Right out of the gate we want to understand the difference between a mattress pad and a mattress topper. You can use this complete rundown of reliable mattress pad reviews once you understand the differences between them. Let’s take a quick look.


1-2 inches thick 2-3 inches thick or more
Protect the mattress Provide firmer support
Has a skirt Has straps


This is an oversimplification, of course, and depending on the make and model of the pad or topper there may be a considerable amount of overlap in the thickness, but this chart will give you a basic understanding of the difference between the two items.

A Word of Caution

Anytime you’re dealing with beds, mattresses, or accessories, there is always the question of what to do about bed bugs – they’ve become quite a problem in recent years so it’s an understandable concern.

If you suspect you have bed bugs for any reason, you can pay a pest control professional hundreds of dollars per room to eliminate them for you, or you can purchase a DIY book to walk you through getting rid of them yourself for a fraction of the cost.

Why Are You Getting a Mattress Pad?

A mattress pad acts as an enhancement for your existing mattress, so what kind of mattress pad to get or whether or not to get one at all, will depend on what kind of mattress you chose for your bed.

Why Are You Getting a Mattress Pad

One of the most basic reasons for getting a mattress pad is the extra height it gives your bed, lending a modern, updated look to your bedroom in the process. Other reasons, based on comfort or protection will dictate your decision. You can use the above chart to assist you.

Frequently Asked Questions

A list of frequently asked questions about mattress pads can help narrow down your selection.


  • What is a mattress pad?

We’ve contrasted mattress pads and topper, but that doesn’t tell you what mattress pad is. It’s an added layer of material on top of the mattress but below the covers. It protects the mattress as well as providing additional comfort.

  • What are mattress pads made from?

They’re usually made from polyester fabrics or foam and covered with cotton. Some are covered with material made from bamboo.

  • How do mattress pads work?

Ideally, the mattress pad should have the same length and width as your mattress. Most of them include a skirt long enough to conceal both of the pad and the mattress. They also have elastic bands to hold them in place on top of the mattress. The fitted sheet is then put on over the pad and the mattress.

  • Are mattress pads washable?

Some are but some aren’t. The ones that are machine washable normally have to be washed on the gentle cycle and dried on low heat. The ones that are not washable should have a tag that gives you instructions on the care and cleaning of the pad.

  • Are mattress pads recyclable?

That depends on the material they’re made from. Some of them may be technically recyclable but many recycling centers won’t accept them so it’s best to consider them as non-recyclable.

  • Are mattress pads waterproof?

Yes and no. Some, mostly for children (see below) are waterproof and/or washable, or both. Waterproof pads tend to be covered in plastic and hence, somewhat noisy when you toss and turn on them at night.

  • Should children have mattress pads on their beds?

If you put a mattress pad on your child’s bed it should be a thin, waterproof or washable one to protect the mattress from nighttime potty accidents. Once your child is past the potty training stage the mattress pad can be retired.

  • Are there cooling mattress pads?

Yes. They tend to be more expensive than other types of pads because they require special materials and construction in order to be considered coolers. There are ventilated gel mattress pads. Others are made of bamboo materials that have natural cooling properties.

  • Are there warming mattress pads?

Yes, there are quite a few mattress pads that provide warmth. Turn them on a few minutes before going to bed and you’ll be able to slip into a warm bed when you turn out the lights. Many of them have an auto-shutoff feature to prevent overheating after you go to sleep.

Mattress pads can provide comfort and support for any size bed as well as extending the life of your mattress. That’s a win-win in anyone’s book.