Why You Need to Be Sleeping On A Fiberglass Free Mattress

Medically reviewed by
 Dr. Jordan Burns DC, MS

Dr. Jordan Burns DC, MS

Meet Dr. Burns, a devoted chiropractor with an extensive seven-year professional career dedicated to optimizing patient health. With an academic background in Kinesiology, Life Sciences, and Sports Science and Rehabilitation,…

Last Updated On May 20th, 2024
Why You Need to Be Sleeping On A Fiberglass Free Mattress

Key Takeaways

  • Fiberglass in Mattresses: Fiberglass is used in mattresses to serve as a fire safety feature, helping to prevent the spread of flames in case of a fire. While it is effective in this regard, concerns have arisen about its potential health risks when it escapes from the mattress.
  • Health Concerns: Fiberglass exposure can lead to skin irritation, respiratory issues, and other discomforts. Taking off the mattress cover can release glass particles into the environment.
  • Alternatives to Fiberglass: Many mattress manufacturers now offer options using alternative fire-retardant materials like wool, plant fibers, and silica.

You may have heard of fiberglass in mattresses mentioned in a negative context, as concerns about this material have become more and more common in recent years. However, you may not know exactly what this material is or why it’s sparked controversy.

Despite its name, fiberglass is not pure glass. It’s a composite material that’s partly plastic and reinforced with glass fibers and synthetic chemicals. The material is used beyond just mattresses, such as in-home insulation since it works well as a thermal barrier.

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“Sleeping on a mattress containing fiberglass poses potential health risks, including respiratory issues and skin irritation,” says Dr. Jordan Burns. “Research suggests that the sleep environment Verified Source ScienceDirect One of the largest hubs for research studies and has published over 12 million different trusted resources. View source significantly impacts sleep quality and overall health. Fiberglass particles can escape from mattresses and contaminate the bedroom environment, leading to poor air quality and potential health hazards.”

Best Mattresses Without Fiberglass

Quick Guide: A 30-Second Summary

Best Mattress Overall Amerisleep AS3
Best Firm Mattress Amerisleep AS2
Best Soft Mattress Amerisleep AS5
Best Natural Mattress Amerisleep Organica

Why Do Mattresses Have Fiberglass?

Mattresses made in the U.S. must meet certain safety criteria when it comes to flammability. In the event of a fire, the fiberglass melts and coats the mattress’s insides, preventing the flame from spreading.

However, fiberglass is not the only material that can prevent a mattress from catching fire. Chemical retardants were once common but are now banned due to toxicity concerns. Verified Source Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Works to control/prevent natural and manmade disasters. View source Fiberglass became a popular choice to replace these chemicals.

Some chemical retardants that are considered harmful and dangerous include:

  • Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)
  • Boric acid
  • Antimony trioxide
  • Decabromodiphenyl oxide
  • Melamine
  • Vinylidene Chloride
  • Organohalogen flame retardants or OFRs

Other alternatives to fiberglass are wool, plant fibers, and silica. Any one of these natural materials can serve as a mattress fire retardant, giving sleepers precious time to escape in an emergency.

While fiberglass serves an important purpose in mattresses as a fire safety measure, it’s natural to wonder about the potential health implications of sleeping on a mattress containing this material.

Is it Safe for a Mattress to Have Fiberglass?

This isn’t quite as simple as a yes-or-no question because fiberglass is meant to be a fire safety feature during sleep. Fiberglass inside the mattress helps prevent the bed from catching fire when exposed to flames.

As long as the fiberglass stays inside the mattress, the bed should be safe enough. What if that fiberglass gets free, though?

Well, there are no known long-term concerns of fiberglass exposure, it can lead to coughing, a sore throat, red eyes, stomach issues, itchiness, and other symptoms of irritation.

These are not major medical concerns, but they can negatively impact your quality of life. Particularly because once fiberglass gets free, it’s difficult to remove it all from a living area, finding its way into the crevices of a cluttered bedroom. So those irritation symptoms will continue to persist until your home is clean.

Where is Fiberglass Inside a Mattress Located?

Fiberglass is usually found underneath the cover fabric, as a shell wrapped around the foams and springs inside the mattress. The idea of this ‘inner cover’ design is that if the outside of the mattress does catch fire, the material will quickly melt into a barrier, slowing the spread of the flame and ensuring a sleeper has time to move away.

Because the fiberglass layer is typically just under the cover fabric, many mattress manufacturers instruct owners to not remove the cover, even if there’s a zipper to do so. Slipping off the cover or needing to fix a ripped mattress can let the shards underneath spread throughout your bedroom and even into the rest of your home.

However, while the fabric covering should keep the fiberglass inside the mattress, some customers have complained that cheaply made mattresses can let the fiberglass leak through. Hence why many shoppers search for a nontoxic and chemical free mattress that doesn’t contain fiberglass.

What If My Mattress Has Fiberglass?

What do you do if you learn the surface you’re sleeping on contains fiberglass? The material is non-toxic and should not harm you if it remains safely contained, so you can continue to sleep on your mattress as long as you never remove the cover.

If you’re concerned because your mattress contains fiberglass, we suggest wrapping it in a mattress protector until it’s time to replace the mattress. A mattress protector can help to contain any stray shards should the cover wear out, preventing the fiberglass from spreading and creating a mess that’s extremely difficult to clean up.

How do you know when your mattress needs replacing? A worn cover is definitely one sign and can let fiberglass leak through, but there are other ways to tell that a mattress is past its prime before you have to clean up mattress fiberglass.

Once you have your new mattress, you can freely dispose of your unwanted one. If you’re uncomfortable donating a mattress that has fiberglass to charities that accept gently used mattresses, we suggest looking into ways to recycle your mattress.

Many recycling programs have been established to cut down on the number of mattresses heading to landfills, and parts such as steel springs can be repurposed into other objects.

Looking for a Mattress Free of Fiberglass?

Transparency is key when it comes to avoiding a fiberglass mattress. Many of the top mattress brands that are fiberglass-free give extensive information on where they source their materials and proudly state their mattresses are made in the USA.

Mattresses sold and assembled in the U.S. have to comply with strict product safety regulations that mattresses shipped from overseas can sidestep. Knowing a mattress’s construction and product history can boost confidence in any labels and certifications it has. The best places to buy a mattress should list this information openly or provide it freely upon request when you speak to a customer service representative.

Speaking of safety labels and mattress certifications, some of the more common ones to keep an eye out for include:

While a low-cost mattress may be tempting if you’re on a budget, they typically lack the certifications and transparency that can inspire consumer confidence. You can save money without sacrificing quality and find an affordable eco-friendly mattress that’s free of fiberglass.

Researching a company’s reputation and reading through customer reviews can also guide you toward a mattress that’s right for you and does not contain fiberglass. It’s always smart to peruse customer reviews as a way to make sure you’re choosing one of the most comfortable mattresses available, so this is yet another reason to do your homework while shopping.

We do suggest you look at the most current reviews you can find, as many companies have abandoned using fiberglass in mattresses. Reviews that are a few years old or more may not give an accurate reflection of the mattress’s current construction, along with its comfort levels and expected durability.

We must also note that fiberglass isn’t always called fiberglass, and some manufacturers may still use it while calling it a different name. Other names for fiberglass particles that you may spot when reading a mattress tag include:

  • Glass wool
  • Glass fiber
  • Glass-reinforced plastic (GRP)
  • Glass-fiber reinforced plastic (GFRP)
  • Fiberglass-reinforced plastic

Now when it comes to the types of mattresses that may contain fiberglass, some have more of a reputation for it than others. For example, memory foam mattresses may contain a fiberglass sock, as many memory foam manufacturers strive to produce an affordable bed. Cheaper polyfoam beds can also rely on fiberglass protection.

Meanwhile, many latex mattresses, particularly organic latex mattresses, have an inner wool layer that serves to cool the surface and enables the mattress to resist an open flame. Airbeds and waterbeds are also unlikely to contain fiberglass because they do not require the same type of fire-resistant materials in their construction.

However, that’s not to say that you should give up on finding a fiberglass-free memory foam mattress. Plenty of memory foam mattresses are being made without fiberglass, especially as more shoppers and manufacturers have become concerned about the effects of fiberglass exposure.

“When selecting a mattress, I advise looking for certifications like CertiPUR-US® or GREENGUARD Gold, which indicate the product is free from harmful chemicals and substances, including fiberglass,” says Dr. Burns. “These certifications align with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s recommendations Verified Source American Academy of Sleep Medicine Society focused on sleep medicine and disorders, and the AASM is who authorizes U.S. sleep medicine facilities. View source for creating a sleep environment that supports health and well-being.”

Fiberglass Alternatives

There are several alternative materials that can be used in mattresses instead of fiberglass. One such material is wool, which is a natural flame-resistant material commonly found in organic latex mattresses. Wool has the unique ability to retain moisture, which helps slow down the ignition process.

When wool catches fire, it tends to smolder slowly instead of bursting into flames instantly. This property makes wool an effective flame retardant for mattresses, while also offering temperature-neutral properties that help wick away heat and moisture for a more comfortable sleep experience.

Not only does natural or organic wool meet the flammability standards in the U.S., but it also offers temperature-neutral properties. It’s great at wicking away heat and moisture, ensuring a more comfortable sleep experience.

Synthetic materials can also be used. Polyester and rayon, for example, can limit the spread of fire without relying on fiberglass.

Kevlar, a strong plastic material, is another notable example. Its unique structure prevents it from easily melting, making it resilient even when exposed to intense heat. This property allows Kevlar to safeguard mattresses against fire.

“Beyond choosing a fiberglass-free mattress, consider factors like mattress firmness, which should support proper spinal alignment and materials that promote breathability and temperature regulation,” explains Dr. Burns.

“Integrating these considerations can enhance sleep quality and contribute to overall musculoskeletal health, as a supportive sleep environment is crucial for the body’s nightly recovery processes.”

About Amerisleep Mattresses

Amerisleep’s mattresses are produced without fiberglass while still meeting all the necessary standards for sleeping safety. We offer memory foam, hybrid, and latex mattresses meant to suit various sleep styles.

We’ve been spotlighted by a number of sleep health blogs, such as:

Aside from our fiberglass-free mattress design, there are other benefits to choosing an Amerisleep mattress. Our numbered line of mattresses features the following:

  • A cover of Refresh fabric that’s meant to go beyond staying cool at night. This fabric features thermoreactive materials that convert body heat into infrared energy.
  • Bio-Pur® foam, which is our innovative take on traditional memory foam. We replace some of the standard ingredients in memory foam with plant-derived substitutes. The result is a memory foam that’s more breathable and adaptable than most alternatives.
  • Affinity foam with HIVE® technology serves as the transition layer in many of our models. Affinity foam is a buoyant material that creates a smoother surface feel and improves responsiveness, while the HIVE® technology establishes five distinct support zones. HIVE® ensures the bed feels soft where it’s wanted and firm where it’s needed.
  • Pocketed coils provide the support of our hybrid mattresses, with every coil individually wrapped to better isolation motion. The drawback of a traditional innerspring mattress is how a sleeper’s every movement can be carried across the surface, so pocketed springs are important if you plan on sharing the bed.
  • Alternatively, our memory foam mattresses feature a base of Bio-Core® foam. This foam is strong and resists sagging and body impressions, helping the mattress snap back into shape quickly.

Every Amerisleep mattress ships free and comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 20-year warranty.

Comparing Mattress Brands and Fiberglass Use

Mattress BrandDo They Use Fiberglass?
AllswellYes
AmazonBasicsYes
AmerisleepNo
AmorebedsNo
Ashley MattressesYes
AvencoNo
AvocadoNo
AwaraNo
BearNo
Best Price MattressYes
Big FigNo
BirchNo
Brentwood HomeNo
Brooklyn BeddingNo
CasperYes
Classic BrandsYes
CrystliYes
Dynasty MattressNo
Eco TerraNo
Eight SleepYes
EmmaYes
EssentiaNo
Full MoonYes
GhostBedYes
HappsyNo
HelixNo
JoybedNo
KeetsaNo
Latex for LessNo
LaylaYes
LeesaYes
LinenspaYes
LucidYes
LullYes
MainstaysYes
MaximNo
MinocasaNo
MlilyNo
MolbllyYes
MoleculeYes
My Green MattressNo
NapQueenYes
Natural FormNo
NaturepedicNo
NectarYes
Nest BeddingNo
NolahNo
NovillaNo
OleesleepYes
Perfect CloudYes
PlushbedsNo
PuffyYes
PurpleNo
SaatvaNo
SealyYes
SienaYes
Signature SleepYes
Silk & SnowNo
Sleep InnovationsYes
Sleep NumberPossibly, but uncertain
Sleepy’s by Mattress FirmYes
SpindleNo
Stearns & FosterYes
Sunrising BeddingNo
SweetnightNo
TempurpedicYes
Tuft & NeedleNo
tulo by Mattress FirmYes
VayaNo
VibeYes
WinkBedsNo
ZinusYes
ZomaNo

Other Mattress Buying Considerations

Mattress Firmness

Mattress firmness is an essential factor to consider for different sleep positions. Here’s a brief overview of the ideal mattress firmness levels for each sleeping style:

  • Mattresses for side sleeping can span a wide range, offering medium to soft feels for proper contouring and pressure relief, particularly in areas like the shoulders and hips.
  • Mattresses for back sleeping with a gentle firmness can maintain proper spinal alignment and prevent sinking too deeply into the mattress.
  • Mattresses for stomach sleeping require firmer feels to keep the spine properly aligned and prevent excessive sinking of the stomach and pelvis area.
  • Mattresses for combination sleeping need a medium firmness to offer a balance between support and pressure relief. This accommodates different sleep positions and allows movements.

Mattress Types

When choosing a mattress without fiberglass, consider the following types:

  • Memory Foam Mattresses: Look for models with cooling features and advanced open-cell construction to avoid heat retention. Ensure the memory foam is certified by CertiPUR-US® to be free of fiberglass.
  • Latex Mattresses: Natural latex mattresses are often fiberglass-free, as they rely on inherently flame-resistant materials like wool or plant fibers for fire safety.
  • Innerspring Mattresses: While some innerspring mattresses may contain fiberglass, many manufacturers now offer fiberglass-free options. Look for transparent brands that clearly state their materials.
  • Hybrid Mattresses: Hybrid mattresses can be found without fiberglass, but it’s essential to check the materials used in the comfort layers and ensure the manufacturer is transparent about the presence of fiberglass.
  • Air Mattresses: Inflatable air mattresses are unlikely to contain fiberglass. This is not just because glass particles could potentially cause a leak in the mattress. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) states that air mattresses are not required to meet flammability standards unless they have upholstery material between the ticking and mattress core.
  • Waterbeds: Waterbeds are also exempt from U.S. flammability requirements unless they have upholstery material. Therefore, it is unlikely for a waterbed to contain fiberglass.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is fiberglass used in mattresses?

Fiberglass is used in mattresses to limit the potential of a deadly fire. It was meant as an alternative to chemical flame retardants, which later fell out of favor as their health risks became well-known. The material was appealing because it was inexpensive and non-toxic, while also providing protection that could save people’s lives during a fire.

However, fiberglass has become criticized for not being completely free of harm. Many mattress owners have reported skin irritation and temporary respiratory issues after removing a bed’s outer cover.

Does memory foam contain fiberglass?

The memory foam itself does not contain fiberglass. CertiPUR-US®, a common certification for high-quality memory foam mattresses, even notes that their seal means a foam doesn’t contain fiberglass.

However, just because there isn’t fiberglass inside the foam doesn’t mean a memory foam mattress lacks fiberglass entirely. The fiberglass typically encases the foams as a separate layer, so shoppers need to do their research to find memory foam mattresses without the material.

How can I tell if my mattress has fiberglass?

Often, mattress manufacturers won’t openly advertise that their mattresses contain fiberglass. Still, an observant shopper can often spot the signs. If they don’t refer to it as fiberglass, they may call it “glass wool” or “glass fibers.”

Another warning sign is a manufacturer stressing that mattress owners should not remove the cover. Removing the cover can let fiberglass escape, and this exposure to fiberglass can cause a number of health issues. So even if a mattress brand won’t openly say their mattresses have fiberglass, non-removable mattress covers should put a shopper’s guard up.

What mattresses don’t use fiberglass?

Organic latex mattresses used to be the most certain way to get a fiberglass-free mattress. Instead of fiberglass, these eco-friendly mattresses tended to rely on flame-resistant wool or plant fibers.

However, it’s quite possible now to find all types of mattresses made without fiberglass, from memory foam to hybrids and even traditional innerspring mattresses.

Do all mattresses have fiberglass in them?

No, not all mattresses have fiberglass inside them, particularly as the drawbacks of fiberglass become more understood. However, the material is still used as an affordable way for mattresses in the U.S. to meet federal safety standards.

Fiberglass is relatively inexpensive and it is quite effective as a non-chemical flame retardant. So it remains, for now at least, a common ingredient in mattresses.

Conclusion

More and more mattress shoppers are becoming aware of the potential risks to fiberglass, with a greater demand for mattresses free of fiberglass. Though it’s non-toxic, fiberglass can cause severe discomfort if it escapes its mattress.

If you do have a mattress with fiberglass, though, it’s not the end of the world. Be certain to not only keep the mattress cover on but take the precaution of using a mattress protector as an added shield. This can help you safely stretch out the use of your mattress until you’re ready to find a replacement.


About the author

Mitchell Tollsen is a graduate student and a freelance writer who’s contributed to the Early Bird blog for three years. Mitchell’s always been fascinated by the science of sleep and the restorative processes our bodies undergo when at rest. The self-titled “Sleep Expert” is always looking for ways to improve his shut-eye, and throughout the years has implemented numerous lifestyle changes and tried dozens of sleep-promoting gadgets to determine the best ways to truly get better rest.

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