What is a Mattress Topper?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

A mattress topper is quite simple to define. It is merely a cushioned pad that sits on top of a mattress. The occasional one will have straps, which can be placed around each corner of the bed to minimize slipping or sliding of the pad.

A mattress topper is a soft cushion that sits atop a mattress to provide extra comfort.
A mattress topper is a soft cushion that sits atop a mattress to provide extra comfort.

Many people use a mattress topper to compensate for a bed that feels too firm. For years either egg crate foam or thin feather beds were the most popular types. They were available to fit any size bed, and sometimes the economic minded simply purchased egg crate foam cut to size from a futon or industrial store. Since both were often available for less than 50 US dollars (USD), they were an inexpensive means to extend the life of a bed that was proving uncomfortable.

Sheets with extra deep pockets may be necessary when using a mattress topper.
Sheets with extra deep pockets may be necessary when using a mattress topper.

Most mattress toppers now are made with memory or visco elastic foam, which many feel is a much more comfortable and hypoallergenic alternative, especially to goose down. Still some miss their feather bed topper, and this has led to styles that incorporate both the features of goose down filling and memory foam.

Many people prefer mattress toppers stuffed with goose down.
Many people prefer mattress toppers stuffed with goose down.

Thickness counts when choosing a memory foam mattress topper. The least expensive ones, are likely to provide the least comfort, and are usually only about an inch (2.54cm) thick. A thicker memory foam topper, possibly three to four inches (7.62-10.16cm), is likely to be far more expensive.

The thickest memory foam mattress toppers are the most comfortable.
The thickest memory foam mattress toppers are the most comfortable.

The combo goose down memory foam mattress topper offers about one inch (2.54 cm) of memory foam and an inch or two of goose down on top of it. You should bear in mind that while memory foam is hypoallergenic, goose down definitely is not. Some people are allergic to down, or to the dust mites down collects. People who love goose down often buy a special hypoallergenic cover for the down/foam pad to help reduce dust mite allergies.

Mattress toppers can help compensate for a mattress that feels too firm.
Mattress toppers can help compensate for a mattress that feels too firm.

Though most mattress toppers are either goose down or memory foam, there are several other varieties available. Some have soft wool covers, providing lots of warmth on cold nights. Others may be made using polyester fill that provides less than an inch of padding. Some mattress toppers try to bridge the gap between topper and cover. They cover the mattress, fitting like a fitted sheet, may have waterproofing, and can be made of any of the above listed materials.

A problem with a thick mattress topper can occur. Sometimes regular size fitted sheets won’t adequately fit the mattress topper. You can purchase sheets with extra deep pockets, but these often are more expensive, and a little more challenging to find.

Comfort and cost are two key factors when shopping for a mattress topper or pad.
Comfort and cost are two key factors when shopping for a mattress topper or pad.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

anon303724

Does bed bug spray kill dust mites? Should we dry clean the mattress topper to get rid of previous dust mites? What is the best advice.

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