Mattress Pad vs. Mattress Protector

Mattress Pad vs. Mattress Protector

Welcome to the arena of bedding! Grab your popcorn, we’re here to watch an epic battle unfold: mattress pad vs. mattress protector.

On one side of the ring: The Mattress Pad. She fastens the belts on her cotton armor, ready to let blows bounce and ricochet off her. She may look soft, but she’s cunning, resourceful, and knows her worth in this match.

Opposite her: The Mattress Protector. Assistants tug and secure his sturdy elastic shields as he stares down his opponent. Menacing, fierce, and loyal to his bones, he’s fighting this battle for not just himself but his people.

The crowd hushes collectively. The whistle blows. The battle begins.

Who are you rooting for?

Don’t worry. This will be a good, clean match and, in our opinion, one where everybody wins. But if you’re picking sides, we’re giving you everything you need to know about both contenders so that you can choose between a mattress pad vs. mattress protector for yourself.

Mattress Pads vs. Mattress Protectors: What’s The Difference?

Pads, protectors, and toppers—oh my! These days, you can hardly walk down the sleep aisle or fall down an online bedding bunny hole without feeling the induced heady brain fog thereafter. Mattress supplies are confusing at best.

Don’t fret, passionate snoozer. Clear skies are ahead. Let’s start with going over the key difference between a mattress pad vs. mattress protector:

  • Mattress pad Adds 1–2 inches of extra softness to your mattress while protecting it from stains and liquids.
  • Mattress protector – Protects your mattress, plain and simple, but doesn’t offer any additional softness.

You may see now why the battle can become so competitive between these rivals. One on hand, you have a mattress pad working double-duty to comfort and protect. On the other, you have a mattress protector, faithfully carrying out one critical task.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Let’s dive into the bedding and feel the distinguishing differences in more detail.

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The Mattress Pad

On the spectrum of adding extra softness to your plain old mattress, the mattress pad lies somewhere in the middle.

  • The mattress protector adds no extra cushioning or height.
  • The mattress pad adds about 1-2 inches of extra softness.
  • The mattress topper adds a good amount of extra cushioning and about 3–4 inches of additional height.

A mattress pad has those handy-dandy elastic corners you can fit right over your mattress and underneath a fitted sheet to plump up a not-so-cozy mattress.

Mattress pads can also do some protective work to shield your bed from unsightly stains or midnight moisture. Keep in mind, though, that its softer material may not shield from liquids quite as thoroughly as a mattress protector.

Types of Mattress Pads

Similar to mattress toppers, mattress pads are designed for comfort and durability. Some hyper-focus on increasing softness in your sleep. Some are thoughtfully crafted with Mother Nature in mind and made from sustainable materials. Others offer extra breathability and moisture-wicking technology.

Every specialty has a unique material behind it. Although there is a wide array of materials that make up mattress pads these days, the most common are ones you might find in a pillow or your coziest sweater.

  • Cotton mattress pads Cotton is a popular mattress pad material because it’s lightweight, durable, and machine washable. Organic Cotton breathes easily all night long so that you can, too.
  • Wool mattress pads Wool is naturally hypoallergenic and temperature regulating to wick away moisture, heat, bed bugs, and dust mites while you sleep the night away.
  • Polyester mattress pads Polyester is one of the sturdiest mattress pads, offering extra softness at a more affordable price. It’s hypoallergenic for those prone to allergies and can be tossed in the wash in a jiff.

Advantages of a Mattress Pad

A few inches of extra comfort, a little bit of mattress protection—what’s not to like? You may not find a mattress pad that does it all, but you can find one that offers one or more of these benefits:

  • Adds extra softness to a firm mattress
  • Protects the mattress from stains, liquids, and allergens
  • Cools you down while you sleep
  • Machine washable and driable
  • Relatively affordable

Disadvantages of a Mattress Pad

Let’s make this a fair match. While the advantages of a mattress pad sure are alluring, the primary disadvantage in the battle against mattress protectors is their lack in complete protection. Because it’s dividing duties, you won’t find the high level of waterproof protection in a pad that you would in a protector.

In addition, a mattress pad:

  • Doesn’t offer a ton of extra support
  • May not be fully liquid-proof
  • The plushier variety can get warm, a serious drawback for those who run hot

The Mattress Protector

The mattress protector is designed for one job and it knows how to do it well. Mattress protectors are a sturdy and durable staple to safeguard your mattress from inevitable messes, stains, liquids, wear, and tear.

Mattress protectors are more often made with cotton, latex, and/or polyester to bolster their durable power. No matter the material, you’ll want to make sure to look for the machine-washable variety to wash away life’s oopsie-daisies.

Types of Mattress Protectors

When browsing the mattress protector aisle, you will likely come across three varieties according to how they fit your bed, including:

  • Encasement Zippered or encasement protectors wrap all the way around your mattress and hug it head to toe. They’re ultra-protective against the elements, but they’ll take a bit of extra finesse to secure and remove.
  • Fitted These protectors fit like a fitted sheet or a mattress pad with four corners of elastic to secure over the bed’s edges. They don’t protect against clever dust mites creeping in from the bottom, but they’re easy to slip on and off.
  • Elastic strap This variety has thicker elastic or fabric straps that anchor the corners down. This type is helpful if you want to keep your mattress protector from shifting beneath wiggly sleepers.

Advantages of a Mattress Protector

While mattress protectors focus their effort on their primary duty to protect the mattress, these efforts result in several other benefits. So, calling all clean freaks, the mess-prone, allergen antagonists, kiddos, breakfast-in-bedders, and everyone in between—feast your resting eyes on what a mattress protector can do for you:

  • Waterproof
  • Guards against allergens
  • Breathable and temperature regulating
  • Protects your entire mattress from stains
  • Machine washable and driable
  • Prolongs the life of your existing mattress
  • Protects your mattress warranty
  • Relatively affordable

Disadvantages of a Mattress Protector

If the only thing you’re after is adding softness to your bed, (trust us, we get it) then a standard mattress protector alone might not quench that craving. Most mattress protectors:

  • Can be squeaky or noisy
  • Can lack softness and comfort
  • Aren’t unicorns that “do it all”

Do I Need a Mattress Pad or a Mattress Protector?

Hopefully, you have a better idea of which side you’re leaning toward between a mattress pad vs. mattress protector.

If you simply cannot be bothered to decide, we have good news: you don’t have to.

Combine a waterproof mattress pad and a protector (you can even pop the best mattress topper you have on top). This is your sleep smorgasbord—create it as you may. We’re just here to point out the ingredients and cheer you on in whatever way you choose to use them.

Who wins the battle between mattress pad vs. mattress protector? The call is yours. If you need them, here are some helpful words of advice:

Get a mattress pad if you:

  • Wish your mattress were just a wee bit more comfortable
  • Want to improve your mattress without springing for a new one
  • Want to protect your entire mattress from light stains
  • Like to wash and tumble your bedding on the weekly

Go for a mattress protector if you:

  • Want to protect the life and investment of your existing mattress
  • Don’t care to snuggle up to dust mites or allergens
  • Have been known to sneak morning coffee back to bed
  • Need some extra cooling while you sleep
  • Scoot over for tiny dino PJ wearers or furry burrowers

Discover the Champion of Mattress Protectors at Coop Home Goods

And the crowd goes wild! It was a fair fight between the mattress pad vs. mattress protector. We’re slightly biased toward all things sleep, so in our eyes, everyone’s walking away with a good night’s rest and a bag of candy.

If you’re searching for the “champion” of mattress protectors, though, we have a little something extra for you to take home. It’s our Ultra Luxe Waterproof Mattress Protector. It covers all of the basics, but is also buttery-soft and—gasp—completely silent.

Why? Because at Coop Home Goods, we think you should have it all when it comes to sleep. We thought you might want to protect your beloved mattress investment and enjoy it without the squeak. That’s why we made our Ultra Luxe Waterproof Mattress Protector in sizes from Twin to California King.

Head to Coop Home Goods and see what all the buzz is about. Happy sleeping.


  1. Sleep Foundation. Mattress Pad vs. Mattress Topper: What Are They, and What’s the Difference?
  2. Mattress Clarity. Mattress Protectors and Pads: Do You Need One?
  3. Mattress Nerd. Do I Need a Mattress Protector?
  4. Designer Living. Mattress Pad Buying Guide.
  5. Sleepopolis. Best Mattress Pads.
  6. Family Handyman. Mattress Protectors: What To Know Before You Buy.
  7. Good Housekeeping. 10 Best Mattress Protectors, According to Bedding Experts.