How to Use a Mattress Topper Properly: Complete Guide and Tips

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Written by: Alex Savy
Read 11 minLast updated on November 7, 2022

Getting a mattress topper for the first time can be accompanied by plenty of questions

After all, sleepers need to use their new bedroom accessory correctly to get the most out of it.

So, today’s guide will teach readers how to use a mattress topper to unlock its full potential and feel the most comfortable during the night.

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Mattress Toppers vs. Mattress Pads Explained

Before learning how to use a mattress topper, readers might want to figure out exactly what they are dealing with. 

Mattress toppers serve to improve one’s comfort by changing the feel of their mattress. Toppers range in thickness between 1 and 4 inches. They come in a variety of materials, including memory foam, latex, and wool. Also, there are different mattress toppers designed specifically for heavy people (learn more here), for hip pain sufferers (check this guide), and people with other needs and/or preferences. 

By pairing a topper with an old or uncomfortable mattress, users can enhance their experience. For example, a firmer mattress topper can deliver improved support and may aid proper spinal alignment. And pairing a firm mattress with a soft topper can help sleepers take care of their sharp pressure points and protruding body parts.

Now, mattress toppers are often confused with pads. The thing is, their initial purposes are quite similar: both serve to make sleepers feel more comfortable. However, mattress pads are usually thinner and, thus, can’t alter the feel of one’s mattress significantly (1). Therefore, this bedroom accessory is somewhat limited when it comes to improving one’s comfort.

Mattress pads typically use down, feathers, fiberfill, and cotton for the filling. It’s also possible to find wool and foam models. They are also often used as mattress protectors, even though most pads are not waterproof.

Mattress Toppers vs. Mattress Protectors

As the name suggests, mattress protectors serve to keep the mattress clean and fresh. Most mattress protectors are waterproof, so they don’t let any liquids through. This bedroom accessory is typically thin. Therefore, mattress protectors can’t affect one’s comfort. 

That being said, many of them make a crinkly noise (courtesy of the waterproof lining). This sound may annoy some users, especially light sleepers.

Now, naturally, a mattress topper can also protect one’s mattress from accidental spills, dust, and other stuff. However, in this case, a topper would wear out pretty fast. And given the fact that this accessory is not typically cheap, it might be a good idea to avoid using it as a protective layer over one’s mattress.

How to Put a Mattress Topper On

Put a Mattress Topper On

The process of getting a new mattress topper may seem pretty straightforward. That being said, it is crucial to put a mattress topper on correctly to enjoy the maximum comfort levels. Here are the main steps:

  • Unpacking the topper and allowing it to expand fully. Many foam and latex mattress toppers are shipped compressed in a box for improved convenience. Therefore, when unpacking one at home, it is important to give it some time to take its natural shape. Users need to unroll the topper and leave it be for a few hours until it expands fully (including the areas near the corners);
  • Positioning the topper over the mattress. It’s better to remove the sheets and the mattress protector, placing the topper directly over the mattress. Naturally, users need to make sure that the topper is centered and doesn’t hang over the edges;
  • Adding the accessories. After placing the topper over the mattress, users can add a mattress protector. The next step would be placing the fitted sheet on top. Using a fitted sheet can help secure the topper in place if it doesn’t have any straps. Otherwise, a flat sheet would do.

Also Read: Best-rated mattress topper for stomach sleepers

How to Use a Mattress Topper

Unpacking and installing is only the first step of the process.

Next, sleepers need to learn how to use a mattress topper properly, which means enjoying the highest comfort levels. And preventing the topper from sliding off is one of the biggest parts of that process.

Now, a mattress topper might shift during the night due to a couple of reasons:

  • active sleepers tossing and turning on top;
  • smooth mattress cover that doesn’t provide enough friction;
  • no headboard or footboard to create a barrier for the topper.

Whatever the case is, here are a few tricks sleepers might want to try to keep their mattress topper in place:

  • using a tight fitted sheet that would make the topper sit snugly on top of the mattress;
  • using sheet suspenders or special straps that could turn even a flat sheet into a fitted one;
  • adding a cotton sheet between the mattress and the topper (preferably fitted) to create more friction;
  • stitching Velcro strips along the edges of the topper and the mattress to make them “stick” together;
  • adding a non-slip mat between the mattress and the topper;
  • pinning the topper and the mattress together using safety pins (this would work only if the mattress topper comes with the cover, since users shouldn’t pin the topper material itself);
  • taping the edges of the topper to the mattress using duct tape (it’s not the most attractive option, but it will do the trick).

Do You Put a Mattress Pad Over a Memory Foam Topper?

When making their bed, many users don’t know whether they should put a mattress pad over a memory foam topper or not.

Here’s the deal, though: there are no rules that would prevent sleepers from doing that. However, a mattress topper is enough to change one’s comfort level in many cases, so adding a pad is not a necessity.

memory foam shape the sleeper

Additionally, memory foam serves to adjust to the shape of the sleeper, thus delivering tension alleviation. Placing a mattress pad on top of a foam topper could compromise the pressure-relieving properties of the latter. For instance, this might be an issue when it comes to mattress toppers designed for side sleepers that require a deeper hug.

At the same time, adding a pad underneath a topper wouldn’t really change the way one’s sleeping surface feels. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that combining a mattress pad with a memory foam topper doesn’t seem to be an effective solution.

Of course, if the pad uses memory foam too, it can offer more adaptive cradling. But in most cases, users have to deal with cotton, down, or fiberfill. In this scenario, a mattress pad would offer additional cushioning, but it will mitigate the enveloping properties of the memory foam topper underneath. So, it’s up to every sleeper to decide which feel they are trying to achieve by combining these two bedroom accessories.

Do You Put a Fitted Sheet Over a Mattress Topper?

Yes, sleepers need to put a fitted sheet over a mattress topper and not the other way around. The thing is, placing the topper on top of the bedding and sleeping directly on it could potentially reduce the topper’s lifespan. More traction, dust build-up, stains, etc., could cause the mattress topper to wear out faster. In this case, a fitted sheet would work as a barrier, protecting the topper and keeping it cleaner.

Does a Mattress Topper Go Under the Mattress Pad?

As mentioned above, the answer to this question would depend on what sleepers are trying to achieve. When a mattress topper goes under the mattress pad, it can’t perform to its fullest. For instance, a memory foam topper wouldn’t cradle one’s body that well when there’s a pad on top. A latex mattress topper won’t feel that adaptive when placed under a mattress pad, either. So, suppose users want effective tension alleviation and close conforming. In that case, they might want to sleep on the mattress topper and not the pad.

This could be especially important when talking about back pain. A conforming topper could help redistribute the pressure evenly, allowing the pain levels to drop. Readers can learn more about the way mattress toppers for back pain work here, but they also need to remember that a mattress pad won’t be likely to have the same effect. Therefore, when it comes to back issues, a mattress pad shouldn’t go over the topper.

That being said, placing a topper under the pad would offer additional padding. This would work for someone who simply wants extra cradling without taking advantage of the conforming mattress topper.

Do You Put a Mattress Pad Over a Mattress Protector?

Deciding to put a mattress pad over a mattress protector would mean that the pad remains exposed to moisture, dust, and other stuff that may affect its look and lifespan. So, ideally, it’s better to place a mattress protector over the pad.

Nonetheless, some users might need their mattress pad to remain on top. This could apply to those who require gentle padding for their joints or protruding body parts and have an extra-thick mattress pad. In this case, hiding the pad under the mattress protector could make one’s bed feel less cradling and, consequently, less comfortable.

So, the final choice would depend on each user and their current needs. Those who want to enjoy their plush mattress pad closer can place it over the mattress protector (thus, only keeping the mattress safe from dust and stains). It would be a better idea for other users to leave the mattress protector on top of the pad. This would help them extend the life of the mattress pad and keep their sleeping environment fresh and clean.


Where should a mattress topper be placed?

A mattress topper should be placed over the mattress, under the mattress protector (optional) and the sheets.

Do the bumps on an egg-crate mattress topper go up or down?

An egg-crate mattress topper should be placed with the bumps pointing up.

Do you put a mattress pad over a memory foam topper?

Theoretically, sleepers can use a mattress pad on top of a foam topper. Still, in this case, the sleeper won’t enjoy the memory foam cradling to the fullest.


Using a mattress topper does involve a couple of rules. Luckily, they are very simple to follow. And by handling them, users can improve their comfort and sleep fast and without making much effort. How cool is that?

What kind of mattress topper do you have? Have you had any issues using it in the past? Let us know in the comments!


  1. Sanchita Sen (May 22, 2021). Mattress Pad vs. Topper: What’s the Difference? Retrieved from

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