A mattress protector is an essential part of your household bedding and it should be waterproof otherwise it isn't doing a very good job of protecting your mattress.
One issue that we often come across is that the mattress protector isn't always washed as often as the rest of the bedding. The sheets are stripped off and the duvet cover and pillowcases are put in the washing basket but often the mattress protector is left behind. This could be that people see it as being related to the mattress instead of to the rest of the bedding or it could be that they don't know if it can be washed or how it can be washed.
First of all lets cover the issue of whether it should be washed. That mattress protector is essentially a barrier between you and the mattress. It stops moisture, liquids, perspiration and other bodily fluids from passing through to the mattress. It's upper surface should be doing a great job of soaking all of this up, and the waterproof backing stops it from damaging your mattress. This means that over time that upper surface becomes home to bacteria, mould and fungus. Therefore it has to be washed, and preferably as often as the rest of your bedding.
This then brings us to the next question, which is at what temperature should a waterproof mattress protector be washed at? To answer this we need to go back to the previous paragraph. The protector is now potentially teeming with all sorts of unpleasant things. To completely eradicate these you need to wash it at as high a temperature as possible. 90°c would be ideal, 60°c would be good. Anything less than 60°c won't be enough to throughly destroy any bacteria present.
Before washing it you need to check the manufacturers recommended washing temperature. This will usually be found on a label attached to a seam on the underside. The maximum washing temperature will be printed on the label. If it says 40°c then you are out of luck. It can't be washed at a high enough temperature to clean it thoroughly, and if you tried to, it would probably fall apart.
Unfortunately the majority of mattress protectors currently available have a maximum washing temperature of just 40°c and to be honest these should be avoided completely. Virtually every mattress protector that has a quilted upper surface can only be washed at low temperatures, otherwise the fibres inside are destroyed by the heat.
If your mattress protector label says that it can be washed at 60°c or even better at 90°c then you can be sure of getting it thoroughly and hygienically clean.
The other benefit of a higher temperature wash is that you don't need to be over doing it with any unneccesary chemical additions to the wash. A simple ordinary washing liquid is sufficient at these temperatures and no conditioner is neccesary either. You can wash the protector along with any other bedding or towels as long as they can take the same high temperatures. As far as the length of wash, this depends on your washing machine but at these temperatures a 1 hour cycle is sufficient.
After the wash has finished you need to dry it. A mattress protector with a waterproof backing will always take longer to dry than a fitted sheet of the same size. This is because it can effectively only dry from one side rather than from both sides.
You can drip dry them from a washing line, just be careful that any pegs that you use to hold it in place don't damage the waterproof membrane, so always hang it with the waterproof side against the line and your pegs against the upper surface.
You can tumble dry a waterproof mattress protector but you just have to do it with care. First of use a low to medium heat setting. It will take slightly longer to dry but it is worth it. It isn't so much the heat that is generated during the drying cycle that is the problem it is what happens when the dryer stops. The drum inside a tumble dryer becomes very hot. As the protector tumbles around inside this is okay as different parts come into contact with the drum and then only briefly. Any potential problems would occur once the drum stops and the protector rests against it. The hot metal of the drum could cause the waterproof membrane to melt if it sits on it for any length of time. For this reason, as soon as the door unlocks, you should take the protector out and fold it for use later or place it back on the mattress where it can continue to protect.
So there you have it. You now know how to wash and dry a waterproof mattress protector.
To see our 90°c waterproof mattress protectors click on one of the following links