Drypads vs. Underpads

Knowing the difference can make a big difference in continence care.

Urinary incontinence can be a sensitive issue, but it’s a common one. In fact, more than 25 million adult Americans experience temporary or chronic urinary incontinence — the accidental loss of urine.1 Dealing with this condition can be challenging for caregivers and uncomfortable for the person experiencing it. But having the right incontinence products in place can make a world of difference in keeping them dry and comfortable, while also protecting furniture, beds, wheelchairs and other surfaces.

That’s exactly the purpose of drypads and underpads. They provide an outer layer of protection that’s placed beneath your loved one to catch leaks. But what’s the difference? And how do you determine which pad is right for the level of continence care you need? Here, we break down all the details.

What are drypads?

Drypads are disposable sheets that are designed to protect the skin from moisture-related damage caused by urinary incontinence. They’re placed beneath the person  you’re caring for, usually in bed, or wherever they’re resting for long periods of time. Drypads provide hospital-quality absorbency for those with continuous incontinence who need maximum protection. They’re heavy-duty, yet plush, and feel soft against the skin.

Level of protection: Moderate to heavy

When should you use drypads?

If store-bought underpads aren’t giving you the absorbency you need, it’s time to upgrade to a hospital-quality drypad. They’re designed to absorb a high volume of fluid and lock it away, so your loved one’s skin stays healthy, dry and comfortable. Medline atHome offers three types of extra-strength drypads to accommodate every level of incontinence:

Which features should you look for in a drypad?

  • Maximum absorbency. An ultra-absorbent core helps draw in moisture and lock it away from at-risk skin. It also reduces the amount of linen changes needed.
  • Full coverage. The absorbent core should go right to the edge of the pad for maximum coverage.
  • Cutting edge. Pads with a fold-over edge help prevent overflow and leaks.
  • Breathability. The breathable top layer should feel dry to the touch in minutes to help protect skin from moisture exposure.
  • Strength. The pad should stay in place with an adhesive, waterproof backing. It should be durable enough to stay intact when wet.
  • Sized for every need. Various sizes provide coverage right where you need it, like draped over the bed or in the car passenger seat.

Ultrasorbs Drypads

Superior drypad protection looks like this.


What are underpads?

Underpads are disposable, waterproof sheets that are draped between a person with urinary incontinence and the surface they’re sitting or lying on. This added protection absorbs leaked fluid. At the same time, underpads serve as a barrier to help prevent stains from seeping into wheelchair seats, beds and other surfaces caused by excess wetness.

Level of protection: Light to moderate

When should you use underpads?

Underpads can enhance wearable continence care, such as briefs and bladder pads, or they can stand alone as a reliable backup to keep your loved one clean and dry when sitting or lying down.

  • Core strength. Choose a disposable underpad with multi-layer protection and a high-absorbency core to lock away moisture.
  • No slip-ups. A slip-resistant, waterproof backing helps keep underpads in place, even when twisting and turning at night.
  • The size is right. Pick a size with ample coverage to protect both skin and household surfaces from moisture-related damage.
  • Soft touch. Look for disposable underpads with a soft top layer for maximum comfort. Quilted, cloth-like surfaces are gentle on sensitive skin.
  • High value. Underpads are typically designed to be more budget-friendly, with some being made of only tissue. While they don’t provide the highest levels of absorbency like drypads, they’re offered in a variety of sizes to offer ample coverage.

Match the size of the pad to the level of protection you need.

With disposable drypads and underpads, you’ll find a variety of sizes to provide light to heavy incontinence protection — and everything in between. Smaller sizes and lighter weights are ideal for smaller surfaces, such as arm chairs, dining chairs and car seats. While larger sizes and heavier weights provide peace-of-mind protection on beds, sofas, wheelchairs and other large-scale furniture.


So very versatile — underpads can be used for more than just continence care. Underpads are overachievers. They’re helpful for a variety of uses around the house that go beyond continence care. Don’t shy away from buying a larger economy pack — you’ll always find a use for them. Here are a few alternate uses:

Baby changing table cover. Ensure you always have a clean surface to change baby, especially when you’re out and about. After you change baby’s diaper, simply toss and go.

Puppy protection. With puppy training, use an underpad to help protect your floors from accidents. They’re also great for lining the bottom of the puppy crate and soaking up spills when placed under food and water dishes.

Bed pad for young and old. Whether you’re caring for a senior with incontinence, or potty training a toddler, use an underpad to protect the mattress from nighttime leaks.

Keep things neat. Place disposable underpads in the mudroom to protect floors from dirty shoes and boots. They also make great placemats for crafting at the table to catch paint, glue and other residue.

Underpads and drypads provide reliable backup protection for incontinence care. They’re a helpful way to keep your loved one clean, dry and comfortable — while also protecting the surfaces in your home. Drypads are your best choice for heavy protection, while underpads offer more moderate absorption. Either way, you’re covered.


Urinary Incontinence in Women, Johns Hopkins Medicine: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/urinary-incontinence/urinary-incontinence-in-women. Accessed November 23, 2019.