Everything You Need to Know About Mattress Toppers

If you’re considering adding a mattress topper to your setup, there are several things to consider to make the best choice. This guide lists all those considerations and can be a handy reference while you wade through the many choices available. Let’s start with the basics. What exactly IS a mattress topper?

What Is a Mattress Topper?

Mattress toppers provide a number of benefits, including comfort and extra support. Basically, a mattress topper sits on top of your mattress and adds a layer of padding to help you sleep more comfortably. In addition, a mattress topper can provide protection to your mattress to keep it from staining or developing dust mites, prolonging the life of your mattress.

Are Mattress Toppers Necessary?

A study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine titled “Changes in back pain, sleep quality, and perceived stress after introduction of new bedding systems” focused on data collected in numerous other studies that indicated certain sleep surfaces — such as ones that are too hard or too soft — have resulted in complaints of low back discomfort, pain, or stiffness and shoulder pain as well as sleep interruptions. Participants included 30 women and 29 men who reported compromised sleep and minor back pain. All were monitored over a period of 28 consecutive days on their existing bedding and 28 days on new bedding systems. Based on the data collected, it was concluded that, in this population, new bedding systems overwhelmingly increased sleep quality and reduced back discomfort.

Depending on the type of mattress you have, you may not feel you need a topper. If protection for the mattress is your only goal, you may find what you need in a simple mattress pad. But, if you want to protect your mattress as well as control the firmness and comfort, a topper may be just the thing you need. While not necessary, a mattress topper can add some luxury to any mattress. Think of it as icing and not the whole cake.

Finding just the right mattress topper to meet your needs can be challenging. There are many options to consider. But, once you decide it’s necessary for you and narrow down why, finding the right match will become much easier.

How to Clean a Mattress Topper

Most mattress toppers and covers are not designed to be machine washed, though some come with washable covers. If you suspect that your topper will be under constant attack by stains and destructive spills, you may want to invest in waterproof mattress toppers. Otherwise, an occasional trip to the dry cleaner should do the trick and keep your topper in top condition. For any mattress topper, spot cleaning when the sheets are changed will provide the maintenance needed to keep your topper fresh and clean.

How to Keep Mattress Toppers From Sliding

One of the irritating things about some mattress toppers is the slipping and sliding when they are not properly secured or the elastic has worn, especially in more budget-friendly varieties. To avoid the slippery topper, try the following:

  1. Make sure the fitted sheet is tight and provides a secure fit for the topper and mattress.
  2. Add a headboard and footboard to provide more stability.
  3. Make sure the topper has some “friction” in the fabric. Sleek and smooth toppers may look luxurious, but the slick fabric can cause sliding.
  4. Try additional sheet straps to hold the topper in place. Toppers typically come with one strap in each corner. Additional straps can help secure the topper in place.
  5. Make sure the mattress topper size is an exact match for your mattress size. Too big or too small can cause sliding and interrupt a good night’s sleep.
  6. A non-skid mat, similar to the ones used in showers, can be placed between the mattress and topper to provide some additional friction and help avoid slipping.
  7. A Velcro system or dual-sided carpet tape can be used to secure the topper to the mattress and reduce sliding. Simply stick the dual-sided tape or Velcro around the bottom edge of the mattress topper and top of the mattress to provide extra grip and way less slip.

How to Choose a Mattress Topper

Just like with mattresses, there are many mattress topper options to consider. The first step is to decide why you want to add a mattress topper. Here’s a quick reference to the varieties available to help you make a solid choice so you can find the best mattress topper for you.


To increase comfort, consider a mattress topper made of memory foam material with a lower density. Try a thickness of less than 2 inches to add a little extra comfort without eliminating the support of your mattress.


To add support to your existing mattress, try latex materials in your mattress topper, with a higher thickness and density for extra support.


To provide extra warmth, try a mattress topper made from down and synthetic fiber for a soft, plush feel.

Other Considerations When Buying a Mattress Topper

  • Size: Be sure the size of the topper exactly matches the size of your mattress to reduce slipping.
  • Materials: Mattress toppers are available in various materials, including latex, memory foam, down, or synthetic fibers. Each type of material provides variations in support, comfort, and warmth.
  • Thickness: Toppers come in thicknesses ranging from 1 inch to 4 inches. Thicker toppers provide more cushioning and support, while thinner toppers add a little extra cushioning without changing the feel of your mattress much.
  • Allergies: If you have allergies, choose a hypoallergenic topper made from latex or synthetic fibers that are less likely to harbor dust mites and mold.
  • Sleep position: Stomach sleepers may enjoy a firmer topper that keeps their spine in alignment. Back sleepers will likely prefer a medium-firm density topper that provides both support and a little cushioning. Side and combination sleepers may feel more comfortable on thicker mattress toppers since they cushion the hips and shoulders and relieve pressure.
  • Budget: Finally, consider your budget when choosing a mattress topper. Prices can vary widely depending on the material, thickness, and density of the topper. While a high-quality topper can be a worthwhile investment in your sleep quality, it’s also important to find one that fits within your budget.
  • Need: Decide why you are shopping for mattress protectors and toppers. If your mattress is old and worn out, a mattress topper might not be enough to save it. But, if you’re looking to add some comfort and support without replacing your mattress, a topper could be just the thing.