Choosing A Mattress Protector, Topper & Underlay For Your Bed: A Comprehensive Buying Guide

Choosing A Mattress Protector, Topper & Underlay For Your Bed: A Comprehensive Buying Guide

The health benefits of a good night's sleep are unparalleled, and more Australians than ever are choosing to invest in their sleep hygiene and quality. A premium mattress is one of the main keys to improving your sleep, but they don't come cheap. So, how do you best protect your investment from sweat, spills, stains & dust that will degrade the mattress' value over time? The answer lies in adding the combination of a mattress protector, topper and underlay to your bedding ensemble. Mattress protectors prolong the life of a mattress, and they help to maintain good sleep hygiene practices. A mattress topper is an additional layer of cushioning that is placed on top of a mattress to enhance its comfort and support. Underlays are protective layers placed beneath mattresses or rugs to provide additional support, cushioning, and insulation. Often constructed using cutting-edge technologies to improve the function and feel of your mattress, these bedding staples are all designed to help you sleep better. When you consider all of the long-term benefits, adding a mattress protector, topper and underlay to your bedding essentials is a no-brainer.

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Mattress Protectors

What is a mattress protector?

A mattress protector is a removable cover that encases a mattress to protect it from spills, stains, dust mites, allergens, and other potential damage. It acts as a layer between your mattress and your fitted sheet. The main purpose of a mattress protector is to keep the mattress clean and sanitary, prolonging its lifespan. Mattress protectors can come in a variety of materials such as cotton, polyester, or vinyl and can be waterproof or breathable depending on the specific needs of the user. They are usually machine washable and can be easily removed and replaced as needed to keep the mattress clean and hygienic.

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Different Types of Mattress Protectors

Mattress protectors are constructed with different purposes in mind, based on the needs of the user. Below is a rundown of the most common and popular types of mattress protectors, and what they're best used for:

  1. Waterproof Mattress Protectors: Moisture is a huge contributor when it comes to mattress degradation or damage. Mattresses are difficult to dry out properly, and moisture that accumulates over time can lead to mould and mildew. A waterproof mattress protector combats this issue by creating a barrier between your sheets and mattress. Some waterproof mattress protectors are constructed from absorbent materials, designed to soak up any liquids that spill into the fabric. The most popular waterproof mattress protectors, however, are generally built using hydrophobic fabrics designed to repel liquid and wick away any moisture. This makes waterproof mattress protectors a great choice for anyone concerned about spills leading to stains or mould as well as people with pets and children.
  2. Cooling Mattress Protectors: Regulating your body temperature to stay cool at night is a key component to having a restful sleep. Cooling mattress protectors are designed from materials with built-in cooling technologies, offering high-performance thermal regulation. Some cooling mattress covers feature breathable fabrics like bamboo, cotton, tencel or wool, while others are infused with a thin layer of cooling gel between the fabric. Cooling gel helps to draw heat away from the sleeper and works to actively cool the surface of the mattress. For hot sleepers, the combination of a cooling mattress protector and a cooling gel mattress topper can be a lifesaver during the warmer months.
  3. Anti-Allergy Mattress Protectors: An anti-allergy (or anti-bacterial) mattress protector is made from hypoallergenic materials that are designed to repel dust mites, allergens, and other particles that can trigger allergic and asthmatic responses. These mattress protectors are constructed with an antimicrobial treatment, which can help to minimise the growth of bacteria and repel dust mites. If you or someone in your home is prone to allergies or asthma, an antibacterial mattress protector is worth considering. Looking to improve the hypoallergenic qualities of your entire bedding arrangement? We recommend adding silk pillowcases and bamboo or cotton-sateen sheets to your bed linen, which will improve the effectiveness of your anti-allergy mattress protector.

Mattress Protectors Frequently Asked Questions

Why should you use a mattress protector?

Using a mattress protector has many benefits. They protect from spills and stains, increase the longevity of the mattress, reduce allergens, enhance comfort and are easy to maintain and clean.

How to choose the right mattress protector for you?

To ensure a good night's sleep, it is important to choose the right mattress protector that works for you. Consider factors such as material, waterproofing, size, comfort, allergies, durability, and brand when selecting a suitable protector.

How often do you need to wash a mattress protector?

The general rule of thumb is to wash your mattress protector every two months. However, there are a few factors that may affect how often you need to wash a mattress protector, such as personal hygiene, lifestyle (pets, children, etc.) and mattress type.

How long does a mattress protector last?

The average lifespan of a mattress protector is about 2 to 3 years. This timeframe can vary depending on the quality of the protector, how often it is washed, and how much wear and tear it experiences.

Mattress Toppers

Tontine Signature Supreme Loft Premium Mattress Topper

What is a mattress topper?

A mattress topper is a layer of padding that is placed on top of a mattress to add extra comfort and support. It is usually made from materials such as memory foam, latex, or down alternative, and comes in various thicknesses and sizes. Mattress toppers are designed to enhance the comfort of your mattress, prolong its lifespan, and address specific sleep needs, such as relieving pressure points or regulating temperature.

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Different Types of Mattress Toppers

  1. Memory Foam Toppers: These toppers are made from viscoelastic memory foam, which conforms to the shape of your body, providing excellent pressure relief and support. Memory foam toppers are great for those who suffer from body aches and pains and enjoy a plush, contouring feel.
  2. Charcoal Infused Toppers: A charcoal-infused mattress topper is a type of mattress topper that is made with a layer of activated charcoal. The charcoal is usually in the form of small particles or powder, which is then infused into the foam or fabric of the topper. The purpose of the activated charcoal is to provide additional benefits beyond what a regular mattress topper can offer. Activated charcoal is known for its absorbent properties, which can help to eliminate odours and reduce moisture in the bed. It can also help to regulate temperature and improve air circulation, which can be particularly useful for hot or humid climates.
  3. Cooling Toppers: If you tend to sleep hot, a cooling mattress topper can help regulate your body temperature. These toppers are typically made with breathable materials like gel-infused memory foam or latex, which dissipate heat and promote airflow for a cooler and more comfortable sleep experience.

You can find charcoal-infused, gel-infused, anti-allergy, bamboo mattress toppers and more in most bedding brands' polyester mattress topper ranges.

Mattress Toppers: Frequently Asked Questions

Do you put a fitted sheet over a mattress topper?

Yes, it is recommended to put a fitted sheet over the mattress topper. The fitted sheet helps to keep the topper in place and prevent it from shifting during the night.

Do mattress toppers help with back pain?

Yes, mattress toppers can help with back pain. A mattress topper can provide additional cushioning and support to promote proper spine alignment and relieve pressure points that may cause discomfort. However, it is important to note that the effectiveness of a mattress topper in relieving back pain may vary depending on the individual and their specific condition.

Mattress Underlays

What is an underlay?

A mattress underlay is a layer of material that is placed directly on top of the mattress, underneath the fitted sheet and mattress protector. It is typically used to protect the mattress from wear and tear, prolonging its lifespan, and improving its overall comfort. The most common types of mattress underlays are made of foam, wool, or cotton.

They are often used in conjunction with a mattress protector, which is designed to protect the mattress from spills, stains, and other damage. Together, the underlay and protector can help to keep the mattress clean and fresh, extending its lifespan and ensuring a more comfortable sleeping experience.

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Different Types of Bed Underlays

  • Foam Mattress Underlays: Foam underlays are typically made from materials such as memory foam or latex. These materials are designed to provide additional cushioning and support to the body, helping to improve spinal alignment and reduce pressure points. They can also help to regulate temperature and provide relief for those with joint pain or other medical conditions.
  • Wool Underlays: Wool (and cotton) mattress underlays are also popular and are typically woven into a quilted or padded pattern. These materials are known for their natural absorbent properties, which can help to wick away moisture and keep the body cool and comfortable while sleeping. They can also help to regulate temperature and provide a soft, comfortable surface for sleeping. Look for an underlay made from 100% Australian wool.

Underlays: Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a mattress underlay if I already have a mattress protector?

While a mattress protector is an important part of mattress care, a mattress underlay can provide additional benefits such as added comfort and cushioning. A mattress underlay can help to regulate temperature, provide extra support, and enhance the overall comfort level of the mattress.

Can mattress underlays be washed in a washing machine?

Typically, cotton or synthetic material underlays can be machine-washed on a gentle cycle, while foam or memory foam underlays should be spot-cleaned or hand-washed with a mild detergent.

How often should I replace my mattress underlay?

The lifespan of a mattress underlay can vary depending on the quality of the product, usage, and maintenance. Generally, it is recommended to replace a mattress underlay every 2 to 5 years.

Comparison Guide: Mattress Protector vs. Mattress Topper vs. Mattress Underlay

You might catch yourself wondering, "What is the difference between a protector, a topper, and an underlay, and do I need all three?" We've put together a handy table to help discern the varying functions of each piece of bedding to help you understand how they all work in harmony, creating the perfect sleep ensemble:

Bedding Type

Mattress Protector

Mattress Topper

Mattress Underlay

Primary purpose


Comfort and support

Protection and comfort


  • Protects mattress from spills, stains, and damage.
  • Helps maintain mattress hygiene.
  • Can improve mattress lifespan.
  • Adds extra cushioning and comfort to the mattress.
  • Can improve sleep quality and relieve pressure points.
  • May regulate temperature and provide additional support.
  • Provides a protective layer between sleeper and mattress.
  • Can enhance mattress comfort and provide additional cushioning.
  • May improve spinal alignment and reduce pressure points.


  • Can sometimes diminish the feel of the mattress.
  • Can affect airflow and make the mattress feel warmer.
  • May not completely prevent all types of damage.
  • May alter the firmness level of the mattress, which may not suit everyone's preferences.
  • Can be challenging to clean and maintain.

  • Does not provide the same level of protection against spills and stains as a mattress protector.
  • Limited options in terms of materials and thickness.

Mattress Protectors, Toppers & Underlays Wash Guide

Protectors, toppers and underlays have different care and maintenance needs. By following these specific cleaning guidelines for each, you can keep them in excellent condition, ensuring a clean and comfortable sleep environment for years to come.

How to clean a mattress protector

Cleaning your mattress protector is essential to maintain its freshness and extend its lifespan. Follow these steps to effectively clean your mattress protector:

  1. Check the care label: This is always the first step in washing any type of bedding. Before proceeding, refer to the care label on your mattress protector. It will provide specific instructions and guidance for cleaning.
  2. Remove the protector: Take off the mattress protector from your bed and carefully detach any elastic straps or fastenings.
  3. Pre-treat stains (if necessary): If you notice any stains on the mattress protector, pre-treat them using a mild detergent or stain remover. Gently dab the affected area with the cleaning solution and let it sit for a few minutes.
  4. Machine wash (if applicable): Most mattress protectors are machine washable. Place the protector in the washing machine and use a gentle cycle with cold or warm water. Avoid using hot water, as it may damage the material.
  5. Use a mild detergent: Add a small amount of mild detergent to the washing machine. Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals, as they can deteriorate the protector's waterproof or protective properties.
  6. Dry properly: Once the washing cycle is complete, either air-dry the mattress protector or use a low heat setting in the dryer. Follow the care label instructions for the best drying method.
  7. Reassemble and protect: After the mattress protector is completely dry, reattach it to your mattress, ensuring a snug fit. This will safeguard your mattress from spills, stains, and allergens.

How to clean a mattress topper

Maintaining a clean and hygienic mattress topper is crucial for a comfortable sleep environment. Here's how you can clean your mattress topper effectively:

  1. Check the care instructions: Begin by reviewing the care instructions provided by the manufacturer. These guidelines will offer specific advice on cleaning methods and any limitations.
  2. Spot-clean stains: If you notice any stains or spills on your mattress topper, spot-clean them immediately. Use a mild detergent or upholstery cleaner and gently blot the affected area with a clean cloth. Avoid rubbing vigorously, as it may damage the fabric.
  3. Vacuum regularly: To remove dust, dirt, and debris, vacuum your mattress topper regularly using the upholstery attachment. This helps maintain its cleanliness and prolongs its lifespan.
  4. Air out in sunlight: When weather permits, take your mattress topper outside and allow it to air out in direct sunlight. Sunlight has natural disinfecting properties and can help eliminate odours.

How to clean an underlay

Cleaning an underlay is essential to ensure its longevity and hygiene. Follow these steps to clean your underlay effectively:

  1. Check the care instructions: As always, start by checking the care instructions provided by the manufacturer. They will contain specific recommendations for cleaning and maintenance.
  2. Vacuum regularly: Use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to remove dust, dirt, and debris from your underlay. Pay special attention to the edges and corners where particles tend to accumulate.
  3. Spot clean stains: For any visible stains or spills, spot clean them immediately using a mild detergent or upholstery cleaner. Gently blot the affected area with a clean cloth, being careful not to saturate the underlay.
  4. Air out and refresh: On a sunny day, take your underlay outside and hang it in a well-ventilated area. Sunlight and fresh air will help eliminate odours and refresh the underlay.
  5. Follow manufacturer's recommendations: Some underlays may be machine washable, while others require professional cleaning. Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations for the best cleaning method.
  6. Rotate and flip regularly: To maintain even wear and tear, rotate and flip your underlay regularly. This helps distribute pressure and extends its lifespan.

Best Brands for Bedding in Australia 2023

Not all bedding brands are created equal, and when it comes to investing in products that should last for years, it pays to do your research! We've done the hard work for you and rounded up a selection of some of the best bedding brands for mattress protectors, toppers & underlays available in Australia:


When it comes to bedding, there are few Australian brands as trusted as Tontine. Depending on what your specific needs are, Tontine's bed range includes waterproof mattress protectors, antibacterial mattress protectors, as well as comfort mattress protectors with built-in layers that provide extra loft and support. Tontine mattress protectors are also constructed with a deep-fit skirt of 40-50 cm to accommodate thick mattresses or toppers, ensuring a secure fit. In addition to mattress protectors, Tontine offers a premium selection of quilts, mattress toppers and pillows designed with certain sleep technologies in mind to suit a range of sleepers. The brand is also known for using premium Australian wool in its designs which has quick-drying and antimicrobial properties. This makes Tontine wool bedding an excellent accompaniment to their hypoallergenic mattress protectors and high loft Japara-cotton cover mattress toppers.


Protect-A-Bed® is an Australian-owned brand that has been supplying mattress protectors for over 40 years. As an industry leader in protective bedding, Protect-A-Bed® also sells pillow protectors and waterproof sheet protectors. Pillow protectors are a must-have for those who have invested in premium pillows, as the added protection can significantly prolong their lifespan. Sheet protectors offer an environmentally-friendly alternative to disposable mattress protectors or bed pads, so are a great choice for those concerned with bedwetting or accidental spills. Their products are constructed from absorbent materials such as cotton terry, soft bamboo or luxurious quilting. Convenient protection doesn't mean you need to compromise on comfort.


Known as a trusted family-run business supplying high-end bedding to Australians for over 30 years, the Gainsborough range offers luxury cotton and bamboo mattress protectors as well as premium Australian wool underlays and foam gel mattress toppers. Gainsborough accommodates a variety of bed sizes, including single, king single, double, queen & king mattress protectors, toppers and underlays. They construct their mattress protector covers from Australian cotton, with a cotton or bamboo fill. Their use of premium materials means they are low-irritant and gentle on the skin, a feature that is often compromised or overlooked in lower-quality mattress protectors. Gainsborough is also a coveted supplier of electric blankets and quilts which are worth checking out. Keep in mind any relevant safety precautions that should be taken concerning using electric blankets with mattress protectors.

Improve Your Sleep Hygiene and Quality of Life with Mattress Protectors, Toppers & Underlays

Mattress protectors, toppers and underlays have long been considered a sleep essential for the perfect night's rest. Have we convinced you to invest in them? You can easily keep your mattress clean, protected, comfy and cosy with the range at Harris Scarfe. Spanning across a variety of different sizes, materials, finishes and types, there will definitely be something for all the bedrooms in your home. Browse Australia's best mattress protectors, mattress toppers and underlays right here, and once you've found your perfect bedding ensemble, refer to our bed sheets buying guide and article on how to style your bed linen to create the perfect bedroom to come home to.