The Best Mattress Pads

If you’ve been looking around for ways to upgrade your bed, there’s a high probability that you’ve come across mattress pads. Whether it’s for their feel or their ability to help protect a mattress, these products have enjoyed considerable popularity. But with so many options on the market, it can be hard to know exactly what you need and which pads are the best.

In this guide, we’ll break it all down for you, including our list of the top 5 best mattress pads as well as explanations of what mattress pads are and who is most likely to benefit from using one.

Our Top Picks

With even a cursory search online, you’ll discover dozens and dozens of different mattress pads that you can buy with just a couple of clicks. So that you don’t have to spend your valuable time researching all of these, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you. In this section, we’ll describe our top 5 best mattress pads and why they made our list.

ExceptionalSheets Bamboo Mattress Pad

The ExceptionalSheets Bamboo Mattress pad has a cover made with rayon, and its fill material is a blend of cotton and polyester. This interior material is lofted to offer nearly an inch of thickness and a plusher feel. It is available in all of the standard sizes and is hypoallergenic but not waterproof. It comes with a 1-year warranty from the manufacturer, eLuxury Supply, and has an excellent track record of reviews from verified customers online. The biggest downside to this mattress pad is its cost as it clocks in at $90+ depending on size, making it quite a bit more expensive than others on this list.

Overall, the ExceptionalSheets Bamboo Mattress pad is best for people who want a mattress pad that is able to increase the softness and comfort of their bed without having to buy a thicker mattress cover.

 

Utopia Bedding Quilted Fitted Mattress Pad

For a price that is within reach for virtually any customer, the Utopia Bedding mattress pad is a quick way to add a thin, though not impermeable, line of defense for your mattress. It is made with polyester in its cover as well as in its interior, although there is limited fiber fill given that the thickness is only about one-quarter inch. As a result, it will have limited impact on the comfort feel or softness of your bed as a whole. It is hypoallergenic but is not waterproof, so customers should not expect this to offer robust mattress protection.

This pad is offered in all standard sizes and is the best fit for customers who want an affordable, minimalist mattress pad that doesn’t dramatically change the feel of the bed but does give one extra layer against damage to the mattress.

 

The Grand Fitted Quilted Mattress Pad

The Grand Fitted Quilted Mattress Pad is another low-cost option, but it provides slightly more softness than the Utopia Bedding pad. The pad is made from a blend of polyester and cotton, and the top is quilted to give a bit more plushness. This quilted top also helps to reduce any noise from moving on the pad. The total thickness is between one-quarter and one-half inch. This pad is not waterproof, but it is hypoallergenic and fully machine-washable.

The Grand’s mattress pad is the best option for customers who want slightly more thickness and softness, especially with cotton, but are still shopping on a tight budget.

 

Hospitology Products Heavenly Down-Alternative Mattress Pad

The Hospitology Heavenly mattress pad includes several design elements to make it an easy way to alter the feel of the mattress. The top layer is polyester that has a brushed microfiber feel for extra softness. Beneath this cover is synthetic goose down alternative fiber that is compressed to give it more plushness without adding too much height to the bed. It has extra deep pockets (up to 21” deep) to fit virtually any bed. It is hypoallergenic, but it is not waterproof, so though it will give some protection to the bed, it can’t stop damage from more serious spills.

Though it is a bit more expensive than other pads on this list, it is still affordable and a best bet for shoppers who want the softness and feel of down without its high cost.

 

Stuff4Tots Waterproof Mattress Pad

The Stuff4Tots waterproof mattress pad is built with three layers to give it a unique performance. The top of the pad is cotton that is designed to provide softness. The second layer is a polyester microfiber fill for more softness without losing breathability: this airflow helps prevent the pad from having heat retention issues. The bottom layer is a thin lining of TPU, which is a laminate used for waterproofing. This entire pad attached to the mattress using an elastic, fitted-sheet style. By combining these three layers, this pad can make the bed softer while also giving more peace of mind that spills won’t reach to the actual mattress.

This pad is the best pick for people who prioritize having a waterproof barrier without a noisy material or a material that goes entirely around the mattress. At a price still well under $50, this is more affordable than many other waterproof pads or protectors.

 

What is a Mattress Pad?

To make sure we’re on the same page, it’s necessary to start by defining what a mattress pad is. A mattress pad is a thin layer that goes over your mattress. Its main goal is to help defend your mattress from spills or other accidents that might harm it. And though it’s not the primary purpose of a mattress pad, using one can adjust the feel of your mattress by adding extra material to the top of the bed.

Do you need a mattress pad, mattress topper, or a mattress protector?

Some similar products that are on the market are mattress protectors and mattress toppers. There are no “standard” definitions for these products, so it can be confusing at times for consumers. To clear this up, here’s a basic breakdown:

A mattress pad goes on top of the mattress and helps defend the mattress from damage.

A mattress protector goes around the whole mattress and gives more heavy-duty protection. Most protectors are waterproof and hypoallergenic. A protector also fits under the sheets.

A mattress topper goes just over the top of the mattress, and its purpose is to adjust the feel of the bed. These are usually the thickest of these products but offer the least protection.

You can refer to the table below for a summary of this comparison between these products:

Mattress Pad Mattress Topper Mattress Protector
Placement Over top and sides Top of mattress Over entire mattress
Thickness (typical) .125" - 1" .5" - 3" .125" - 1"
Material (typical) Fiber (cotton, polyester), down Foam, latex, fiber, down, wool Fiber (rayon, polyester, cotton, and blends)
Amount of Protection Medium Low High
Waterproof? Sometimes No Normally
Hypoallergenic? Sometimes Rarely Normally
Main Reason for Use Minor protection of mattress Adjust mattress feel Defend mattress against spills and other damage

What are you hoping to achieve with your pad or topper?

One of the best ways to determine which of these products may be most appropriate for you is by considering the rationale that caused you to start looking at mattress pads in the first place. Here’s a quick breakdown of different situations and which product might be best:

  • You need more support: support from your bed is what helps to keep your spine aligned so that you don’t wake up sore. If you are in need of more support, then a mattress topper is clearly going to be the best option. In this case, check out our guide to the Best Mattress Toppers.
  • You need a softer feel: if your mattress is too firm for your liking, then a topper is going to offer the greatest ability to adjust that feel. If you only need a little bit more softness, a mattress pad may be able to do the trick.
  • You need a firmer feel: if your mattress is too soft for you, a topper will be the only reliable way to get a firmer comfort level.
  • You need to keep your mattress safe from stains and damage: for the most robust defense, a mattress protector will be your best choice. If you feel that a protector would be overkill, a mattress pad can help defend your mattress.
  • You have a mattress protector that is very noisy: mattress pads generally do not disturb sleep because of noise. This is also true of most toppers, but if the main goal is just to eliminate noise, a pad is a better value.
  • You want to reset the feel of your bed: a topper does much more to alter the comfort and support levels of your bed, so it is the best choice for pressing the “reset” button.
  • You need to keep allergens away: if you are highly sensitive to allergens, a protector will give you the highest performance since most have hypoallergenic covers. However, a mattress pad, especially one that is easily washable, can still help fight allergen accumulation.

In some cases, you can use more than one of these products. For example, if you buy a new topper and want to keep it from getting stained, you could encase it and the original mattress in a protector.

Cotton

Cotton is a material that is known for its softness, and can definitely give a slightly plusher feel to your bed. Depending on the thickness of the pad, it can also add some protection for the mattress as well. The downside to cotton, though is that this protection is limited because of the absorbency of cotton. Unless it has some special treatment, it cannot really keep a bad spill from soaking through the mattress itself.

Cotton mattress pads are usually affordable, but the price can escalate if the cotton is organic or otherwise high-end. Most cotton pads are also relatively durable even if they are regularly machine-washed.

Latex
Memory Foam
Feather
Fiber
Wool

Types of Mattress Pads

Even though the general design of a mattress pad is simple, they can be constructed using a number of different types of materials.

Cotton

Cotton is a material that is known for its softness, and can definitely give a slightly plusher feel to your bed. Depending on the thickness of the pad, it can also add some protection for the mattress as well. The downside to cotton, though is that this protection is limited because of the absorbency of cotton. Unless it has some special treatment, it cannot really keep a bad spill from soaking through the mattress itself.

Cotton mattress pads are usually affordable, but the price can escalate if the cotton is organic or otherwise high-end. Most cotton pads are also relatively durable even if they are regularly machine-washed.

Latex

Most latex pads are made with a blend of natural and synthetic latex. Latex is known for being a bouncier material, but it retains a level of contouring. This makes latex more capable of altering the feel of your bed provided that the mattress pad is thick enough.

Latex can also be an effective barrier against damage to your bed. It is not absorbent in the same way that cotton is, but it is not fully waterproof either. Latex is usually more expensive and may be more difficult to clean than cotton.

If you are giving strong consideration to latex, it may make more sense to consider a mattress topper with this material as it will have a greater impact in terms of both the feel of your bed and the protection against spills.

Memory foam

Memory foam, also known as viscoelastic foam, has properties that make it very responsive to pressure. This allows the foam to compress directly in proportion to the weight that is applied to it. This has made it one of the most popular materials for use in mattresses and mattress toppers.

From the standpoint of protection, memory foam is relatively limited when it comes to blocking spills or other accidents. It is not a waterproof or especially water-resistant material. Some customers also find that memory foam has an unpleasant smell, especially at the beginning.

In general, a mattress topper is a wiser choice if you are looking for memory foam. In a topper, it will be able to be thicker, allowing better compression and contouring. A thicker layer of memory foam is also more likely to stand the test of time.

Feather

As the name indicates, these mattress pads use feathers from ducks or geese to add softness to your mattress. They may also be called featherbeds. Some of the feathers may be down, which is the softer, lighter feather on the underside of the plumage.

Featherbeds are generally thicker and may be classified more as mattress toppers. These materials, especially down, have a tendency to be expensive, and they also do very little to protect against spills. Cleaning them may also require special instructions.

Fiber

Lots of different materials can be employed to create a fiberbed or a fiber mattress pad. For example, polyester and rayon are both popular materials. One specific type of fiber material is sometimes called down-alternative, which means that it has a feeling similar to down but at a much lower price. In many cases, a blend of different types can be used to give the pad different features. For example, it’s not uncommon to find blends that are built to be waterproof or highly-resistant to spills.

Pads made with synthetic fibers tend to be affordable, although the price can increase with more features or more robust stain-resisting characteristics. They can add softness, but this depends on the material and thickness of the pad.

In terms of downsides, the most common complaints from customers are that some fiber materials can be noisy when you move on them in the night. As with some other materials, they can also have special cleaning instructions that must be followed to prevent breakdown of the material.

Wool

Wool is a natural material made from shearing sheep, and it has a lot of desirable qualities. For example, it is both soft and breathable, and while it does absorb liquids, it dries out rapidly. It does not usually retain odors and if well-made usually holds up very well. These qualities make it an interesting option for people seeking a new mattress pad.

The downsides for wool mattress pads generally have to do with cost. It is more expensive to produce than synthetic materials or cotton and may be harder to clean. It is also not going to completely protect your mattress since it cannot fully prevent spills from soaking through.

You will also find that some wool mattress pads are more accurately described as mattress toppers given their enhanced thickness and goal of trying to adjust the feel of the bed.

Frequently Asked Questions

How are mattress pads attached to the bed?

Elastic, encasement, and anchor straps are the three options for attaching a mattress pad or protector.

  • Elastic: this method will be most familiar since it is basically the same as with most fitted sheets. Elastic in the exterior of the pad helps hold the pad in place after you pull the corners and sides of the pad down under the mattress. This method is both easy and effective in most cases, although you need to make sure that the depth of the pad is enough to fit over your mattress.
  • Encasement: this method completely covers the mattress on all sides. Generally you’ll find that this involves a zipper. This offers more protection but may take a bit more work to put on since it requires some lifting of the mattress.
  • Anchor straps: these are single bands of fabric that go under the corners of the mattress. They do not cover the sides or bottom of the bed. For this reason, they do not lead to any heat retention in the mattress, but they also are more likely to move and need readjusting.

Do I need to clean my mattress pad?

Yes. Over time, dirt, dust, sweat, hair, or other materials can accumulate in the mattress pad. To keep these from affecting the mattress, washing regularly is advised. Always make sure to carefully follow the manufacturer instructions for washing.

Will I sleep hot if I use a mattress pad?

As a general rule, no. Because these are thin layers, there is limited ability for heat to build up in a mattress pad. They also do not typically affect airflow around the body that is responsible for helping you stay cool. The thicker the mattress pad, though, the greater the risk of temperature control issues, especially if you go with a material like memory foam.

Can I buy a memory foam pad instead of a new memory foam mattress?

No, not if you want to get any real value from memory foam. Remember that memory foam has to be able to compress in order to give pressure point relief. As a result, you would want a topper and generally one that is 2” thick or more.