Mattress cover fabrics

There are a number of fabric choices and brands that you will encounter during your journey to find your new mattress. Materials ranging from heat-reducing to space age infrared materials claiming to disperse heat elsewhere.  This is in part due to the issue that some people find memory foam gets warm during the night. 

Mattress fabrics john ryanThere will be a big push to pay extra for branded materials to try and reduce this heat issue such as Coolmax and Outlast fabrics.  What we aim to do is give you more detail about the role of fabrics in mattress covers so you can decide whether paying extra really is worth it.

Mattress covers serve two main purposes

1.  Comfort 

The cover is used as a comfort layer to prevent a sleeper from sleeping directly on top of the foam.  Memory foam mattresses usually have a zip on cover that can be removed, unlike traditional pocket sprung mattresses that have a permanent cover which houses the fillings, spring units, and toppings.  If you didn’t have the cover you would be sleeping directly on top of the foam which has a somewhat rubbery feel to it, like using a foam cushion without a cover on a sofa would feel slightly odd.  The cover helps give the mattress a soft and smooth feel.

2.  Protection

They are there to protect the mattress from wear, tear, perspiration, stains and other marks.   The fabric cover directly takes the strain that a sleeper may throw at it and not the surface of the foam itself.  We must stress though that this protection is the last form of defence; ideally, a mattress protector on top of your topper should be used to prevent damage to the mattress and topper.   Given that mattress protection is not the fabrics primary purpose we would recommend you focus your criteria on the comfort factor.

GSM & Fabric Types

The depth and grams per square meter (GSM) of the fabric will enable you to assess its quality and density.  Opting for a higher GSM fabric usually results in a thicker and higher quality fabric than a lower GSM count.  Quite simply there is more of the fabrics material in each square meter the higher the GSM.  Lower GSMs such as 100g will soon flatten and will soon stop providing that additional comfort layer.  100g more often than not feels thin and is slightly transparent.  So when out looking at mattresses in retail stores a quick unzip of the mattress cover will enable you to feel the depth and quality.  You can always ask the store though most of the time they probably won’t even know the GSM!

Whilst mattress covers can come in a whole range of materials from cotton, cashmere, Latex and wool, the majority of Memory foam covers are polyester based.  Now you may wonder why such a simple synthetic fibre is used so let us review the properties of polyester.

Polyester does have a number of benefits:

  • Incredibly durable and strong
  • Can be dry cleaned and machine washed at high temperatures without shrinking or warping.
  • Quick drying and moisture repelling
  • Returns to its original shape very quickly

Are natural fibres 100% natural?  Natural fibers are usually the preferred choice in the mattress industry and a high quality mattress can often be seen to contain high GSM natural components.  That said a number of stretch natural fibres only contain a mere 4% natural fibre with the majority still being polyester.

In traditional mattresses, natural materials are always preferable because the construction method of traditional mattresses relies on these fillings to form part of the core mattress.  They form layers above the pocket springs and help keep the mattress plush, breathable and keep its shape.

Is the natural fabric really fully natural?

A number of retailers will claim that covers are cotton or cashmere, but upon further inspection looking at the breakdown of the fabric, there is only a tiny proportion of these natural fibres in the mix. In reality, you’re buying a synthetic polyester-based fabric that contains some elements of cotton, cashmere or such.  Sometimes this is as low as 4% or 6%.   Confusing huh?! There’s more on upholstery here.

Heat-reduction fabrics

Whilst Outlast and Coolmax are a high wicking fabric which can help remove some of the heat issues in memory foam.  We have already discussed the heat issue and how we recommend varying the tog of your duvet or alternatively choosing a hybrid foam instead of memory foam.  We think this is a more practical solution than using mattress fabrics to try and remove heat issues.  You also need to consider that if you are following the correct mattress maintenance and care you will already have a topper, protector and bedding on top of your mattress.  So ask yourself how a mattress fabric cover is going to benefit you if you have a number of other materials sitting on top of it?  Is it worth the extra cost for heat-reduction benefits if it’s buried under other layers?

What mattress cover fabric does John Ryan By Design use?

We have listened to your feedback and are moving to a white 400gsm natural cotton stretch fabric for our foam range. This fabric is also quilted to provide you with a quality cover.  This fabric increases comfort and prevents the material from flattening as quickly as the lower GSM materials.  The quilted material feels slightly padded adding to the comfort factor.  The cotton blend is 40% organic cotton blended to make a stretch fabric and has a matte finish.  Our Artisan range uses a white viscose damask which has our insignia stitched into it.  The Origins range uses a number of different finishes all which can be found in their product listings.


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Our recommendation:

What we believe that you would be better off putting your money into other components of the mattress or high-quality bed linen rather than an ineffective mattress cover. Need more help or a tailored mattress recommendation? Get in touch with our small team of mattress experts on 0161 437 4419.