Mattress Toppers Versus Mattress Protectors - What's the difference?

Posted by Emma Carlton - Buying and Merchandising Manager on 5th Aug 2022

Mattress Toppers Versus Mattress Protectors - What's the difference?

Did you know that a mattress protector isn’t the same thing as a mattress topper? No? Well you could well be one of the many people that mistakenly purchased a mattress protector, when in fact, you needed a mattress topper, or vice versa.

What is a mattress topper?

First things first, what is this wonder product that everyone’s talking about? We’ll keep it simple – a mattress topper is exactly what it sounds like, an extra layer that sits on top of your mattress.

People choose mattress toppers for a variety of reasons, though they’re commonly selected in the hopes of improving an older mattress or to help do away with discomfort on a bed that isn’t quite right.

What does a mattress topper do?

The purpose of a mattress topper is to add an extra layer of comfort to your bed. This may well be because your mattress has seen better days, or you just love the idea of a tad more luxury on top of your comfy mattress.

Mattress toppers for every bedroom

Perhaps our very favourite thing about mattress toppers is that there really is one for every situation.  Giving luxe hotel vibes, a soft wool or feather mattress topper, or a memory foam mattress topper, king bed combo will help create a master bedroom you won’t want to leave.

One of our top tips? Choose a small double mattress topper for your worn guest-size bed to gain “hostess with the mostest” points. That dreamy layer of plushness can make guests believe that you’ve invested more in their comfort than you really have!

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What is a mattress protector?

A mattress protector is noticeably thinner than a mattress topper, as its purpose, as the name suggests, is to protect rather than add an extra layer of comfort.

A mattress protector can help to protect your mattress from:

  • Spills – a waterproof mattress protector will prevent liquids seeping into your mattress. A  washable mattress protector is much easier to throw into a washing machine than a mattress!
  • Allergies – hypoallergenic mattress protectors, such as our Anti-Allergy Mattress Protector are designed to help anyone who suffers from allergies associated with dust-mites and other triggers.
  • Wear and tear – an extra layer of material can help to prevent wear and tear and could have the potential to prolong the life of your mattress.

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Mattresses, allergies and asthma

Wheezing and sneezing? Itchy eyes and irritated skin? After a long day battling pollen, pollution and other allergens, your bed’s probably calling. Unfortunately, your mattress can be home to a whole host of allergy and asthma triggers too:

Dust mites: the number one enemy of many people’s airways,  these microscopic dust mite bugs love the warmth of a mattress and chow down on the skin we shed as we sleep (apologies for putting you off your dinner).

Dust: this can easily build up on, and in, a mattress. Which is why a mattress protector and regular  airing out and cleaning of your mattress and bedclothes is important, especially for allergy sufferers.

What are the best mattress protectors for allergy sufferers and asthmatics?

Choosing a hypoallergenic mattress protector is a must for those prone to allergies. Meanwhile, natural materials such as wool can help to minimise the possible risks posed by the chemicals sometimes used in mattress construction.

Is it time for a new mattress?

When a mattress topper or mattress protector isn’t the right choice

We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but sometimes that old mattress has just gotta go!

Don’t get us wrong, a good quality mattress topper or protector can disguise a multitude of sins but ignoring the fact that your mattress is no longer as supportive as it should be, could lead to aches and pains and sleepless nights.

Experts reckon that, on average, you should be changing your mattress every 6- 8 eight years. [1] So, if you’ve had your mattress longer than this, or you can’t even remember when you bought a new mattress, it’s time to say goodbye to your aging mattress.

Mattress topper or new mattress?

So when is the right time to pick up a new mattress? Adding a topper or protector to your existing mattress won’t help if:

  • Your mattress is elderly: mattresses older than eight to ten years (on average; quality and use can make a difference) are generally ready for replacement.
  • Your mattress is damaged: broken springs, tears and holes are a good sign that your mattress is overdue replacement. The finest firm mattress topper’s not going to save busted springs.
  • Your mattress is sagging (and we mean sagging): hop into bed and immediately roll into the Grand Canyon? Yep. It’s time for an upgrade. Even a top-notch memory foam topper won’t bridge that gap.

A new mattress is a big investment, we know, but making sure that you’re comfortable and that your spine, neck and joints are supported while you sleep is vital. Not only is a great night’s sleep going to help you feel physically better, it’s also  ultra-important for your mental health.[2] In fact, experts even think that a good night’s sleep could be the key to a longer life as well. [3]

Need help choosing your perfect mattress or mattress protector?

Bensons for Beds’ sleep experts can help you choose the ideal sleep set up for you. Call us on 0808 144 6160, or pop into your local Bensons store.

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[1] How Often Should You Replace Your Mattress? 7 Warning Signs (

2 The Role of Sleep Quality in the Psychological Well-Being of Final Year UndergraduateStudents in China - PMC (

3 Human longevity is associated with regular sleep patterns, maintenance of slow wave sleep, and favorable lipid profile - PMC (


Mattress Pad vs. Mattress Topper | Sleep Foundation

Mattress Topper Benefits and Disadvantages: Ultimate Guide (

10 reasons why you really should buy a memory foam mattress topper | Real Homes

The Truth About Hypoallergenic Bed Covers – Cleveland Clinic

Memory Foam Allergy Symptoms - What May Trigger the Reaction? (

How Thick Should a Mattress Topper Be | Sleep Advisor

How Often Should You Change Your Mattress? Plus Why It Matters (

When Should You Replace Your Mattress? | Sleep Foundation

How Often Should You Replace Your Mattress? 7 Warning Signs (

11 Ways to Make Your Mattress Last Longer - Mattress Clarity

The best mattress topper for back pain | Wellbeing | Yours

Allergic Living's Guide to Mattress Shopping with Allergies and Asthma

Can a hypoallergenic mattress help asthma and allergy sufferers? - Bed Advice UK

authors profile
Emma Carlton
Buying and Merchandising Manager
Emma has worked at Bensons for Beds for 10 years and is a fundamental part of the Bensons’ team, her wealth of breadth and knowledge is invaluable. Emma’s drive, determination, and tenacity ensures we provide our customers with the market leading products to suit our customer individual needs, at great value prices.
Read more from Emma