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Is a mattress topper the same as a mattress protector? What about mattress pads? Which one do you need?

It doesn’t help that sellers use the terms interchangeably. The definitions can be different between brands too. The important thing is figuring out which one is right for your needs!

Find out more in this post!

Mattress Pad Vs Mattress Topper

Newsflash!

A mattress topper is the same as a mattress pad. Although a mattress pad can be slightly thinner (i.e. 1 to 2 inches thick) than a mattress topper (i.e. 1 to 4 inches thick).

Mattress Toppers Are Sometimes Called Mattress Pads
Mattress Toppers Are Sometimes Called Mattress Pads – Photo credits to Reymilyn Calma (Flickr)

Mattress Topper

Substantially thicker than a mattress protector:

Mattress toppers can help to adjust the comfort level, softness, or firmness of your bed. In addition to protecting your original mattress!

A Soft Mattress Topper Can Change The Way A Firm Mattress Feels
A Soft Mattress Topper Can Change The Way A Firm Mattress Feels – Photo credits to Reymilyn Calma (Flickr)

The stuffing/ padding material can be:

  • Polyester fill
  • Foam
  • Latex
  • Coconut fiber

Which mattress topper is best?

Soft beds work well with a firmer topper, while a lush topper can add much needed softness to a hard bed.

While not a permanent solution, mattress toppers can help revitalize an old mattress too by covering up small dents, sagging, or general wear and tear.

Mattress Toppers Can Be A Few Inches Thick
Mattress Toppers Can Be A Few Inches Thick – Photo credits to Reymilyn Calma (Flickr)

However, since they have a thickness around 5 inches, it is recommended to dry wash a mattress topper. Instead of machine washing it.

There are mattress toppers with removable covers that can be machine washed too!

Mattress Protector Vs Mattress Topper

So what is the difference between a mattress topper and a mattress protector?

Mattress Protectors Are Often Very Thin
Mattress Protectors Are Often Very Thin – Photo credits to Shopy Store (Flickr)

Mattress Protector

A mattress protector is meant to be a thin covering for the top of your mattress.

They commonly have a quilted top and elastic bands at the corners to wrap around the mattress and hold them in place while you sleep.

There are mattress protectors that fit like regular bed sheets too, covering the mattress from all sides.

Mattress Protectors Can Fit Over Your Mattress Like A Bed Sheet
Mattress Protectors Can Fit Over Your Mattress Like A Bed Sheet – Photo credits to Adrian Black (Flickr)

Because a mattress protector is typically only less-than-an inch thick and lightweight:

They protect mattresses from liquids, dirt or contamination. Without affecting the comfort level, or firmness of your original mattress too much.

Additionally, they are easy to remove and clean – simply by throwing them in the washing machine. Much more convenient than clean a mattress topper that gets stained!

Remember To Wash Your Mattress Protector
Remember To Wash Your Mattress Protector – Photo credits to Rodnae Productions (Pexels)

Since it is easy to wash them, you should wash them every once in a while (e.g. 2 months). Especially if you have allergies! While bed sheets should be washed every 2 weeks ideally!

To summarize their differences:

Category Mattress Protector Mattress Pad Mattress Topper
Thickness Less than an inch thick 1 to 2 inches thick 1 to 4 inches thick
Cleaning Method – Machine wash (Easy)
– Hand wash or wipe down (for the waterproof variety)
Dry clean or machine wash (depending on the product) Dry clean 
Function To protect mattress from stains – To protect mattress from stains
– Additional comfort
– To protect mattress from stains
– Additional comfort
– Transform an old mattress
Weight Light Light to heavy Heavier
Price RM15 to RM70 RM20 to RM180 RM30 to RM500

Note: Don’t be surprised to see these terms (e.g. mattress pad, mattress protector, etc) used differently from what is written in this post! The price ranges are estimates too!

Mattress Protector Vs Mattress Pad

Well you know this answer already, don’t you? If not, read the first two sections again!

However, we can see why there is so much confusion:

Because the term “mattress pads” is often used to describe both mattress protectors and mattress toppers!

Mattress Protectors And Mattress Pads Can Come In All Sizes
Mattress Protectors And Mattress Pads Can Come In All Sizes – Photo credits to BUXTON baby (Flickr)

What Is The Best Type Of Mattress Protector?

Essentially, any of these three mattress accessories can work as a mattress protector! They act as your first line of defense against spills and other stains.

But there are situations where you don’t need a mattress topper at all – for instance, when your current mattress is still comfortable!

Mattress toppers are also not as easy to clean as their thinner counterparts (e.g., mattress pads and mattress protectors). Something to think about if stains are a frequent occurrence in your household!

Mattress Pads Are Like Thinner Mattress Toppers But The Term Is Also Commonly Used For Mattress Protectors
Mattress Pads Are Like Thinner Mattress Toppers But The Term Is Also Commonly Used For Mattress Protectors – Photo credits to jake1235 (Flickr)

Mattress Protector Or Topper First?

What if you plan to get both? The mattress topper or mattress pad to improve the comfort of your old mattress, and a mattress protector to safeguard from messes?

In that case, does a mattress topper go over or under a mattress protector?

Put A Mattress Protector Over A Mattress Or Mattress Topper
Put A Mattress Protector Over A Mattress Or Mattress Topper – Photo credits to Rajeev Kapoor (Flickr)

Logically, you want to put the mattress protector at the very top.

That means, the mattress topper sits directly on top of the mattress. While the mattress protector sits on top of the mattress topper or mattress pad.

That way, you can prevent both the mattress topper and mattress from getting dirty! At the same time, you can rectify the comfort level of your mattress!

Conclusion

We hope this post was helpful to you in explaining the differences between mattress toppers, mattress pads, and mattress toppers!

And now you know which goes over the other too!

References:


Further reading:

Janice

Janice is the editor for BestBuyGet.com. Wanted to be an author as a kid, got a D in English (First Language), but somehow now a content writer with an engineering background. Bakes, does yoga, plays the piano, reads, and most other introverted indoor hobbies. Also an active volunteer at Zero Waste Malaysia.