Why You Should Use a Mattress Protector
If you are shopping for a new mattress you may notice manufacturer and warranty recommendations regarding using mattress protectors, and you may be wondering why you should use a mattress protector. Many regard these products as necessary only for children or those with incontinence, however a mattress protector’s ability to help maintain a clean bed is just one benefit. They can also protect against allergens, bed bugs, dust mites and stains, in addition to extending the life of your mattress. Learn more about the options and advantages that using a mattress protector provides for your home and family.
What is a Mattress Protector?
A mattress protector describes a cover or encasement that surrounds a mattress. Some slip on like fitted sheet, while others zip around. There are several different types of protectors available with different purposes in mind.
- Waterproof – The designation waterproof means that no liquid should penetrate the barrier of the fabric. These types of covers offer the strongest protection, but may be less breathable. For children’s beds or if you have a reasonable chance of accidents (pets, incontinence), then you will want a waterproof cover.
- Water resistant – Water-resistant covers can repel a certain amount of liquid and sweat, and offer a greater degree of protection than sheets alone. Water-resistant covers are also usually fairly breathable (newer polyurethane models improve on plastic), so comfort will not be compromised. These types of covers generally offer sufficient protection for most people, but you still want to be cautious and clean up accidents quickly as liquid can get through to the mattress.
- Allergen-proof – Allergen-proof covers are those that block out dust mites and bed bugs from reaching the mattress. These can be invaluable for people with allergies and also prevent your mattress from getting critters.
- Slip-On Covers – Slip-on style covers go over the mattress like a fitted sheet, making them easy to get on and off. However, the sides and bottom of the bed are still susceptible to liquids and dust mites.
- Encasement – An encasement-style cover surrounds the mattress on all four sides to offer the highest level of protection. Though they can difficult to get on initially, usually these types will allow you to zip the upper portion off for washing. Allergy-proof covers are almost always encasements.
- Anchor – Anchor-style mattress pads and protectors are one-sided and sit on top of the bed with elastic straps that go around the corners of the mattress. These offer the least protection and are more likely to shift around.
- Mattress Pads – While some protectors may have padding, most foam and fiber mattress pads are not water or allergen proof. These are typically for comfort rather than protection, but can be better than nothing as they may prevent sweat and small spills from reaching the bed below.
Benefits of Using a Mattress Protector
While the cost of protectors will vary, it is negligible when compared to the cost of replacing your mattress due to odors, stains or infestations. It may be worth trying to negotiate a free mattress protector when purchasing a new mattress. Many companies are willing to add them to new purchases free of charge in order to get your business. Using a protector consistently on a new mattress is the best way to protect your investment, health, and extend the life of your bed.
Mattress stains and odors from liquids (beverages or foods) and body fluids including urine, blood and vomit are nearly impossible to remove due to the closed nature of most beds, including innersprings and foam. Anyone who has children, pets or incontinence issues should definitely consider purchasing a mattress protector to eliminate the risks of accidents. Most mattress protectors are easy to clean in home washer and dryers and will protect the exterior and interior of the underlying mattress.
Even if you are careful about liquids in bed, everyone sweats at night and this can make its way into your mattress. Memory foam and latex mattresses which are not protected will absorb a great deal of moisture, similar to a sponge, and may take days to completely dry. Innersprings also hold moistuure and can harbor mold and mildew in the interior causing allergies. All of these are easily preventable by simply using a mattress cover.
Extend Lifespan of Bed
In addition to cosmetic damage, many foams and fibers can also be damaged by liquids and cleaning solvents which can affect the lifespan of the bed. The materials can be compressed and less resilient, affecting comfort. Side effects like allergens, mold and odors can also necessitate the replacement of a mattress. Using a protector will keep your investment fresh as long as possible and save you money over time.
Dust mites are a primary cause of household allergies and can be found throughout the home, but particularly in mattresses. They feast on skin cells and their feces and remains get trapped in mattresses, exacerbating symptoms for allergic individuals. A dust-mite proof cover prevents infestations and can be washed regularly to reduce allergens. Preventing liquids and sweat from making their way into the mattress also serves to reduce the risk of mold and mildew which can also trigger symptoms. These coverings also protect your bed from pet dander and other allergens which may be present in the home.
Bed bugs are major concern around the country right now, and truly unnerving household pest to contend with. Even if your city is not experiencing major issues, traveling exposes you to bed bugs which may be carried home in suitcases and clothing. Using a mattress protector which specifically states that it prevents against bed bugs will keep them from traveling into your own mattress. While this can’t prevent them from getting into your home, it can prevent them from setting up shop in your bed and ruining the mattress.
One very good reason to use a protector with a new mattress is preservation of the mattress warranty. Some manufacturers require use of protectors in the warranties, and even if a protector is not explicitly required, most retailers will still not accept a soiled mattresses for warranty claims. Be sure to inquire about warranty terms and read the fine print for your new bed.
Maintain Ability to Return During Trial
When it comes to trial periods, you definitely want to use a mattress protector as very few companies will return a dirty mattress. Even if you think you love your new bed, use a mattress protector at least until the trial period is over so you can return it if needed. Cigarette and pet odors, water stains, sweat, and bodily fluids can all negate your return, and can all be prevented with a protector.
Choosing a Mattress Protector
Older types of mattress protectors were often nothing more than a plastic or rubbery cover that was uncomfortable, noisy and did not allow for airflow. Today alternatives with more advanced barriers like polyurethane prevent fluids from leaking through, while still allowing some airflow to eliminate the issue of hot sleeping. Shop around to find a model that meets your needs and consider the following:
- Is it moisture-proof or moisture-resistant?
- Is the material quiet?
- If you tend to sleep warm, is the material breathable?
- If dust allergies or bed bugs are in issue, does it specifically provide protection?
- Can it be laundered at home in the washer and dryer or must it be dry-cleaned?
- Can it be washed in very hot water for sterilization?
- Through how many washes is it certified for or guaranteed to last?
- Can it stretch to accommodate the depth of your mattress when you are sleeping on it, using a 4-way stretch? This is especially important for foam mattresses.
- Some mattress protectors are classified as Class 1 medical devices. If this is important to you, for allergies or another reason, check for this classification.
Understanding the benefits of and differences between mattress protectors prove worthwhile in shopping for a new mattress. Despite many people’s negative perceptions, protectors are really an invaluable tool for maintaining a healthy home and mattress. Safeguarding your family from allergens and prolonging the life of your mattress are the two key benefits of using a mattress protector, and when an inevitable accident occurs you’ll be glad you did.
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