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Selecting the Best Mattress Topper: The Ultimate Guide

The Ultimate Guide to Selecting the Best Mattress Topper

Use this guide to help select the best mattress topper that’s right for you

A Healthy Sleep Environment is Essential

Sleep is such an essential part of our lives. Yet, many of us do not enjoy a good night’s rest. Researchers estimate that around 40 million Americans have trouble sleeping due to various ailments or problems. Thankfully, many sleep problems can be remedied by taking a close look at where you sleep, and making adjustments to your sleep environment.

As you may know, more time is spent on your bed than any other piece of furniture, almost 1/3 of your life is spent sleeping. Whether that time is spent sleeping comfortably or tossing around depends a lot on your sleep environment. This is exactly why nobody should underestimate the importance of buying quality sleep products in getting a sound night’s rest. For example, if your mattress is old and beginning to sag, it will not provide the support needed to relax those tired and aching muscles. Your muscles will have to continue to work throughout the night to try and keep your spine from constant tension. This tug-of-war between an old worn mattress and your body can disrupt your sleep, which may trigger several related medical ailments.

The causes and the solution

Many factors combine to make your sleep environment less conducive to better sleep. Some that quickly come to mind are: Mattress-firm or soft, Room Temperature-warm or cold room, Noise-inside and outside, Bedding-warm or cool, Lighting-dark or light, Air Circulation-calm or fan, Humidity-high or low, Color of Room-soft colors,
Another important factor many have said is helpful is not to spend time in the bedroom doing other things such as reading or watching TV. It kind of plays a trick on your mind. Your mind sees the bed and knows it’s time to sleep.

Another item many people have found to be very helpful is to use a mattress topper on their bed. Sitting right on top of the mattress, the toppers offers greater flexibility, comfort and support that could mean the difference between stiff muscles and sound slumber.

In the following sections, we will guide you through the essentials of selecting and purchasing a mattress topper that is best for you. We’ll go over the types of mattresses and the characteristics of each type. We will try to point out key items you might need to know before you go out and buy the best mattress topper for you.

The 10 Main Types of Mattress Toppers

Basic Foam Mattress Topper

Polyurethane foam mattress topper is usually the type of topper people are most accustomed to seeing. Hospitals have been using them forever to prevent bedsores and keeping patients comfortable as well as they can be easily cleaned or disposed of after use as they tend to be relatively inexpensive. They are highly portable as well. Easily moved from bed to bed. Many have used this type for camping and RV’ing. The best ones are the formed “egg crate” type that allows much greater air circulation and spreads the weight over a wider area. Keep an eye out for fabrics that are treated with chemical agents. Many have complained about the lingering smell.

Cotton Mattress Topper

A topper made from natural fibers such as cotton puts a soft and comfy layer between you and your mattress. Thanks to its excellent temperature regulating properties, cotton toppers come in handy for those warm summer nights. Additionally, cotton is naturally hypoallergenic thus providing a barrier between you and your mattress keeping those dust mites and other allergy causing agents at bay. Many cotton mattress toppers have an extra thick layer of material sewn into the top to provide even more comfort. Many are also water resistant. Versatility is also a key benefit to cotton toppers. Most are easy clean, yet very durable. It’s a good choice for dorm rooms or apartments.

Memory Foam Mattress Topper

Lately, memory foam toppers have become very popular. Especially the ones with gel inserts inside. A gel insert is great in absorbing heat. Great for people who tend to sweat when sleeping. Designed to offer greater support where it’s needed, a memory foam topper aids in distributing your weight evenly and follows the contour of your body. People who sleep on their side have said memory foam mattress toppers have really helped. Cost can vary widely depending on materials, density, and size. Memory foam toppers are usually the type chosen to revive an aging mattress. Cleaning and maintenance can be tricky. Also, many people have complained that memory foam tends to have a lingering smell from the chemical used during manufacturing process.

Latex Foam Mattress Topper

Known for its resilient properties, latex foam is used to offer better comfort, support and response. It has a bouncy feel, and quickly retains its shape after use. Latex toppers help alleviate pressure areas that can interrupt a good sleep. Many are hypoallergenic, waterproof, and easy maintenance. Cost varies depending on thickness, size, etc. another unique characteristic is latex tends to be a bit noisy. You may hear crunching and cracking of the latex as you move about.

Down/Down Filled Mattress Topper

A common feature in bedding material, down is a great option to consider if you’re looking for a soft, squishy topper that makes your hard bed comfy. Down filled mattress toppers are legendary for keeping you warm on those cold winter nights. Generally the more expensive option when choosing a mattress topper though, and maintenance can be difficult. You don’t want to throw a down filler topper in the washer and forget it. You will need to follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions very carefully. Down filled toppers are generally very comfortable to lie on, but sometimes feathers can poke through or shift about, leaving it lumpy and sparse in some areas. A good shake of the topper will usually redistribute the down fill and restore the comfort.

Microfiber Mattress Topper

As if the name doesn’t give it away, microfiber is exactly what it sounds like-a finely woven tiny polyester filament that boasts natural breathability and resilience. In general, microfiber is supple, soft, and quite strong. As for thickness, the whisker-weight fibers of microfiber are finer those in cotton and wool toppers. Unlike cotton which may absorb moisture, microfiber ends to repel it. For instance, if you spill a liquid on a microfiber mattress topper all you need to do is wipe off the surface. Microfiber is also combined with other types of materials such as memory foam. Combined layers-one thin and one thick with precise stitching can result in a very soft, comfortable yet durable mattress topper. Many of the best microfiber mattress toppers are very popular with campers and RV’ers.

Polyester/Polyester Blend Mattress Topper

If you’re looking for hotel like comfort and durability at a great price, a polyester topper won’t disappoint. Polyester toppers, with woven fabric and multiple layers generally offer great comfort. They stay soft and fluffed unlike down filled toppers. Blended or not, the best part is that you can wash polyester toppers without having to worry about losing fabric quality. (You will want to follow manufacturer’s recommendations). Another good thing is synthetic fibers can be blended with natural fibers including wool and cotton to produce components that combines the best of best worlds. Blended mattress toppers are becoming very popular because of this versatility.

Silk Mattress Topper

Silk mattress toppers offer the best in style and comfort, with the addition of some natural benefits. Not only are silk toppers very soft and comfortable, silk toppers are also very good at adjusting your body temperature. Silk is an excellent conductor of heat and has breathable fibers that regulate your body temp, keeping it cool in the summer and warm in winter. Silk is an excellent material for people who tend to sweat during sleep. These mattress toppers can be rather expensive and the care and maintenance is very important. Special care is needed to prolong the life and durability. However, there is no better feeling than sleeping on a silk mattress topper.

Wool/Wool Blend Mattress Topper

Wool, for years stereotyped as the fuddy-duddy, itchy and used just for winter fabric is now been reworked into bedding just for its natural properties. Known for its hypoallergenic temperature-regulating and moisture wicking properties, wool is surely becoming a very popular mattress topper material. Bouncy fibers repel moisture and draw heat away from the body so wool mattress toppers are naturally cool in the summer and very warm in the winter. Wool topper need special care, but are very durable.

Merino wool toppers with a cotton covering have become very popular. Care and maintenance is a little different. Wool mattress toppers really need less cleaning overall. Our best advice is rotate every 2 weeks or when you change sheets and air dry occasionally. A wool topper is not machine washable or dry cleanable… A good way to prolong its life is to place it outside in the Sun to air dry. This will really rejuvenate a wool topper.

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Characteristics of a Great Mattress Topper

Completely stuck deciding which mattress topper is best for you? For starters, you should find one that matches your personal preferences as well as the environment where it will be used. Is it for the master bedroom? Will it be used in the camper? Are you needing a topper for a dorm room? Did you think looking for a mattress topper would be this involved? To help you find the best mattress topper, we’ve come up with a few items you should consider.


We expect a great mattress topper to be comfortable. Thankfully, there many options for improving comfort, particularly regarding regulating temperature and adjustability. Experts advise choosing a topper that you feel is comfortable yet provides the maximum amount of support for your body. When your bedding is too firm, the arch in your back can become highly exaggerated. Too soft, and your muscles will not relax and rejuvenate thus becoming stiff and sore.


Density is a characteristic mostly for foam and memory foam mattress toppers. A topper with a higher density provides extra firmness and a less dense material will be less firm.

A density scale widely used for mattress toppers is as follows:

(Measured in pounds per cubic foot)

Low Density (3 lbs. or less) – soft, less durable, less expensive
Medium Density (4-5 lbs.) – middle of the road firmness, suitable for most people
High Density (6 lbs. or more) – Very firm, durable, most expensive, great for bad backs

Old fashioned, basic foam mattress toppers tend to be very low density. Regular memory foam mattress toppers are mostly medium density, although some more expensive (thicker) toppers are available. The popular memory foam toppers with gel inserts usually fall in the high density category, depending on the thickness and materials. Memory foam tends to be the best mattress topper for a bad back. The task is to find the density that is best for you.


Whether you preferences be natural or man-made, the materials used in construction holds the key to your sleeping comfort. Natural materials such as cotton, wool and silk are very good at regulating body temperature and moisture control. Natural materials are very good at creating a hypoallergenic barrier, particularly useful for allergy sufferers.

In contrast, man-made materials are very durable, easier to clean, provide greater support and versatility. Some can be hypoallergenic. Man-made materials can have a weird chemical smell that’s hard to get rid of.

The trend nowadays is to blend natural and man-made materials to combine the best of both worlds. Personal preference is the key here. Do you want to be warm, cool, have great back support or great durability?


When you are looking to protect your mattress and prolong its life, you need a mattress topper with very robust construction. For example, Density is very important in foam and memory foam mattress toppers. The higher the density, the higher the durability. The type of cotton and stitching used is very important for cotton toppers. It should be able to handle a fair amount of abuse. Although there is no standard test to measure durability, the best mattress toppers seem to have quite a few good things going for them: High quality materials, both inside and out, great stitching, and well thought out washing and care instructions.


There’s no doubt that great mattress toppers can be an expensive affair. Although you should spent what you can on the topper that’s best for you, it’s very important to consider which type you are paying for. In most cases, the price reflects the materials used, the method of construction and the size of the mattress topper.

Consider your sleep habits, if you’ve got the dough, choose the best topper that fits your needs and helps you doze off to dreamland. At the end of the day, you simply can’t put a price on a great night’s sleep. Especially when we spend so much of our lives doing just that.

Waterproof/Water Resistant

The top rated memory foam mattress toppers boast of durable water repellant finish in the form of a non-breathable fabric such as polyurethane coated nylon. Latex toppers are usually very water resistant. While the inner and outer fabrics give great comfort and durability, the key to waterproofing or water resistant performance is always some sort of layering. Mattress toppers made of cotton, polyester, down filled, and microfiber have other material added to enhance waterproofing. Natural materials such as wool and silk are naturally waterproof and water resistant, wicking off moisture away from your body. When choosing a mattress topper, you must decide if waterproofing is important. Will it be used in the camper? Waterproofing is probably important. A down filled topper used in the master bedroom? Probably not as important.


Dust mites and other allergens are commonly found in humid, dark areas and are a trigger to many allergic disorders and ailments. If you’re an allergy sufferer, it’s really important to have a barrier between you and your mattress. Luckily, you can find mattress toppers that are hypoallergenic and resist odor, and repel many common allergens. Cotton and wool mattress toppers are generally hypoallergenic. The key is to inspect the mattress frequently and wash your mattress topper frequently.

Easy Maintenance

Maintenance of mattress toppers vary widely. Here’s a short list. As always, please consult the label and follow manufacturer’s instructions.

Basic Foam: Spot cleaning with water based solution. Gentle cycle, small amount of detergent
Cotton: Most can be machine washed. Use gentle cycle.
Memory Foam: Lightly sprinkle baking soda, let sit. Vacuum excess. No water, no ringing out
Latex Foam: Spot clean No water, no ringing out
Down filled: Dry clean, spot clean, machine hand wash cycle small amount of detergent
Microfiber: Most are machine wash warm, tumble dry
Polyester: Machine washable
Silk: Dry cleaning for silk
Wool/Wool Blend: Do not machine wash or Dry clean, rotate, air dry


The best mattress toppers are made to last. However, on the chance they don’t hold up due to a manufacturing or material defect most offer a reliable warranty. High quality manufacturer’s will repair or replace your topper if it fails to meet their high standards for workmanship and quality. Warranty duration vary greatly. Best advice is to look up warranty details before purchase. Be sure to follow all label instructions regarding use, care and maintenance of your topper. Many manufacturers will not honor the warranty if for instance poor care and maintenance is evident.


Ok, you really know which type of mattress topper is best for you. Don’t pull out the wallet until you have read all the reviews and ratings for the particular model you wish to buy. Most likely, people have purchased the very item and can provide insight to your potential purchase. Reviews and ratings can save you a lot of heartache down the road. However, be aware that reviews and ratings are subjective. You need to find the honest reviews and weed out the non-helpful ones.

Written by Mattress King in Mattress Topper Advice

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