To limit their exposure to chemicals, many consumers are switching to non-toxic versions of everyday household items. Everything from cleaning supplies to cosmetics can be replaced with more natural alternatives. The more we know about the formulation of each product we bring into our homes, the more conscious we are of its potential effects on our health.
Since we spend a large majority of our time sleeping, our bed should be the first thing we consider when trying to limit our exposure chemicals. In the past, mattress manufacturers have been notorious for using toxic flame retardants in their products. But, with the demand for cleaner products, several brands are now offering non-toxic models.
If you are shopping for a safer mattress, the process may seem overwhelming. With so many materials and certifications available, it can be difficult to find the best mattress. Our comprehensive non-toxic mattress guide will help you through the selection process. Read on to discover how you can bring home a safer, healthier mattress.
What is a Non-Toxic Mattress?
Non-toxic mattresses are constructed without the use of chemicals that pose a risk to human health. But, non-toxic beds can be described in several ways. Some are advertised as “green” or “organic,” while others are labeled as “eco-friendly.” Many brands may even claim their product fits all three of these distinctions. But, what do each of these terms mean? To help you choose a bed that is truly non-toxic, we break down each of these claims.
Some brands produce mattresses without the use of toxic chemicals that can be harmful to our health. When shopping, be sure you understand why the bed is considered a non-toxic mattress.
The company may use natural ingredients in the construction of their foam, or they may rely on organic materials. Or their materials may be synthetic, but accredited by an organization that checks for toxins and hazardous materials. It is important to determine how a non-toxic bed has earned this claim.
Eco-friendly mattresses are made with manufacturing methods and materials that create less pollution and waste. In most cases, eco-conscious practices result in a bed that is also non-toxic and safer for us to sleep on. While foams and textiles must be entirely new, a quality mattress with an eco-friendly design may rely on recycled steel coils, for example.
You don’t just have to take a manufacturer’s word for it, though. There are various third-party organizations that offer “seals of approval” for sustainable, environmentally-conscious company practices.
An organic mattress is made of organic materials, such as cotton, wool, or latex. But, in most cases, an entire mattress is not 100 percent organic. For example, a breathable cotton cover may be the only organic component, while the rest of the bed is not. When shopping, verify which layers are certified organic and which are not.
It is also important to note that foams such as memory foam and poly-foam cannot be organic. These foams are manufactured, not grown, or harvested. They can be produced without the use of toxic chemicals, but they cannot be considered “organic.” You may be able to find organic latex mattresses that are certified from top to bottom, but these can cost a significant amount due to production costs.
Remember, while typically only latex foams and textiles like an organic cotton cover can make up organic mattresses, not all latex mattresses are organic.
A brand claiming to produce a “green mattress” could suggest several different things. They may use organic materials, or they may rely on eco-friendly construction methods. If you see this claim, it is essential that you understand how the brand creates a mattress that is “greener” and, therefore, safer for you and the planet.
It’s important to be on the look out for “greenwashing.”a marketing strategy used by companies to promote the perception that their products or services are environmentally friendly, even if this is not necessarily the case. Greenwashing involves making false or exaggerated claims about the environmental benefits of a product or service in order to appeal to consumers who are concerned about the environment.
Greenwashing can be harmful because it can essentially deceive customers into thinking they’re being more sustainable than they are. Some common examples of greenwashing include:
- Using vague or meaningless terms such as “natural” or “eco-friendly,” without explaining why they are so.
- Making misleading claims about the environmental impact of a product or service.
- Using green imagery or colors to suggest environmental friendliness without any substantive changes to the product or service itself.
While both these terms are often used in the context of ethical consumerism and can overlap, they refer to different aspects of product production and use.
A product that is labeled as “vegan” does not contain any animal-derived ingredients or byproducts. This means that the product does not contain any animal-derived substances, such as the wool or feathers you might find inside a traditional innerspring mattress or the fill inside a traditional down comforter.
Vegan mattresses are made entirely from materials that are free from animal products or byproducts. They are free of wool, silk, down, feathers, or other materials derived from animals. Instead, a vegan mattress is typically made from plant-based materials such as organic cotton, bamboo, natural latex, or synthetic materials. Because they can be largely or entirely synthetic, it’s important to remember “vegan” is not the same as “natural” or “organic” labels.
The term “cruelty-free” typically refers to products that have not been tested on animals. This means that the product and its ingredients have not been subjected to animal testing during any stage of production, including development and manufacturing. The term is often used in the context of cosmetics, personal care products, and household cleaners, but can apply to any consumer product, including materials used inside a mattress.
The Benefits of a Chemical Free Mattress
Making the switch to a chemical-free mattress comes with several benefits. In general, we spend about a third of our lives in bed, so we need to rest on materials that will not harm us from long-term exposure.
Conventional mattresses rely on fire retardants, adhesives, and dyes that pose serious health risks. Non-toxic, organic, or eco-friendly mattress options are less likely to contain any of these harmful mattress chemicals.
If you suffer from allergies, a chemical-free mattress may alleviate your symptoms. Beds produced with safer ingredients are often hypoallergenic. Plus, they have minimal VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) emissions that often irritate the lungs.
Mattresses made with non-toxic materials have more breathability. More natural materials such as plant-based foam and latex foam, wick heat and moisture away from the body so you can sleep cool and comfortable.
Non-toxic mattress brands often have an environmentally friendly approach to manufacturing. These brands produce less pollution and use sustainable harvesting practices.
A safer, healthier mattress will have a longer lifespan than a conventional one. Chemical laden products tend to break down quickly. The more natural components the bed has, the longer it will last. A high-quality plant-based memory foam mattress will last between 8 and 10 years. Natural latex foam can last around 12 years. On average, conventional beds tend only to last around 6 years.
Best Non-Toxic Mattress Materials
To help you identify which beds are safer for you and your family, we outline the best non-toxic mattress materials.
Plant-Based Memory Foam
The best memory foam mattresses offer superior contouring and pressure relief that is difficult to find with any other type of bed. But, traditional memory foam is made with petroleum chemicals that can be harmful to sleep on. However, plant-based memory foam is partially made with plant-based oils that are non-toxic and safer for both you and the environment.
Plant-based foams help create a sleep environment that is more breathable than traditional memory foam. Plus, these memory foam comfort layers are low in VOC emissions, so you can rest assured that it is safe to bring into your home.
Plant-based memory foam is also more durable than standard foams and less expensive than latex foam. Latex mattresses that are entirely natural foams, with firmer latex layers supporting a comfort layer, are often out of reach of budget shoppers due to the foam’s production costs.
While you won’t come across plant-based memory foam that is certified organic, these beds are tested to ensure they pose no risk to human health. Further down in this article, we cover the certifications to look for when shopping for a non-toxic memory foam bed.
Natural Latex Foam
Latex is harvested from the sap of the rubber tree, which is a highly sustainable and durable crop. These trees do not require the use of pesticides and can be tapped many times before being cut down. This process makes latex a more eco-friendly option.
Latex foam can be either synthetic and natural. Synthetic latex is often made with toxic chemicals that are not safe for human contact. Natural latex foams, such as Dunlop or Talalay latex, are safer alternatives. Plus, natural latex is antimicrobial, biodegradable, resistant to mold growth, and highly durable.
Dunlop latex is not treated with any chemicals or fillers after harvesting and often has a firm feel. Natural Talalay latex is treated with non-toxic fillers to give it more bounce. Talalay foam often has a medium to medium-firm feel.
Latex mattresses made with either of these foams are non-toxic and safer for you. To ensure that latex foam in your bed is pesticide-free, look for latex with organic certifications from Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS).
However, while latex foam is a natural and non-toxic material, there is one group of people better off not sleeping on a latex mattress—people with latex allergies. While you shouldn’t come into contact with the latex inside the mattress, sleepers may still find the possibility of an allergic reaction too close for comfort. For their safety, they may need a latex-free mattress.
Cotton is a fast-growing and hardy crop that is used in everything from bedding to clothing. It is naturally hypoallergenic, breathable, soft, and makes an ideal mattress material. However, due to the popularity of cotton, these crops are heavily saturated with pesticides. When shopping for a non-toxic mattress, be sure to look for one that uses certified organic cotton, usually GOTS-certified organic cotton.
Bamboo fibers are another potential material for cover fabrics and bedding items. Like cotton, bamboo can also be certified organic by third-party organizations, though you may have more difficulty in finding certified organic bamboo textiles. However, in addition to being better for the environment, organic bamboo fabric may also be healthier for people who are sensitive to chemicals and synthetic materials.
Tencel is a brand name for a type of lyocell fabric made from the wood pulp of sustainably harvested trees, often eucalyptus trees. The wood pulp can come from sustainably managed forests, and the production process may use less water than cotton textiles. Tencel is not necessarily organic by default. However, there are Tencel products that have been certified as organic by third-party organizations like GOTS.
Wool is frequently used in chemical-free mattresses since it is a natural flame retardant. This material also helps to regulate body heat and moisture.
Although wool is a natural material, it is often treated with chemicals. However, certified organic wool does not have any chemical additives or preservatives. Plus, the sheep must not be given synthetic hormones or be left to graze on land that has been sprayed with pesticides. These practices ensure a non-toxic and chemical-free material.
Both innerspring and hybrid mattresses have a spring coil support base. In a hybrid, these steel coils are pocketed to create independent movement and adequate contouring. Since these coils are wrapped in fabric, it is difficult for dust mites and dirt to build-up inside the bed. Individually wrapped coils also better muffle the sound of springs creaking and limit motion transfer.
However, with traditional spring coils, there is more open space for harmful contaminants to accumulate, particularly with a lower coil count. In general, metal coils pose no health risk and are safe for human contact. For a cleaner mattress that will be less likely to collect dust, opt for a hybrid bed with pocketed spring coils.
If you see a mattress advertised as having a recycled coil support core, you may wonder if such coils are safe. Rest assured, yjr steel industry has a long history of using recycled steel in the production of coils, without any adverse effects on human health or the environment.
Recycling steel reduces the need for virgin materials, which conserves natural resources and reduces energy use and greenhouse gas emissions associated with mining and manufacturing virgin steel.
Recycled steel coils also go through a rigorous process of cleaning and melting down the scrap metal before it is used in the production of new coils. This process removes impurities and contaminants that may have been present in the original scrap metal, ensuring that the resulting product is safe and of high quality.
Safe Adhesives or Stitching
Chemical adhesives are often made from petroleum-based products, which are not renewable resources and have a significant environmental impact. Producing and disposing of these adhesives can also contribute to pollution and other environmental issues. Chemical adhesives are also a setback when it comes to sustainability as the adhesives can interfere with the mattress recycling process.
So, many eco-friendly and natural mattresses look for other ways to hold a mattress together:
- Water-based adhesives are a non-toxic alternative to chemical adhesives. They are made from natural polymers and are free of harmful chemicals.
- Some mattresses use plant-based adhesives made from materials like soy, corn, or bamboo. These adhesives are eco-friendly and non-toxic.
- Instead of using any adhesives, some mattress manufacturers use mechanical fasteners like screws or staples to hold the layers of the mattress together.
- Similarly, yarn fibers or wool batting may be used to fasten different mattress layers together.
Before 2007, there were no safety regulations regarding mattress flammability. As a result, a high number of deaths occurred each year due to bed fires. Therefore, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) created new flammability standards. These new regulations would ensure that each mattress sold in the US was resistant to fire.
The push for fire-resistant materials caused many brands to turn to toxic chemicals to pass strict flammability tests. These chemicals put consumers in even greater danger because many of them are harmful and lead to serious health conditions. Chemicals such as PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) became a popular mattress flame retardant.
However, this chemical is now linked to thyroid, liver, and neurological disorders. PBDEs are now banned in many states and monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Mattress companies can no longer use PBDEs to meet fire safety standards. But, other dangerous chemicals are not banned and can pose health risks. Below, we outline the fire-resistant chemicals that are harmful and those that are safe.
Harmful Flame Retardants
The following chemical flame retardants have been linked to severe health conditions by theincluding cancer, fertility issues, genetic defects, hormonal imbalance, and reduced thyroid and liver function.
It is best to avoid products that use any of these toxic fire retardants. Not only are they unsafe for human contact, but they will also leave behind a strong chemical odor in your home. This odor can lead to eye and skin irritation and trouble breathing. In more severe cases, it can cause headaches and nausea.
As mentioned above, PBDEs were banned in 2007. This flame-resistant chemical has been shown to cause learning disabilities and hyperactivity. Plus, hormone function and liver function decrease with long-term exposure.
Under California Proposition 65, TCEP is listed as a known carcinogen due to its link to impaired fertility. This chemical is also shown to cause a hormonal imbalance and neurotoxicity.
TDCPP (Chlorinated Tris)
Chlorinated tris is linked to altered hormone levels, certain types of cancers, and reproductive issues. It is also listed as a known carcinogenic under California Proposition 65.
Brominated Flame Retardants
Some fire retardants contain brominated chemicals such as bromine. These chemicals are known to cause disruptions to the endocrine and reproductive systems.
Air contaminated with antimony has been shown to irritate the eyes, heart, and lungs. It may also cause stomach pains, diarrhea, vomiting. With long-term exposure, severe heart and lung issues can occur.
Like TCEP, V6 contains an impurity that makes it toxic to humans. V6 has been linked to reproductive issues and poor liver and thyroid function.
Boric acid is often sprayed on the cover of the mattress or within the layers. This chemical fire retardant can also be used in other household items such as cleaners and cosmetics. Symptoms of boric acid exposure can range from mild to severe and often include skin, eye, and respiratory tract irritation.
Safe Flame Retardants
To avoid using these chemicals, many brands use natural flame retardants or fire barriers. As you shop, look for a mattress that uses one of these non-toxic materials.
Wool is naturally fire-resistant and does not need to be treated with any chemicals. Many brands include a wool fire barrier just under the mattress’s surface. This layer protects sleepers from a fire without any dangerous additives.
Silica is a naturally occurring and abundant mineral found in water, soil, and plants. When dehydrated and reduced to a particle, it acts as a natural flame retardant. Today, silica is one of the most popular non-toxic fire-resistant materials and can be found in a variety of products.
Plant fibers can be used as a natural flame retardant in mattresses in a couple of ways. One common method is to use plant fibers that have natural fire-resistant properties. For example, some plant fibers such as hemp and jute, have inherent fire-retardant qualities that make them suitable for use in mattresses.
Another way is to take plant fibers or wood pulp and bond them to a material that helps them resist flame, like fire-resistant polyester.
Kevlar is a synthetic material made of durable plastic fibers that are fire-resistant. In a mattress, a layer of kevlar is placed just below the surface of the bed. This material is not treated with any harmful chemicals, is non-toxic, and safe for human contact.
Graphite is a naturally occurring mineral that can be used as a flame retardant in mattresses. When exposed to high temperatures, graphite expands and releases non-combustible gases, creating a barrier between the flame and the material.
In such mattresses, graphite can be added to other materials such as foam or fiber to increase their fire resistance. Graphite can also be used in combination with other flame retardants to enhance their effectiveness.
Other Potentially Dangerous Mattress Additives
In addition to flame retardants, mattresses may have other harmful materials. When shopping for a healthier mattress, avoid those with the following additive.
Gaseous compounds such as(CFC) are harmful to the planet and human health. Although many ozone depleters are banned in the US, they may still be used in products manufactured outside the country. With long term exposure, inhaling CFC can lead to serious respiratory diseases.
Mercury, Lead, or Heavy Metalsare often added to foam during manufacturing. These additives are linked to kidney and brain damage, as well as digestive problems.
Phthalates are industrial chemicals used to soften polyvinyl (PVC). They have been shown to cause reproductive complications, kidney, and liver dysfunction.
Formaldehyde is present in several household items, including furniture, glues, and cleaners. However,it is dangerous for human contact and is linked to nasal and throat irritation. Long term exposure can lead to asthma and allergies.
Fabrics that are sprayed with harmful pesticides pose a serious health risk. Many of theused on cotton, which is a common mattress material, have been linked to cancer and organ failure with long term exposure.
Benzene is often used in plastics, dyes, detergents, glues, and pesticides. However, it is athat has been shown to reduce bone marrow function and red blood cell counts. Both of these side effects can decrease our immune function and make it difficult to fight infection.
Toluene is often present in industrial adhesives. According to theit causes nausea, headaches, and dizziness if inhaled.
Fiberglass is a synthetic material that can be used in some mattresses as a flame retardant. Without a flame retardant, a mattress is liable to go up in flames before a sleeper can get to safety, especially a mattress with synthetic foams and textiles. This is why mattresses made in the USA must meet flammability standards, and many do so by using inexpensive fiberglass.
Unlike the other chemicals we suggest avoiding, fiberglass is inert and theoretically, safe enough if kept contained. However, fiberglass is a known respiratory irritant that can cause skin irritation and respiratory issues if inhaled or ingested.
When inside the mattress cover, it won’t come in contact with the sleeper. However, the concern of many shoppers is that as the cover fabric wears through, the fiberglass can “sweat” through the surface and cause irritation. This is why there is a growing consumer demand for mattresses without fiberglass.
While fiberglass may help to meet fire safety standards, it can be harmful to your health and the environment. It’s also a hassle to clean up mattress fiberglass that’s escaped through a thin cover. Therefore, it’s generally recommended to avoid mattresses, particularly cheaper memory foam mattresses, that contain fiberglass or any other potentially harmful chemicals.
Non-Toxic Mattress Certifications
Many third-party organizations test mattresses for harmful chemicals before they can be sold to the public. Certification processes ensure manufacturers are honest with their consumers and are keeping them safe from potential health risks. Trustworthy certifiers also detail publicly what the process is for receiving certification.
The following third-party certifications and organizations will help you identify a bed that is non-toxic and eco-friendly.
- CertiPUR-US®: CertiPUR-US® tests polyurethane and mattress foams, including memory foam and poly-foam. This testing process ensures the polyurethane foam used in the bed is free of ozone-depleting substances, PBDEs, TDCPP, and TCEP (Tris) flame retardants, mercury, lead, and other heavy metals, phthalates, and formaldehyde. They also guarantee the foam has minimal VOC emissions. If you are considering a mattress made with foam, a CertiPUR-US® certification will help you find one that is safe for you and your family.
- GreenGuard: A GreenGuard certification can apply to several household items, including mattresses. GreenGuard tests that the product has little to no VOC emissions and is safe to bring inside the home. A GreenGuard Gold certification may apply to products used in healthcare facilities, for children, or the elderly.
- Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): A GOTS certification guarantees the fabrics in the mattress are at least 70 percent organic. This testing also ensures the company is using sustainable manufacturing practices.
- Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS): A GOLS certification guarantees the latex foam in the mattress is at least 95 percent organic. GOLS verifies the latex was grown and harvested with sustainable methods and is free of harmful additives.
- OEKO-TEX Standard 100: A OEKO-TEX 100 certification tests every material used in the mattress, including fabric, foam, thread, and buttons. This testing ensures that it is free of chemicals and additives that could pose a risk to human health.
- Eco-Institut: The Eco-Institut tests household furniture, mattresses, bedding, and flooring. They ensure no harmful substances such as formaldehyde, VOCs, and acetaldehyde are present in the product.
- Made Safe: Made Safe verifies all materials in the mattress have no suspected environmental or health risks.
- Rainforest Alliance: The Rainforest Alliance is an international non-profit with the goal of conserving biodiversity and promoting sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices, and consumer behavior. They work with farmers, foresters, and tourism operators to promote sustainable practices that protect ecosystems and improve livelihoods. The organization also offers certification programs to recognize and promote sustainable products and practices, including mattresses.
- Forest Stewardship Council: The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international non-profit organization that promotes responsible management of the world’s forests. The FSC has developed a certification system for forest management and chain-of-custody certification for forest products.
- Organic Content Standard: The Organic Content Standard (OCS) is a certification system for textiles made from organic materials. It was developed by the non-profit organization Textile Exchange and sets standards for the production, processing, and labeling of organic textiles. At least 95% of the fibers must be certified as organic and the product must be tracked and labeled throughout the supply chain to ensure it meets the requirements.
- Green America: Green America is a non-profit organization that aims to promote socially and environmentally responsible business practices. They evaluate businesses based on their social and environmental impact and encourage companies to adopt sustainable and ethical practices. The Green America certification process involves an evaluation of a company’s entire supply chain, from raw materials sourcing to end-of-life disposal.
- B Corp Certification: A certification program offered by B Lab, a non-profit organization that promotes businesses that prioritize social and environmental impact over just profits. B Corp Certification is designed to provide a third-party verification of a business’s commitment to social and environmental responsibility, transparency, and accountability.
- Fair Trade Certification: Fair Trade is a product certification program that aims to improve the lives and working conditions of farmers and workers in developing countries. The certification is offered by various organizations around the world, including Fairtrade International, Fair Trade USA, and the World Fair Trade Organization.
- Sustainable Furnishings Council (SFC): The SFC is a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable practices in the home furnishings industry. The SFC’s mission is to reduce the environmental impact of the home furnishings industry by promoting sustainable practices, materials, and products. To become a member of the SFC, companies must meet a set of sustainability criteria and agree to adhere to the SFC’s code of conduct.
- Zero Toxics Product Registry: This registry is a database of products that have been screened for potentially harmful chemicals. The registry is managed by the non-profit organization, the Healthy Building Network, and aims to promote the use of safer products in the building industry. The Zero Toxics Product Registry evaluates products based on their chemical composition and potential health hazards.
Amerisleep Commitment to Your Health and the Health of the Planet
Quick Guide: A 30-Second Summary
|Best Non-Toxic Memory Foam Mattress||Amerisleep AS3|
|Best Non-Toxic Latex Mattress||Amerisleep Organica|
At Amerisleep, we are committed to providing our customers with non-toxic and eco-friendly mattresses. To construct our plant-based memory foam, Bio-Pur®, we replace a portion of the petroleum-based oils with castor oil. This process creates a foam that is cleaner and safer for our customers. Plus, Bio-Pur® has minimal VOC off-gassing and is eco-friendly—making this comfort layer one of the healthiest memory foam mattresses on the market today.
Each of our memory foam mattresses and hybrid models has a Bio-Pur® top layer. No matter which of our mattresses you choose, you will reap the benefits of sleeping on a non-toxic, yet comfortable bed.
The base of our hybrid mattresses is made of steel spring coils that have been wrapped individually. Pocketed spring coils create a cleaner sleep surface because contaminants are less likely to build up in the bed—making these beds more suitable for those with allergies and asthma.
A CertiPUR-US® certification backs each component of our memory foam mattresses. This testing guarantees it is free of harmful substances such as formaldehyde and toxic flame retardants. CertiPUR-US® also recognizes that our manufacturing methods are safe and produce fewer VOC emissions.
Natural Flame Retardants
Instead of relying on harmful fire retardant chemicals, we use natural silica. Silica is both safe for the planet and human contact. By using silica, we can construct a mattress that is healthier for you and your family.
Inside our Amerisleep Organica, we use certified organic wool instead. This material doubles as both a flame barrier and temperature-neutral cushion.
Since 2010, we have constructed our advanced memory foam mattresses using eco-friendly materials and manufacturing processes. The use of plant-based oils in our Bio-Pur® foam results in less pollution and waste.
We work hard to reduce our carbon footprint by making our products here in the United States, and by using eco-conscious shipping and storage methods. We also help customers donate unwanted mattresses.
Do I Need a Natural Mattress for a Non Toxic Bed?
When discussing organic and natural materials, the type of mattress that leaps to mind is latex. However, you don’t necessarily need a natural latex mattress to have a non-toxic mattress. There are many types of mattresses that are made with non-toxic materials and manufacturing processes.
Mattresses without memory foam can offer different benefits. For example, some find they don’t like how a memory foam bed molds around their body. Instead, they prefer to stay on top of the surface, a feel that the classic innerspring mattresses pioneered and that latex and hybrid mattresses can also offer. A non memory foam mattress may therefore be the most comfortable mattress for you, establishing a naturally firm mattress feel.
Still, other sleepers prefer memory foam’s status as a mattress for pressure points. As a viscoelastic foam that adapts to heat and applied pressure, traditional memory foam mattresses cradle the entire body of a sleeper.
Similarly, hot sleepers may wonder about memory foam’s heat retention. Traditional memory foam has a reputation for trapping body heat and causing the sleeper to feel uncomfortably warm. If you tend to sleep hot, you may prefer a mattress without memory foam. Though, many memory foam mattresses made today have features to help it stay cool, and a cooling topper and bedding can help on warm nights.
However, a memory foam mattress isn’t inherently unsafe or toxic for most sleepers. Still, sleepers who are sensitive or allergic to its synthetic ingredients may need to choose a non memory foam mattress for their nightly comfort.
Some shoppers associate memory foam mattresses with fiberglass. As we’ve discussed, fiberglass is a flame-resistant material with potential drawbacks if it leaks through the mattress cover. Many memory foam manufacturers do use fiberglass to keep their mattresses affordable, as low prices can be a major selling point. Still, you don’t need to consider only non memory foam mattresses to find a bed free of fiberglass.
Non-Toxic Mattress Shopping Checklist
To make the shopping process easy, we have included a checklist of important mattress safety tips.
- If the mattress features memory foam, be sure these layers are partially made with plant-based oils. Fewer petroleum-based oils result in a clean, non-toxic sleep surface. A CertiPUR-US® or GreenGuard certification will also ensure it is free of harmful chemicals.
- If the bed features latex, all foam layers should be organic and backed by a GOLS certification. Avoid any latex foam that is synthetic or made with toxic chemicals.
- If you are looking for a mattress with organic materials, select one with a GOTS certification. This certification ensures the textiles in the bed are free of harmful pesticides. Also, it is essential to understand what layers the certification applies to. It may only apply to some fabrics, but not all.
- Does the company claim their mattresses are “green” and “non-toxic”? If so, be sure you understand the facts behind these claims and what certifications are in place to support them before making a mattress purchase. Remember, natural and organic materials are not the same.
- If the mattress is a hybrid model, verify that all foam layers are non-toxic and supported by a CertiPUR-US® or GreenGuard certification. It is also helpful to purchase one with pocketed spring coils since they tend to remain cleaner. Traditional spring mattresses not only are more prone to allergens but also tend to be less comfortable than hybrids.
- What type of flame retardants does the mattress contain? A non-toxic mattress will use either a wool layer, flame-resistant plant fibers, a kevlar fire barrier, a graphite infusion, or natural silica particles.
- If the company does not list any flame retardants, determine how the product meets flammability standards. You don’t want to bring any harmful chemicals into your home, but you also don’t want a highly flammable mattress either. Ideally, you also want a fiberglass-free mattress. Fiberglass isn’t as harmful as chemical retardants, but it can still be hazardous to your health if it escapes the mattress.
Other Mattress Buying Considerations
While safety is a paramount concern when shopping, you also have to consider a mattress’s comfort and support. The tricky thing is, there’s no one best mattress for everyone’s needs. Sleeping position, body temperature and local climate, and medical conditions can all affect what the right mattress for you is.
Buying a new mattress online can also feel like a challenge, though you may overestimate your ability to choose the right mattress in-store. Many sleepers are misled by 15 to 20 minutes on a store model into picking a bed unsuitable for their needs. Once you know what you need in a bed, narrowing down online mattresses to the final one best for you can be a breeze.
The best mattress firmness for your needs often depends on what your preferred sleeping position is:
- Side sleepers need the most pressure relief of all styles, so they need softer mattresses. Specifically, mattresses for side sleeping should have soft to medium feels.
- Back sleepers need firmer mattresses than what side sleepers require to maintain their neutral position, but not too firm or they risk discomfort. A mattress for back sleeping typically has a medium-firm feel.
- Stomach sleepers risk misalignment with their position. A mattress for stomach sleeping should therefore have a firm feel.
- Combination sleepers move between different sleep positions. A mattress for combination sleeping should deliver a balanced medium to medium-firm feel.
Your body shape affects how the mattress conforms to your body. Larger sleepers place more pressure on a mattress than a lighter person, and the same mattress will feel different to each type of body because of it. In other words, different body types require different mattress firmness levels. Shopping for the mattress for your body type can help you find the good night’s sleep you need:
- Mattresses for heavy sleepers need firmer feels to better counteract their body’s pressure.
- Mattresses for petite sleepers need to offer softer feels that are ready to ease tension.
When it comes to coolness, an innerspring or hybrid mattress may be the best option. All foam mattresses can still be cool if they use natural latex foam or advanced memory foam, or even added infusions like you find in gel memory foam.
Motion transfer is when your movements ripple across a mattress surface, and motion isolation features prevent this from happening. A mattress for motion isolation is a necessity if you plan on sharing the bed, though even single sleepers can find increased comfort by using one.
While coils can complicate motion isolation, you don’t have to avoid spring mattresses entirely. Just look for a hybrid mattress with pocketed coils, as wrapping every coil ensures every coil reacts individually.
Medical conditions and temporary medical concerns can affect how a mattress feels to you or the sleeping positions that will ensure you rest well and wake up comfortably. For example, people with chronic and recurring back issues may need a mattress with enhanced support in the lumbar region. This may come from a coil system with reinforced coils in the midsection or cutouts that form targeted support.
As another example, if you have arthritis or another condition that restricts movements, you may need a mattress with good edge support. Firmer edges can make it easier to move out of bed as the sides will readily support your body.
Every good mattress should come with two policies, a free sleep trial and a lengthy mattress warranty. These two policies help customers make more informed purchasing decisions and protect their investment.
A mattress sleep trial typically allows customers to try out a mattress in their own home for a set period of time, usually between 90 to 120 days. During this period, customers can return the mattress for a full refund if they are not satisfied with their purchase. At Amerisleep, we offer a 100-night sleep trial.
Trial periods are particularly useful because it can be difficult to judge whether a mattress is comfortable or supportive enough based on a short in-store test. A sleep trial period is also a necessity when looking at online mattresses. With a sleep trial, customers have the chance to sleep on the mattress for an extended period and make a more informed decision about whether it is right for them.
Mattress warranties, on the other hand, are designed to protect customers from defects and other issues that may arise with the mattress after purchase. These mattress warranties typically cover manufacturing defects, such as issues with the stitching, seams, or materials, but may not cover normal wear and tear or damage caused by improper use.
The length and terms of a mattress warranty can vary widely depending on the manufacturer and the specific model of the mattress. In the mattress industry, the standard length of a warranty for a well-made mattress is at least 10 years. It’s important to read the warranty carefully and understand what is covered and what is not. At Amerisleep, we offer a 20-year warranty and sagging coverage for all indentations over an inch.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is memory foam toxic?
In general, memory foam itself is not considered toxic. The foam is typically made with materials that are considered safe, such as polyols and diisocyanates, which are used in a wide range of consumer products.
However, the chemicals used to produce memory foam can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can evaporate into the air, which can potentially cause health problems. These health problems can include headaches, dizziness, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. The amount of VOCs released by memory foam products depends on the specific type of foam and the manufacturing process used.
To minimize the potential health risks associated with memory foam, it’s important to choose products that are certified by independent third-party organizations. It’s also a good idea to allow the memory foam mattress to air out for a few days before using it, as this can help reduce the amount of VOCs released into the air.
Are foam mattresses safe for babies?
Foam mattresses guaranteed non-toxic by CertiPUR-US® or GreenGuard Gold are safe for babies and toddlers. However, babies must not sleep on a soft mattress that could cause them to suffocate or overheat. Crib mattresses should be firm and should not contour to your baby’s body or trap heat. Some parents may prefer one of the best innerspring mattresses for babies instead of a small foam mattress, to properly buoy the infant’s small body.
How much does a non-toxic mattress cost?
Customers can expect to pay between $1,000 and $2,000 for a non-toxic, eco-friendly bed. If the mattress is certified organic through GOLS or GOTS, it may cost between $2,000 and $2,500. While this may be more expensive than an innerspring model, chemical-free beds are more durable and will support you for many years. A cheaper bed made with harmful additives will deteriorate and break down quickly, leaving you to sleep on a lumpy, uncomfortable mattress.
What mattresses last the longest?
Memory foam and latex foam mattresses have the longest lifespan. A high-quality memory foam bed will last between 8 to 10 years, while a latex foam mattress will last around 12 to 15 years.
Innerspring mattresses and those with adjustable layers of air have the shortest life span. Spring coils tend to break and bend quickly, causing them to stick up into sleepers and create painful pressure points. If you’re interested in a spring mattress, remember that a thicker coil gauge typically translates into stronger springs.
Beds with adjustable layers of air also frequently break. Air pumps and hoses can become blocked and develop leaks. These repairs can become costly if they are not covered by a warranty.
Can I be allergic to my mattress?
Mattresses can cause allergic reactions. If the bed is made with harmful chemicals, the off-gassing could make allergy symptoms worse. Innerspring beds have open spaces between the coil springs. In some cases, dust, dirt, and other pollutants can build-up in the bed, causing an allergic reaction.
If you suffer from allergies, a mattress made with hypoallergenic latex or plant-based memory foam may be a good choice for you. Since these foams are so dense, they are less likely to collect harmful allergens.
Pesticides can also trigger allergic reactions, so that you may sleep more comfortably on a mattress made with organic materials.
How dangerous is mattress off-gassing?
If the mattress contains toxic chemicals and flame retardants, off-gassing can be harmful. In some cases, off-gassing results in trouble breathing, headaches, and skin irritation. But, if the mattress does not contain harmful chemicals, the off-gassing will be minimal and less irritating.
Most memory foam mattresses experience some off-gassing, and how long the off-gassing lasts depends on the memory foam’s quality. A CertiPUR-US® certified memory foam mattress typically has a minimal off-gassing period.
Before you buy a new mattress, it is essential to verify each claim related to the bed’s safety and toxicity. Statements that are not backed by certifications may be an attempt to make their products look safer than they are. This is called “greenwashing”—a marketing tactic that falsely claims to be “green” to appeal to more customers. Verifying certifications, flame retardants, and eco-friendly claims will ensure the bed you purchase is truly non-toxic and made with durable materials.
Deciding to buy a healthier mattress for yourself and the planet will have several benefits. Sleeping on one of the best mattresses, you will be exposed to fewer toxins and sleep soundly knowing that no harmful additives are lurking in your bed. Plus, it can feel good to support a mattress company that is protecting the environment and the health of its customers.