If you spend any time relaxing in or working from your bed — or if you have pets or kids — you know that spills are inevitable. The point of a mattress protector is to keep your sleep space clean and stain-free. By providing a waterproof, sometimes hypoallergenic barrier, a mattress protector can help ensure that you never have to fall asleep on a weird, smelly wet spot and your mattress stays looking its best (and that its warranty remains intact). Mattress protectors are essential for any sleeper navigating potty training, bed-wetting, or incontinence. And for city dwellers, a secure mattress protector can keep bedbugs from getting to your mattress and help you detect a possible infestation before it becomes a bigger problem.
To find the best mattress protectors, we talked to nine experts who specialize in bedbug removal, pest control, potty training, and sleep. If you know what type of mattress protector you’re shopping for, use the table of contents to jump ahead, or read on to find out what to look for as you shop. (Unless otherwise noted, all of the prices listed are for queen-size options.)
What we’re looking for
Mattress protectors are generally made from cotton, polyester, vinyl, and (sometimes) bamboo blends. However, the experts we spoke to when reporting specifically on anti-bedbug mattress protectors suggested avoiding vinyl. “Vinyl covers aren’t breathable and rip very easily because they have no stretch,” says Matthew Moers, co-owner of EZ Pest Exterminating. Potty-training consultant Renee Meyer also suggests avoiding plastic because it is not very comfortable to sleep on and can disrupt rest. Beyond that, the material you choose is mostly a personal preference. Polyester is stretchy and durable but can be noisy. To avoid any unpleasant swishing sounds, Amelia Jerden, a sleep coach and staff writer at Sleepopolis, recommends looking for a protector with a “softer comfort layer, such as a thin padding of cotton,” over waterproof materials like polyurethane. Cotton is also quieter and a little more breathable than polyester, though it’s slightly less durable. Bamboo blends are better for hot sleepers or those looking for more sustainably sourced materials.
Similar to mattress toppers, your mattress protector can serve more than one purpose. You might need a waterproof protector to keep a child’s mattress dry while potty training, a hypoallergenic protector if you are sensitive to dust mites, or a bedbug-resistant protector that will fully encase your mattress instead of covering just the top of it. Some protectors can check off all those boxes, while others focus on one function more than others.
It’s important to choose a protector that will fit your mattress tightly. A loose fit provides more opportunities for bugs, mites, and liquid to penetrate through to your mattress and it can make the protector noisier when you move around at night. If you’re looking for a cover that will protect your bed from bugs, Jeffery White, owner and CEO of White Mantis Consultants, says that choosing one with a quality and secure zipper closure is also essential. “If the teeth are too large, the bugs may be able to get through the zipper even when closed. Also, where the zipper end-stop is located, there should be some sort of design aspect that makes sure there isn’t a gap between where the zipper closes and the fabric itself,” White explains. Kay McDonald, trainer and handler at Bed Bug Detection K-9s, points out that bedbugs can also take up residence in your box spring, if you have one, so it’s wise to consider purchasing a protector to fully encase that part of your bed as well. The best way to ensure a snug fit is to match the mattress protector with the height of your mattress. Below, we’ve noted the maximum depth that each mattress protector will fit.
By design, mattress protectors collect sweat, moisture, and a laundry list of other stuff that you don’t want on your actual mattress. This means they need to be washed regularly, just like your bedsheets. Most mattress protectors are machine washable, but some aren’t designed to be tumble dried. If you are using a cover as part of a bedbug-management plan, White says that you should leave it on your mattress for at least a year to ensure that the bugs are dead and the problem is resolved.
Best overall mattress protector
Fabric: Cotton terry over polyurethane | Protective qualities: Hypoallergenic and waterproof | Style: Fitted sheet | Pocket depth: 18 inches deep | Care instructions: Machine wash and tumble dry
When we asked Timothy Wong, the technical director of New York City–based eco-friendly pest-management company M&M Pest Control, about bedbug mattress protectors, he pointed to SafeRest’s covers as the best. While he recommends the brand’s Premium Zippered Bedbug Proof Mattress Encasement to his clients, he notes that all of SafeRest’s covers are completely waterproof, hypoallergenic, and machine washable. Because this fitted-sheet style will be easier to put on and remove than an encasement-style protector, we’ve named it our top pick. It’s made of cotton terry over polyurethane, and many Amazon reviewers note that it is impressively waterproof and noiseless.
Best (less expensive) overall mattress protector
Fabric: Cotton terry over polyurethane | Protective qualities: Hypoallergenic and waterproof | Style: Fitted sheet | Pocket depth: 22 inches | Care instructions: Machine wash and tumble dry
Another option made of cotton terry over polyurethane, this affordable protector from Lucid is waterproof, hypoallergenic, and has extra-deep pockets that can fit a mattress (or a mattress-and-box-spring combo) that’s up to 22 inches deep.
Best fully encased mattress protector
Fabric: Polyester knit over polyurethane | Protective qualities: Waterproof | Style: Full encasement | Pocket depth: 15 inches | Care instructions: Machine wash and tumble dry
If you prefer a zippered encasement to a fitted-sheet–style mattress protector, this one from Utopia bedding is made of stretchy knitted polyester and is very thick and durable. It provides 360-degree coverage of your mattress, which helps keep out dust and bugs, and because it is lined with thermoplastic polyurethane on all sides, it is fully waterproof, too. Since it’s made of polyester, it can be louder than cotton protectors, but reviewers note that, for the quality, it’s a very affordable and durable protector. It can fit a mattress that’s up to 15 inches deep.
Best mattress protector for bedbugs
Fabric: Cotton terry over a waterproof membrane | Protective qualities: Bedbug protection, waterproof, hypoallergenic | Style: Full encasement | Pocket depth: Available in a variety of depths, up to 18 inches | Care instructions: Machine wash and tumble dry
This mattress encasement, which Wong recommends to his pest-control clients, is also by SafeRest, the maker of our top-pick mattress protector above. Made of breathable cotton terry over a waterproof membrane, it also has a specially designed zipper that Wong especially likes for bedbug protection. White adds that for any zippered, fully-encased mattress cover, the “zipper and zipper end-stop should have research demonstrating that it works at preventing bedbugs from getting in and out,” and SafeRest’s bedbug mattress protectors are independently lab-tested and certified to be bedbug-proof. This encasement is Oeko-Tex-certified, which means it’s free of PVC and vinyl. And unlike most other protectors, it comes in a range of depths, from six to nine inches on the low end to 15 to 18 on the high end.
Best cooling mattress protector
Fabric: 60 percent polyester, 40 percent bamboo-derived viscose rayon over polyurethane | Protective qualities: Waterproof | Style: Fitted sheet | Pocket depth: 18 inches | Care instructions: Machine wash and tumble dry
Made with the brand’s proprietary Lulltra fabric, this mattress protector from Coop Home (which also makes one of our favorite pillows) is most lauded for being breathable. The fabric is a blend of polyester and bamboo-derived viscose rayon, the latter of which is known for being more cooling than other materials. Its polyurethane backing is fully waterproof, but the top player of fabric adds softness and helps prevent any crinkling sounds. The cover is Oeko-Tex certified and it fits mattresses up to 18 inches deep.
Best mattress protector for people with allergies
Fabric: 100 percent cotton top layer over 88 percent polyester, 12 percent nylon | Protective qualities: Hypoallergenic, moisture wicking, bedbug protection, waterproof | Style: Full encasement | Pocket depth: 15 inches | Care instructions: Machine wash and tumble dry
An allergen-specific mattress protector is designed to keep irritants like dust mites and pet dander from collecting on and inside your mattress. Sleep consultant Kelly Murray named this AllerEase protector as her “No. 1 recommendation” because along with protecting against bedbugs and allergens, it is comfortable and breathable. Constructed from a cotton top layer over a waterproof poly-blend layer, the zippered-encasement construction is designed to make the cover impenetrable, which White says is “the more important aspect of encasements” and makes them actually work.
Best wool mattress protector
Fabric: Cotton over wool padding | Protective qualities: Hypoallergenic and moisture wicking | Style: Fitted sheet | Pocket depth: 18 inches | Care instructions: Machine wash and hang to dry
Wool is both naturally hypoallergenic and moisture wicking, which can help you stay cool while you sleep. Unlike the other hypoallergenic protectors on our list, this one is not waterproof, but it can still help prevent smaller spills and accidents from seeping into a mattress. I added this mattress protector from Woolroom to my bed (along with the brand’s light comforter) to help safeguard my mattress while adding a thin layer of softness without cranking up the heat. My partner even remarked that it helped our bed feel like “the perfect summer sleep setup.” While wool has a reputation for being difficult to clean, this topper is conveniently machine washable on a delicate cycle — though you do have to hang it up to dry.
Best bamboo mattress protector
Fabric: Bamboo over polyurethane | Protective qualities: Hypoallergenic, moisture wicking, cooling | Style: Fitted sheet | Pocket depth: 15 inches deep | Care instructions: Machine wash and tumble dry
Made of soft, sustainably sourced, Oeko-Tex–certified bamboo material, Jerden recommends this mattress protector because it is “naturally cooling, antibacterial, and moisture wicking.” Made to be noiseless, the protector has a thin layer of durable polyurethane underneath to prevent spills, sweat, and moisture from touching your mattress. It is also machine washable and dryer safe.
Best organic mattress protector
Fabric: 100 percent organic cotton over polyurethane | Protective qualities: Waterproof | Style: Fitted sheet | Pocket depth: Available in two sizes, up to 22 inches | Care instructions: Machine wash and tumble dry
One of the main benefits of buying organic bedding is the peace of mind that comes with knowing your bed is free of potentially reaction-causing additives. Made of two layers of naturally hypoallergenic organic cotton wrapped around an extra-thin layer of polyurethane (which makes up 5 percent of the protector), the Avocado mattress protector is soft, quiet, and waterproof. Although organic cotton is a good choice of material for anyone managing allergies, this is not a fully encased cover, so it doesn’t act as a total barrier for keeping allergens out. The protector is available in two depths, 16 inches or 22 inches, and can be machine-washed and tumble-dried on low.
Best fully encased mattress protector for kids
Fabric: 100 percent polyester over a waterproof layer | Protective qualities: Waterproof | Style: Full encasement | Pocket depth: 18 inches (for twin size) | Care instructions: Machine wash and tumble dry
NYC Bed Bug Inspections owner John H. Brickman often recommends Linenspa’s Zippered Mattress Encasement to his clients as an affordable cover to protect mattresses from dust mites and bedbugs. But it’s also a solid choice for kids’ mattresses because it is affordable and reliably waterproof. With waterproof protection on all sides, it can keep kids’ mattresses safe through all manner of accidents. Made of noiseless and durable polyester, it also comes with a ten-year warranty (as long as you follow the care instructions) should any problems occur before your kids outgrow it. While the brand notes that this is washing machine– and dryer-safe, since it’s made of thin polyester, using the lowest setting possible is recommended when drying.
[Editor’s note: Since we’re recommending this mattress protector for kids, we’ve linked to a twin-size protector, but it’s also available in sizes up to a California king.]
Best fitted sheet mattress protector for kids
Fabric: Cotton terry over polyurethane | Protective qualities: Waterproof | Style: Fitted sheet | Pocket depth: 22 inches | Care instructions: Machine wash and tumble dry
And if you’d rather opt for a protector that can be easily removed, I’ve used this cotton terry–topped one by Linenspa on my tween son’s bed for two years. He seems to get a thrill out of trying to balance open cups on his bed and has spilled everything from water to hot chocolate as a result. This protector has kept a wide spectrum of liquids from seeping into his mattress, and the terry material creates a slight traction that helps to keep his actual fitted sheet in place. When it’s time to wash his sheets, I can easily pull off the protector along with his sheets without needing to lift his mattress. Plus, the price is affordable enough that you can buy multiples, which can be especially handy for getting the bed made quickly when one protector and sheet set is in the wash.
[Editor’s note: Since we’re recommending this mattress protector for kids, we’ve linked to a twin-size protector, but it’s also available in sizes up to a California king.]
Best two-in-one mattress protector for kids
Fabric: Tencel lyocell over waterproof polyurethane | Protective qualities: Waterproof | Style: Fitted sheet | Pocket depth: 6 inches for crib size; 8 inches for twin and full size | Care instructions: Machine wash and tumble dry
Both Meyer and Allison Jandu, owner and founder of Potty Training Consultant, like this two-in-one waterproof mattress protector and sheet to manage bed-wetting or diaper explosions and overflows. On the surface, it has a raised pebble pattern in the OEKO-TEX–certified Tencel lyocell fabric that “helps to increase airflow and is very soft and comfortable,” Meyer says. And on the flip side, there is a waterproof backing to keep your child’s mattress dry and odor-free. Jandu says it’s her “go-to suggestion” because the soft, breathable material means you can use it in place of a crib sheet or bed sheet, though you can certainly top it off with an extra sheet or put it over another mattress protector for an extra layer of security. It’s available in three sizes to fit a standard crib, twin, or full-size mattress, and comes in five colors: white, gray, green, blue, and pink. There are matching pillows available as well.
Best mattress protector for nighttme potty training
Fabric: Bamboo, rayon, and polyester fibers | Protective qualities: Hypoallergenic, waterproof | Style: Fitted sheet | Pocket depth: Not listed | Care instructions: Disposable
Parents in the throes of nighttime potty training will attest to the amount of laundry that can pile up after an accident. Meyer and Jandu both suggest these disposable waterproof bedsheets for anyone who is wetting the bed often. Each package contains one fitted sheet with five waterproof top layers. The top four layers are “peel-away,” so “if an accident happens, you can just peel a layer off, and the next layer is ready to go,” Meyer explains. If you are dealing with frequent accidents, the layers are comfortable enough that you can forego a regular fitted sheet on top, so you’ll only have to remove a single layer when it’s time to change bedding. The sheets are considered disposable and not meant to be laundered, but if you are concerned about their environmental footprint, Jandu notes that “the temporary use of Peelaways is about equivalent to the water and laundry detergent usage from multiple bedding washes.” They come in multiple sizes to fit crib, twin, twin XL, full, queen, and king mattresses.
Best crib mattress protector
Fabric: 100 percent polyester | Protective qualities: Waterproof | Style: Fitted sheet | Pocket depth: 9 inches | Care instructions: Machine wash and tumble dry
Designed to keep diaper explosions, bottle spills, and general moisture away from your baby’s crib mattress, this budget-friendly, no-frills mattress protector is waterproof and machine washable. It’s sized to fit a standard crib mattress, at 28 inches by 52 inches, with deep corner pockets that ensure the protector won’t slide off the mattress. Many reviewers note that it’s durable and quiet, works well, and is easy to clean, which are all essential for babies. You can also purchase it in a two-pack (and save a few bucks on each) if you want to have a backup on hand.
• John H. Brickman, owner of NYC Bed Bug Inspections
• Allison Jandu, owner and founder of Potty Training Conultant
• Amelia Jerden, a sleep coach and staff writer at Sleepopolis
• Kay McDonald, trainer and handler at Bed Bug Detection K-9s
• Renee Meyer, potty-training consultant
• Matthew Moers, co-owner of EZ Pest Exterminating
• Kelly Murray, sleep consultant
• Jeffery White, owner and CEO of White Mantis Consultants
• Timothy Wong, technical director of M&M Pest Control
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