One of the most overlooked pieces of bedding is the mattress protector. Many don’t seem to realize how important they are. Others view a protector as a sign of being overly-cautious and a waste of money. We, however, feel that this purchase is well worth it. Think about it; you spend a good amount of money on a great mattress. Wouldn’t it make sense that you want that investment to last? What better way to cover yourself than by purchasing a protector? These handy covers can shield you and your loved ones from pests and allergens, at the same time protect your bed from spills and stains, prolonging the life of your mattress. Before buying one, make sure you know what to look for.Best Mattress ProtectorOur Recommendation: The Amerisleep Waterproof Mattress Protector is our recommendation for the best mattress protector of 2021. Soft and 100% absorbent, you won’t find a better cover at any price. It contains a non-toxic poly laminated film that shields the bed from spills and dust mites, yet is as breathable as human skin. It’s no wonder customers rate it 4.7 out of 5 stars.Runner-Up: The Zoma Recover+ Protector is a close runner-up for the best mattress protector. It’s lightweight and breathable, waterproof, and made with temperature-regulating fabric to prevent hot nights and encourage better sleep.These protectors, or mattress covers, are a two-way form of protection; the cover protects you from dust mites, bacteria, allergens, and bed bugs. At the same time, it prevents the absorption of liquids and stains, also protecting your warranty. A spill to your mattress could void its warranty. Without a protector and over time, your mattress can accumulate pounds of moisture, dust mites, waste, bacteria, and allergens. It also runs the risk of attracting bed bugs. Once present, these pests are hard to remove. Further, as allergens pile up, allergic reactions increase, becoming more intense and causing disrupted sleep. While this can be prevented at home, what about travel? College? Most hotels do their best to keep mattresses clean, but some may not take extra steps in allergen prevention. College dorm rooms are known to have old mattresses – what is currently crawling under the surface? Mattress covers can protect you from these risks and discomforts.Best Mattress Protectors of 2021NameAvailable SizesMaterialWarrantyPrice (Queen)Amerisleep Waterproof Mattress ProtectorTwin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal King, Split KingCotton5-year$90.00Zoma Recover+ Mattress ProtectorTwin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal King, Split KingFIR Polyester & Polyester Fabric with TPU Lamination and Printing1-year$130.00Saferest Premium Waterproof Mattress ProtectorTwin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal KingCotton10-year$26.95Luna Premium Waterproof Mattress ProtectorTwin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal KingCotton15-year$39.95Lucid Mattress ProtectorTwin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal KingBamboo & Cotton15-year$19.99Sureguard Waterproof Mattress ProtectorTwin, Twin XL, Full, Full XL, Queen, King, Cal King, Crib, Mini CribCotton10-year$39.97Utopia Bedding Waterproof Bamboo Mattress ProtectorTwin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal KingBamboo & PolyesterNo Information Given$16.99Hanna Kay Waterproof Mattress ProtectorQueen, KingCotton10-year$23.00Linenspa ZipperedTwin, Twin XL, Full, Full XL, Queen, King, Cal KingPolyester10-year$24.99Amerisleep Waterproof Mattress Protector Soft and breathable, Amerisleep’s mattress protector shields against spills, dust mites, and bacteria. As a fitted-style protector, it effectively covers the top and sides of your mattress and stays secure around your mattress. Its waterproof layer is a non-toxic, poly laminated film that sleeps quietly and never retains heat. Amerisleep even backs their protector with a 5-year warranty.Zoma Recover+ ProtectorThe Zoma Recover+ Protector goes beyond protecting your mattress from spills and stains—its materials are engineered to improve your night’s sleep, too. Zoma’s Recover+ technology regulates your temperature while you rest to prevent night sweats and keep you snoozing soundly. It fits snug on your bed, is machine-washable, and comes with a 1-year warranty.Saferest Premium Waterproof Mattress Protector Available in six different sizes, this fitted protector guards against moisture, allergens, bacteria, and dust mites. With a combination of terry cloth and breathable membrane, this protector will not alter the feel of your mattress. It provides a quiet and comfortable sleep.Luna Premium Waterproof Mattress Protector This fitted-style protector combines hypoallergenic terry cotton and a liquid-proof membrane. Using Luna Airflow Technology, it both blocks liquids and provides smooth airflow to prevent heat traps. The waterproof layer is vinyl-free and silent. This protector is perfect for those who suffer from allergies.Lucid Mattress Protector This liquid repellent protector uses a combination of terry cloth and a unique StratoSmart Barrier to provide protection against dust mites. This fitted-style protector is machine-washable and provides excellent ventilation. Further, it’s vinyl-free protective layer makes it safe for kids and pets.Sureguard Waterproof Mattress Protector Designed specifically for children at the bedwetting stage, this cotton terry, liquid-repellent protector is noiseless. It further protects from dust mites and allergens. As a fitted sheet-style, it covers the top and sides of the bed.Utopia Bedding Waterproof Bamboo Mattress Protector Bamboo acts as a cooling agent for this protector. Guarding against liquids, dust mites, and bed bugs, it offers great protection, especially for those with sensitive skin. The protector material layer is vinyl-free.Hanna Kay Waterproof Mattress Protector Using micropores in their polyurethane membrane, it allows better airflow while blocking liquids. It’s hypoallergenic and soft material make it ideal for those with allergies. Further, the noiseless material ensures a good rest.Linenspa Zippered Encased and sealed with a zipper, this protector shields against dust mites, bacteria, liquids, and bed bugs. Its polyurethane layer is vinyl-free and contains many pores that provide smooth airflow. Soft and breathable, this protector is machine-washable and can be dried in the dryer on low heat.What is a Mattress ProtectorA protector is a type of shield that covers your mattress. It’s both a means of protecting your mattress and protecting you. It may provide your bed with a longer lifespan and may also improve the quality of your sleep. A protector is just that; it protects your mattress from outside elements, like pests and spills. Without this type of security, your bed would be hit with spills, stains, and pests. Some of these problems can be fixed, but many ultimately lead to the destruction of your mattress. The few problems that can be fixed require lots of time to painstakingly clean; even then, there’s no guarantee the problem won’t still be there. Instead of putting your mattress at risk, find a protector that’s right for you. Further, protectors are affordable. The price range can vary, but a decent one can be purchased for under $20. Price can depend on the size you’re looking for and the level of protection you want.Why is a Mattress Protector ImportantMany don’t realize how important protectors are. They see them as unnecessary and that accidents are easy to avoid. Yet, for those with small children, it can be near impossible to get through one day without some type of accident. Adults on their own are still just as likely to spill a drink while lounging on their bed. Liquids can cause quite a bit of damage to any type of mattress. They can be especially detrimental to memory foam mattresses. Besides fluids, protectors guard against allergens, dust mites, and bed bugs. The nasty truth is, despite their small size, dust mites can account for the accumulated weight of your mattress after so many years. They can also aggravate allergies, making it harder to sleep at night. With human skin flakes as their primary food source, they’re not going anywhere once they get in. Additionally, bed bugs are the same, but the sores they can cause may be worse. Instead of feeding on our dead skin flakes, bed bugs feed on our blood. Their numbers can grow quickly, and unless treated immediately, it could result in severe allergic reactions and pricey exterminators.Pros and ConsMost protectors will have some type of waterproof feature, but not every protector will be the same. Different brands offer different materials and protections. Further, there are pros and cons to every cover. Be sure to weigh both when choosing the best protector. Also, be sure to check customer reviews as well as the manufacturers’ offer description. This will help in finding a quality cover with little risk of flaws.ProsProtects the mattress and warranty – shields the mattress from dust mites, bed bugs, and liquids. Prolongs the life of the mattress and protects the warranty.Affordable – protectors with basic protection are available under $20.Machine Washable – most are easy to clean, with only a few that need to be air-dried.Lightweight – thin, durable material made to cover your mattress.Stretchy/Soft – most are soft and can stretch to fit your mattress.Breathability/Coolness – manufacturers want to ensure that you don’t get caught in a heat trap.Hypoallergenic – sensitive to skin and those suffering from allergies.ConsSleeps hot – some protectors don’t have the breathability feature that prevents heat trapsLoud – can give off crackling sounds when moving during sleep.Can bunch/shifts out of place – some don’t stay in place and end up needing a readjustment.Doesn’t add comfort – built to protect, not add comfort, some may feel the plastic waterproof layer.May not fit – with a mattress pad/topper, the protector may not be able to fit over the bed.Wear and tear – some may undergo thinning due to washing.May change the feel of the mattress – instead of feeling the plush softness of your mattress, you may instead feel the rougher protector material.May not sustain if liquid – if a spill or accident isn’t cleaned up right away, after some time, the protector may leak.StylesProtectors are available in three different styles; zippered, fitted, and strapped. The style you choose depends on the level of protection that you’re seeking. Zippered will protect the entire mattress, fitted protects the top and sides, and strapped only protects the top.Zippered – encases the entire mattress and sealed with a zipper. It offers complete protection and ideal for individuals who flip their mattresses.Fitted – encloses the top and sides of the mattress like a fitted sheet. The bottom is left exposed.Strapped – contains four straps that hook onto the four corners of the mattress. The top is protected, but the sides and bottom are left exposed.FabricsAvailable in the following fabrics, most protectors will have some type of waterproofing qualities. Please note that not all protectors will be comfortable. They’re built to protect not for added comfort, unlike mattress pads and toppers.CottonPolyesterDownSpandexWaterproofing MaterialsThese materials will normally be woven into the protector; polyurethane and vinyl. The waterproofing layer may be a combination of both. With the possible hazards of vinyl, more customers are turning to protectors that are strictly polyurethane.Polyurethane – a thin, flexible membrane that acts as an excellent barrier against pests and liquids. It is near silent and undetectable by most sleepers. Additionally, it’s breathable material prevents heat traps and provides a comfortable atmosphere.Vinyl – provides a thick layer that effectively protects against bed bugs, dust mites, allergens, and liquids. Because it lacks breathability, it may run hot. It’s also is known to be loud, making crinkly sounds caused by movement.ProtectionsThe moment you bring a new mattress into your home, it starts acquiring all kinds of stuff. Dust, pollen, dust mites, and sweat, it all accumulates as time goes by. Before you know it, stains start to stand out from spills and accidents. You start noticing small, red sores on your skin from bed bug bites. Sleeping isn’t as restful because of itchy, watery eyes and congestion. Without a protector, your mattress is exposed to these hazards, and after a while, the effects get worse until all too soon you’re forced to destroy what was once a great mattress. This is why buying a protector is crucial; so it can guard against dust mites, bed bugs, allergens, and liquids, prolong the life of your mattress, and promote healthier sleep. When looking for the right mattress cover, keep in mind what you want to be protected from – not all protectors have the same shield.Dust MitesDust mites are tiny arthropods that roughly measure one-quarter of a millimeter. These microscopic pests have been known to cause most indoor allergies. Dust mites can live in temperatures from 68 to 77 degrees, with humidity levels as high as 80%. They live off of dead human skin. Is it any wonder that they can thrive in our mattresses? According to the AAFA (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America), the average adult sheds about 1.5 grams of skin a day – enough to feed one million dust mites. When dust mites die, they leave behind their bodies and waste. This buildup still causes allergic reactions, even the development of asthma. It’s near impossible to completely prevent dust mites, but by adding a mattress cover, you can drastically reduce both the risk of allergies and asthma and prevent dust mite numbers from increasing.Bed BugsAccording to Web MD, bed bugs are one of the hardest pests to remove. Their small, flat-bodied forms make it easy for them to slip into small cracks and more efficient in traveling to other places. Further, they can go up to a year without eating. They rely on human or animal blood to survive. What makes them such a nuisance is that because of their small size, they’re hard to detect. Bed bugs can hide almost everywhere and can travel from house to house with ease. Despite treatments, some bed bugs have proven to be immune. Bed bugs start off as eggs that are 1/16 inch long, hatching within 4-12 days. Once hatched, they will go through 5 nymph stages before becoming a full adult. Adult bed bugs can live for 6 months to a year. The best way to treat these pests is through prevention. A fully encased bed bug mattress protector for both your bed and box spring is the best way to protect against bed bugs.LiquidsIf you think that your mattress warranty will cover you if a liquid is spilled on your bed, think again. Mattress warranties can be voided from any type of liquid spill, and the ensuing damage can reduce the life of your mattress. If you have young children or senior citizens under your roof, be aware that there is a high risk of bedwetting. The intensive cleanup to follow can be stressful, time-consuming, and the stain may not go away. Additionally, we’re all human and make mistakes. Spills can happen, despite who was the cause. Why put yourself at risk? A mattress cover is a great way to protect your warranty, shield your mattress, and prevent stressful cleanups.Other BenefitsOn top of shielding the bed from dust mites, bed bugs, and liquids, mattress covers may also prevent allergic reactions and regulate body temperature. Allergies can be caused by dust and pollen, sometimes they can be further aggravated from dust mites and bed bugs. Sleeping with active allergies is not a comfortable experience and can lead to poor sleep and doctor visits. Also, when we sleep, our bodies’ temperature goes down. Sleeping hot can prevent a smooth transition through the sleep cycles, causing disruptive sleep and tiredness the next day. The right kind of protection through a mattress cover can safeguard against this.Protection from AllergiesWithout proper protection, mattresses are susceptible to allergens. As they accumulate, they can further aggravate your allergies, affecting the quality of your sleep. They can also attract dust mites and bed bugs. Instead of putting you and your family’s health at risk, why not invest in a cover that will reduce this danger significantly? With a mattress cover, your sleep and health are better covered.Temperature ControlSome protectors offer better breathability. This feature helps to improve comfort by providing better air circulation. It prevents heat and moisture from building up and causing a heat trap. Since the body naturally cools down when preparing for sleep, this important feature helps a person to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. A protector that doesn’t breathe may also block the breathability benefits from your current mattress and further cause a disruptive sleep.Frequently Asked QuestionsWhy do you need a mattress protector?Mattress protectors provide a defense against spills, stains, debris, and pests. The tight weave keeps out liquids and dust mites that could penetrate the mattress and damage its materials.It also keeps allergens from collecting inside the mattress. Sleeping on an allergen-filled mattress can trigger symptoms in the morning.Do you put a fitted sheet over a mattress protector?Yes, you should slip a fitted sheet over your protector for extra comfort and cleanliness. Protectors often have a slightly coarse or slippery feel, with little focus on a sleeper’s comfort. Plus, keeping a sheet over the protector will provide another barrier between dirt, dust, bacteria, and pests.How often should you wash a mattress protector?A common recommendation is to wash your protector once a month. You might need to clean it more often if you have pets or allergies, and you should always wash your protector if you spill something on your mattress. If you’re curious, most bedding items (sheets, blankets, pillowcases) should be washed once a week.What causes yellow stains on a mattress pad?If you’re an adult, the most likely reason for a yellow spot on your pad or protector is that it absorbed your sweat. Sweat can leave a yellowish mark after it dries, and a mattress without a protector may develop stains and smell musty from sweat. Using a waterproof protector keeps sweat from penetrating your mattress.Should you wash a mattress protector before use?Yes, you should wash your protector before you place it on your bed, same as with any other bedding. The protector’s fabric was likely starched to make manufacturing easier, and other chemicals may have been brushed on it for better packaging. Washing your protector will eliminate any lingering chemicals.ConclusionGuarding against liquids, dust mites, and bed bugs, the protectors mentioned above are the best way to protect you and your mattress. Many find that protectors are unnecessary and a waste of money, but we feel differently. Some may think that possible damage to beds is easy to avoid, but this is not so. Accidents can happen at any time; it’s best to be prepared so that you’re not stuck facing the consequences. Further, protectors can help prolong the life of your mattress. Without the threat of spills and bed bugs, and dust mites at a minimum, you’ll be able to enjoy your bed longer. Mattress covers are generally inexpensive. Before purchasing, make sure that you know the measurements of your bed to ensure a good fit, including mattress pads/toppers. Be sure to check customer reviews before purchasing. Also, keep in mind the type of waterproofing material used to provide breathability and comfort.