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Parachute Guide to Mattress & Bedding Protectors

Mattress in bedroom.
Written By
Parachute Team
Photographs By
Jessica Schramm for Parachute
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A high-quality mattress is one of the smartest investments you can make to ensure restful and uninterrupted sleep. But that also makes protecting it important. Taking steps to maintain your mattress will keep it comfortable longer, delivering the support your body needs night after night. And the same applies to all of your bedding inserts, such as pillows and duvets. This is where bedding protectors come in handy. They are not just an extra layer that protects your bedding. In some cases, they may also protect you from allergens.

Keep reading for a handy breakdown on the best mattress and bedding protectors, and a detailed guide on how to choose and care for yours.

What are the Different Types of Bedding Protectors?

As the name suggests, a mattress protector, or a mattress cover, serves as a barrier between your mattress and your sheets. In this way, it protects your investment from contaminants. In most cases, a mattress protector is similar in design to a fitted sheet. In others, it completely encases the mattress. 

Similarly, a duvet protector envelops your comforter, ensuring that its filling stays fluffy and new longer. It also promotes hygiene and makes cleanup much easier and faster. A duvet protector goes between your duvet cover and the comforter, so it stays completely hidden. 

Since pillows are also an essential part of layering your bed, caring for them is just as important. Your face rests on your pillow for eight hours every night, so adding another protective layer, in addition to the pillowcase, is always a good idea. A pillow protector will extend the life of your pillow by keeping it clean and minimizing wear and tear.

Similar to mattress protectors, pillow protectors also guarantee a much healthier sleep experience by making sure your pillow remains in the best condition possible to deliver maximum comfort and neck support. Pillow covers, like duvet protectors, zipper shut.

Do You Need a Mattress Protector?

The short answer is yes. There are several benefits of having a mattress protector. First of all, it adds an additional hygienic layer barrier. Regardless of what type of sleeper you are, your body releases oils and perspiration that can permanently stain your mattress. Accidental spills, such as from coffee or juice (breakfast in bed, anyone?), are always a possibility, so the best way to ensure liquids don’t ruin your mattress is to encase it in a mattress cover protector.

Allergens such as dead skin cells, dust and air pollutants may also accumulate in your mattress. Over time, that may affect your health if you are prone to allergies. 

Just like your bed sheets, the proper mattress protector should promote breathability that, together with your bedlinen, promotes a good night’s sleep.

Are Other Bedding Protectors Necessary?

From choosing the right mattress to testing different types of pillows, you invest a lot of money and time to customize your bedding and mattress to your sleep preferences. It’s no wonder you want to protect it just like any other investment. That’s why bedding protectors are a necessity, not just an accessory. They prolong the life of your mattress, pillows and comforter, and provide a much healthier and more hygienic sleep experience night after night.

Pillow Protectors

A good pillow protector will significantly reduce the possibility of a skin reaction due to allergens, bacteria, dust mites or other irritants. Pillows easily absorb face moisturizers and other skincare products, which in turn can damage the quality of their filling. And if you sleep on a feather or down pillow, you’ll want to purchase a pillow protector to ensure the quills don’t poke through. 

While some of the features of different pillow protectors may vary, there are a few basic factors to consider when choosing yours. For instance, know your protector’s hypoallergenic and water-resistant qualities, breathability and ease of care.

Duvet Protectors

Moisture can easily damage your duvet, making it a breeding ground for bacteria while ruining its filling. A duvet protector is an easy way to extend the life of your duvet so you can enjoy its warmth and fluffiness for years to come. Opt for a lightweight and breathable duvet protector that won’t result in any extra perspiration.

Mattress Protectors vs Mattress Pads: What’s the Difference?

While both mattress protectors and mattress pads fall within the mattress topper category, their functions differ. A mattress protector’s primary purpose is to keep dirt and pollutants away from your mattress and provide you with a cleaner sleep environment. A mattress pad adds comfort. The lines blur a bit with some protectors that add padding to the mix.

In general, if you’re looking for both a protective layer and padding for your mattress, consider purchasing both a pad and a protector. A mattress pad is often a few inches thick, making it difficult to wash and dry, so covering it with a mattress protector is a good idea. In this case, you would place your mattress pad over your mattress. Then you would encase both in a mattress protector. Your bedsheets would go next. If you’d like to read more about the different types of mattress pads, check out our  Guide to Mattress Toppers & Mattress Pads.

How to Choose the Best Mattress Protector for You?

Just like bedsheets, the best mattress protector for you will depend on your sleeping habits and the type of mattress you have.

Because of cotton’s moisture-wicking and hypoallergenic qualities, many mattress protectors are made from this versatile fabric. A very thin lamination layer is added underneath the cotton shell to make the cover water-resistant. High-quality water-repellent mattress protectors should not produce that dreaded rustling noise. 

If you are a very hot sleeper, a cooling mattress protector is your best bet. These are made from specially-blended fabrics that help regulate your body's temperature and dissipate perspiration.

Another factor to consider is your mattress's size and thickness. Most mattress covers are made to fit mattresses up to 16-inches deep. Before purchasing one, check if yours falls within this size range. Also, your mattress will determine the size of your mattress protector. Don't purchase a bigger mattress protector to cover more surface. Follow the same sizing rules you would when buying the perfect set of bedsheets.

Finally, suppose your mattress is harder than you like, or you have a medical condition requiring you to customize your bed. In that case, you can opt for a mattress protector with a little extra padding. While a mattress protector is no substitute for choosing a comfortable mattress, it can still deliver a certain degree of cushioning.

Tips for Caring for Your Mattress and Bedding Protectors

Your mattress protector is the first line of defense against pollutants and allergens, so to prolong your mattress's life and keep it in good condition, you also have to care for your mattress cover properly. Unlike a mattress that you can't just throw in the washer when it gets dirty, your mattress protector is much easier to clean.

While you should wash your bed sheets at least once a week, your mattress protector can last three to four weeks without a trip to the laundry room. Of course, if you've accidentally spilled something on it or if you have had a cold or the flu, try to wash it as soon as possible.

Always make sure to follow the care directions listed on the tag. Certain mattress covers made from custom fabrics may require special care. Most mattress protectors, though, should be washed in cool or cold water using mild detergent. After that, throw your mattress protector in the dryer with some wool dryer balls and set it to the tumble low setting.

How Often Should You Change Your Mattress Protector?

While there is no rule of thumb here, it's a good idea to change your mattress protector as soon as it shows serious traces of wear and tear, such as tattered areas. If you notice that your mattress cover is no longer doing a good job of protecting your mattress, change it immediately. If you buy a new, different size mattress, you’ll need to change your mattress protector as well.

How to Layer Your Bedding?

If you’re wondering, “can you put a mattress pad over a mattress protector,” the answer is yes. Your mattress cover will still serve its purpose, which is to protect your mattress. But, if your mattress pad is not water-resistant, it’s smart to place your mattress protector over your pad. A good mattress protector should not affect how comfortable, soft or supportive your mattress and mattress topper are. The same layering order applies to other types of bedding protectors. The bedding insert goes first, then the protector and lastly, the bed linens. 

Where to Shop for the Best Mattress and Bedding Insert Protectors

The lifespan of your mattress depends on the quality of your mattress cover. At Parachute, you’ll find a selection of cotton protectors that span from mattress to pillow covers. Thanks to the patented tight weave of the fabric, it prevents allergens or other impurities from reaching your mattress and bedding inserts, extending their life. 

The Pillow Protector by Parachute comes in two sizes — Standard and King, while the Duvet Protector is available in three — Twin/Twin XL, Full/Queen and King/California King. Similarly, Parachute's Mattress Protector is made and filled with cotton, and sports a quilted pattern. It has a fitted sheet design and will accommodate a mattress up to 16-inches deep.