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Mattress Topper vs. Mattress Pad

Mattress Topper vs. Mattress Pad

Mattress Pad or Topper: What’s The Difference?

Over the course of 6-8 years, your mattress can start to break down due to normal wear and tear. Lumps, sags, indents, and broken springs are all signs of a worn out bed. If you want to improve the comfort of your mattress but aren’t ready to fork out the cash for a brand new one, you can buy either a mattress topper or a mattress pad. Either of these will provide you with added comfort and improve your sleep. This guide will help you learn more about each, so you can determine which one is the best fit for you.

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What Is A Mattress Topper?

As its name implies, a mattress topper goes on top of your mattress for additional comfort and usually serves as an additional layer. Mattress toppers can range in thickness; around 2” to 4” or more. They can provide more support, or more pressure relief, depending on the current mattress you have and the firmness of your new topper. 

Mattress Topper Materials

Mattress toppers come in a wide variety of different materials. These include cotton, poly foam, memory foam, gel foam, latex foam, and fiberfill. If you want a more luxurious feel, then down material offers the softness you’ll crave whereas memory foam toppers (like the TempurPedic Mattress Topper) delivers more relief to prevent pressure points and to reduce tossing and turning.  

Benefits Of A Mattress Topper

So why would someone purchase a topper? The main benefits of a mattress topper are: 

  • Improve comfort, either by making your bed firmer or softer
  • Add several extra thickness to your mattress
  • Increase mattress longevity and durability
  • Provide additional support 

Over time and regular use, a mattress might become lumpy and unsupportive and a topper provides a short term solution to help bring life back to your mattress (and some spare time to save up for a new bed).  

Moreover, If you have a soft mattress and you buy a medium topper, you’ll add more support to your bed. If you have a firmer mattress and purchase a soft topper, on the other hand, it’ll make your mattress feel more plush and pressure relieving.

Caring For Your Mattress Topper

Because toppers come in a wide variety of materials, it’s important to follow the cleaning instructions outlined by your manufacturer. Some thinner toppers made of cotton you can machine wash while you’ll want to spot clean foam ones, using a mix of mild detergent and water in a spray bottle. 

You can also use a handheld vacuum to gently remove any dust or debris that accumulates on your topper. 

What Is A Mattress Pad?

A mattress pad provides another layer of comfort to your current mattress. In general, mattress pads provide 1-2” of extra thickness and go over top of your bed like a topper does. You can affix the mattress pad to the bed using straps or some can slide inside a fitted sheet. 

Mattress Pad Materials

Similar to toppers, mattress pads come in a wide variety of materials. Some are made entirely of cotton while others are constructed with cotton, down, memory foam, gel foam, and more. The material you choose depends on how firm or soft you want your bed to be. 

Benefits Of A Mattress Pad

Mattress pads provide plenty of benefits including: 

  • If your mattress is too firm, a mattress pad can help make your bed a little more plush
  • Sometimes, you can also use a mattress pad in lieu of a mattress protector
  • Prevents allergens from trapping into your bed
  • Keeps sheets in place

Caring For Your Mattress Pad

You’ll want to follow the instructions outlined by the pad’s manufacturer. With some pads, you’ll be able to machine wash them. However, in other cases, you’ll want to spot clean them using a combination of mild detergent and warm water. 

Mattress Pad vs. Mattress Topper

While both improve the comfort of your bed, there is a difference between them. For one, mattress toppers are normally thicker than mattress pads. Therefore, while a mattress pad provides added comfort, a mattress topper is more of an upgrade since it supplies more material and comfort. 

To help you decide which one is right for you, here are the pros and cons of each:

Pros Of A Mattress Topper

  • Thicker than a mattress pad
  • More firmness varieties 
  • Easily fits on top of your current bed
  • Can extend the lifespan of your mattress

Cons Of A Mattress Topper

  • They can be expensive
  • Not easy to clean 

Meanwhile, if you’re considering a mattress pad, here are the pros and cons: 

Pros Of A Mattress Pad

  • Easy to set up using fitted sheet or straps
  • They can be more inexpensive than a topper
  • Can provide a more comfortable, plusher feel for beds
  • Prevents your mattress from accumulating allergens

Cons Of A Mattress Pad

  • Usually not as thick
  • If you’re mattress is really old and lumpy, it might not provide the full support you need like a topper would

Benefits of Adding Toppers And Pads

Both a mattress topper and a mattress pad can add durability to your bed by improving its comfort. A mattress pad is best if you’re searching for a softer layer to add to a firm bed or are on a tighter budget. A topper, on the other hand, is more beneficial when you want to make your mattress thicker, firmer or softer, and or more durable. 

A mattress topper is thicker and supplies more support, making it perfect for older, lumpier beds that need more TLC. When choosing between a mattress pad or topper, it’ll depend on a wide variety of factors including the age of your mattress, your comfort preferences, and how much you want to spend on one. Thank you for visiting the Slumber Yard, and feel free to check out our individual mattress topper reviews for a head start in your search!


Is there a difference between a mattress topper and mattress pad?

A mattress topper tends to be thicker than a mattress pad. While a pad provides a layer of comfort, a mattress topper can provide more support, especially if you have an older bed but are not ready to replace it yet.

Are toppers or pads more expensive?

Toppers can be more expensive in general because they are thicker while pads offer comfort at a more affordable price. However, the type of material you choose will also play a huge role in how much you pay. Toppers and pads made with down or memory foam can be much more expensive than ones made of cotton.

Can I wash my mattress topper?

Sometimes — you’ll want to follow the instructions as outlined by the topper’s manufacturer. In most instances, especially if the topper is thicker or made of memory foam, you can spot clean it using mild detergent and warm water.

Can I wash my mattress pad?

Yes, you can typically wash your mattress pad. Similar to a topper, you’ll want to follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely. In some cases, you’ll be able to machine wash the pad whereas in others, you’ll want to spot clean it only.