All About Mattress Certifications: What Do They Mean?

Last Updated On May 17th, 2024
All About Mattress Certifications: What Do They Mean?

Key Takeaways

  • Importance of Certifications: Certifications play a crucial role in ensuring that mattresses meet specific standards for safety, health, and sustainability. They provide consumers with confidence that they are purchasing a product that aligns with their values and meets certain criteria for quality and environmental impact.
  • Understanding Certifications: It’s essential for consumers to understand the various certifications available in the mattress industry and what each one signifies. Certifications like GOTS, CertiPUR-US, GREENGUARD, and Oeko-Tex Standard 100 address different aspects such as organic materials, low VOC emissions, and absence of harmful chemicals.
  • Avoiding Greenwashing: Greenwashing, where companies mislead consumers with false or exaggerated claims of environmental friendliness, is a common issue in the mattress industry. To avoid falling victim to greenwashing, consumers should look for legitimate certifications from reputable organizations and verify the authenticity of claims made by mattress brands.

When you go mattress shopping, you’ll probably see different certifications on the labels. But what do these certifications actually mean?

Well, when you see trusted certification seals on a mattress label, it means independent experts have thoroughly vetted and approved that product. The certifications give you confidence that you’re buying a healthier, higher-quality, and more sustainable mattress option.

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Pay attention to certification labels when mattress shopping. They help you make smarter choices for your family’s well-being and the planet.

Notable Certifications

Some certifications ensure mattresses avoid toxic materials that could be bad for you or the environment. These seals are important because they verify that mattresses meet certain standards for safety, health, and quality.

Others might alert you that a product was made with organic materials, their production tracked by a third-party to ensure their authenticity. Similarly, other certifiers focus on promoting social responsibility and sustainability.

Let’s check out what these certifications mean.

Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)

GOTS Certification LogoIf you’re in the market for a mattress made with organic materials, keep an eye out for the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification on the label. GOTS is the gold standard for verifying that a mattress contains a significant percentage of organic fibers like cotton, wool, or latex.

To meet GOTS criteria, at least 70% of the mattress materials must come from certified organic sources. If you see a “GOTS Organic” label, that means an impressive 95% or more of the content is organic. The certification also prohibits the use of certain chemical treatments, including toxic flame retardants and polyurethane foam.

From start to finish, GOTS ensures the entire manufacturing process follows strict guidelines to maintain the organic integrity of the raw materials. This includes using only approved eco-friendly dyes and responsible wastewater treatment methods.

CertiPUR-US

As you browse different mattress options, you might notice some that boast a CertiPUR-US label. This certification focuses specifically on the polyurethane foam used in many mattresses, aiming to ensure it meets certain standards for content, emissions, and durability.

When you see the CertiPUR-US seal, you can expect that the foam inside a memory foam or hybrid has been independently tested and verified to be free from ozone-depleting chemicals, PBDE flame retardants, heavy metals, formaldehyde, and phthalates. The foam must also have low VOC emissions for better indoor air quality.

While CertiPUR-US does set limits on some potentially harmful substances, it’s important to note that the certification doesn’t guarantee zero exposure or completely eliminate chemical concerns. However, it does offer an extra level of assurance that the foam in your mattress has been scrutinized for key risk factors.

One added benefit of the CertiPUR-US program is that certified foams have been tested for durability and performance. So you can feel more confident that your mattress will hold up well over time without developing deep impressions or sagging prematurely.

Just keep in mind that the label applies only to the foam layers and not to other components like coils or fabric covers. Other potentially harmful materials, like mattress fiberglass, may still surround the foam layers.

GREENGUARD and GREENGUARD Gold

GreenGuard Gold CertifiedThe GREENGUARD certification program evaluates products for their impact on indoor air pollution by measuring the levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) they release. VOCs are chemicals that can easily become gases or vapors at room temperature, and breathing them in can lead to health issues like headaches, dizziness, and respiratory irritation.

To earn the basic GREENGUARD label, a mattress must meet rigorous limits for VOC emissions. However, the GREENGUARD Gold certification takes it a step further with even more stringent requirements. Gold certified mattresses have been tested to ensure they’re suitable for use in sensitive environments like schools and healthcare facilities.

Some GREENGUARD certified mattresses go above and beyond by also being verified as formaldehyde-free. Formaldehyde is a common VOC that can be particularly harmful to human health, so this extra level of assurance can provide added peace of mind.

Choosing a GREENGUARD or GREENGUARD Gold certified mattress can be especially beneficial for people with allergies, asthma, or chemical sensitivities.

Oeko-Tex Standard 100

The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 label indicates that the mattress materials have been rigorously tested for harmful chemicals and substances, ensuring a safer and healthier sleeping environment.

To earn the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 label, mattress components must undergo thorough lab analysis. Only after passing this independent inspection can a mattress display the Oeko-Tex mark.

The certification process checks for and restricts the use of concerning chemicals like formaldehyde, heavy metals, and certain dyes that could be toxic. Oeko-Tex also limits the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from mattress materials, as inhaling too many VOCs can make indoor air quality unhealthy.

Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS)

What is GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard)?To earn GOLS certification, a mattress must contain at least 95% organic latex. The remaining 5% of materials cannot include toxic flame retardants.

GOLS also limits how many volatile organic compounds (VOCs) the mattress can release into the air. Too many VOCs can make indoor air unsafe to breathe. For any non-latex parts like cotton or wool filling, GOLS requires those materials to be certified organic too. However, it does allow some synthetic fabrics to be used inside the mattress layers.

Not just any latex mattress can claim the GOLS label. Manufacturers must follow all the certification’s rules during production. Their mattresses undergo strict testing to verify they meet the organic and low chemical emission requirements.

So if you want a truly organic latex mattress made without harsh chemicals, look for the GOLS certification.

Rainforest Alliance

Rainforest AllianceThe Rainforest Alliance is an international non-profit organization that works to promote sustainable practices in agriculture and forestry. While they are not primarily focused on mattress certifications, their work in certifying sustainable textiles can indirectly impact the mattress industry.

The Rainforest Alliance certifies farms and forests that meet rigorous sustainability standards. These standards cover areas such as biodiversity conservation, natural resource management, and the well-being of workers and local communities. Some of the natural fibers used in mattresses, such as cotton or wool, may come from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms.

When a textile product, like a mattress cover or filling, contains materials from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, it means that those materials were produced using practices that support social, economic, and environmental sustainability. However, the Rainforest Alliance certification applies to the raw materials and not the finished mattress itself.

Forest Stewardship Council

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a well-known certification body that promotes responsible management of the world’s forests. While FSC is not specifically a mattress certification, it is relevant to the mattress industry as some materials used in mattresses may come from FSC-certified sources.

When you see the FSC label on a mattress tag, it means that some or all of the wood-based materials used in the mattress, such as the frame, foundation, or certain fabrics, come from responsibly managed forests. FSC certification ensures that these forests are managed in a way that preserves biodiversity, respects the rights of workers and local communities, and follows strict environmental and social standards.

While FSC certification does not directly address all aspects of mattress sustainability, such as chemical use or indoor air quality, it does provide assurance that the wood-based components were sourced responsibly.

MADE SAFE

Made SafeThe MADE SAFE seal indicates that the mattress has undergone a rigorous, independent, and scientific screening process to ensure it is free from harmful substances and meets strict safety standards.

When a mattress carries the MADE SAFE seal, it means that the product has been thoroughly evaluated and found to be free from over 6,500 substances on the MADE SAFE Banned / Restricted List. This list includes known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, toxins, hazardous flame retardants, high-risk pesticides, toxic solvents, and harmful VOCs.

MADE SAFE’s certification process involves a comprehensive review of all ingredients and materials used in the mattress. The program requires full transparency from manufacturers and examines each component of the mattress for potential impacts on human health and the environment. This 360-degree evaluation sets MADE SAFE apart from other certifications, as it considers the safety of the product in the context of its entire lifecycle.

eco-INSTITUT

The eco-INSTITUT is a testing laboratory based in Germany that certifies mattresses and bedding products for low emissions, critical substances, and odors. They offer their own quality label called the eco-INSTITUT label, which marks indoor products as being non-hazardous to health and the environment.

To earn the eco-INSTITUT label, mattresses must undergo rigorous testing for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), pesticides, heavy metals, PCP, nitrosamines, and other potentially harmful substances. The eco-INSTITUT tests a wide range of mattress types, including innerspring, latex, cold foam, and polyether foam, as well as bedding items like futons, sleeping bags, pillows, and duvets.

The eco-INSTITUT is also an approved testing laboratory for several other national and international quality labels for mattresses. They are a member of the Quality Association for Environmentally-Agreeable Latex Mattresses (QUL) and play a significant role in developing the test criteria for the QUL certificate, which labels pollutant-tested latex mattresses made from 100% natural latex.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers an organic certification program. The USDA organic certification is designed for agricultural products, including crops, livestock, and processed products. While the USDA does not directly certify mattresses, some of the natural materials used in mattresses, such as cotton, wool, or latex, may come from USDA-certified organic sources.

When a mattress contains materials from USDA-certified organic farms, it means that those raw materials were grown and processed according to strict guidelines set by the USDA. These guidelines prohibit the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Organic livestock must also be raised without the use of antibiotics or growth hormones and have access to the outdoors.

If a mattress is labeled as “made with organic materials,” it typically means that some percentage of its content, such as the cotton cover or wool filling, comes from USDA-certified organic sources. However, this does not necessarily mean that the entire mattress is organic, as other components like the foam or fire retardants may not be organic.

B Corporation

B CorporationYou may have heard of companies labeled as “B Corporations” or “B Corps.” But what does that mean? B Corps are businesses committed to more than just making money.

To become a certified B Corp, a company must pass a tough assessment by the non-profit B Lab. They evaluate the company’s social and environmental practices, accountability, and transparency. B Lab has very strict standards that regular businesses often can’t meet.

Earning B Corp status isn’t a one-time thing. These companies must get re-evaluated every 3 years to keep their certification. They also pay a yearly fee. If a B Corp fails the re-evaluation or slips in their practices, B Lab can revoke their certification.

When you see a B Corp label, it means that business goes above and beyond for people and the planet – not just profits. These companies prioritize ethical supply chains, sustainable practices, fair treatment of workers, and supporting local communities.

Fair Trade Certified

Fair Trade Certified is a certification program that you might see on a mattress tag, indicating that the product was made in accordance with rigorous fair trade standards. Fair Trade USA is a leading certifier of fair trade products, including mattresses and bedding.

When a mattress carries the Fair Trade Certified label, it means that the farmers, workers, and communities involved in producing the mattress materials were treated fairly and ethically. Fair Trade certification ensures safe working conditions, the elimination of forced and child labor, fair compensation for workers, and environmental protections.

One key aspect of Fair Trade certification is the guaranteed minimum price paid to farmers and producers, which acts as a safety net when market prices are low. Additionally, Fair Trade Certified producer communities receive additional funds, known as Community Development Funds, which they can invest in projects that benefit their communities, such as education, healthcare, or infrastructure improvements.

American Chiropractic Association Endorsements

The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) is a large professional group for chiropractors in the United States. The ACA carefully reviews mattresses to make sure they are well-made, easy to set up, comfortable, durable, and perform well.

A panel of chiropractor doctors and the ACA Board look at each mattress and observe how it supports your body and aligns your spine when you sleep. Endorsed mattresses should promote proper posture and relieve any back or neck pain.

The association continually checks that approved mattress models still meet their strict requirements. If a mattress falls short, the ACA can remove its approval at any time.

When you see the ACA’s name on a mattress label, you can feel confident it has passed their rigorous testing. An ACA approved mattress is designed to be supportive, well-constructed, and built to help you get a good night’s sleep.

What Is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source when companies mislead consumers by falsely claiming their products are environmentally friendly. They will use terms that aren’t regulated, like “natural” or make it seem like their products contain a greater percentage of eco-friendly materials than they actually do.

For example, a sleep mask advertised only as “made with 100% organic cotton” is considered greenwashing if it leaves out on the packaging that the interior of the eye mask is polyester.

This corporate greenwashing Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source can be confusing for shoppers trying to make eco-conscious choices. To avoid falling victim to greenwashing, it’s important to look beyond marketing claims and seek out reliable certifications from independent organizations.

Remain skeptical of vague terms like “eco-friendly” or “natural” without solid evidence to support these claims. By staying informed and asking questions, you can make more responsible purchasing decisions and avoid being misled by greenwashing tactics.

Tips for Buying a Healthy, Eco-Friendly Mattress

Mattress shopping for the perfect fit for you and the environment? Look into the manufacturing processes of different mattress brands.

Choose companies that prioritize environmentally friendly practices, such as minimizing waste, using renewable energy sources, and reducing carbon emissions. Supporting eco-conscious manufacturers encourages the adoption of sustainable practices across the industry.

Make sure to invest in a mattress that is built to last. A durable mattress reduces the frequency of replacements, minimizing waste and environmental impact. Consider mattresses made with high-quality materials and backed by generous warranties, ensuring long-term comfort and sustainability.

You probably want a bed that’s safe for your family and the planet. Here are some tips for finding an ethical, responsibly-made mattress:

Don’t Fall for Fake Labels

Some mattress brands use labels that look like certifications, but are totally made up. Others show real certifications that they no longer actually have! These misleading tactics make it seem like their mattresses meet higher standards than they truly do. Protect yourself by verifying any claimed certifications.

Understand What’s Certified

When a mattress has a legitimate certification label, look into what it actually covers. Does it apply to just the foam layers or the whole mattress? Knowing the certification details helps ensure you’re buying a product that lives up to the right health and environmental criteria you care about.

Ask the Company Questions

If you’re unsure about a mattress certification or the materials used, don’t hesitate to contact the company directly. A trustworthy brand will be upfront about their processes and safety measures. But if they dodge your questions or don’t respond at all, that’s a red flag.

Pick Products Matching Your Values

Think about what’s most important to you – limiting chemical exposure, supporting organic farming, reducing pollution and waste, etc. Then look for mattress certifications aligned with those values.

An eco-friendly buyer may want a 100% organic and non-toxic certified mattress. Someone prioritizing indoor air quality might prefer strict emissions certifications.

So when mattress shopping, look for these labels to understand what standards the product meets for safety, emissions and organic content. Knowing the certifications helps you make a healthier choice.

By doing your research and not blindly trusting marketing claims, you can find a high-quality, responsibly produced mattress. A bed you can feel truly good about sleeping on.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most important mattress certifications to look for?

When shopping for a mattress, some of the most important certifications to look for include the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) for organic materials, GREENGUARD and GREENGUARD Gold for low VOC emissions, and CertiPUR-US for safer foam.

The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 is also valuable for ensuring the mattress materials meet strict limits for harmful chemicals. If you’re specifically interested in organic latex mattresses, look for the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) certification.

Where do I find information on a mattress’s certifications?

You can typically find information about a mattress’s certifications on the product label or mattress tag. Mattress companies that have earned certifications often prominently display the certification logos and details in their product descriptions, both online and in-store.

If you’re unsure or cannot find the information, don’t hesitate to contact the mattress company directly and ask about their certifications and what they mean.

How can I verify if a mattress certification is legitimate?

To verify if a mattress certification is legitimate, you can visit the official website of the certifying organization and search for the specific mattress brand or product. Most certifying bodies maintain online directories of certified products that you can reference.

Additionally, you can contact the certification organization directly to inquire about the validity of a particular certification claim. Be cautious of brands that use fake or outdated certifications, and always do your due diligence.

How can I avoid greenwashing?

To avoid falling victim to greenwashing, be cautious of vague or unsubstantiated claims like “eco-friendly” or “natural” without proper certifications to back them up. Look for specific, third-party verified certifications from reputable organizations rather than relying solely on a company’s marketing language.

Research the mattress materials and manufacturing processes to ensure they align with your environmental and health priorities. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and seek clarification from the mattress company if you’re unsure about any claims.

What certifications are good for ensuring indoor air quality?

For ensuring good indoor air quality, look for mattresses with GREENGUARD or GREENGUARD Gold certifications. These certifications set strict limits on the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) a mattress can emit, helping to maintain a healthier indoor environment.

The CertiPUR-US certification also restricts VOC emissions from foam materials used in mattresses. When combined with other certifications like GOTS or Oeko-Tex Standard 100, which limit the use of harmful chemicals, these certifications can help you choose a mattress that promotes better indoor air quality.

Conclusion

Understanding mattress certifications is crucial when shopping for a new bed. These labels provide assurance that the mattress has been independently tested and verified to meet specific standards for health, safety, and environmental sustainability.

Some of the most important certifications to look for include GOTS for organic materials, GREENGUARD and GREENGUARD Gold for low VOC emissions, CertiPUR-US for safer foam, and Oeko-Tex Standard 100 for strict limits on harmful chemicals. Other certifications like GOLS, Rainforest Alliance, FSC, MADE SAFE, eco-INSTITUT, and Fair Trade Certified can also indicate a mattress’s commitment to environmental and social responsibility.

To make an informed decision, look for these certifications on mattress labels and tags, and don’t hesitate to ask the manufacturer questions about their materials and production processes. Be wary of greenwashing tactics and vague, unsubstantiated claims.

By familiarizing yourself with these certifications and what they represent, you can confidently choose a mattress that aligns with your values and priorities for a healthier, more sustainable sleep environment. Remember, investing in a certified mattress not only benefits your personal well-being but also supports responsible manufacturing practices and environmental stewardship.


About the author

April Mayer is a sleep expert and writer with a degree in exercise physiology. She has dedicated her career to exploring the relationship between sleep and productivity. Her insightful articles, such as "The Surprising Way Your Mood Might Be Messing With Your Productivity" and "Wake Up to More Productive Mornings," have been featured in reputable publications like Forbes, Greatist, Real Homes, Thrillist, Tom's Guide, and Eat This, Not That. With a passion for helping others lead more productive lives through restful sleep, April offers valuable expertise on foods and vitamins for better sleep. As a trusted member of the Early Bird team since March 2020, she continues to provide informative and well-researched content.

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