Mattress pads are not an essential accessory in the bedroom, but many people find them incredibly useful to enhance their mattresses. If your bed doesn’t provide ideal comfort and support, these pads offer a considerably less expensive alternative to replacing a mattress. They also provide extra protection to a mattress, though their primary purposes are to provide a more comfortable and supportive sleep experience.
Mattress pads are available in an array of materials, each associated with particular benefits such as cooling properties, a softer sleeping surface, or lumbar support by molding to the shape of your body. The best mattress pad varies across individuals, with all assisting in a better night’s sleep. Read on to learn what to look for in a mattress pad and their materials, to find out why the following recommendations reflect some of the best models available.
- BEST OVERALL: JUEYINGBAILI Mattress Pad Down Alternative
- BEST ECO-FRIENDLY: Whisper Organics GOTS Certified Mattress Pad
- BEST MEMORY FOAM: Best Price Mattress 5-Zone Memory Foam Mattress Pad
- BEST COOLING: LEISURE TOWN Mattress Pad Cooling Cotton Pillow Top
- BEST HYPOALLERGENIC: ENITYA Bamboo Mattress Pad
- BEST WATERPROOF: HEPERON Ultra-Soft Waterproof Mattress Pad
Types of Mattress Pads
For many, the term “mattress pad” is synonymous with “mattress topper.” However, one of the differences is that mattress pads are typically thin, rarely thicker than 3.5 to 4.5 inches, while mattress toppers can be much thicker. A mattress pad is often a layer of quilted fabric and the material the pad is made from will determine its best use.
A too-firm mattress or a mattress with a scratchy surface texture may benefit from an overfilled mattress pad or one made from dense foam that offers a bit of cushioning between the sleeper and the mattress. For comfort in cold weather, a wool or Sherpa-lined mattress pad helps retain body heat and keep the sleeper warm, while a mattress pad that features micro-gel offers a cooling sleep surface on warm nights.
Mattress pads made from latex and foam offer a measure of support. Memory foam is particularly popular for this reason, since the material molds to the shape of your body to provide lumbar support. Some are also covered with a quilted pad and come with an elasticized skirt that fits over the mattress beneath.
Mattress pads and mattress protectors have the shared benefit of extending the life of a mattress. This is especially true if you use them from the time your mattress is new. Depending on the pad’s material, it can protect the mattress from spills, stains, and from the infestation of dust mites, pollen, and other allergens. Many mattress pads are machine washable, but some are not, so read the label before laundering.
Features to Look for When Choosing the Best Mattress Pad
The best mattress pad is one that helps provide a good night’s sleep while being easy to care for and durable. There are some other factors to keep in mind when buying a mattress pad as well.
A variety of materials go into making mattress pads comfortable and protective:
- Cotton: Cotton mattress pads permit air circulation, which can help the sleeper remain cool at night. They aren’t ideal for protecting a mattress from big spills, but a tightly woven cotton surface can often resist a spill for a few seconds if you wipe it up promptly. Cotton mattress pads are affordable, starting around $15, but they can run as high as $100 if the cotton is organically sourced.
- Feathers: For the most comfortable feather mattress pad, the feathers should be down, which comes from the soft underbelly of geese, because feathers from other parts of the body tend to have sharp ends. Feather mattress pads offer natural insulating warmth and a bit of cushioning, and some can be laundered. They range in price from around $25 to $75 but can be more expensive depending on quality.
- Textile: Fabrics, such as nylon, rayon, polyester, and synthetic blends, including down-alternative fiberfill, are frequently found in mattress pads. Polyester and polyester blend fabrics offer a measure of waterproofing, but they can also be slightly crinkly beneath a sheet. This type of mattress pad is inexpensive, ranging from $15 to around $30.
- Wool: Wool makes for a comfy mattress pad, offering warmth in cool weather and wicking away perspiration to keep the sleeper from waking up sweaty. These pads can be pricey, though, easily running $150 for the privilege of sleeping on this natural animal fiber.
- Foam: Both latex foam and memory foam mattress pads offer lumbar support and will conform around your body. The main difference is that memory foam derives its soft spongy density from polyurethane and latex—real latex—is a natural derivative of rubber trees. A synthetic version of latex is also available, and synthetic latex mattress pads are competitive in price to memory foam pads, both running $20 to $50 or more, depending on size and thickness, while a real latex mattress pad is pricier, costing $55 to $100 or more. Foam is typically reserved for thicker toppers, however, which run anywhere from 2 to 5 inches thick.
It’s important to note that a mattress pad has functional limits. While thicker pads may offer a small bit of support and cushioning, unlike toppers, mattress pads are not designed to correct major problems with too-hard or lumpy mattresses, simply because they’re not thick enough to do so.
The cushioned part of most mattress pads is sized to fit the top of the bed surface, using the common US bed sizing: Twin, Full, Queen, King, and California King, although some are also available in unique sizes, such as Twin XL or Short Queen. The pad is usually attached to an elastic skirt that fits around the perimeter of the mattress. In recent years, mattresses have gotten up to 22 inches thick, so most manufacturers state the depth of mattress their pads are designed to fit.
Most mattress pads are relatively thin, while a few are thicker—up to 1.5 inches thick. If you’re looking for an even thicker version, a mattress topper is a more suitable option, which can be up to 4 inches thick.
Our Top Picks
Based on the shopping considerations outlined above, these mattress pads are some of the top-performing in their respective categories.
The JUEYINGBAILI Quilted Down Alternative Mattress Pad that is overfilled with fluffy down-alternative “snow” fiberfill to give it a cushiony feel. Its 100 percent cotton lining wicks away perspiration as you sleep to help you stay cool and comfortable. The 1.5-inch mattress pad fits mattresses up to 21 inches deep, and the quilting pattern keeps the fiberfill where it belongs so that it won’t shift to other areas of the pad. It’s machine washable and available in Twin, Queen, and King sizes.
Support environmentally responsible manufacturing with the Whisper Organics GOTS-Certified Mattress Pad that’s made from 100 percent organic cotton and manufactured to meet Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS). Products that are GOTS-certified must meet strict social and environmental standards, so you can feel good about the mattress pad that protects your bed. The Whisper Organics mattress pad is comfortable and naturally breathable, so you won’t wake up in a pool of sweat. It’s machine washable and fits mattresses up to 17 inches deep. Available in Full, Queen, King, and California King. Note that this mattress pad runs thinner than usual and provides more protection than comfort.
Add support and cushioning to a dated mattress with this 1.5-inch mattress pad from Best Price Mattress, featuring textured memory foam in five different “zone” designs for the ultimate in support and comfort. The pad’s textured design reduces heat buildup by allowing air to circulate within the cushion, which helps to promote a calm relaxing sleep. Since it’s not machine washable, covering it with a thin protective pad that can be laundered is recommended. The foam has been infused with aloe vera to promote restfulness. Available in Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, and Short Queen.
Put the cooling power of HNN Cooling Technology to work for you with the LEISURE TOWN Cooling Mattress Pad. It features a combination of snow down-alternative fiberfill for optimal breathability and to keep heat from building up around your body as you sleep. The mattress pad features a 100 percent cotton surface for smooth comfort, and it offers a measure of moisture resistance if you wipe spills up promptly. Easy to clean, this mattress pad is machine washable, and the stretchy fabric skirt fits mattresses up to 21 inches deep. The LEISURE TOWN mattress pad is available in Twin, Twin XL, Full, Full XL, Queen, Olympic Queen, King, and California King.
The ENITYA Bamboo Mattress Pad’s hypoallergenic protection is made from silky soft bamboo fiber, completely free from chemicals such as formaldehyde and phosphor. The interior down-alternative fill, combined with a layer of padded cotton, make this pad super soft and quiet. The elasticized skirt fits mattresses from 8 inches to 21 inches deep, and the pad is machine washable.
For the best in spill-protection, look no further than the HEPERON Waterproof Mattress Pad that features an ultra-soft microfiber surface and a waterproof barrier. The effective barrier prevents spills, sweat, and other fluids from penetrating the mattress, and, unlike vinyl barriers, it is soft and crinkle-free. The pad is both machine-washable and hand-washable. The pad fits mattresses up to 21 inches deep, and it is available in Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, and California King sizes.
The Advantages of Owning a Mattress Pad
Mattresses are expensive—some cost as much as $1,500 or more, so it just makes good sense to pay a bit more for a mattress pad that will help protect your investment.
- Mattress pads help keep dust, dander, pollen, and other allergens from infiltrating the mattress
- A waterproof mattress pad will block spills and other fluids from soaking into the mattress
- If the surface texture of the mattress is less-than-comfy, an overfilled mattress pad will offer a layer of cushioning for added comfort and with some models, support
FAQs About Your New Mattress Pad
If you’re looking to protect your mattress or add a bit of cushion or support to your bed, you may have a few questions about what a mattress pad is designed to do.
Q. What is the difference between a mattress topper and a mattress pad?
While some pads and toppers fit into both categories, in general, mattress pads are no thicker than 3.5 to 4.5 inches and come with skirts that secure them to the mattress. Toppers can be thicker and usually have no skirt.
Q. Why should you use a mattress pad?
To protect your mattress from dust, dander, allergens, and spills.
Q. Are mattress pads waterproof?
Some are, and if they are, they will be labeled as such and will feature a waterproof barrier. Others are water-resistant, which means the tight weave of the surface fabric will keep a spill from soaking in immediately, giving you a few seconds to quickly wipe away the liquid before it soaks through.