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How to use mattress pads and toppers 07 May 2014 13:11 #1

Hello all,

This is my first post and I'm overwhelmed by all the information after browsing the site, so I thought I would start with a simple question.

If you use a mattress topper (be it memory foam, latex, etc), should you put it underneath the mattress pad and directly on the mattress, or between the mattress pad and your fitted sheet?

If the former, it seems like the mattress pad might interfere with how the topper conforms to your body. However, if you put it on top of the pad and under the fitted sheet, it seems that dirt would seep through onto to the topper over time, and the topper would also be more likely to trap heat since it's much closer to your skin (although putting the topper inside one of the those allergy/bed bug mattress encasements might help).

And while we're at it, is there a specific brand/type of pad that people on the forum favor?

Thanks for your time and attention!

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How to use mattress pads and toppers 07 May 2014 17:49 #2

Hi The Toddler,

If you use a mattress topper (be it memory foam, latex, etc), should you put it underneath the mattress pad and directly on the mattress, or between the mattress pad and your fitted sheet?


There is a difference between a mattress topper, a mattress pad, and a mattress protector although there is some overlap in function between them. In most cases you wouldn't use a mattress pad and a topper together (although it's certainly an option that some people may choose for specific reasons) and there are no "rules" but in most cases a foam mattress pad will go directly on top of the mattress and then a mattress protector would be used on top of that and then your sheets and bedding would be on top of the protector. There is more about mattress pads in post #10 here (and in some cases some mattress pads can perform a dual function of a mattress pad and a mattress protector) and there is more about mattress protectors in post #89 here .

In some cases such as a wool topper where someone wants more of the ventilation and temperature regulation properties of sleeping more directly on the wool they may choose to use the protector directly over the mattress (to protect the mattress but not the wool topper) and then use the wool topper over that (and then their sheets and bedding) so that the mattress protector doesn't interfere with the properties of the wool topper.

And while we're at it, is there a specific brand/type of pad that people on the forum favor?


I would focus more on the materials and design of a mattress topper, mattress pad, or mattress protector than the brand because the name on label means much less than the specific materials or design of the product. There would probably be almost as many preferences as there are people but some of the more popular options (out of many hundreds of similar choices in a constantly changing market) are included in the two posts I linked that can help you with "how" to choose between them.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

How to use mattress pads and toppers 07 May 2014 18:41 #3

Well, thanks for the reply. The reason I asked is because I put a mattress pad (with a very small amount of fluffiness to it) overtop my mattress topper, and I want to make sure I'm not diluting the properties of the topper. (I"m currently using basic foam but want to switch to memory foam or latex soon.)

I have a Protect-a-Bed mattress encasement that totally seals the mattress in -- the AllerZip Smooth -- and will use that on future mattresses to protect my investment against bed bugs. On top of that is my current topper, then the mattress pad, then the sheets. The reason I put a pad over the topper is to protect the topper from getting stained/dirty. I want something between the sheets and the topper that I can put in the wash easily.

In reading the posts you linked to, it sounds like the thicker the pad, the more chance you have of getting the full benefits of the topper.

Perhaps I'd be better off with a Protect-a-Bed mattress protector rather than a mattress pad if I invest in a memory foam/latex topper so as to lessen the risk of diluting the effectiveness of the topper?

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Last edit: by The Toddler.

How to use mattress pads and toppers 07 May 2014 19:42 #4

Hi The Toddler,

Well, thanks for the reply. The reason I asked is because I put a mattress pad (with a very small amount of fluffiness to it) overtop my mattress topper, and I want to make sure I'm not diluting the properties of the topper. (I"m currently using basic foam but want to switch to memory foam or latex soon.)


The only "rule" is that the combination of every layer in your sleeping system (the mattress along with any mattress topper, mattress pad, mattress protector, and your sheets and bedding) are a good match for you in terms of PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences).

In reading the posts you linked to, it sounds like the thicker the pad, the more chance you have of getting the full benefits of the topper.


If you are using a mattress pad on top of a topper ... then the thinner and more flexible the mattress pad is the more you will feel the properties of the topper underneath it. With a thicker mattress pad you would feel more of the properties of the mattress pad and less of the topper underneath it.

Perhaps I'd be better off with a Protect-a-Bed mattress protector rather than a mattress pad if I invest in a memory foam/latex topper so as to lessen the risk of diluting the effectiveness of the topper?


If you already have the protect-a-bed mattress encasement and it fits all the materials in your sleeping system (mattress, mattress topper, and mattress pad) then you wouldn't need an additional protector. The mattress protector or encasement is to protect what is underneath it (or inside it) from accidents and the moisture, body fluids, and skin cells you release each night and to keep the sleeping surface clean and hygienic. The encasement also serves the additional function of protecting from allergens (or bed bugs if you have them). A mattress pad is more to add some additional surface softness to the mattress if you need it than to protect the mattress (although some of them perform a dual function). A mattress topper would be to add additional softness and pressure relief to the mattress.

In other words ... a mattress protector, a mattress pad, and a mattress topper all perform different functions and I would use the ones that best perform the functions or the level of "fine tuning" you are looking for.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

How to use mattress pads and toppers 08 May 2014 06:50 #5

My mattress encasement encases only the mattress, and it is sealed with the Protect-a-Bed locked zipper system from a previous bed bug experience. I use the mattress pad for a bit of softness and to have something that's easily washable covering my foam topper.

However, two of your statements

Phoenix wrote: If you already have the protect-a-bed mattress encasement and it fits all the materials in your sleeping system (mattress, mattress topper, and mattress pad) then you wouldn't need an additional protector.

Phoenix wrote: in most cases a foam mattress pad will go directly on top of the mattress and then a mattress protector would be used on top of that and then your sheets and bedding would be on top of the protector.


seems to contradict what you said about toppers in Post #10 here (emphasis mine):

Phoenix wrote: If you go in this direction and choose a foam material you will need a cover to protect it (if it doesn't already have one) in addition to the mattress protector that will go over it and the mattress for protection.


Wouldn't having both a topper cover and a mattress protector on top of it be redundant? It seems like the mattress protector would serve the same purpose as the topper cover.

Thanks much.

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How to use mattress pads and toppers 08 May 2014 09:31 #6

Hi The Toddler,

However, two of your statements

Phoenix wrote:
If you already have the protect-a-bed mattress encasement and it fits all the materials in your sleeping system (mattress, mattress topper, and mattress pad) then you wouldn't need an additional protector.
Phoenix wrote:
in most cases a foam mattress pad will go directly on top of the mattress and then a mattress protector would be used on top of that and then your sheets and bedding would be on top of the protector.

seems to contradict what you said about toppers in Post #10 here (emphasis mine):


I think you are confusing the function of several different products.

A mattress pad is primarily meant to provide extra padding on the mattress and add some extra softness. A mattress protector is to protect the mattress from body fluids, spills and accidents, and to keep your sleeping surface clean and hygienic (it can be washed). Some mattress pads perform both functions (extra softness and protection) in which case you wouldn't need a separate protector.

Some encasements are only meant to protect the mattress from dust mites so they wouldn't protect from body fluids or spills so you would need a mattress protector in addition to this type of encasement (such as a stretch cotton encasement). If the encasement has a semi breathable membrane then it would function as a mattress protector in addition to protecting against dust mites.

Wouldn't having both a topper cover and a mattress protector on top of it be redundant? It seems like the mattress protector would serve the same purpose as the topper cover.


A mattress or topper cover is functional and can add to the feel and performance of the mattress or topper (such as helping to regulate temperature or wick moisture away from the body) and protect it from oxidation and damage from handling but it isn't meant to be waterproof or water resistant like a mattress protector. They perform separate functions.

Phoenix
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How to use mattress pads and toppers 08 May 2014 10:39 #7

Thanks -- perhaps rather than getting hung up on terminology, I can ask if the following is an ideal setup, in order of layering:

1. Mattress, encased in Protect-a-Bed's Allerzip smooth encasement
2. Mattress topper (currently basic foam but I'm looking to upgrade to memory foam or latex in the near future)
3. Protect-a-Bed's luxury mattress protector (which claims to be breathable, wick moisture, and is on sale from a known retailer for a good price right now)
4. Fitted sheet
5. Me

The only additional element I might fit in there is a cover for the mattress topper itself, although I think that would be redundant with #3. And if I did cover the topper, I'd probably be inclined to get another sealable encasement (although the topper would be swimming in it) to protect the topper from potential bed bug incursions. I would not want to lose a $500 topper that way.

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How to use mattress pads and toppers 08 May 2014 11:21 #8

Actually now that I read more from your post #89 here , I might substitute one of those other types for layer 3 above. Basically I'm looking for something that is breathable and eliminates moisture, doesn't affect the feel of the mattress or topper, and is water resistant but not waterproof. Nobody will be wetting the bed or anything. But I do want to protect the mattress and/or topper from dirt, oils, sweat, etc, and I want something that can be easily washed.

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How to use mattress pads and toppers 08 May 2014 12:09 #9

Hi The Toddler,

Thanks -- perhaps rather than getting hung up on terminology, I can ask if the following is an ideal setup, in order of layering:

1. Mattress, encased in Protect-a-Bed's Allerzip smooth encasement
2. Mattress topper (currently basic foam but I'm looking to upgrade to memory foam or latex in the near future)
3. Protect-a-Bed's luxury mattress protector (which claims to be breathable, wick moisture, and is on sale from a known retailer for a good price right now)
4. Fitted sheet
5. Me


I would tend to avoid using two products that are "semi breathable" in the same sleeping system because it may trap more moisture in the mattress and I would tend to use an encasement around the entire sleeping system and then use the sheets on top of this rather than both a semi breathable encasement and a semi breathable protector.

If you have allergies and want to protect your sleeping system from bed bugs and dust mites I would tend to use a more breathable encasement without a membrane that protects against both (something like this ) and use it around the entire sleeping system and then use a mattress protector on top of this or I would use a membrane type of encasement that also protects against both (and functions as a mattress protector as well) around the entire sleeping system (so there is only one "semi breathable product in the mix) and then your sheets on top of this.

The only additional element I might fit in there is a cover for the mattress topper itself, although I think that would be redundant with #3. And if I did cover the topper, I'd probably be inclined to get another sealable encasement (although the topper would be swimming in it) to protect the topper from potential bed bug incursions. I would not want to lose a $500 topper that way.


If you end up with a latex topper I would use a good stretch knit cover around it to help protect it from any damage with handling and from breaking down or oxidizing prematurely over the long term (see post #24 here ).

Phoenix
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How to use mattress pads and toppers 08 May 2014 13:06 #10

Phoenix wrote: I would tend to avoid using two products that are "semi breathable" in the same sleeping system because it may trap more moisture in the mattress and I would tend to use an encasement around the entire sleeping system and then use the sheets on top of this rather than both a semi breathable encasement and a semi breathable protector.

If you have allergies and want to protect your sleeping system from bed bugs and dust mites I would tend to use a more breathable encasement without a membrane that protects against both (something like this ) and use it around the entire sleeping system and then use a mattress protector on top of this or I would use a membrane type of encasement that also protects against both (and functions as a mattress protector as well) around the entire sleeping system (so there is only one "semi breathable product in the mix) and then your sheets on top of this.


Thank you. That encasement you linked so says bed bugs can't get through, but it doesn't have the zipper lock system like Protect-a-Bed's does -- making me think it's not a true seal of protection. I would prefer not to put everything inside the encasement because I don't want to open the encasement once it's locked, and that arrangement also brings my body closer to the semi-breathable layer and farther from the topper. But if I put the topper over the encasement, and then a breathable mattress pad/protector over top of that, and a sheet on top of that, then that puts me farther away from the encasement that might trap moisture.

Based on the mattress protectors you described in post #89 here , do you think the Natura's Washable Wool Mattress Pad would suit me? It seems to be what I'm looking for -- water resistant, washable, breathable, and thin enough that it would only minimally interfere with the properties of the mattress or topper underneath. It would help me in the future, too, for when I eventually get a new mattress (which hopefully may not even require a topper), right?

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Last edit: by The Toddler.
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