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Mattress Cover 101 – What is it and Do You Need One?

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Written By Alex Petrović

Certified Sleep Consultant

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29 March 2024 4 min read

What is a mattress cover? And do you really need one or is it just another piece of bedding that only serves to make your bed look nice? Let's find out!

On a surface layer, it's pretty simple – a mattress cover is something that covers your mattress. However, do you really need anything covering your mattress? And how are mattress covers different from mattress protectors?

Well, as per usual, the terminology is a lot more difficult than the actual subject matter. So, let's take a quick look and see what mattress covers are and whether you need them to get a good night's rest.

What is a mattress cover?

While you might find a wide selection of mattress covers, what you get can differ slightly depending on the store or website you get it from. More often than not, a mattress cover is going to be a mattress protector. And we'll talk about mattress protectors in just a bit.

However, sometimes mattress covers can also refer to slightly thinner, less robust bedding. Think of like a deep-fitted sheet with a bit more padding. But don't worry, in either case, the benefits are basically the same. Just take a closer look at the product description and check for details.

This is because if you're looking for waterproof mattress protectors, getting a slightly thicker sheet is likely going to ruin your day.

What's the point of having a mattress cover?

An image of a woman putting on a mattress cover.

Sleeping comfortably is the goal of all bedding and all bedding-buyers. However, how they approach this tall order does differ. And when it comes to mattress covers or mattress protectors, it's more about making your life easier than necessarily making your bed more comfortable.

This is because mattress covers aim to protect your mattress and keep your sleeping surface clean. But if you want more comfort, you're better off looking for a mattress topper. But more on that later. For now, let's categorise the benefits of having a mattress cover.

It's easier to clean up

Mattress covers, mattress protectors, and even pillow protectors are typically all removable and fully machine washable. And this means that instead of spot cleaning your mattress, you can just remove the cover and throw it into the washing machine.

On top of that, when it comes to waterproof protectors, any spills you make can easily be wiped off with a cloth. And when you compare this to rubbing every stain out by hand, you should see the appeal.

Mattress protectors…well, protect

Aside from just keeping your mattress clean, a good waterproof protector will also prolong the shelf life of your mattress. This is because when it comes to memory foam or even spring mattresses, spills and dirt add to the wear and tear.

Plus, if you have any pets, your mattress is also further away from any claws that might damage the mattress from the outside.

Keeping things hypoallergenic

Besides just keeping your mattress free of stains, a mattress cover or protector also helps to keep your sleep surface hypoallergenic. For one, most mattress covers are anti-allergy. Secondly, since they'll be washed more often, there are bound to be fewer dust mites all around.

So, if you have frequent allergy flare-ups during the night, get a mattress cover and wash it whenever you feel like your allergies are acting up.

Other ways to improve your mattress

While mattress covers are very convenient and can help keep things clean, they can't transform your old mattress into a premium sleeping haven! However, there are similar bedding products that can improve some aspects of your mattress.

So, let's quickly go over these different bedding items and see how they can potentially improve your sleep!

Making your mattress softer

When it comes to making mattresses softer, there are two main contenders – mattress pads and mattress toppers. The main difference between the two is their level of influence and price. A mattress pad is going to be on the thin side and make your mattress a bit softer.

However, if you want to make your mattress ultra soft or significantly change how it feels, getting a good mattress topper is your best bet. Also, while not as effective as the previous two, a quilted mattress protector can also make your mattress a bit softer.

Staying cool at night

When it comes to keeping your body temperature down and staying cool, there are a few things you can do. Having good sheets, good duvet covers and even pillow covers are all excellent choices.

Generally, you want to aim for breathable materials such as bamboo, eucalyptus, cotton or even silk if you can afford it. Mattress toppers can also help out in this department. However, make sure you're getting a cooling mattress topper, as memory foam toppers can cause more harm than good.


Overall, if you want to protect your mattress, getting a mattress cover is a good idea. However, do note that some people might call them mattress protectors and others might not. And if that doesn't suit you, having good sheets, covers, and even a mattress topper can bridge the gap and keep you comfortable!

But do let us know in the comments if you have any questions – be it about mattress covers, protectors, or just beds in general!

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About the author

Alex Petrović
Sleep Consultant
A CPD certified Sleep Consultant with more than 2000 hours of research into all the different ways we can get a great night's sleep. As a former insomniac, I know how difficult life can be without a nightly recovery and I love that I get to share everything I've learned with you all. So hopefully we can all sleep soundly!
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