washing machine and mattress protector
Care Tips

How To Wash A Mattress Protector The Correct Way

    Last Updated
    December 1, 2022
    min read

    Many people use mattress protectors to protect a mattress from stains, dirt, and dust. However, this extra layer of protection can make owners complacent about cleaning the protector itself. But a dirty mattress protector can get your mattress dirty eventually too, triggering allergies and shortening your mattress' lifespan.

    Wondering how to keep your mattress protector clean? Read our guide on how to wash mattress protectors and toppers the right way. We have thorough instructions for basic washing, deep cleaning, and stain removal to keep your protector clean.

    Can You Wash A Mattress Protector?

    Yes, you can wash a mattress protector, whether it's made from natural materials or synthetic ones. Washing regularly will remove allergy triggers like mites and dead skin cells. It will also keep stains and unpleasant odors from setting, prolonging the lifespan of your mattress protector.

    Washing your mattress protector is a must, but different materials will have different care instructions to keep them in good condition. Follow your manufacturer's care label to maximize your protector's longevity and durability.

    When Should You Wash Mattress Protectors?

    A good rule of thumb is to wash your mattress protector once every two months. However, this cleaning frequency can be increased in certain situations, such as the following:

    • If you've just recovered from an illness, clean your mattress protector immediately regardless of how soon its last wash was. This will help remove any lingering excess bacteria and help you breathe more easily as you recover.
    • If you just spilled something on your mattress protector, you should also clean it immediately to prevent the spill from setting into the fabric. A set stain is harder to remove and can damage mattress protector fabric.
    • If you suffer from allergies like a runny nose or sneezing, clean your mattress protector fabric once every two weeks. This keeps allergens from building up in the fabric and triggering reactions in allergy sufferers.

    How Do You Wash A Protective Mattress Cover?

    To wash your protective mattress cover correctly, check the cover's label to see if it's machine-washable or has delicate care instructions. Here's how you wash your covers clean in either instance.

    How To Machine Wash Your Mattress Protector

    If your mattress protector is washable, follow these instructions.

    1. Check the care label. This will tell you the recommended water temperature, dryer cycle, and other special washing instructions.
    2. Put your mattress protector in the washing machine. Typically, cold water is preferred to prevent shrinking. Use a mild detergent that doesn't have fabric softeners, as these can reduce your mattress protector's ability to absorb liquids.
    3. Use a gentle wash cycle. Using "delicate" or "gentle" machine settings are best to prevent fabric damage.
    4. Do a second rinse cycle. This removes every last bit of detergent from the fabric. Don't skip this step, as laundry detergent may irritate your skin.

    How To Clean Non-Machine Washable Mattress Protectors

    Some manufacturers may explicitly state on the label that your protector can't be machine-washed. Here's how you can keep it clean without a washing machine.

    1. Remove your mattress protector from the mattress.
    2. Dab a mild detergent on stains for spot cleaning.
    3. Gently hand-wash the top part of the cover using warm or cold water. Avoid using hot water to prevent shrinking.
    4. Let your cover air-dry completely before putting it back on the mattress.

    When Should A Mattress Protector Be Replaced?

    You should replace your mattress protector after one to two years, even if there's no visible wear and tear. A mattress protector keeps your mattress fresh by keeping out moisture and dust mites, but this means that the protector is exposed to these substances.

    Over the months, all that dander, bodily fluids, dust, and excess moisture will build up. With correct washing and regular spot-clean routines, you'll be able to keep your protector in good condition for up to two years. Always follow the label’s recommended settings to preserve the protector’s material and prevent deformation.

    Note that you'll have to wash your protector as soon as there's a spill on it. You'll also have to wash it more often if you have pets, especially those that shed a lot of fur. Pet owners may have to wash their protectors once every three weeks to keep them in good condition.

    However, if there are already visible holes or stubborn stains on your mattress protector, it's time to give it the heave-ho even if you've used it for only a few months. Remember: if your mattress protector is already worn and damaged regardless of how long you've had it, it won't keep out excess water and mites effectively.

    Key Takeaways

    Do you need a mattress protector? A mattress protector will keep liquids and dirt from settling into your mattress, prolonging its lifespan and keeping it in tip-top shape. However, mattress protectors should be regularly cleaned, just like pillows and mattresses. Otherwise, any mold and debris trapped within will eventually make their way to your mattress and damage it.

    To preserve your mattress protector and topper, you should use the right cleaning materials and wash them with care. Check your mattress protector and topper's labels to learn the recommended methods for washing and stain removal.

    Washing A Mattress Protector FAQs

    Can you machine-wash a mattress protector?

    Yes, you can machine wash most mattress protectors. Most mattress covers are machine washable and can be popped into a washing machine for easy laundering. 

    Check the instructions for your mattress covers to make sure, though. Some manufacturers will state on the label if their covers are prone to shrinkage and need special wash settings, like gentle detergent or cold water.

    Do mattress protectors need to be washed?

    Yes, mattress protectors need to be washed to keep them clean and keep your mattress safe from dirt and moisture. This keeps body fluids and accidental spills from accumulating in your protective covering and prevents mold from thriving on that excess moisture.

    Most mattress covers are machine washable, but others should only be cleaned through gentle hand-washing and low-temperature settings. Check your mattress protector's label to find out the correct washing settings.

    How often should you wash a mattress protector?

    Generally, you should wash your removable mattress covers at least once every two months. However, you should also take into consideration how often you use your mattress and its waterproof protector.

    If you sleep with pets or have trapped moisture from occasional spills, you should wash your mattress and pillow protectors more often. Ideally, you should wash your protector immediately after a spill to prevent a stain from setting on the material.

    But if your mattress protector is on a bed that doesn't get used as often (such as a guest bed), you can reduce the frequency of washing. In this situation, clean your dirty mattress protector around once every three to four months.


    About the authors

    April Seifert

    April has nearly a decade of writing experience, with 3+ years specializing in sleep content. Her work has been covered by sites like BuzzFeed, Entrepreneur, and Money Under 30. She has an M.A. in Magazine, Newspaper, and Online Journalism from Syracuse University and a B.A. in Communication Studies. As a self-proclaimed expert in all things cozy, she sleeps better at night, knowing her writing helps others sleep in comfort, too.