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mattress guides

What Is A Mattress Pad & Do You Really Need It?

mattress pad

A mattress pad is what adds to your mattress an extra comfort layer and protects your mattress, not like a waterproof color, but still—it’s thick enough to prevent body oils from being absorbed into your bed. It’s a pretty cost-effective solution, actually—after all, pads cost a lot less than new mattresses, but several questions remain.

Don’t protectors and toppers do exactly the same things? Should all people who don’t have pads reconsider it? We answer all of them in this guide.

average mattress pad

Why do you need a mattress pad?

Mattress pads have something in common with protectors—they also protect your mattress from damage—spills and body oils are exactly what make a mattress far less durable. As for the rest, they are completely different—unlike pads, protectors don’t add a comfort layer and don’t help you customize your mattress and make it softer or firmer. Actually, pads have more in common with toppers, which, however, are usually a bit thicker.

So, who needs a pad? Consider buying it if: 

  • You want to make your bed more comfortable by adding a softer or a firmer layer without making your mattress a lot higher
  • You want to make your mattress last longer 
  • You have an innerspring mattress with a very distorted surface with peaks and valleys and want to level it, make it flatter
  • You have a synthetic mattress (nearly all of them except for latex mattresses are made of synthetic materials) 
  • You don’t want to clean your mattress too often (pads are removable, and most of them are washable)

Generally speaking, nearly all people need a mattress pad (or a mattress topper depending on how thick you want an extra comfort layer to be). It’s not only about improving the overall quality of sleep or customizing your mattress—the biggest benefit of using a pad is increasing the durability of your mattress, which costs a lot more.

Materials mattress pads are made of

Mattress pads are made of the following materials: 

  • Memory foam—add extra thickness and is usually covered with fabric (synthetic or cotton)
  • Cotton—plush, durable, natural but absorbing liquid
  • Wool—soft, natural, and warm but often not machine washable
  • Synthetic fibers—cheap but not natural, stain-resistant but noisy
  • Feather (feathers from geese and ducks)—soft, warm, comfortable, and natural but not that useful when it comes to spills and pretty expensive 
  • Latex—natural, bouncy, a bit cooling but difficult to maintain
mattress pad materials

As you can see, all the materials have benefits and drawbacks. Just consider your priorities and choose the one that will work best for you.

Koala’s bonus: Three mattress pads to try and their specialties

Wonder what the best mattress pads are? Here are the top-3 picks from our team: 

  • Saatva Organic Mattress Pad—it’s a pad that is definitely worth the money. It’s made of cotton, natural, breathable, feels plush (and, well, luxurious), and makes any mattress far more comfortable.
  • Birch Organic Mattress Pad (by Helix)—this pad is just a bit cheaper, also organic, made of cotton and sateen. It provides absorption protection against stains and spills. 
  • Puffy Mattress Pad—this is the best cooling, hypoallergenic and breathable pad for all types of sleepers. 

So, do you need a pad or maybe a topper or a protector would be a better option for you? It depends. If you need to add some softness or firmness but don’t want to add a lot of extra height, a pad is just perfect for you. It’s removable, washable, and it not only makes a mattress more comfortable but also protects it from spills, dirt, body oil, etc. If you want to add a thicker comfort layer, you can choose a topper—there are many great options in the market. If you care only about protecting your mattress from spills, molds, etc., you can just buy a protector that is usually much cheaper than pads and toppers.


What does a mattress pad do?

It adds an extra comfort layer, helps you customize your mattress, make it a bit softer or firmer, and also makes it last longer protecting your bed from spills and body oils. 

Why use a mattress pad?

It can make a mattress a lot more comfortable, prevent damage (spills and body oils), and level the surface of the mattress. Moreover, you’ll need to clean your mattress less often, which makes it more durable, too.

How to use mattress pad?

There are different types of pads—felt pads, pads with straps in the corners, and quilted pads that are like a skirt all over your bed. If it’s a felt pad, just put it on your mattress, if it’s a pad with straps, put it on your mattress and fix the straps under it, and if it’s a quilted pad, just put it right over 4 sides of your mattress.

What is the difference between a mattress topper and a mattress pad?

Both mattress toppers and mattress pads add the extra comfort layer, but pads are a bit thinner than toppers. What to choose? It depends on how much you want to change your mattress, how much customization it needs to become super comfortable for you.