminate your bed bug problem, but it will keep them out of your mattress.


4.) Sex

Just like sweat, other bodily fluids also get absorbed into the mattress and cause damage.

You wouldn’t pour a cup of water on top of your bed, right? But something like that routinely happens for a lot of couples during sex.

a man on top of a woman in bed

If your sheets are usually wet after sex, you need to start using protection! You’ll still have the wet spot, but a mattress protector will prevent it from soaking into your mattress.


5.) Pollutants in the atmosphere

Memory foam mattresses are very popular these days. And many traditional mattresses even incorporate a few foam layers.

Memory foam is made from petroleum. The same way that plastics and other synthetic materials get dry and brittle when left outside, so does a memory foam mattress – even though it’s inside.

factory pollution in the atmosphere

The air outside does make its way inside.

A mattress protector seals the mattress, keeping it soft, supple, and like new.


6.) Adult incontinence

Children wet the bed, but so do adults. Adult incontinence isn’t always obvious either – sometimes it’s just a trickle.

You can wash your sheets, but it’s much harder to wash a mattress.

a urine stain in a child's bed


You might be able to clean the surface stains, but the urine that gets absorbed is impossible to get out. Needless to say, the urine odor will probably linger for a while.

Throwing the mattress protector into the washing machine will save you a lot of headaches and hassles. And if you use incontinence pads, you can skip the wash too!


7.) Life happens

You might drop a wet towel on top of your bed and then forget about it. Or you might be enjoying a meal in bed and spill the wine.

a spilled glass of wine

Either way, these things happen, even to the most careful among us.

A small spill can cause a lot of damage. If you add up all of the small spills and mishaps over the years, it’s easy to see how it might cut the life of a mattress.


Final thoughts

When you consider all of the sweat, bodily fluids, etc., you can start to get the idea that your mattress is basically just one large sponge.

A sponge that you sleep on. A very expensive large sponge!

A mattress protector will keep your mattress clean, dry, and in optimal shape for as long as possible. Good quality mattresses cost an arm and a leg these days.

A mattress protector is the single best way to protect your sleep investment.

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