How to wash a mattress protector – yes, you really should be washing it every 2 months

Help your mattress protector protect your mattress

The Fine Bedding Company Anti Allergy Mattress Protector
(Image credit: Future PLC / Katie Lee)

In our opinion, a mattress protector is an essential bedding purchase. Mattresses are expensive investments and a mattress protector will go a long way in ensuring it lasts and stays in good condition. However, to help it do its job you do need to know how to wash a mattress protector.

The best mattress protectors add an extra layer between you and your mattress. That's good news when you've invested in one of the best mattresses,  but that means the protector is the one coming into contact with sweat, dead skin cells and other everyday occurrences. You should really be washing your mattress protector once every two months. 

If that fact alone has startled don't worry, we've looked into the best way to wash a mattress protector to tackle this chore as quickly and effectively as possible. 

How to wash a mattress protector

The Fine Bedding Company Anti Allergy Mattress Protector

(Image credit: The Fine Bedding Company)

What you'll need

How to clean a mattress topper step-by-step

‘Mattress protectors are an essential component for keeping your mattress in good condition,’ says Rex Isap, CEO and Sleep Expert at Happy Beds. And we have to agree. However, as it is essentially the barrier between you and your mattress, it tends to need more frequent care and attention than your mattress does.

Thankfully, washing a mattress protector is a relatively quick and easy task. 

Loaf Quilty Mattress Protector

(Image credit: Loaf)

1. Give it a quick vacuum

Once you’ve removed your sheets but before you remove the mattress protector itself, it’s worthwhile giving it a quick vacuum. This will pick up any dirt, hair, dead skin cells or crumbs that have accumulated.

It is a good idea to use the upholstery attachment on your vacuum for this job, most of the best vacuum cleaners should come with one. 

2. Check the care label

Then it’s time to check the care label. While most mattress protectors are machine washable, ‘you should always check the label before you pop your protector in the washing machine (as you would anything going in the washer),’ Martin Seeley, CEO and Sleep Expert at MattressNextDay, admits. ‘This will tell you the exact type of wash and temperature, as well as whether it’s suitable for the dryer.’

‘For the sake of protecting your protector, a gentle cycle might be best - especially if the protector is on the older side or is starting to show signs of wear and tear which could get worse on a fast cycle,’ he continues.

A bedroom with a wavy mirror above the bed

(Image credit: Future PLC/James Merrell)

3. Spot-treat any stains or yellowing

Next you’ll want to check the protector for stains, as these will need to be treated before it is washed. Whatever the stain, ‘you want to dab at the stain as opposed to wiping over it and continue to dab until you notice the stain reducing,’ Rex explains.

‘Depending on the stain, you either want to use cold or warm water,’ says Martin. ‘A protein stain - such as urine or blood - is best with cold water and a mix of laundry detergent as that stops the protein from spreading further in the material.’

‘Alternatively, you can make a paste with bicarbonate of soda and water (aim for the consistency of porridge) to help lift stains,’ admits Catherine Green, Copywriter at smol.

4. Wash

Because of the size of the mattress protector and the fact that it might need to be washed at a lower temperature and on a gentle spin cycle, Catherine recommends washing ‘mattress protectors separately from other items.’ You’ll also want to avoid ‘harsh chemicals, bleach, or fabric softener,’ as these can damage the mattress protector, according to Fabric Online’s Materials Expert, Thomas Bird.

‘If you don't have a washing machine, you can hand wash the protector in a bathtub with a quality detergent and cool water,’ Catherine suggests. ‘After the protector has been soaked, gently knead it with your hands to work out any stains.'

Washing machine fitted in kitchen with green painted cabinets, shelving, and patterned wallpaper

(Image credit: Future PLC/Veronica Rodriguez)

5. Rinse thoroughly

‘Once the washing cycle is complete, rinse the mattress protector thoroughly to remove any soap residue,’ Olivia affirms. You’ll want to ‘use cold water for the rinse cycle to ensure all detergent is removed from the fabric fibres.’

Again, you can do the same if you’re handwashing it, by using cold water to make sure that all the detergent has been removed.

6. Air dry

Even though some mattress protectors can be tumble dried, Astonish’s Cleaning Expert and Product Development Scientist, Olivia Young, recommends avoiding ‘the dryer to protect your mattress protector, as high heat can harm its waterproof backing and elastic edges.’

Instead, hanging it outdoors in the sunshine has a number of benefits, as ‘the UV rays will help kill any remaining bacteria and fade stubborn stains. Plus, it saves on energy bills too,’ suggests Catherine. Just ‘make sure it's completely dry before putting it back on your mattress to prevent mould and mildew growth,’ Olivia admits.

If you don't have much outdoor space (or any for that matter) one of the best heated airers will give a gentle blast of heat to help dry a mattress protector without damaging it. 

clothes hanging from laundry rack in a blue room

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Machine-washable mattress protectors

To make this job as easy as possible here is our round-up of the top-rated AND easy to clean mattress protectors:


How often should a mattress protector be washed?

If you’ve wondered how often you should wash your mattress protector, it’s especially important to wash it before you apply it to your bed for the first time. This will ‘remove any manufacturing residues,’ Thomas relays.

As mentioned at the start of this guide, you’ll want to be washing your mattress protector every two months or so, the experts agree. However, you may need to wash it more frequently during the summer months, when we are prone to sweat more, or if you have spilled anything that needs to be dealt with immediately.

Martin also has a top tip to help you remember to wash your mattress protector. He recommends that you ‘time the clean with the change in seasons, when you might swap your bedding over for lighter material in warm weather, and vice versa when it gets colder.’ That way it shouldn’t slip your mind.

Loaf Quilty Mattress Protector

(Image credit: Loaf)

How do you get yellow stains out of a mattress protector?

Now, yellow or yellowish stains can appear on your mattress protector for a few different reasons. ‘If it is due to oil from your hair and skin – sebum – a simple fix is shampoo. Apply it to the stain and leave to soak in warm water then give a good scrub before adding to the wash as normal,’ Catherine says.

Whereas ‘if the yellowing is caused by sweat and saliva, use a water and white vinegar mix in equal parts. Just let your protector soak for around half an hour, before adding to your wash as normal,’ Catherine concludes. 

Ellis Cochrane

Ellis Cochrane has been a Freelance Contributor for Ideal Home since 2023. She graduated with a Joint Honours degree in Politics and English from the University of Strathclyde and between her exams and graduation, started a lifestyle blog where she would share what she was buying, reading and doing. In doing so, she created opportunities to work with some of her dream brands and discovered the possibility of freelance writing, after always dreaming of writing for magazines when she was growing up.

Since then, she has contributed to a variety of online and print publications, covering everything from celebrity news and beauty reviews to her real passion; homes and interiors. She started writing about all things homes, gardens and interiors after joining Decor & Design Scotland as a Freelance Journalist and Social Media Account Manager in 2021. She then started freelancing at House Beautiful, Country Living and in Stylist’s Home team. Ellis is currently saving to buy her first home in Glasgow with far too many Pinterest boards dedicated to her many design ideas and inspirations.