How to clean your mattress protector: easy tips for the best results

Want to know how to wash a mattress protector? Follow these easy cleaning tips

How to clean your mattress protector, sleep and wellness tips
(Image credit: Emma)

Wondering how to clean your mattress protector? The best mattress protectors (opens in new tab) are designed to make your bed more comfortable, and safeguard your mattress from dirt, stains and spills, to keep your bed fresh and clean for longer. However, as many people barely think about cleaning a mattress (opens in new tab), chances are you might not have thought about cleaning your mattress protector either.

Even if your bedding and sheets look clean, your mattress protector will bear the brunt in the long run, as it collects bacteria, sweat and dust overtime. So, while it’s all well and good to flip your mattress and wash your sheets regularly, if you’re ignoring your mattress protector, you’ve essentially erased all that hard work.

Cleaning and disinfecting your mattress protector is essential… but how do you do it? In this guide, we’ve put together everything you need to know about cleaning your mattress protector, including tutorials and handy tips.

P.S. If you’re doing a full clean on your bed, we already have cleaning guides on how to clean your memory foam mattress (opens in new tab), as well as how to clean your duvet (opens in new tab) and how to clean your pillow (opens in new tab), so check these out after you’ve cleaned your mattress protector.

Things to remember when cleaning mattress protectors

Before we get into the tutorials, there are a few things to remember before you go about cleaning your mattress protector. 

First, there are two main types of mattress protectors: ones that are machine washable and ones that aren’t, so you’ll need to clean them in different ways. To find out if your mattress protector is machine or non-machine washable, check the labels. Most of the time, these labels will give you guidance on how to wash them so read this before you start cleaning.

Another thing to remember is that depending on who has slept on the mattress protector, you might need to change it more or less frequently. For example, if you’re a sweaty person, you might want to consider changing your sheets and protector more often. The same can be said with allergy sufferers. If your allergies kick up worse during the summer, your mattress could hold these allergens in so you’ll want to wash your protector more often. In winter when your allergies calm down, you don’t have to worry about washing it as much.

Of course, there are also circumstances that will arise too that are out of your control, like if you get ill or if you spill something in your bed. In these cases, you don’t want to wait for too long (or at all) to change your sheets and protector as your bedding could stain and you could prolong your illness.

How to clean your mattress protector

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How to clean a machine washable mattress protector

If your mattress protector is machine washable, follow these steps to give it a deep clean.

1. Check the label

Always check the label before washing your mattress protector. The label will tell you what water temperature to use, what spin cycle works best and drying instructions, i.e. whether to put it in the tumble dryer (opens in new tab) or leave it to air dry.

2. Inspect and clean any stains

Look over your mattress protector and treat any big stains. If there’s any dirt, hair or debris on the mattress protector, you can shake it out or give it a quick vacuum to get rid of this. But for prominent stains, you’re going to want to work on these before throwing it in the machine. For small stains, give them a once over with a soft cloth and mild detergent. If the stains are bigger, like blood or urine, you’ll need to pre-soak your mattress protector. For blood, use cold water with some salt, and for urine, soak it in lukewarm water with dish soap (according to Alex Savy, founder of SleepingOcean.com, speaking with Real Homes (opens in new tab)).

3. Put a wash on

Following the instructions on the label, put your mattress protector in the washing machine (opens in new tab). Typically, cold or lukewarm water works best on mattress protectors and you should try to use mild detergent or washing powder to keep the material intact. Too hot of a wash will result in the material fraying so avoid this. Bleach should also be avoided and you should focus on a gentle cycle. Once washed, check the mattress protector for any residual soap. If there are any visible soap suds, you’ll want to rinse this off to avoid any mildew or mould build-up.

4. Let it dry

If the instructions on your mattress protector say it's okay to tumble dry, go ahead and follow the instructions exactly. Anything too hot can affect your protector, so ideally, you’re going to want to let your protector air dry. Make sure it’s completely dry before you put it back on your bed… no one wants to sleep in soggy sheets, after all!

How to clean a non-machine washable mattress protector

Some mattress protectors are non-machine washable. This could be because water causes the protector to shrink, damage the material or affect its longevity. If your mattress protector falls under this category, follow these steps.

1. Clean big stains

Once you’ve taken off the mattress protector, you’ll want to focus on and clean any big stains. This is similar to the steps above, but you should try as much as possible to just use a mild detergent and soft cloth to wash the main stains.

2. Give it a hand wash

Once the main stains are taken care of, you can give the mattress protector a hand wash. Give the main cover of the protector a good scrub with dish soap and cold water but try to avoid soaking it. Again, the label will give you further instructions on how to do this.

3. Let it air dry

As your mattress protector could shrink in water, it could also shrink in a dryer so let it air dry completely. You can hang it out in the sun, on a clothes horse or even use a fan to dry it. Make sure it’s completely dry before you put it back on your bed.

4. Sprinkle with baking soda 

Just like you would when you’re cleaning a mattress, sprinkle a bit of baking soda on the mattress protector and let it air for several hours. Baking soda will get rid of any nasty smells and kill any leftover mould or bacteria. While a hand wash is adequate and thorough in cleaning your protector, many people feel that if it hasn’t been in the washing machine, it’s not been cleaned properly. To put your mind at ease, use this baking soda trick to banish any unwanted smells.

How to clean your mattress protector

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How often should you wash your mattress protector?

Now you know how to clean your mattress protector, how often should you do it? You should look at giving your mattress protector a proper wash once a month or every two months. As your mattress protector is covered by sheets, it doesn’t need to be washed as frequently as your bedding, but you should still make it a priority once a month.

Of course, if you’re an allergy sufferer who’s allergies are getting worse as they sleep, you might want to consider washing it every two weeks or if there are any spills, you’ll want to wash it straight away. If you have guests, you’ll also want to wash your protector before and after they stay for good hygiene.

Mattress protector cleaning FAQs

How do I clean a waterproof mattress protector?

To clean a waterproof mattress protector, you’ll want to check the labels first for full instructions and then put it in a washing machine on the lowest or most gentle setting with cold water. After the cycle is complete, put it in the tumble dryer on low. If there are any stains, you should also try to hand wash these before you put it in the machine.

How often should I replace my mattress protector?

According to Amerisleep (opens in new tab), you should replace your mattress protector every 1-2 years. However, with regular maintenance, you can prolong the life of your mattress protector and keep it in good condition. Make sure to keep an eye on your mattress protector and if you see any yellowing, holes or teared seams, it’s time to replace it.

Protectors & toppers: can I clean them the same way?

The quick answer to this is no. While they have similar names and jobs, mattress protectors and mattress toppers are completely different. Mattress protectors are a thin layer that shield your mattress, whereas a topper is designed to change the feel of your sleep surface by adding a thick layer to your mattress for extra comfort. As toppers are a lot thicker than protectors, most of them won’t even fit in a washing machine, so you’ll have to clean a topper similar to how you would clean a mattress.

Bethan Girdler-Maslen
Acting Wellness Editor & Deals Writer

As T3's resident Shopping Expert and Deals Writer, Beth covers deals, discount codes, how to save money and seasonal holidays, including Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Amazon Prime Day, Boxing Day and Easter sales. Alongside her primary focus of deals, Beth is currently Acting Wellness Editor, covering all things sleep, yoga, relaxation and general wellbeing.


Having always been passionate about writing, she’s written for websites, newspapers and magazines on a variety of topics, from jewellery and culture, to food and telecoms. You can find her work across numerous sites, including Wedding Ideas Magazine, Health & Wellbeing, The Bristol Post, Fashion & Style Directory and more. In her spare time, Beth enjoys running, reading, baking and attempting DIY craft projects that will probably end in disaster!