The terms mattress pad, mattress topper and mattress protector are often used interchangeably in spite of the fact that the purpose and construction of each article is decidedly different. The mattress protector, a thin quilted covering most often made of cotton, protects your mattress from bodily fluids and prolongs mattress life. Elasticated sides hold the breathable protector in place. The slightly thicker mattress pad adds comfort without thickness. The much thicker mattress topper provides an extra layer of softness.
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A lambswool mattress pad placed between your mattress protector and fitted sheet adds softness to your mattress without adding undue bulk. Some lambswool pads are combined with alpaca -- the wool of the llama -- because alpaca alone, although incredibly soft, would compress and matt down too easily. Wool mattress pads are dust mite and mould resistant because wool wicks moisture away from the body and dries quickly. Mold and mites prefer a moist environment. Wool pads keep you cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
Foam Mattress Toppers
Foam mattress toppers are constructed of either latex core with wool and cotton covering or of solid memory foam. The latex core type are either 3.5 or 5 inches thick and can weigh about 31.8kg. Memory foam is lighter but does not have the breathability that a wool and cotton covering provides. Unpleasant offgassing, a strong chemical odour, can occur with some cheaper memory foam products whether they be open egg-crate design or solid foam construction.
Down or Feather Mattress Toppers
Natural down or feather toppers provide the wicking and insulating action of wool without the weight. Most are made with feathers and down from geese or ducks and surrounded by a cotton covering. Individuals who are allergic to feathers or the chemicals off-gassed by memory foam should consider the latex core topper with wool and cotton covering to avoid unpleasant reactions. Feathers and down tend to compact easily, but the extra thickness of the topper helps to alleviate compression concerns.
Synthetic Mattress Toppers
Mattress toppers with synthetic fibre fill are the least expensive option but, as in most purchases, you get what you pay for. Compression is a problem with synthetic mattress toppers and a lumpy, irregular surface occurs easily. Allergens and dust mites are also much more likely to proliferate in a synthetic topper because synthetics lack the wicking ability and insulating action present in natural materials such as cotton and wool.
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