Should You Wash A Mattress Cover Before Using It?

Mattress covers are a great addition to a mattress because they reduce stains and keep dust mites and bed bugs at bay. However, do you need to wash a mattress cover before placing it on a mattress? We researched why it is important to wash a mattress cover before its first use and how they are essential to keeping a clean and comfy bed. Learn more about your mattress cover, whether it is outfitted with a waterproof layer or has a quilted top.

If you recently bought a mattress cover, you want to wash it before using it. The manufacturer may use chemicals or processes that make the mattress cover stiff and leave behind an odor. Washing a mattress cover before using it helps remove any residue and preps it for placement on your mattress. Make sure to follow the care instructions on the cover to prevent shrinkage, damage, or degradation.

A mattress cover is an excellent way to preserve the longevity and performance of your mattress. Read on to learn more about washing your cover and how to maintain it as needed.

Young adult woman hands putting white cover with elastic band on mattress corner. - Should You Wash A Mattress Cover Before Using It?

Understand Your Mattress Cover

A mattress cover laid out inside a large bedroom

Investing in a mattress cover for your bed is a very wise decision. Using one can help prolong your bed's life and cleanliness and make for a better sleeping experience. When you have a mattress protector, it is slipped over any mattress toppers and creates a barrier to deter bedbugs, dust mites, mold, dandruff, and allergens. Any sheets, blankets, or comforters are placed on top of a mattress protector.

Leaving a mattress unprotected and without a cover makes it vulnerable to developing yellowing, stains, mold growth, and foul odors. The slightest amount of protection for a mattress would require placing a fitted or strapped sheet that is quilted or flat on top of the bed. However, a full-service cover with or without a zipper is optimal.  Today's modern mattress covers available for use include and is not limited to the following types.

  • A plastic pad with or without a fabric cover
  • A breathable fitted cover with a waterproof lining underneath
  • A zip-up cover that completely encases the mattress

No matter what type of mattress cover you choose, you should routinely remove it from the mattress for cleaning. Even the quality, durable mattress protectors can eventually succumb to stains, mildew, mold, and allergens if left unwashed for long periods of time. While you are laundering your mattress cover, make time to vacuum, spritz, and wipe down your mattress and allow it to air dry before returning a clean and dry cover to the mattress.

Which Type Of  Cover Is Best

Woman putting white fitted sheet over mattress on bed indoors,

If you feel that you don't need a lot of protection, a simple, loosely fitting pad or sheet on top of a mattress is sufficient. However, in some instances, you may want to cover more of the surface area of your bed. When bedbugs or dust mites are a problem, it is best to use a zippered case that fully encloses a mattress. A waterproof cover or protective with an underlayer that resists moisture can prevent nighttime accidents or spills from coming in contact with a mattress. 

Over time, even with a mattress cover or protector, a bed can display yellow stains, hold onto allergens, or become a problem. Keep an eye on your mattress and your health by changing the type of cover you have for your mattress and removing any cover you are currently using to wash it as needed. Take time to disinfect your mattress and any covers to reduce allergy triggers and close contact with mildew, mold, and unwanted elements. Don't forget to change your sheets and use clean linens on top of a cover for a more comfortable, healthy bed.

Check out this terry, vinyl-free protector on Amazon.

Construction And Materials

Hand opening cover of new mattress with zipper. Changing and washing cover.

Dust mites and moisture are two of the biggest threats to your mattress. Sweating because of a lack of breathable linens or mattress covers, nighttime incontinence, and accidents with drinks lead to stains and deep-set mold if left unchecked. Because humans shed their skin cells and hair frequently, dust mites naturally congregate in and on the surface of mattresses and bedding. Mattress covers are often made from polyester, urethane, cotton, down, and have a layer of waterproof material.

Check out this zippered mattress cover on Amazon.

Care Methods

In most cases, it is best to throw a mattress protector in the washing machine if wiping it down isn't sufficient. Check the care tag and manufacturer's suggestions for caring for a cover, as some protectors cannot be placed in the washing machine or dryer. Some covers can even be dry cleaned for routine maintenance. Care for a mattress cover properly,  and it will provide years of comfort and security for your bed.

Check out this polyester and bamboo mattress cover on Amazon.

How Do You Wash A Mattress Cover?

Woman loading blanket in to washing machine.

When washing a mattress cover, it is essential to remove any detergents and moisture left behind to prevent mildew or mold. If placing your mattress cover in the washing machine, avoid adding any bleach and use a gentle detergent. It helps running the cover through an extra rinse cycle to ensure all the soap has been removed from the cover. Once the cover has been laundered, let it air dry on a rack or in the sun for best results. Don't risk damaging your cover by throwing it in the dryer.

Plan to wash your mattress cover every two months and more frequently if you have allergies when there is a spill or incident and have pets that sleep on your bed. Do take a look at the care instructions as some mattress covers can be dry cleaned.

Can You Dry A Mattress Cover?

Closeup drying bed sheet hanging on clothesline at the backyard.

The best way to dry a mattress cover is to place it in the sunlight and let the natural air and sunshine remove moisture. You can also place a mattress cover inside a warm area with good air circulation to ensure it is dry. Check on a mattress cover and make sure it is completely dry before placing it back on a mattress. Wet mattress covers can lead to the development of mold, mildew and trigger allergies if unable to fully dry. 

What Can I Do With An Old Mattress Protector?

Man taking off the mattress cover of the bed

When your mattress protector has outlived its usefulness, it's time to give it the old heave-ho. However, instead of throwing your old protector in the trash to head to a landfill, consider calling your local recycling program. See if any part of that old mattress protector can be repurposed or recycled. Otherwise, strip the protector down for material and find a creative use with the old fabric for pets, gardening, or kids.


Mattress covers are a practical and worthwhile investment to keep your mattress cleaner and more comfortable. Know that properly caring for your mattress cover and keeping it clean provides years of usefulness and heightens performance quality. No matter if you choose a waterproof protector or select a cover with plush, absorbent material, be confident about your mattress topper and sleep well.

Before you leave, check out the following helpful articles related to mattresses.

What Causes Yellow Stains On A Mattress?

7 Types of Mattress Toppers [and How To Choose The Best One]

A mattress cover inside a blue colored bedroom, Should You Wash A Mattress Cover Before Using It?

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