The Best Waterproof Mattress Protectors and Pads


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May 14, 2024

The Best Waterproof Mattress Protectors and Pads

If you want to shield a mattress from spills, potty training accidents, or pet messes, we recommend the SafeRest Premium Mattress Protector. After 240 hours researching and testing 14 protectors, we

If you want to shield a mattress from spills, potty training accidents, or pet messes, we recommend the SafeRest Premium Mattress Protector.

After 240 hours researching and testing 14 protectors, we found the SafeRest did the best job at keeping our mattress dry, while also feeling comfortable to sleep on.

And after multiple washes, it retained its waterproofing better than almost any other protector we tried.

This inexpensive fitted mattress protector is one of the few that stayed fully waterproof through our tests. It’s comfortable to sleep on and inexpensive.

The SafeRest Premium Mattress Protector is one of the few protectors we tested that never failed, staying completely waterproof through 10 cycles of washing and drying and two leak tests. It’s affordable and highly recommended in user reviews (and from our staffers who’ve owned it). We think it’s great for a child’s bed, and we recommend having at least two on hand to swap out if needed. The cotton/polyester terry top is a little noisy and it’s scratchier than pricier quilted protectors, but we don’t think that’s a big deal because it goes underneath the sheets, not against the skin. The SafeRest comes in twin to California king sizes.


If you want something that’s easier to put on and take off the bed, the Priva Ultra Plus outperformed other mattress pads we tested.

Although fitted protectors are better at staying put on the bed, waterproof pads are easier to add or remove and simpler to wash because they’re smaller. Of the three we looked at, the Priva Ultra Plus Sheet Protector is the only pad that aced our leak tests. Available in three sizes (none as big as a twin mattress), it’s a great option if you need concentrated leak protection for one side of the bed. The Priva is backed with vinyl, and though the manufacturer says the vinyl is phthalate-free, we were unable to get independent, third-party verification of this at the time of this writing. For children and pregnant women, we recommend the polyurethane Linenspa protector.

We like this travel-friendly, easy-to-change mattress pad for kids because it’s made with safer polyurethane instead of vinyl.

Though it’s not as effective at fending off leaks for as long as the Priva pad, the Linenspa Waterproof Sheet Protector is backed with polyurethane, which doesn’t pose the potential developmental health risks that vinyl does, so we think it’s a better bet for kids and pregnant women. It stayed waterproof through some of our testing, but will need to be replaced more frequently than the Priva (probably at least once during a child’s potty training years). The Linenspa is comfy to sleep on, comes in three sizes, and is convenient to have on hand for intense, short-term needs, like potty training, sick days with kids, or travel.

This inexpensive fitted mattress protector is one of the few that stayed fully waterproof through our tests. It’s comfortable to sleep on and inexpensive.

If you want something that’s easier to put on and take off the bed, the Priva Ultra Plus outperformed other mattress pads we tested.

We like this travel-friendly, easy-to-change mattress pad for kids because it’s made with safer polyurethane instead of vinyl.

I’ve written many guides for Wirecutter, including reviews of sheets, robes, towels, and blankets. I’ve also been through tough potty training as a mom, and have had several waterproof mattress protectors fail. It’s frustrating and expensive, so I researched and tested these protectors for what I wish I’d had (and known) when we were going through it.

If you want to prevent leaks or spills from ruining your mattress, you probably need a mattress protector—a waterproof pad or fitted sheet that goes on top of your mattress. A protector is not only helpful when you’re potty training kids, it can also defend your mattress against spilled beverages, sweat, adult incontinence, pet accidents, and other bodily fluids. If you want to protect yourself from bedbug infestations and dust mite allergies you should instead consider a mattress encasement (which seals the mattress inside).

We spoke to Jamie Glowacki—potty training educator and author of Oh Crap! Potty Training—about protecting a mattress during potty training. Shannon Palus, author of several Wirecutter guides, spoke to Lakelyn Hogan, a gerontologist and caregiver advocate for Home Instead Senior Care, about what to consider when caring for elderly relatives. Harrison King, VP of engineering and quality at manufacturer American Textile Company, told us why waterproof protectors sometimes fail.

We spoke to experts, read user reviews and parenting blogs, and talked to our staff to find out what the most important features are in a mattress protector. We checked Amazon’s top sellers, took recommendations from our staff, researched offerings from bedding companies whose products we’ve tested in the past, and looked at protectors in stores, compiling a list of 36 products.

Our research helped us to determine the following criteria that make a great mattress protector:

Durable protection: A protector should stop leaks from reaching your mattress. Surprisingly, we found many user reviews complaining about protectors failing to do this, even out of the package. They also have a limited life span. If you wash and dry one enough times, the waterproofing will fail. According to King, one reason for this is the breakdown of the adhesive that attaches the polyurethane—the waterproof material used in many protectors—to the fabric top. “Different adhesives have varying levels of durability,” he said, “and some degrade more quickly.” Frequent washing, and drying on high heat, can accelerate that degradation. “Leading retailers require independent testing that proves effectiveness after multiple (5+) launderings,” King said. You could easily blow through five washes in a month potty training a toddler. King also noted that thinner, less effective laminates are sometimes used because they’re less stiff and make less noise. We looked for protectors with the most positive reviews, and we used staff feedback for our test picks wherever possible.

Safe materials: In our research we noted many concerns from parents about vinyl protectors, although one manufacturer told us its vinyl protectors are more waterproof than its polyurethane options. There is evidence that phthalates (added to some plastics, including PVC vinyl) can cause health problems in pregnant women and children, and several phthalates are restricted from use in products aimed at kids. Wherever possible we looked at materials like polyurethane and natural fibers first, and then also considered vinyl if it was phthalate-free.

Mattress protectors have a limited life span. If you wash and dry one enough times, the waterproofing will fail.

Fitted and pad protectors: We focused on fitted and pad protectors because they received the highest user reviews. Fitted protectors look like a fitted sheet with a waterproof top and stretchy jersey sides. They provide good protection, and don’t shift on the bed. Pads are smaller and don’t attach to the bed (and thus can shift more). They’re better for targeted spills, potty training, and bed sharing because you can swap them in and out more easily. We passed on pads with elastic straps at the corners, like the toddler-bed-size ones at IKEA, because they didn’t get great reviews. We also looked at mattress encasements, which go around the entire mattress, but they’re generally better for protecting against bedbugs or dust mites.

Comfortable: Because these protectors are a barrier between your sheets and your mattress, we wanted to make sure they felt good to sleep on. No overheating, no bunching, no sliding around on the bed. We paid attention to complaints of discomfort in user reviews.

A wide range of sizes: A mattress protector is helpful for any size bed, so we looked for models that come in a range of sizes, including crib and California king.

Affordable price: It’s handy to own more than one protector for a bed, so you can swap out a clean one at any hour without needing to do laundry right away. We focused on protectors that were affordable enough (less than $50 for a queen) to buy multiples. We considered more expensive protectors if user reviews indicated they perform well and offer extra comfort to be worth the additional investment.

Based on this criteria, we brought in 14 protectors to test. We measured each, then washed and dried them five times, following the care instructions on each label. Next we measured them again and calculated any shrinkage, and we laid them out for our first leak test.

For the leak tests, we placed a thick layer of paper towels under a specific spot in each protector and then poured 2 cups of water with food coloring on that spot. We weighted the wet section down with a 1-pound bag of beans and left the protectors alone for an hour to see if any liquid would soak through. Then we removed the paper towels and noted any moisture that had leaked through. We also felt the backs of the protectors for wetness.

Only the protectors that were bone dry after this first test moved on, and the list narrowed from 14 protectors to six. We washed and dried them all five more times and repeated the liquid tests, but we left them soaking for two hours this time. After the second leak test, three protectors were left completely dry.

We then slept a night each on those three protectors to assess how comfortable they were to use.

This inexpensive fitted mattress protector is one of the few that stayed fully waterproof through our tests. It’s comfortable to sleep on and inexpensive.

The SafeRest Premium Mattress Protector was one of only three protectors we tested that stayed waterproof through all our testing. Its thin, soft material makes it more comfortable to sleep on than most of the protectors we considered, and it doesn’t bunch like our pad picks. The SafeRest is easier to wash than our upgrade pick, and it dries faster than any of our other picks. Like most of the protectors we considered, it comes in a wide range of sizes (including twin XL and California king), and it’s more affordable than other protectors we tested that didn’t perform as well in our tests.

All the fitted mattress protectors we found are designed to keep only the top of your mattress dry.

The SafeRest is the thinnest of all our picks, but in our testing it was one of only three whose waterproofing held completely after 10 cycles of machine washing warm and drying on low, leaving the back of the protector and the layer of paper towels underneath completely dry. The top is constructed of a cotton/polyester-blend terry with polyurethane laminated backing.

We liked that the SafeRest didn’t add extra weight or bulk under the sheets, like many pads and quilted protectors do, and that it can be stretched virtually as smooth and taut as the sheets on the bed. The terry texture doesn’t show through sheets either. We didn’t notice it through the night, and it didn’t make us overheat.

The SafeRest feels more like a sheet than the thicker, stiffer protectors we tried. This made it easier to wash than the more expensive protectors in our test group. Even the king size we tested fits in the machine with other wash, while higher-end protectors, made with quilted layers of material, must be machine washed alone. The stains from our leak tests came out easily in the wash (our upgrade pick took a few tries), and this protector dried quickly.

The SafeRest fits true to size on a king bed. It also shrank the least of our picks (only about 0.5 percent on average, compared with 2.6 percent for The Company Store’s quilted protector and 1.2 percent for the Priva pad). The SafeRest is intended for use on mattresses up to 14 inches deep, and we tested it on a 10-inch foam mattress but didn’t notice much excess fabric along the sides when making the bed.

Like most of the mattress protectors we considered, the SafeRest could fail over time. We’ll long-term test it to see how long the waterproofing lasts. This protector also comes with a 10-year warranty. A few of our staffers have used and recommend the SafeRest, and online reviewers note that it can survive lots of urine, is breathable, and fits mattress depths of 12 to 14 inches. Some write that it has lasted well over a year, even with weekly washing. For the price (about a quarter of the cost of our upgrade pick for queen size) we think the SafeRest is an all-around great value.

We noticed that this protector seems to have a lot of fake reviews on Amazon, and for the twin and full sizes it has a C rating on Fakespot (the reviews for the queen and king sizes get a B rating). Because some of our staff have used this protector successfully, we decided to include it in testing. As with most of the waterproof protectors we considered, there are reviews noting it failed to protect the mattress from leaks and spills. Verified negative reviews noted that it’s not breathable, and that it’s noisy to sleep on. It is thin and thus tends to move and rustle more than our other picks, but it didn’t bother us while we slept.

If you want something that’s easier to put on and take off the bed, the Priva Ultra Plus outperformed other mattress pads we tested.

The Priva Ultra Plus Sheet Protector is easier to use than our main pick for quick bed changes because it’s a pad and not a fitted protector. You can place it under the sheets, or use it on top of the fitted sheet, precluding the need to strip the bed if it gets soiled. But it won’t protect your entire bed, like our main pick, and it’s more likely to bunch up than a fitted pad. We also don’t recommend this pad for kids or pregnant women, because of the vinyl backing.

We tested three pads, and the Priva was the only one that retained its waterproof ability through all of our tests. It’s softer than our top pick, with a thicker, quilted surface, and it’s almost as easy to launder—it took a little longer to dry than the SafeRest—because of its smaller size. It’s also nice if you sleep with a partner and need extra protection on only one side of the bed, rather than the full-bed protection of our top and upgrade picks.

The Priva’s top is a cotton/polyester blend, and it’s soft and cool to sleep on (although none of our picks overheated us at night). Its thin layer of polyester fill makes it softer and less flimsy than some of the fitted protectors we tried.

The Priva was comfortable to sleep on, but it did bunch a little in the night. Not so much that it moved away from the body, making the mattress vulnerable, but just enough that we woke up with a slight lump under our back. (This was also an issue with the Linenspa pad.) The Priva comes in three sizes: 18 by 22 inches, 24 by 34 inches, and 34 by 52 inches. We tested the largest size, which provides sufficient coverage under an adult body.

We haven’t tested Priva’s claim that this pad can survive 300 washes and hold up to 8 cups of liquid, but we do think it can handle the output from an average adult bladder (about 2 cups), and after 10 washes it showed no sign of leaking—which was better than the other pads we tried. We like that it’s portable, easy to wash, and less wasteful than disposable pads. Fiberlinks, the manufacturer of Priva, told us that no phthalates are used in the production of the vinyl for this pad, but because we couldn’t verify current third-party testing to confirm that at the time of this writing we recommend the Linenspa Waterproof Sheet Protector for kids and pregnant women.

We like this travel-friendly, easy-to-change mattress pad for kids because it’s made with safer polyurethane instead of vinyl.

The Linenspa Waterproof Sheet Protector did not perform as well as the Priva pad in our tests, but we think it’s a safer option for kids and pregnant women because it’s backed with polyurethane. It also costs a little less. The Linenspa protector remained completely dry after our first leak tests, but after our second leak test the protector’s back and the paper towels underneath felt ever-so-slightly damp. It didn’t fail completely, but we don’t think it will last as long as the Priva. Some online reviewers note that the protector has worked for six months with daily laundering, and for more than a year with weekly washing. It’s inexpensive to replace, and we like a pad protector for kids because you can change it without removing all their bedding. It’s also convenient for travel, and it’s great for sick days when you want to protect a couch or a bed.

The Linenspa also comes in three sizes: 34 by 36 inches, 34 by 52 inches (the size we tested), and 44 by 52 inches. If you’re an adult looking for a mattress pad and want something roomier than the Priva, the Linenspa’s largest size may be a good option. We think that extra coverage works for a crib, toddler, or twin bed, especially if your kids tend to travel the mattress at night.

The Linenspa’s soft top is a cotton/polyester blend with a layer of synthetic fill. It was very comfortable to sleep on, but like the Priva it can bunch at night. Both pads we recommend shift around more than our fitted-sheet-style picks. The Linenspa is softer than the Priva and the SafeRest, and on the bed we didn’t hear any rustling at all, so we don’t think it will interfere with sleep. The Linenspa does not come with a warranty.

Following the care instructions on your mattress protector’s label is key to prolonging its life and preventing the waterproof backing from failing. For our top-pick protector, the SafeRest, the label says to wash it on warm (95 degrees Fahrenheit) or hot (200 ºF), but it can be sanitized up to 212 ºF. We recommend washing it that hot only if you actually need to sanitize it, not for everyday use and wear. The instructions for every protector we tested said to tumble dry on low, and we read several user reviews from people who prefer to air dry it to help it last longer.

Mattress protectors don’t need to be washed as frequently as sheets, especially if you put them under your sheets. Harrison King, of American Textile Company, told us that if you don’t have leaks or spills on your bed, you need to wash a protector only three to four times a year.

The Weekender Hotel-Grade 5-sided Mattress Protector has a smooth, T-shirt-like jersey surface instead of the terry used for several protectors we considered, and among fitted protectors, it came in third after our main and upgrade picks, leaving the paper towels underneath just slightly damp after our leak tests.

The Luna Premium Mattress Protector was completely dry on the back after our first leak test, but on the second, the waterproofing failed and soaked the paper towels underneath.

Malouf’s Sleep Tite Prime Mattress Protector was a staff recommendation. In the first leak test it failed in one spot, leaving a small (about 1 inch in diameter) wet spot on the paper towel barrier underneath.

The Casper Mattress Protector shrunk significantly—just over 10 percent, more than any other model we tested—after washing and drying, which could make fit an issue. Also, in our first leak test it left the paper towel barrier damp.

The Weekender Jersey Mattress Protector stretched out in the wash, enough that it would fit poorly on a mattress, and it was also damp (but not soaking) after our first leak test.

NaturePedic’s Organic Waterproof Fitted Protector Pad is made without any vinyl or polyurethane, the most common waterproof materials we found. After our first leak test the bottom felt wet and the paper towels were damp.

The Malouf Sleep Tite 5-Sided Mattress Protector failed completely in our first leak test, soaking the paper towels underneath.

Sealy’s Luxury Knit Waterproof Waterproof Stain-Release Mattress Protector also completely soaked the paper towels underneath during the first leak test.

We considered but didn’t test the Lucid Mattress Protector, PureCare StainGuard Waterproof Mattress Protector, and Lucid Rayon from Bamboo Jersey Mattress Protector because the reviews were mixed, or they had too few reviews.

Liquid soaked through the Royal Heritage Home Saddle Style Waterproof Mattress Protector and the paper towels under it in our first leak test.

Our former upgrade pick, The Company Store’s Waterproof Mattress Pad, is now discontinued.

The Allearease Zippered Mattress Protector is the only encasement we tested for this guide, and it left a 6-inch wet spot on the paper towels during the first leak test.

Jamie Glowacki, potty training educator and author of Oh Crap! Potty Training, phone interview, March 13, 2018

Lakelyn Hogan, gerontologist and caregiver advocate at Home Instead Senior Care, interview

Harrison King, VP of engineering and quality at American Textile Company, email interview, March 26, 2018

Jackie Reeve

Jackie Reeve is a senior staff writer covering bedding, organization, and home goods at Wirecutter since 2015. Previously she was a school librarian, and she’s been a quilter for about 15 years. Her quilt patterns and her other written work have appeared in various publications. She moderates Wirecutter’s staff book club and makes her bed every morning.

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