Q: I have an expensive, full-size, three-inch-thick latex mattress topper with a zip cover that is 64 percent polyester and 34 percent cotton. I place a full-size mattress pad on top that tucks under the mattress on all sides before I put on the sheets. I'm convinced my husband wrestles a bear every night, because within three days, the mattress topper starts to slide over the edge of the mattress along with the mattress pad. By the end of the week, it's hanging over six inches or more. I've tried putting a nonskid rug pad and a rubber shelf liner under the topper, but neither helped. How do I stop the topper from sliding?

Bowie, Md.

A: You’re not the only one with this problem. The website memoryfoamtalk.com, which offers buying guides for mattresses and accessories, includes a section with tips on keeping mattress toppers from sliding. “Most people,” it says, have the same problem you face. Another website that focuses on mattresses and accessories, sleeperssolutions.com, uses the identical words: “Most people” can’t get mattress toppers to stay put.

The issue is similar to what people complain about when they put an area rug on a carpet. The rug inevitably moves, causing wrinkles and bulges. This happens because the carpet and the padding underneath it provide so much cushioning that when someone walks on the carpet, foot pressure pushes the rug down, causing it to inch toward the pressure point.

With a mattress and mattress topper, putting nonskid rug pads or rubber shelf liner between the two layers can help keep the layers aligned. But as you’ve discovered, a nonskid pad still allows the top layer to move when it is pressed unevenly against the mattress. It’s especially a problem when a heavy sleeper tosses and turns a lot during the night, said Keith Cushner, co-founder of Tuck Sleep (tuck.com), a Seattle company that provides information on sleep science and compiles reviews of sleep products, including mattresses and mattress covers. (The site, like most other review sites, doesn’t sell products but gets paid by manufactures of products it recommends.)

Cushner said the best solution is to get a mattress topper that comes with straps that wrap around a mattress, such as the ViscoSoft High Density Mattress Topper ($149.99 for queen size at viscosoft.com). Check the picture of this product on the ViscoSoft website to see how you could improvise something similar by attaching sturdy elastic cords at each corner of your mattress topper.

Cushner said people have also reported good results with the Bed Scrunchie ($59.95 from bedscrunchie.com.) This device has clips that slide along a bungie cord that circles the edge of the mattress. You clip the cord to the bottom sheet, install the sheet on the mattress just as you would a fitted bottom sheet, then pull a cord to tighten the elastic band around the mattress. All of the steps can be done from the top, without having to lift the mattress. The setup usually keeps the sheet, topper and pad in a tight package so that nothing slips off the mattress, Cushner said.

If the Bed Scrunchie is too expensive for your budget, standard clip-on suspenders, also known as bedsheet fasteners, can also work. (A set of four Hold On Mattress Clips is $5.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond.) But you would need to lift each corner of the mattress to get the cords in position, which can be a chore if the mattress is heavy.

If a sleeper weighs a lot or is very active at night, Cushner said, the mattress topper might move even with straps in place. In that case, you can try to anchor the mattress topper directly to the mattress.

If you don’t plan to flip your mattress over occasionally to even out how it wears, you can use double-stick carpet tape for a permanent connection. To allow for repositioning, use safety pins or Velcro. Use plenty of pins or Velcro strips — perhaps one anchor each foot or foot and a half all along the perimeter of the mattress. Curved safety pins are easier than standard safety pins to push through a surface such as a mattress cover where you can’t apply pressure from the back. (Joann Fabrics and Crafts, Joann.com, sells a package of 40 curved Size 2 pins, which are
1½ inches long, for $3.99.)But pins may tear the fabric if a heavy sleeper tosses a lot, Cushner said.

Velcro with an adhesive backing eliminates the risk of tears, but it can lose some of its grip over time and might need to be replaced, Cushner said. Velcro Sticky Back for Fabrics ($3.95 on Amazon for a 2-foot-long roll ¾ -inch wide) is easy to apply. The adhesive gunks up scissors, so cut sections three or four inches long with a utility knife pressed against a cutting board. (When you’re done, replace the blade.) The instructions say to wait 24 hours before applying full pressure, so you might want to install the strips just before you head out on an overnight trip.

If the adhesive on the Velcro eventually loosens to the nightly tug-of-war, you can sew on strips that don’t have adhesive backing. Get new sew-on Velcro, though, because if a needle picks up adhesive when you sew through the old Velcro, it will quickly become too tacky to push through fabric. To sew to the mattress, use a curved needle, sold at fabric stores.

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