How to Use a Mattress Topper, Clean a Mattress Topper, & When to Replace a Mattress Topper
Mattresses are expensive. Before you toss a mattress that you find too hard, or buy a new mattress to replace your old one, consider getting a mattress topper to increase the comfort and longevity of your mattress. Mattress toppers provide extra comfort and support, and cost a lot less than a new mattress.
To use a mattress topper you need to fluff it up one day ahead of time, lay it on top of your mattress, and then cover both the mattress and the mattress topper. Make sure you clean your mattress topper properly and replace your mattress topper when you notice that it is no longer elastic and is permanently compressed.
Mattress toppers come in a variety of styles and are easily installed. They can be cleaned and are cheaper to replace than a whole mattress.
This guide will help you select the perfect mattress topper for your needs, as well as provide useful tips about installing, cleaning, and replacing your mattress topper. After reading this article you will know how to use a mattress topper properly and replace it at the right time.
What Is a Mattress Topper?
A mattress topper is a thin, lightweight auxiliary mattress. They can measure up to eight inches thick. As the name implies, a mattress topper lies directly on top of your regular mattress, adding an extra layer of comfort, while extending the lifespan of your mattress. Some mattress toppers are designed to be positioned on just one side of a mattress in case two people with different firmness preferences share the same bed.
Mattress toppers offer extra cushioning for more comfort, and protect the mattress from normal wear and tear, including from sweat and moisture. The additional layer they provide also adds body support to old mattresses that are beginning to sag. Here's some more information on the benefits and disadvantages of mattress toppers.
Mattress toppers come in a range of styles and materials. They are either made from natural materials such as wool, cotton fibers, down and feather or from synthetic fabric such as foam. They all differ in terms of softness, heat retention, durability, price, cleaning methods and extra features. Therefore, it is important to learn the pros and cons of each material to have a clearer idea about which type will meet your needs. You may also be interested in our article on how to choose a mattress topper for a side sleeper.
Some toppers can be machine washed, while others cannot. They can last up to five years with normal wear. So obviously they need to be regularly cleaned and maintained to keep on enhancing the quality of your sleep while providing comfort and support; otherwise they need to be replaced.
- Make sure to also take a look at our in-depth guide to choosing mattress topper size and thickness.
- Additionally, be sure to check out our article on mattress protectors to learn the difference between the two.
- What's the difference between latex and memory foam mattress toppers?
How to Use a Mattress Topper (Install Your Mattress Topper)
Setting up a mattress topper entails placing it on top of your mattress. This seems pretty simple.
However, here are a few tips to make the process easier.
Step 1. Open your mattress topper
Unpack the mattress topper from its packaging. Use a pair of scissors to avoid deep cuts. Once unrolled, the topper begins expanding and off gassing.
Step 2. Fluff out and air out your mattress topper
Air out the mattress topper for a day until it expands to its maximum volume and until it smells better.
Step 3. Align your mattress topper with your mattress
Lay the mattress topper flat on top of the mattress. Line its edges evenly with the edges of your mattress. Some mattress toppers come with four elastic straps. If that’s the case, stretch each strap inwards to the corner of your regular mattress. This holds the topper in place and prevents it from shifting.
Step 4. Cover your mattress and mattress topper
Cover both the mattress and the mattress topper with sheets and place the rest of your beddings onto.
Types of Mattress Toppers and Their Materials
There are a variety of types of mattress toppers. If you have not yet chosen a mattress topper, consider the information in the list below.
Memory foam toppers are elastic and dense. They respond to your body shape and temperature. They compress when pressure is applied and readjust to their initial shape when pressure is released. They provide unparalleled support and comfort, but they’re heavy and more expensive. They can also feel warm as memory foam retains body heat. If you need a different sized memory foam mattress topper, take a look at our guide on how to cut a memory foam mattress topper too.
Latex toppers are cooler, firmer, and more breathable than memory foam. However, people who prefer a softer bed may find latex material too firm. The material is very durable and non-allergenic (unless you are specifically allergic to latex).
Feather and Down Mattress Toppers
Feather and down toppers are less expensive than memory foam and latex types. They are lightweight and very soft. However, they offer less support, and they tend to compress quickly over time and need fluffing to maintain their shape. They also promote great temperature regulation.
Polyester Blend Toppers
Polyester blends (also known as fiberfills) are the cheapest options among. Just like down, polyester fiberfills are originally fluffy but offer little support, as they tend to flatten and wear out quickly over time. They are less breathable than down mattress toppers.
Wool toppers are expensive and rare to find. However, they are durable, hypoallergenic, soft and comfortable. They promote temperature regulation by keeping you warm in winter and fresh in summer, as they don’t retain heat.
Check the table below to compare between the different types of mattress toppers before you make your choice.
|Type of mattress topper||Pros||Cons||Highly Rated Example (and Price)|
|Memory foam||Molds to the shape of your body contours |
Absorbs motion when shifting in bed
Provides softness and comfort
|Retains heat |
Emits a synthetic odor when new
|3 inch Linenspa Topper (~$90)|
|Latex||Absorbs motion when shifting in bed |
Firm and bouncy
Durable and supportive
Resistant to molds and mites
|Too firm or too bouncy for some people |
Harmful to people allergic to latex
Emits a rubbery smell when new
|Natural Latex 3 in. Pure Green topper (~$130)|
|Feather and down||Cheap |
Lightweight and soft
Promotes heat regulation
|Provides little support |
From birds (animal rights)
Feather tips may dig into the fabric
|Duck and Goose Down Topper (D&G) (~$60)|
|Polyester fiberfill||Cheapest option |
Makes your mattress softer
Hypoallergenic and odor-free
|Retains heat |
Has the shortest lifespan (may flatten and wear out fast)
Provides little support
|Home Sweet Topper (~$68)|
|Wool||Makes your mattress softer and more comfortable |
|Difficult to find |
Emits a “sheep” odor
|Wool and Cotton Topper with Straps (~$104)|
How to Clean a Mattress Topper (or Wash a Mattress Topper)
Mattress toppers should be cleaned regularly. The cleaning methods differ based on the material of the topper. Always check the care label attached on the mattress topper and refer to the cleaning instructions.
To clean a mattress topper follow the steps below:
Step 1. Vacuum the mattress topper
Lay the mattress topper on a flat surface and run a vacuum all over it. The vacuum will get rid of dust, hair, and debris.
Step 2. Spot clean stained areas
Stains on toppers can be spot cleaned. Choose a cleaning solution or create a homemade mixture (example: equal amount of white vinegar and cold water). Spray the mixture on the stained areas. Give the stains about fifteen minutes to absorb the solution, then dab the spot cleaned areas with a damp sponge to blot up the solution.
Step 3. Treat unpleasant odors
Unpleasant smells originate from sweats, spills, and other accidents. Deodorize the mattress topper by sprinkling baking soda all over it. Leave the sprinkles for about an hour and then vacuum them.
Step 4. Air out the mattress
Place the topper in a well-ventilated area. Leave it for a few hours until it is completely dry. Put the topper back on top of your regular mattress on the bed.
Machine washing your mattress topper
Toppers made from natural materials such as wool, cotton, and down, can be machine washed.
PLEASE NOTE: Toppers made from synthetic materials such as latex and memory foam should not be machine washed or dried in a tumble dryer; doing so can destroy the memory foam.
Step 1. Wash the topper in a washing machine
Scrub off any stained areas on the topper with a detergent, using a toothbrush. Put the topper in a washing machine. Add tennis balls to help fluff the topper up as it washes. Pour a gentle laundry detergent and set the machine on a “delicate” cycle and cool temperature.
Step 2. Dry the topper in a dryer
Put the topper inside the dryer. Add tennis balls into the dryer. The balls bounce around to help maintain fluffiness. If you don’t add tennis balls, make sure to remove the topper every 30 minutes out of the dryer and shake it. Repeat the process until the topper is completely dry. Let the topper cool down, then place it back on the bed.
You can then dry the topper in a dryer; Add tennis balls to fluff the topper up as it dries (3), or remove the topper every 30 minutes and shake it (4). Images from WikiHow.
How Often to Replace a Mattress Topper and Factors that Affect Frequency
A mattress topper is expected to last 3 to 5 years on average, some even come with a warranty.
Factors that can reduce a topper’s lifespan include:
The thickness and internal structure of the topper
Mattress toppers are thin and can wear out quickly. The thicker a topper is, the longer it will take for its internal structure to deteriorate. So a two inch topper will need to be replaced sooner than a four inch topper.
The weight applied on the topper
The more weight a topper supports, the sooner it will need to be replaced. Toppers are nevertheless a good solution for people who are heavier since they can extend the longevity of the mattress underneath.
How well the topper is cared for
Toppers require maintenance; so make sure to clean it and protect it from spills, dust, stains, and germs. (One way to do this is by using a mattress protector). If you don’t address the damages, you will have to opt for a new topper sooner than expected.
The frequency of use
Using the topper everyday puts a lot of pressure on it, which speeds up the sagging process. So expect to replace the topper used in your bedroom sooner than one used in a guest room.
The condition of the mattress underneath the topper
Finally, if the mattress underneath the topper is old and lumpy, the topper will naturally follow the curve of the mattress and will lose its cushioning support. So you should always buy a new topper when you buy a new mattress. If you're in the market for a new mattress or bed, be sure to take a look at our guide to the best orthopedic mattresses, platform bed mattress sizes, and our ultimate list of guest bed ideas.
Overall, select a durable and a reasonably thick mattress topper that is designed to support your weight. Consider a thick wool topper like the image below. Consider replacing your topper every 3 to 5 years.
We hope you enjoyed this article and now understand how to use mattress toppers, what they are, and different types and materials of mattress toppers. We also hope that you’ve learned more about how to clean your mattress topper and replace it when necessary.
Do you need a new mattress? Check out our guide to the best orthopedic mattresses here.