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A good night’s sleep can feel especially elusive when you have incontinence concerns.
From frequent wake-ups to needing to change your sheets — incontinence pads are one solution that can help you protect your bed linens and mattress. You traditionally place these pads over your sheets to keep fluids from reaching your sheets and mattress.
We’ve compiled a list of the best incontinence bed pads and other options to help you sleep better (and drier) at night.
As a nurse who has cared for patients from a few days old to 100, I’ve also used many incontinence bed products to help my patients stay dry. I’ve used many of the products on this list and ruled out some that did not work as well in terms of protection and skin integrity.
You can use incontinence bed pads any time you’re worried your bed linens may be soiled due to incontinence (urine or stool) or bleeding. Some examples include:
There are a number of conditions, including dementia and post-stroke, that can result in incontinence. Using incontinence bed pads can help keep linens clean.
Some are washable while others are disposable. What’s most important is that you choose a bed pad that protects your skin and linens.
We kept in mind that pads may be used for urinary or bowel issues and looked for a mix of disposable and washable options to enable you to pick the one you most prefer. We took into account factors like:
We scoured medical supply sites and some of the country’s largest retailers to identify the best incontinence bed pad options.
As a nurse, I’ve used many of the products that made the list, and I was able to rule out some that didn’t work as well for protecting bedding or skin.
Incontinence pads come in a variety of options and price points. Remember to consider how many pads you get when evaluating disposable options. Here’s how we broke down pricing in this article:
Price: $$ for a box of 50
When I worked in a busy intensive care unit, these disposable pads were always our top choice for those who were bed-bound and had thin skin or pressure ulcer concerns. These pads are super-soft, so they’re less likely to cause friction and shear injuries.
In addition to the soft benefits, they’re very absorbent. I also like that they’re pre-folded, which makes it easy to stash a few in your suitcase when you’re traveling. If I can say one drawback, it’s that those who toss and turn end up with some of the soft “fluff” on their backside. So if you’re a restless sleeper, you may want to check out the next option in the odor-reducing category.
These disposable, ultra-absorbent pads were what the nursing team at my hospital affectionately called “the good pads.” They’re soft, ultra-thin, and have a backsheet that’s impermeable to liquids. As an added benefit, because they’re so absorbent, they offer odor-controlling properties.
The main drawback for these pads is they’re slightly smaller than some other pads. Most of the sizes I reviewed were 36 by 36 inches. But these are 23 by 36. If you need a larger-sized pad, consider some I recommend in the oversized category.
If you’re constantly tossing and turning in bed, finding a protective pad that spans most of your bed can prove difficult. This mattress pad comes in an extra-large size of 34 by 54 inches (a queen-size mattress is usually about 60 inches in width).
As an additional advantage, the darker color is less likely to show stains than some of the lighter-color pad alternatives. This can serve as an advantage because you’ll likely need to frequently wash and re-use the pad.
This washable, super-absorbent bed pad can hold up to 8 cups of fluid. When I was reviewing all the options, this pad was the best all-around option because it was absorbent, oversized (34 by 52 inches), and built to withstand 300 or more washes.
The pad features four layers, with the bottom layer having an anti-skid barrier to keep the pad in place as you sleep. The soft, top-most surface is also skin-friendly.
This machine-washable, waterproof pad has PVC backing to offer protection for your mattress and sheets. What’s also great about this pad in particular is the PVC backing, which helps to make the pad non-slip.
The darker pattern will also help to conceal stains until you wash the pad. Its soft, quilted material will be skin-friendly (an added bonus).
If you always wake up sweating or need to use all-natural materials, this bed pad is an excellent option. While many bed pads are made with artificial fibers (like polyester or PVC), this option is made with cotton and bamboo.
The pad is made to be used on either side. So if it’s summer and you’re feeling the heat, switching the pad to the bamboo side may help you stay cooler.
Using natural fibers doesn’t mean you sacrifice absorption. According to the pad’s manufacturers, the absorptivity is up to 1 liter of fluid (that’s quite a bit). At 39 by 55 inches, it’s also a larger size. The main drawback is the pad is a little pricier than many washable options, but if it keeps you more comfortable, it could be worth the price increase.
If your loved one requires total care, a positioning bed pad features handles to hold onto so you can assist your loved one in turning, pulling up in the bed, or for transfers from the bed to a wheelchair or stretcher. This positioning pad features 14 reinforced handles and is strong enough for re-positioning and absorbent enough to serve as an incontinence protective pad.
The pad can help you transfer a person up to 400 pounds and is made to withstand frequent washings.
An incontinence pad isn’t the only option for protecting your bed and keeping you dry. Other options include:
When I was working as a bedside nurse, incontinence bed pads were something we put on all the beds over draw sheets (folded sheets we use to help pull up or turn a patient in bed). The biggest issues I saw with these pads, also called underbed pads, was their constant migration up to the upper or middle back — and not where you needed them to be, which is under the buttocks.
To combat this, I recommend:
If you’re changing pads for a loved one who’s bed-bound or has difficulty with transfers, you can also use some nursing tricks to replace the pad or linens without having your loved one get out of bed.
For example, if you’re changing a pad or sheets:
This method is helpful for those who can’t get out of bed easily because they can have clean sheets without having to get up often.
Here are some of the major decisions when it comes to incontinence pad purchases:
If you opt for disposable pads, you’ll need to make sure you keep up with your ordering. Many companies will offer discounts if you set up a recurring order, which can help you save money.
Incontinence bed pads can be one of several strategies you can utilize to protect your bed and sheets if you experience episodes of incontinence. You can use these pads alone or in combination with other incontinence products to help you or a loved one.
Last medically reviewed on October 29, 2021
Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.
Eloise Theisen, RN, MSN, AGPCNP-BC
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