What Is The Difference Between A Mattress Cover And A Mattress Protector?

Welcome to the complicated world of sleep, the weird time in between our days that we just can’t seem to get enough of, no matter how hard we try.  The science behind sleep is difficult to wrap our heads around, and honestly, no matter how much we focus on getting good sleep, it may still feel elusive.

However, there are steps you can take to try and improve your comfort while you’re in bed.  There are tons of products that are designed to take your current sleep environment and make it just that much better.  Between mattress covers, mattress protectors, mattress pads, sheets and blankets, and everything else on the market, it can be difficult to even know what’s worth your time and money.  

Let’s explore the difference between a mattress cover and a mattress protector, compare them both to mattress pads, and just learn ways to subtly improve your sleeping habits.

What Is A Mattress Cover?

Let’s say you find yourself in a very high-end mattress store, shopping with your significant other for the mattress that you will spend the next two decades on.  You’re absolutely thrown off by the high price tags, the amount of technical jargon thrown in, and the marketing materials are making your head hurt.  To top it all off, the salesperson is just throwing more and more at you, trying to force you to buy the most expensive, best possible mattress that they promise is just going to make your busy lifestyle better by making 6 hours of sleep feel like 10.  

Make it stop! None of that is worth a good night’s sleep, and when you spend that much money on a mattress, you’re probably going to worry about it getting damaged or dirty.  After all, you can’t just throw an entire king-sized mattress into the washing machine and hope it’ll come out just fine.

So what can you possibly do to keep your mattress clean and protect your investment? 


Enter the mattress cover, the product designed to be the removable, washable shield between your bedding and your mattress.  Mattress covers are made to protect your bed from allergens, fluids, dirt, and insects.  

Why is this important? Well, if your mattress isn’t protected from those allergens, bodily fluids, dirt, and dead insects, then neither are you.  The last thing you want is to be sleeping on the carcasses of dead bugs and tens of pounds of dried sweat and dirt because this can cause numerous health problems, including allergic reactions, infection, and insomnia.  

Mattress covers are intended to be a machine-washable, hygienic step that you can take to ensure that your sleep is better and that your investment in an expensive mattress is worth your time and money.   

What Is A Mattress Protector?

Well, let’s say you’ve read through the last paragraph, and you’re tracking so far.  Then, you go to Google and type in “what is a mattress cover.”  You’re probably going to be surprised because almost all of the top results are for mattress protectors, not mattress covers.  

But, this is intended.  

The word cover is used as a descriptive adjective to tell you where the product goes, but usually, product names include the term “mattress protector” because that tells you what the cover does.  

Essentially, mattress covers and mattress protectors are the same things; the terms are interchangeable.  Here at Everlasting Comfort, the product that we sell is called a mattress protector, just because it almost makes more sense to tell people what the product actually does and what it’s good for.  

Our mattress protector is perfectly sized for your bed and also includes two pillow protectors to go between your pillowcases and your pillow to make sure that those are protected too.   Dirty pillows can pose serious health risks, too, because excess germs hiding in your pillows can make you sick, just like germs, body fluids, and dead bugs in your mattress.  In addition, it’s hypoallergenic, has a breathable membrane, and is 100% waterproof, so you can make sure your mattress stays perfect for as long as you have this on top.             

What Is A Mattress Pad?

On the other hand, a mattress pad is a completely different thing.  While mattress protectors are designed to improve the quality of your bed’s hygiene, mattress pads are designed to improve your comfort while you sleep.

While most modern mattresses have begun adding a layer of either memory foam or other cushion on top of the mattress, some beds still just aren’t comfortable enough.  A great solution to this is a product called a mattress pad.  

Well, what’s the purpose of a mattress pad, you might ask?  Mattress pads sit on top of your mattress, almost like a fitted sheet does, and its primary purpose is to improve comfort by adding an additional layer of foam or padding between your body and your mattress.

Mattress pads can also be used to improve your sleep posture, which not only improves your quality of sleep but can also improve your health.  Bad sleep posture can actually increase the risk of heartburn and incontinence and can damage your digestive tract.  

Additionally, it can cause pain in your back and neck that can be incredibly hard to overcome.  In fact, over time, this pain can become chronic.  So, it’s better to address these risks sooner rather than later before they lead to serious problems.    

Mattress pads come in all shapes and sizes and are available in tons of different materials as well.  Some of the most common materials are cotton, polyester, and memory foam, and they all offer different benefits but also have their own drawbacks.  Some can lead to heat being trapped inside the bed while others breathe easier but lose their volume over time.

Take your time shopping around, as some have built-in quality of life improvements like extra fluff, fitted elastic to go around the bed, and even heating pads built directly into the pad.  Take the extra time to figure out exactly what you need, exactly what you’re looking for, and make sure that what you get will improve your sleep habits at night.            

What Steps Can You Take To Improve Your Sleeping Habits?

While mattress protectors, mattress covers, and mattress pads may not be the absolute answer for how to get better sleep, they’ll definitely help. However, they are not the only steps you can take to make sure that the time you spend in your bed is actually worth your time.  


Here are some other things you can try to improve your sleeping habits and get a better night’s sleep.

  • Improve your posture overall: This can be a simple step or a very complicated step, depending on how you usually sleep.  For some people, an improvement in posture is as simple as just sleeping on your side rather than on your back. For other people, a posture change might require something a bit more drastic, like a knee pillow or a neck pillow designed to help you sleep better.
  • Sleep at different times: This step may not be attainable for everyone, but for some people, changing your sleep schedule may be the best way to improve your sleeping habits.  Carve out some time before bed to wind down for the day, then put your phone or tablet away and actually dedicate time to sleep.
  • Be more active during the day.  It’s definitely easier to fall asleep at night when you’ve been busy during the day, and so incorporating a large amount of exercise or activity into your day can be a great way to make yourself more tired, making it easier for you to fall asleep at the end of the day.  
  • Don’t hesitate to see a trained health professional.  For some people, sleeping habits can’t be improved enough to actually see marked or tangible improvements.  Sometimes a healthcare professional may be able to make recommendations for you that go beyond simple posture changes or lifestyle changes.  And for some, sleep at night may be unattainable without medical help due to insomnia or other related conditions.  

In Summary

At the end of the day, the simple answer to the question asked at the beginning of this article is that there really is no difference between mattress covers and mattress protectors.  They provide almost identical functionality and are both designed to be removable products that protect your bedding from dirt, skin cells, and other forms of damage.  

However, a mattress pad is a product designed to improve your sleep quality and sleeping habits by improving the comfort of your mattress so that when you lie down, it feels softer and keeps you sleeping better.

Mattress covers (or mattress protectors), though, are still a great use of your money, especially if you’re buying an expensive, high-quality mattress that you want to last for the rest of your life.  


  1. https://learn.allergyandair.com/health-problems-from-bed-bugs/ 
  2. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/whats-hiding-in-your-dirty-pillows
  3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/3-surprising-risks

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