How to wash mattress protectors the right way

A mattress cover works to keep fluids, dust mites, dead skin, and other assorted nasties away from your mattress. It does so by bearing the brunt of the damage itself – it’s waterproof / allergen-resistant membrane holds the threats at bay while the surface fabric absorbs the fluids and collects the allergens.

This means that the cover gets dirty with each night you sleep on it, and has to be cleaned adequately, lest it develop yellow stains from sweating (or worse), or start giving off an odor that is indicative of bacterial growth. The general perception about protectors is that laundering can cause them damage – so it is completely understandable if you’re reading this just to figure out whether you can wash your protector to begin with!

Luckily for you, not only will this guide answer that question, but it will teach you how to wash mattress protectors the right way, so you don’t have to spend a chunk of cash on a new cover ‘cos the old one got damaged in the wash.

Can You Wash A Mattress Protector?

The short answer is yes: since a protector generally has a fabric surface and plastic backing, it can very much be cleaned in a standard washer / dryer combo. However, the plastic is susceptible to deforming / breaking apart from the top fabric if you set the temperature too high, or use a harsh detergent or bleach.

The exact temperature threshold for washing these covers varies from product to product, but it is generally a safe bet to never go beyond a lukewarm setting. In fact, cheaper products may even recommend never going beyond the cold setting.

You might get tempted to wash the cover on a high heat setting because it would get rid of the odor and absorbed fluid more effectively, but in reality, all it would do is weaken the waterproofing so that the next time you use it, the fluid goes all the way into your mattress!

First Time Wash

Note that washing a protector before using it for the first time is recommended by some manufacturers, as it gets rid of any chemical odors and softens up the top fabric for greater comfort – just be sure to carefully read the provided cleaning instructions (and the general guidelines in the subsequent sections) before you proceed.

Can I Dry Clean?

Never dry clean or iron your protector, as this will most definitely damage the waterproof membrane of the protector.

How Often To Wash Mattress Protector?

Since the bed sheet on top of the protector will take the most apparent beating (i.e. get stained and accumulate dust and debris), it needs to be washed / changed far more regularly than the cover itself. That said, you should clean the cover every two months regardless of whether you’ve had any spills or not.

You’ll need to do this more often if you’ve got pets, or suffer from allergies, to make sure the cover stays hygienic enough for your daily use. Eventually you’ll figure out the perfect timeframe with trial and error.

What You Will Need To Follow This Tutorial

Now that we’ve cleared up the preliminaries, let’s get down to business. Here’s what you’ll need to safely clean your protector:

  • Washing Machine
  • Tumble dryer
  • Bleach-free laundry detergent

Step By Step Instructions

Remove The Protector From Your Bed

This is simple enough – take off the cover using its elastic sides, starting from the corners. If you’re using an encasement style protector, you’ll need to unzip it, which takes a little longer – this is why fitted sheet covers are preferred if you expect frequent laundering.

Put It In The Washer

Wash the cover on a normal cycle (if the surface is made from a tough material such as wool or terry cloth) or delicate cycle (if the surface is made from a thin material such as bamboo rayon or polyester) on low / mild heat. Use only a non-bleach, mild detergent to ensure no damage occurs to the plastic membrane, or the material binding it to the surface fabric.

Pro Tip

You’ve already taken off your bedsheet and cover, why not clean up the mattress itself while you have the opportunity? Sprinkle some baking soda on the surface (this helps to absorb the odors), and vacuum it to remove any dust / dead skin that may have escaped the protector.
You could also use this opportunity to spray on some Lysol to kill any microbes that may have started to nest in it.

Tumble Dry

Tumble dry the protector with your other laundry on a low heat setting, and remove from the dryer as soon as the cycle is complete to prevent any wrinkling.

Pro Tip

Some dryers come with a ‘wrinkle guard’ feature that periodically spins up the laundry to prevent any wrinkling, after the main cycle has completed, until you take it out. Turn this off when you’re drying the protector, as additional spinning will only contribute to further wear and tear.

Conclusion

I hope this tutorial answers all the queries you had regarding cleaning up your protector; it is surprising that something so seemingly trivial can require such careful handling. This guide is but a small effort to ensure others don’t have to learn how to wash mattress covers the hard (and expensive) way, like I did.

Be sure to share your feedback and voice your queries in the comments section below, and do share it with your friends – who knows, you may be saving them from an unnecessary expense.

Disclaimer

The mattress cover washing instructions described in this guide are a general tutorial – actual instructions may vary between manufacturers, and even models. Be sure to observe the official care instructions to keep your warranty intact.

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