/ Home & Energy

Mattress toppers: a cheaper way to a good night’s sleep?

How long have you been sleeping on your mattress? Need a new one but don’t want to fork out a lot of cash? There may be cheaper solution…

According to our survey of 4,169 Which? members in April 2018, over a fifth still sleep on a mattress that is more than 10 years old.

Not only is this potentially unhygienic, but could also mean that your mattress isn’t supporting you as well as it did when new.

But a new mattress will cost at least a few hundred pounds.

Bedding bargain

For those that aren’t able to buy a new mattress, are on a tight budget, or are simply looking to give their old one a new lease of life, a mattress topper could be the solution. They often range anywhere between about £30, all the way up to £200.

And they appear to do the job: more than three in four agreed that a mattress topper made their mattress much more comfortable.

Opting for a topper instead of going for a whole new mattress can also help not add to the widespread landfill issue with mattresses in the UK.

But it’s important to note that, while a topper can add a level of protection and comfort to an old mattress, there is little evidence that they add to the support your mattress offers.

Millennial mattresses

With a rented, furnished property, it is highly likely that the mattress will be part of the property’s inventory – i.e. what is included as part of the rent, like washing machine, sofas, wardrobes.

So when you move out, the same old mattress needs to still be there. Otherwise you won’t be getting all your deposit back.

But this means you can’t realistically buy a new mattress; firstly as they are so big, where would you store the old one? And secondly, when you move, it’ll be very difficult to move the new one to your new place.

You could go down the route of asking your landlord to replace the mattress, but this itself could be a long, arduous and eventually unfruitful journey.

Foam alone

I recently moved into a new rented flat. But knowing how bad a mattress can be in rented accommodation (based on my student days), this time I came prepared.

Moving in day comes and I am equipped with a vacuum, baking soda and memory foam mattress topper.

I follow the Which? guide on how to clean your mattress and give the old and cheap spring mattress a deep clean – as god knows what it has seen.

My mattress topper then turns the firm and uncomfortable surface into a soft and snuggly bed – somewhere I can really rest my head.

Tip top

I go for memory foam, as I like the ‘bounce back’ feel, and don’t want to have to fluff my topper up every week or so, like is recommended with a down or microfibre topper.

If you’re not sure what type of topper you’ll like best, read our guide on choosing the best type of mattress topper.

Do you use a mattress topper — and if so, what kind? And how long do you think you can keep a mattress for?


I have a mattress topper that I bought for exactly the reason you highlighted, Aaron: ‘inheriting’ a mattress in a shared house and wanting something extra on top to separate me from it. Mine’s a duck feather one: it’s pretty good for keeping cool in summer and warm in winter, but it can get a bit lumpy.

I bought your best buy M&S topper when you last tested them. I have slept like a baby ever since!

Lessismore says:
12 November 2018

I have a mattress topper which is fleecy on one side and plain cotton on the other. In winter it is fleecy side up and in summer cotton side up. I really don’t know why it took me so long to come across them but probably because the ones I initially saw were feathers and expensive.

I was brought up having a cotton mattress cover and an underblanket under the bottom sheet. I’ve lived with various other mattress protectors and most except the most uncomfortable rubber/plastic ones don’t do much protecting. I’m allergic to dust and feathers and woollen blankets which all make me itch and sneeze. So a mattress topper that I can put in the washing machine is ideal. I’ve yet to try out my Guppyfriend – I’m still choosing a new washing machine – and presume it won’t be big enough to get the topper into but if it proves to be that will be truly wonderful. It is also good to be able to vacuum the mattress with a hand-held vacuum – but I do wish the buttons wouldn’t get sucked off. I find it difficult turning a mattress as you should do.

I think that every mattress should come with some protection ie some sort of cover and then we wouldn’t get so many mattresses discarded in the street because of accidents and marking – of many different kinds but all considered unsavoury by a new user. A topper you can easily wash is ideal – only you will need a replacement of some kind while it is being washed.

I bought a memory foam one a few months back from Ikea and have to say it’s made a noticeable difference – would definitely recommend it to anyone. The mattress itself is good as well (it is indeed a Best Buy!)

We had a memory foam mattress on a spare bed and slept on it a few times but did not find it comfortable [too rigid]. We then put a John Lewis mattress topper on top and it made all the difference in the world. Very comfortable and a perfect night’s sleep. Obviously, it cancels out the body-conforming properties of the memory foam. That particular memory foam mattress turned out to be a false economy. Now, if any guests prefer a firm mattress it is easy just to whip off the topper and et voilà!

My mattress is about two and a half years old and has a quilted mattress protector, which I wash regularly.

I would not want a memory foam topper because they are far too warm for my liking.

Dorothy Scott says:
17 November 2018

I have found using old duvets as mattress toppers works well especially for those needing a firm base but soft surface. They are easily washable.

Good tip, Dorothy – thanks for sharing.

I bought an Ikea Morgedal mattress around 3 months ago, the firm variety because I have lower back problems. It is much better for my lower back than my old mattress, but to start with I had upper back problems (!) because my pillow was too soft. Changing pillows has solved that.

I haven’t got used to the mattress being so hard, however, so on Saturday we bought an Ikea memory foam mattress topper to see if it helps. We haven’t tried it yet (you need to leave it to settle for 72 hours before using it), but my hopes are up.

Before that I have tried a duvet on its own, plus now a Silent Night Airmax Mattress Topper to make the bed feel more comfortable, but it hasn’t worked. (Maybe I’m really a princess, because I can still feel the pea. 🙂 )

One thing to note is that the display mattress in the shop is much less firm than the one I’ve got at home. I was told that it has been on display for 6 months now. Being tried by hundreds of folks makes a difference, so be prepared for what you get to be much firmer than expected for quite a while.

All this talk about mattress toppers and soft mattresses. Tch. In our ‘ouse all I ‘ad when we was growing up was some old paving slabs me dad ‘ad bought second ‘and from the fishmnger’s down the street. For a pillow we used the cat, if me ma ‘ad finished mopping the pantry with it. And after all that I ‘ad to get up in the morning at ten o’clock at night, ‘alf an hour before I went to bed, drink a cup of sulphuric acid, work twenty-nine hours a day down t’mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got ‘ome, our Dad and ma would kill us, and dance about on our graves singing ‘Hallelujah.’

And you talk about mattress toppers…

Luxury! We used to dream of sleeping on old paving slabs…

Ey! And where there’s muck there’s brass 🙂

We’ve been using a pocket sprung mattress for over 20 years. It was quite an expensive one in its day but we had looked after it by turning regularly (top to bottom & left to right) nonetheless it had begun to sag. I started to research a replacement mattress when I saw an advert in Lidl for a memory foam topper for £40, so thinking it may be worth a punt we tried it out. By and large it has been a success, evening out some of the sagging and giving a more comfortable nights sleep. However we generally sleep well so we’re somewhat concerned that buying a new mattress may not give us any better sleep. One thing we found that with the extra depth of the topper on the mattress you do need a fitted sheet that has an extra deep sidewall so that it will secure properly underneath the mattress and retain the sheet taut across the bed.

Chris says:
27 May 2019

Some might say that I am a mattress obsessive having bought 5 in the last 4 years……..

I started this obsession actually by reading Which and was quickly convinced that the only way to go was Memory Foam, However, after all those mattresses I am now back on a conventional 1200 sprung one that is no longer waking me up with overheating.

I spend an awful lot of my time (due to work) in Hotel beds and have come to actually love a certain mattress which a Hotel chain use in every room, I am about to change yet again to one of these.

Mattress toppers are actually really good if you are using a memory foam base, and they certainly help alleviate the overheating side of things, I have used one that is 40mm thick micro fibre and am currently on one that is pure wool fleece (it’s great).

kind regards,