Mattress safeguards–To comfort and protect

Mattress protectors and encasements allow users to sleep easy, knowing their bed is free from allergens, pests and potential spills

(NOTE: Scroll down for product slideshow. All prices are suggested retail for queen size unless otherwise noted.)

Once a product intended primarily to shield a mattress from stains and spills and help maintain the manufacturer’s warranty, today’s mattress protectors—and their cousin the encasement—also help create a healthy, comfortable sleeping environment through performance fabrics and by eliminating allergens and pests.

“One of the things I’m focused on is making sure a person gets as much good sleep—as measured by quantity and quality—as possible,” says Gary Goldberg, founder and chief executive officer of CleanBrands, a protection supplier based in Warwick, Rhode Island. “Our emphasis is on clean, comfortable sleep and getting rid of airborne toxins and other irritants that disrupt your sleep and leave you feeling not rested.”

CleanBrands started with mattress and box spring encasements in 2006, later adding mattress and pillow protectors under its CleanRest brand. The company’s MicronOne fabric technology blocks toxins and pests—including dust mites, mold spores, pollen, pet dander and bedbugs—larger than 1 micron. Its Zip-N-Click closure system for encasements and pillow protectors offers added security. CleanBrands unveiled an expanded line of products at the Las Vegas Market in January.

WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT
Mattress protector versus mattress encasement
Protector: Typically five-sided with elastic around the opening like a fitted bottom sheet. The top panel (and, in some cases, all five sides) contains waterproofing material. Generally protects against stains, spills, moisture, mold and mildew. Typically unfilled and unquilted so that it does not alter the feel of the mattress.
Encasement: A six-sided protector that encases the entire mattress or box spring. Often includes a fortified zipper to contain allergens, dust mites and other irritants inside the mattress or box spring, while keeping new pests and particulates from entering. Generally protects against stains, spills, moisture, mold, mildew, dust mites, bedbugs, bacteria and other allergens.

When creating marketing materials and displays for retailers, PureCare talks about allergens and uses phrases like “health and wellness center.”

“People don’t really know about ‘protectors,’ but 60 million Americans suffer from allergies and want to create a healthy sleeping environment,” says Sean Bergman, chief marketing officer for the Fairfield, New Jersey-based company, which entered the category in 2004. “All our protectors are dust mite-proof, allergen-proof and treated with silver. Our consumer research shows that performance is a want, but wellness is a need. In the end, the consumer purchasing these items is a woman seeking a healthy sleep environment for her and her family.”

Suppliers increasingly offer protection products with fabrics and technologies that make cleaning easier, help with temperature regulation or provide other benefits.

Protect-A-Bed, a company that got its start in South Africa and now sells in 49 countries, offers an array of mattress, pillow and box-spring protectors, with opening price points at $39.99 for a basic queen-size protector. Some of its most successful products incorporate more luxurious fabrics and performance fibers, including its Luxury Mattress Protector, which includes Tencel, and its new line of REM-Fit performance protectors aimed toward younger consumers with active lifestyles.

“REM-Fit includes Series 100, 200, 300 and 400, which is a step-up system based on fabrics,” says James Bell, chief executive officer of the Wheeling, Illinois-based company. Related REM-Fit sleep accessories include pillows and an electronic sleep and activity-tracking device introduced in January in Las Vegas.

Leggett & Platt Consumer Products Group entered the protector category after it acquired Southern Textiles in 2000 and started offering encasements under the Invisicase brand in 2008. Its protector line includes the MicroPlush with an extra-soft, micro-velour top and the Clean Shield, which has a disinfectable surface. At the Las Vegas Market in January, the company rolled out its Crystal Blue Fusion mattress protector.

“It meets the needs of consumers’ request for a cooler sleep environment,” says Rob O’Neill, vice president of product development and merchandising for textiles. “It has all the attributes of our other protectors—stain-proof, waterproof, etc.—but has cooling gel fibers and a textured surface that create a cooling effect and improve air flow.” It retails for $99.

Consumers sometimes confuse protectors and encasements with mattress pads, which typically include a fiber or foam fill and alter the feel of the mattress.

“One thing we’re focused on is high-end knit protectors made specifically for foam mattresses,” says Jeff Chilton, president of sales and marketing for Soft-Tex International, which has headquarters in Waterford, New York. “We use fabric without any fill. We market it for all beds, but it’s really well-suited for foam. You don’t want a protector to take away the reason you bought the mattress in the first place—the great feel.”

The popularity of higher-priced specialty bedding, in general, has helped boost sales of protection products, Chilton says. Consumers spending $2,000, $3,000 or more for a mattress set are keenly interested in protecting that investment. The 29-year-old company began offering protection products in 2010 and has a full array under its Sensorpedic brand.

(Note: Scroll down for mattress protection slideshow.)

Though often made of similar materials, protectors and encasements meet the needs of different customers, say suppliers of the products.

“With protectors, especially in opening price points, we really focus on the fact that they will help maintain your mattress warranty, as well as the health benefits of keeping the mattress clean,” says Mike Douglas, general manager of Malouf, based in Logan, Utah. “With encasements, we focus on the protection against bedbugs, and the encasement aspects that really protect a high-end mattress.”

Malouf offers an array of sleep accessories, with about 40% of its customers ordering protection products. At the Las Vegas Market in January, the company introduced Seal Tite—thick, sealable mattress bags for retailers to use in mattress pickup and delivery.

Suppliers of protectors and encasements have a wealth of channels available to them for selling. In addition to specialty sleep shops, furniture and department stores, big boxes and discounters, many companies also do a good business in the hospitality sector, which has a powerful interest in protecting its heavily used mattresses, and in partnerships with pest controllers. Private labeling, especially with mattress makers, is a big part of many companies’ revenue streams.

Cadence Keen Innovations entered the protection category about seven years ago and does a strong business in the hospitality sector, as well as with traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, catalogs and online sellers, and sells in more than 70 countries.

“We’re the standard for Holland America, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, MGM, etc., and are in almost every major hotel brand,” says Steven Gordon, president of the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based company. “We design everything for the rigorous standards of hospitality and the cruise industry—and then retail consumers get the benefit of that quality and durability. We are constantly innovating and adding new features.”

GBS Enterprises in Sutton, Nebraska, started offering mattress protectors and encasements in 2003 and now markets them under its Healthy Sleep brand. Opening the line is a premium protector called Healthy Sleep Supreme, which has a “unique interlock weave structure” and breathable polyurethane backing ($79 to $99). The opening line tops out with the Healthy Sleep Allergy Premium Plus six-sided encasement, which uses the same premium fabric and lab-tested breathable laminate barrier and adds Bug Guard patented closure protection ($129 to $149).

“It’s become a very competitive business,” says Dave Powers, president of the company, which also offers furniture-protection services under the Protect-All brand. “You’ve got to be cutting edge and have something new ongoing to be a leader. Mattresses are changing in terms of technologies and components every year, and protectors have to evolve, too. You’ve got to be creative and cost-efficient.”

Players in Mattress Protection

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Cadence Keen Innovations (CKI Solutions)

Headquarters Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Founded 1996 by Sam Montross. Originally called China Horse Inc.

Ownership Family owned

Other products Bed doublers (including the Twin Doubler, which converts two twin beds into a king), Bed MadeEZ (a mattress lifter), mattress toppers

Notable The company is certified by the National Women Business Owners Corp. as a woman-owned business.

Web www.ckisolutions.us

CleanBrands

Headquarters Warwick, Rhode Island

Founded 2006 by Gary Goldberg

Ownership Family owned

Other products Recently added pillows

Notable Gary Goldberg, a textile scientist, founded the company to create products that would help his son, who had breathing and sleeping difficulties.

Web www.cleanbrands.com

GBS Enterprises

Headquarters Sutton, Nebraska

Founded 1988 as a producer of specialty sheets for the trucking industry. Originally called Genie B’s Specialties

Ownership Privately held

Other products Sheets, pillows, bed packs

Notable In 1991, the company began servicing conventional mattress retailers and furniture stores with sheet and bed packs as premium giveaways and “purchase with purchase” items for premium mattress sale promotions.

Web www.gbsent.com

Leggett & Platt Consumer Products Group (Home Textiles division)

Headquarters Carthage, Missouri

Founded Parent company founded in 1883

Ownership Part of publicly held Leggett & Platt Inc.

Other products Pillows, sheets, comforters (Home Textiles division)

Notable L&P’s total annual sales in 2013 were $3.48 billion.

Web www.lpbedaccessories.com

Malouf

Headquarters Logan, Utah

Founded 2003 by husband-and-wife team Sam and Kacie Malouf. Originally called Malouf Fine Linens

Ownership Family owned

Other products Sheets, pillows, bed frames, mattress toppers

Notable The company supports a number of charitable and social causes, participating in breast and lung cancer awareness events, Bike to Work Day and more.

Web www.maloufsleep.com

Protect-A-Bed

Headquarters Wheeling, Illinois

Founded JAB Distributors was founded in 1980. Its Protect-A-Bed brand was launched in the United States in 2000.

Ownership Privately held

Other products Pillows, mattress/pillow disposal bags

Notable The company’s original product was a Snugfit mattress protector developed and introduced in South Africa. Protect-A-Bed credits itself with introducing the modern protector concept in the United States.

Web www.protectabed.com

PureCare

Headquarters Fairfield, New Jersey

Founded 2001 by Sam Chase. Originally called Fabrictech 2000

Ownership Privately held

Other products Pillows, sheets, aromatherapy

Notable The company rebranded itself as PureCare in early 2014, broadening its focus from mattress and pillow protection to health and wellness products for the bedroom.

Web www.purecare.com

Soft-Tex International

Headquarters Waterford, New York

Founded 1985 by Art and Kirby Perry as a “filling station,” filling pillows and other fiber products, mostly for the hospitality industry

Ownership Closely held with equity investment

Other products Mattresses, pillows, mattress toppers

Notable Soft-Tex opened a new showroom in Las Vegas in January.

Web www.soft-tex.com

Mattress protector and encasement slideshow

(Note: Click individual slides for larger photo view.)