Everything Incontinence

Best Waterproof Fabrics

Waterproof Fabrics
Image Credit: Wikipedia.org
You can find several uses for waterproof fabrics. Raincoats, mattresses, and outdoor furniture covers are a few ways you can use versatile fabric. Before you grab some waterproof material for a shower curtain or a pair of waders, you need to know which fabric to use.

Top 10 Waterproof Fabrics

Waterproof fabric can naturally repel moisture or be chemically treated. You’ll find several types of material, each intended for different use. 

Polyurethane Laminate (PUL)

The fabric is made from polyester that is treated with a waterproof coating. It’s lightweight, breathable, and durable. PUL is commonly used in waterproof mattress pads. The material is also washable, making it a great choice when you need to protect bedding from incontinence.

Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU)

Similar to PUL fabrics, TPU material is lighter and softer. The softer material makes it ideal for use as a waterproof bed sheet. The fabric also works great for cloth diapers. TPU fabrics are more environmentally friendly than PULs, but there is a downside. You lose a little in durability.

Extra-Long-Staple (ELS Cotton)

Extra Long Staple
Image Credit: Razamanaz63 / Wikipedia
If you prefer a naturally water-resistant fabric, ELS cotton is an option. The soft material is often used as a waterproof bed sheet. 

ELS cotton is a specialty crop grown primarily in California. The longer cotton fibers allow for a tight, dense weave that prevents moisture from seeping through. The material is washable so you can easily use it as a waterproof bed protector. 

You can also find the cotton fibers in some waterproof clothing like pants, jackets, and shirts.

Polyester and Nylon

These synthetic fabrics have been around for years in everything from clothing to waterproof pads. 

Polyester and nylon material has a tight weave making it water-resistant. With treatment, you get durable, waterproof fabric that is used in everything from waterproof mattress pads to umbrellas, raincoats, and coverings for patio furniture. 

Another advantage to the materials is the low prices. Both are affordable and easy to find in retail and online marketplaces. 


Image Credit: Gower / Wikimedia Commons
Originally, the oilcloth was made from tightly woven linen or cotton duck cloth and coated with linseed oil. The coating is what gives the cloth its waterproof properties. The fabric was often used for sailor’s coats and even sails. Today, it’s even more versatile. 

The fabric is now coated with clear vinyl, and you can find matte and shiny material. Oilcloth is durable and cleans easily. It’s also a heavy fabric that’s commonly used for tote bags and luggage. 

It’s also used in medical settings, primarily as waterproof mattress covers for incontinence. 


The soft material is often used to clean glasses, phones, and computer screens. Made from polyester, it’s water-resistant before a coating is applied. Once the material is treated, it’s 100% waterproof. 

The suede-like material is often used for jackets, butit’s soft enough for use as waterproof bed sheets. 

Waterproof mattress protectors made from microfiber are priced a little higher than some other materials. 


Image Credit: analogicus / Pixabay
Like ELS cotton, wool is naturally resistant to water. The quality of the material has also improved over the years. It’s softer, less irritating, but it’s still not a fabric everyone loves. 

Wool boiled in hot water before being woven into garments or mattress covers increases its water-resistant properties. When wool is treated with lanolin, it’s temporarily waterproof. The coating needs to be regularly reapplied. 

You won’t get complete water protection with boiled and lanolin-coated wool, but the dense fabric does help keep moisture away from your mattress.

Latex and Natural Rubber 

Latex is a blend of natural and synthetic rubber. The material is used in a variety of items from clothing to waterproof mattress pads and bed covers.

Natural rubber is made from oil secreted by the rubber tree. It’s a durable material that you can easily wipe clean. It’s usually not machine-washable and is not rated safe for dryers. The same also applies to latex. 

Unlike latex, natural rubber is biodegradable making it a better choice for the environment. 


Image Credit: GeCaHu / Wikimedia Commons
The synthetic cloth first appeared in 1969. It’s made from stretched polytetrafluoroethylene, commonly known as Teflon. It’s a strong fabric that doesn’t easily rip or tear. It can also handle extreme use.

Gore-Tex has several applications. It’s used in camping tents, suitcases, and even in the space program. The United States Marine Corps also uses sturdy fabric. It’s the material that ensures their field jackets are waterproof.

As a waterproof mattress protector, Gore-Tex does keep moisture away from your bedding. You can find everything from sheets, to covers and pads.


Vinyl is used to make record albums, but it has other applications. Some of the most iconic clothing is vinyl. The actors in the Matrix trilogy wore vinyl clothing.

The material is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It’s durable, waterproof, and lasts for years. 

Along with clothing and handbags, waterproof mattress sheets are often made from synthetic fabric. 


When you want to protect your mattress, waterproof sheets and pads are your best options. You have a variety of materials to choose from, both natural and synthetic. The waterproof fabrics also come at varying price points so you can find a mattress pad that fits your budget. 

- Written By

Sarah Johnson

Aging in Place Expert
Sarah Johnson is an Aging in Place Expert with extensive experience helping seniors remain independent and comfortable in their homes. She has specialized knowledge of how to help elderly individuals stay healthy, safe, and happy as they age. Sarah is passionate about providing quality care for aging adults, allowing them to remain in their homes and enjoy the highest quality of life.