Incontinence pads saved my new mattress from messy sex

Updated May 7 2020
The New Bed
The brand new mattress back in 2008. IT STILL LOOKS LIKE THIS!

A couple years ago, high on a tax refund, I invested in our first ever brand-spanking-new mattress. For ten years, I'd slept on a series of secondhand mattresses and sagging futons, but we were finally moving on up in the world with a NEW MATTRESS!

When we set up the bed, I realized I was terrified. The mattress was SO WHITE, and I desperately wanted it to stay that way.

Ten years of sleeping on mattresses stained with other people's bodily fluids had done me in. I became obsessed with keeping the mattress clean and was constantly pulling out towels to lay on the bed during, uh, intimate moments.

"…JUST IN CASE!" I would say. And then the unthinkable happened: a particularly messy encounter soaked all the way through a towel. (Without getting into it, we'll just say these things can happen.)

Seven bucks for a clean mattress forevar.

After spending an hour scrubbing out the top of the mattress (a serious waste of after-glow), I decided I needed to get serious.

What could I use to better protect it?

A full plastic/rubber mattress cover felt like overkill — 99% of the time, we just didn't need it. What I needed was like a towel that couldn't get soaked through.

What I needed was an incontinence bed pad. Wait, really? I was going to buy hospital-grade incontinence products for my bedroom?

The answer was yes. In fact, I bought a four-pack. I call them "special mats" and they live folded up next to the bed, to be pulled out and quickly slapped down on top of the fitted sheet when needed.

The mats are soft and quilted (the waterproof plastic lining is encased in cloth), so they're comfortable and not at all like the dreaded "rubber sheets."

While it's sort of odd to have medical incontinence supplies next to the bed, I am proud to say that three years later, the mattress is still completely unstained.

I'm extra proud of that accomplishment considering we co-slept with a spitting up baby for six months… special mats are good for all sorts of bodily fluids!

  1. "These things can happen."
    ROTFLMFAO!!!!!! I am so glad there is a place where people are not afraid to address these real life issues. >:D

  2. Brilliant! We considered purchasing a certain adult-store product for this very purpose, but your "special pads" cost a fraction of the previous contender's price. Thanks for the tip!

      • Just checked out these two options myself and can keep myself in "incontinence pads" for years vs. the price of one "sex throw" which got pretty mixed reviews.

  3. You are a genius! Most of the time we don't need any such thing, occasionally the towel I keep by the bed is needed. However, I once soaked through my "sex towel", my quilt, both sheets, and the mattress pad.

  4. Oh thank you, thank you! I've been thinking about getting one of these from Lunapads for this very reason. This is EVERY sexual encounter for us and it's become a joke when we put down the towel because we KNOW it's not going to be enough. I was skeptical though that this would be any different than a towel, so I'm very happy to know that it works! Thank you for being willing to post about this!

  5. I use a padded, fitted under-blanket (about an inch thick)that works really well too – no stains here either!! πŸ™‚

    And it makes the bed super comfy too!

  6. So, okay. Are they rustly, like lying on a plastic bag? Reusable? Stand up to a lot of…uhm… movement?
    I need something like this more than occasionally. I CAN NOT continue washing my sheets as often as I do (Oh, me.)

  7. You know you're on Offbeat Home when…

    That title was exactly the laugh I needed this evening! πŸ˜€

    Like princessjo1988 we have a fitted underblanket that sits between the matress and the sheet and seems to do the trick. My mother insisted on buying it for us, she said it was keeping 'dead skin' off the matress and having read this I am determindly believing that is all she thought of!

  8. PERFECT TIMING! This weekend, we're getting our first brand new bed set – frame, headboard, mattress and all! And I really seriously hated the idea of ruining it that night… now I can just get some of these things, and be perfectly worry-free.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you! And my soon-to-be mattress thanks you a million times as well.

  9. My only question is – who thinks about this while still half asleep, whether waking up in the morning, or falling asleep at night. The mattress would love you, but is there any option for something to just leave on it?

    • Bonds make a fitted mattress protector that is waterproof but not plastic-y at all We have one on our bed and one for the child, no leakage ever

  10. OMG I totally stole one of these from the hospital after my daughter was born. The ones they put under you so you don't ruin their sheets πŸ˜›
    I had to have it so we could do naked time with the baby and not get pee all over the place. Well she hated naked time so it rarely got used. I've been wondering why in the world I should keep it, and this seals it!

  11. OMG I totally stole one of these from the hospital after my daughter was born. The ones they put under you so you don't ruin their sheets πŸ˜›
    I had to have it so we could do naked time with the baby and not get pee all over the place. Well she hated naked time so it rarely got used. I've been wondering why in the world I should keep it, and this seals it!

  12. OH MY GOODNESS! I thought I was the only one who put down a towel!! It's just so… unromantic that it's never in the movies/tv shows I watch/books I read. I LOVE Offbeathome SO FREAKING MUCH!

    Seriously going to invest in these pads.

    • I thought so too! I even got made fun of by my PROFESSOR in a sociology class titled "Deviant Sexuality." Ugh. So what if making sure there's a towel within reach is part of my prepping for sexy time routine?! Sleeping under soaked blankets/sheets/mattress pad/whatever got wet is NOT sexy, or restful.

  13. After we bought our first grown up matress ie. one we couldn't afford, we went with the towels, until our oversized dog got in our bedroom and dug a hole in the matress 8 weeks after we got it! I've now given up on the idea of my perfect matress πŸ™

    • SERIOUSLY??!!! The dog DUG A HOLE in the mattress? I've never heard of a dog being that destructive – am so sorry your furbaby was so naughty. Mine has taken a tendency to regularly pooping on the carpet – always in the same place, and almost daily. Any ideas?

      • If I had to venture a guess, I'd say the lingering odor marks it as his "pooping spot". I've heard of this happening with cats and pee, so I'd imagine it can happen with dogs and poop as well. Assuming you've already cleaned it as well as you can (multiple times!), have you tried putting something in that spot that he wouldn't want to (or can't) poop on? Or something to mask the odor? Even if you can't smell it, he probably can. I don't know if they make a product to accomplish this, but Nature's Miracle is a great cleaner for this if you haven't tried it already.

        • No no no no. Don't put somehting over it. He will go next to/up against the object, no matter how large it is. What you need to do is get a grape fruit, take a huge chunk of pel, score(rought up the non-white side) it with a knife, then rub that shit into the spot he goes on. After it's clean and dried from his last…evacuation.

          I swear by this. It works. They hate the smell. As for tile, I just throw down bleach, let it sit for a few, then wipe it up.

  14. OMG I thought I was the only genius that thought of this! πŸ˜‰ We call it the "sexypad" though. We looked into the Liberator Throe and I was like 80$?! Are you freaking kidding me?!

    • You know what the liberator throe is? A few of those shamwow towels sewn together with a cover over them.

      That's what I did, just took the bigger shamwows, sewed them together, made a cover out of an old sheet. When I'm done with it, just throw it in the wash!

      • You use shamwows??? Amazing idea. What happens if you soak this and then put pressure on it — the liquid doesn't on the mattress?

        • Well I've never had a problem with them soaking thorough, but I'm pretty active…"sleeper". So if it gets wet I move to another part until we are done…sleeping..

  15. I use them as sheet savers in my baby boy's crib… sometimes a diaper just can't hold up for 8 hours and this way I don't have to fight his crib set to get the damn sheets off!

    • Thank you so much for this great idea – I will send some to my son and D-I-L for their upcoming baby (my first grandchild) – I love love LOVE new ideas for products! You guys rock!

  16. Wow that never to me. All my beds have been hand-me-downs from family, and they all line their bed with those plastic covers so it was never an issue.

    • Ha! Yeah, I figured that out a few months into my freshman year. It's definitely a good thing mine were plastic. πŸ˜‰

  17. lol!!

    Thankfully we have a waterproof mattress cover that isn't rubbery or even noticeable. It protects our ridiculously expensive mattress from messy sex and unexpected night time periods/leaks. It also saved the mattress from puppy pee the other day. And breastmilk leaks…and baby puke…wow…I am really thankful for this mattress pad.

  18. PURE GENIUS! thank you!!!!!!!!!!!! the towel thing was really getting old haha
    wish i would've thought about this when i was at the hospital so i could nab some πŸ™‚

  19. first of all, totally jealous on the "these things happen" part. i mean, i know they do, but i've only experienced it twice in 15 years!

    second, great idea! would be perfect for period time too.

  20. I just wanted to second the comment that said, "Thank goodness a website that deals with real life issues!"

  21. What about taking the "Special Mats" and sewing the edges together like one giant sheet and putting it over the mattress-under your fitted sheet! That way it is always there-can help when you are lying in bed with a glass of wine and accidentally spill and you don't have to interrupt hot sexy rip your clothes off moments! You can wash it like a sheet when you wash the rest of them!

  22. The incontinence pads are a great idea! We have a messy puppy to add, so we bought a Protect-A-Bed mattress protector from Mattress Firm and it works famously! Granted, after a particularly messy session (of either variety) we usually have to wash the sheets, but our mattress looks as awesome as the day we got it. πŸ™‚

  23. My dad sells mattresses. When husband and I bought our grown-up bed, he said we needed to get a mattress protector to pro-long the life of said mattress. It it would be a waste spending money on a proper one if it would get soiled from sweat, dead skin, oil, pet urine, kid urine, etc.

    I have the same "thing" as Ariel, and I'd always used towles (still do so I don't have to wash the sheets every day).

    The protector we have was under $50 (don't recall the exact amount), came from target, and is thin terri-cloth with a very thin, but sturdy rubber backing. I'm talking garbage bag thin.

    It doesn't crinkle, wrinkle, bunch up, I can't feel it at ALL and we have a completely stain free mattress for two years and running!

    • Ooh, that sounds perfect! If it's still available at Target, would you mind posting a link? πŸ™‚ Also the extra friction of terry under the bottom sheet seems like it might help with my boyfriend's tendency to pull it off the corner/side of the bed.

  24. You have NO IDEA….well actually I take that back, but anyway it makes me so happy to read this and again know I am not the only one. We got a new mattress at Christmas and my fiancees mom wanted to have our old one to use in her spare bedroom. Its been cleaned but some of those"love stains" are just there for good. We made sure to get a fitted sheet over it before anyone saw it. We have of course had alot of "fun" since then but have avoided the bed for this very reason am so gonig to get some of these now that I know they arent all plasticy

  25. Our bed comes on sat and I was so worried bout this, your web site has just come at the best time for me πŸ™‚ x

  26. And all this time I thought I was one of the rare "run-for-a-towel" ladies! I have some leftover puppy pads from toilet-training my cat (yes, it is possible and soooo convenient to toilet-train your cat!) that I realized I could put one under the fitted sheet "just in case." Your suggestion would probably work better as the puppy pads tend to trap heat like you're sleeping on plastic, lol. Probably would absorb way more, too…Thanks for bringing this possibility to my attention!

  27. So THAT is what they are called! My mother would get these after hospital stays; the nurses were always fine with her taking them. And, when I first left home to join the Army (far too many years ago), she gave me a couple of these to use when I have my period. It sure does save the sheets AND the mattress, but they are looking a little worse for the wear now (one really needs to be "retired," but I like having at least two). Now, however, I know what to look for and can buy more! The only question that remains is why I didn't think of using them for those messy "intimate moments," too? πŸ™‚ Thanks, Ariel!

    – Heather

  28. Ha! I totally have a couple that I inherited from my grandmother (now that I think about it that's kind of gross) and were used for puppy training. Re-use again? *wink*

  29. Thanks for the suggestion! I just bought a new mattress a few months ago after sleeping on a futon for over two years. I want mine to stay as nice as possible for as long as I can.

  30. this is a great suggestion! on the topic of period sex… is it easier than towels to get the stains out? (we don't like bleach)

  31. That's a great idea but I think everyone should add this to the routine… A friend of mine recommended to me Swipes Lovin Wipes. My husband and I have been a huge fan ever since. What a great idea I thought, there is a wipe out there for everything! These are better than any baby wipe!There are a few feminine wipes that hold up okay however we haven't found one that is a flushable wipe or an all-natural wipe or any kind of eco wipe for that matter… They are cheap! Key reason on why I like them–they are more Natural, Flushable, Dispersible, biodegradable, compostable, discrete, Quality, Eco-Friendly, Chlorine Free, and Septic Safe.(I like greener products)they are totally worth a try!

    But I'm def adding the pads on my list of things to get!

  32. This is awesome! We just got a brand new mattress as well (super awesome comfy memory foam yay!), and pretty much EVERY sexual encounter ends with huge messes on my part. My husband is…shall we say…GIFTED with his hands. πŸ™‚ Right now we have 2 comforters we don't use that we keep folded up behind the door. We fold them in quarters and put them on the bed. Yes, we've gone through multiple layers before. When he gets me going, its just – goosh! I wonder if these would be more absorbent yet thinner and less of a pain as far as washing goes. Hmm. So glad someone else has addressed it! (So far our mattress has remained clean since I haven't been messy and we've hardly had any "encounters" in the last few months".

  33. We got a soaker pad that is designed for in cribs. Never had a problem with soaking through, and it's much less cumbersom than using a folded up towel (which we often would soak through. Now the boy gets excited when he sees me pull it out of the bedside table because he knows that good times are upon us.
    When we bought a new mattress (last week) we got ultra-absorbent mattress protector as well as the extended warrenty with stain coverage…just in case.

  34. omg, why didn't i think of this? i still keep special towels stored next to the bed to throw down for the kind of love you need to clean up with a mop and bucket. we have a memory foam mattress too, so soaking through all layers is bad news.

  35. Oh I am so glad you posted this! I bought a 'special pad' last year for mine and my fiance's bed and I felt so embarassed that it was kind of a neccessity for sexy time. I feel so much better knowing I'm not the only one who has done this!

  36. I always wondered why more people weren't worried about this! We got a mattress cover when we bought our last mattress that totally protects the mattress and is machine washable. It goes under the fitted sheet and is totally nonrustle-noise-making. Any mattress store should have them πŸ™‚

  37. I work at a JoAnn Fabrics (I say this for reference, all opinions are my own). We carry rubber sheeting by-the-yard. Its a layer of vinyl between two layers of a softer material. You can cut it to the size of your mattress top and lay it underneath your fitted sheet. Shelf lining can help it stay in place.

  38. Ariel, I freaking love you (or whoever on your staff bubbled this up on Facebook) for bubbling this up again. "These things can happen" is a huge source of anxiety for me (long story short: in 10 years it never happened, so it was both unexpected AND messy), and I totally would not have considered this as a solution. Thank you thank you thank you thank you.

    • All credit for sharing on FB goes to Caroline, Offbeat Home & Life's assistant editor. πŸ™‚

      But you're welcome. These incontinence pads were a game changer for me (who wants to be worrying about a mattress in the heat of the moment?!), so I'm glad I could share the knowledge!

  39. $40 will get you a waterproof cover for your mattress – protecting the warranty and your investment. I was leery that the guy who sold me the mattress was just trying to upsell, but when he said that if there was a stain larger than a dime it was void the warranty I figured $40 was worth it.

  40. What a great thread, love it! We've just launched a social business to address this very problem. The Venus Mat is a gorgeous, waterproof and washable mat designed especially for women to protect the bedding. Venus Matters because women deserve more beauty, comfort and support during menstruation or particularly juicy sex. Please check out our campaign on Indiegogo pre-selling these mats –guaranteed for 500 washes and pretty enough for the most discerning home decorator. Our campaign only runs through April 19th, 2015, so grab your early bird Venus Mats (with some great perks) while you can! Women deserve more, that's why Venus Matters. Thank you for checking us out!

  41. Seriously just get a mattress protector that goes under the sheets. I bought one when I was due to give birth as I didn't want to ruin my mattress when my waters broke. I don't even notice it – it doesn't feel plasticy or rubbery, so it has stayed even past my daughter's first birthday. It means no interrupting fun time to position towels, pads, etc or being distracted from doing your business if they move out of place or become uncomfortable. It's just always there so I don't need to worry.

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