Waterproof mattress protectors: what kind to buy?

Based on comments here and elsewhere, I’m planning to buy a waterproof mattress protector. But mattress protectors seem to come in two kinds. One is like a fitted sheet, which contains an elastic strip at the end which fits under the mattress. The other is a complete zip-up mattress cover, which the mattress slides into. The latter covers the mattress completely from all sides, the former doesn’t.

Which one do people here use, and which is better? Details of why you prefer one over the other would be appreciated. Any other tips about making a good choice of mattress protector would also be appreciated.

I hope this question isn’t too specialist for this forum.

My mattress protectors have elastic all around. The top has a slight terry cloth cover with a waterproof underlayer. The cover fits very thick mattresses. The xl twin bedsize was $19. I use these to protect the mattresses from stains. The main selling point I looked for in the reviews was that there was no swishy sound or indication of plastic or rubber protection layer. In 90 some visits, they have been clearly useful once, and the stain washed right out with no damage. I wash them about every four visits, along with the comforters. I will be buying them again to have in case they are needed.

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Thanks for the reply, @jds.

Just to be clear, your mattress protectors are the fitted sheet model, then? That is to say, they do not cover the mattress on the under/lower side, correct?

I bought my queen mattress pad from Lands’ End end…and it’s great! Looks and feels like a normal mattress pad (fitted sheet style), is waterproof, and does not “melt” in the dryer. I wash it after every guest, and so far it’s held up great! It was a little spendy, (about $50), but I definitely think it was worth it.

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Thanks for the reply, @Shawn_Sheffield_Brya.

Did you consider the zip-up fully enclosed option? And has your protector saved your mattress from harm?

No, I just wanted a fitted option. I’ve only had 12 or 13 guests (mostly couples), and no “accidents”…so far. (I also believe Lands’ End stands behind their products…if you find it doesn’t work for you.)


I use this same type (fitted, elastic all around, soft rubbery plastic layer against the mattress, terry cloth top), and I bought them cheaply from Ikea (I think you can order them online if you don’t have an Ikea near you). No plastic sound when people move, breathable because of the terry cloth, washable when they accumulate body & perfume odors. I’ve slept on them, and they’re undetectable. DEFINITELY invest in these, and pillow protectors. It has saved me maybe thousands of dollars I would have spent replacing pillows and mattresses (my Airbnb is a 5BR home).

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Thanks, Amy. Do you think the zip-up enclosure variety is worthwhile? It’s harder to get, and more expensive (I think), but I’ve heard talk that it is useful in the case of a bedbug infestation.

I’m not sure. I’ve been worried about bedbug potential, too, and considered the zip closure type. A lot of the reviews of such protectors say they don’t really keep bed bugs out. The main issues for me have been expense, possibility of theft, and comfort (whether they’d be breathable enough to not make my guests sweat, or to make crackly sounds when guests move). As for theft, that might seem surprising, but yes, I once rented my whole house to a group, and only well after their stay (too late to claim their damage deposit), did I notice they had taken every zippered pillow protector in the house (about 50 pillows, in total, at $6-8/pop). They must have been vacation rental owners, themselves, and well aware how expensive it is to cover every pillow. Very discouraging. So I think carefully before investing in something that I might not notice missing quickly enough to make a damage deposit claim (and I sadly can’t count on my housekeepers to check these things between guests; have tried that).

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Hi @AmyB,

Thank you for the comments.

I spent more time than I probably should have considering zip-up enclosures vs fitted sheets. I didn’t actually find much information - it sounds like you found better information than I did.

  1. First, I talked to the people who custom-made my mattress. Background: the mattress has a cotton cover sewn on top of the mattress, which is supposedly entirely made of foam (3 different varieties). (Yes, I’m one of those freaks who concerns himself with such details.) They weren’t very interested, but said that the bedbugs could get into the cotton cover, so I’d have to replace the cotton cover if I got a bedbug infestation, but that they couldn’t get into the foam itself.

  2. I had some concerns about how well a zip enclosure would actually fit when made by people who had never seen the actual mattress. Also, it seemed possible that the zip would eventually malfunction.

  3. I had some trouble finding anyone who looked reliable to sell me one of the zip enclosure types.

Funny story - I finally decided to go with some people in Bangalore - here’s the item
(Trance Waterproof Mattress Protector Cal King), in the fitted sheet style. The funny part is right after I ordered this item (literally the same day), Trance put a zip enclosure mattress protector for sale online. After I discovered this, there was some confusion while I tried to decide what to get. I finally decided to stick with the fitted sheet one. Trance had a lot of reviews for the fitted sheet style model, but no track record with the zip enclosure style. Also see item (2).

Anyway, it finally arrived, and fits the bed well. And the brown color looks Ok. And we did a basic waterproofing test, which it passed, As of right now, I haven’t tried actually sleeping on top of it.

Well, that’s my over-complicated mattress protector saga. I think I’d make a terrible housewife - I’d be constantly overthinking things.

That’s horrendous. I hope you reported them to Airbnb and/or wrote about it in a review. That’s the sort of thing that hosts really need to know about. I hope this isn’t a common happening. And it sounds like you aren’t present at your rentals yourself.

Hi, Faheem, Thank you for sharing your info about mattress protectors and a link to the ones you bought. Let me know if they turn out to be comfortable when laying on them (vs crinkly or sweaty). I overthink these things, too, but usually that pays off, so I’ll keep doing it. LOL. I am present at my home, but when someone rents the entire main house, I stay in my private suite until they check out. I’ve decided not to offer that option, anymore, except to repeat guests who have treated me and my home with respect. Mostly, I rent the individual rooms in the house, B&B, style, and share the common areas with my guests.

Hi @AmyB,

I’ll update this thread with further information, if any. I hope everything will be quite boring and that the protector will be comfortable, and there will be nothing to report. :slightly_smiling:

Yes, me too. But it can be time-consuming and tedious.

That sounds smart. And repeat guests you already know are the best.