UPDATED: March 2018
Written by Maia & John
Finding a non-toxic mattress is super important but also super confusing to work through. If your head hurts just looking at the length of this page, please feel free to reach out to our Home Health Director, John, or his administrative assistant, Tracy, for individualized help. You can also call 717-869-6968 to speak with John.
And, here’s a video summarizing what’s in this new guide:
NOTE: After we shot this video we found one more company that makes a non-toxic mattress with top-level certifications. See below, under The Best Stuff tab.
Okay, so those are some shortcuts. For the rest of you, read on for what to look for in a non-toxic mattress, the confusing world of certifications, and of course, our lists of Best, Good, Okay, Bad, and Sneaky mattresses!
My Own Non-Toxic Mattress Choices
When I was pregnant for the first time, we decided to upgrade to a king-sized bed in anticipation of co-sleeping with our newborn.
Of course, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t agonize and research before making any purchase…and there was plenty to agonize over when it came to finding a non-toxic mattress!
At the time of writing this updated post, I have a 4-year-old and a 8-year-old, both of whom still spend a lot of time in our bed, and I’m so glad I feel comfortable with (and comfortable on!) the non-toxic mattresses we chose: a Savvy Rest for us in 2009, followed by White Lotus futons for the boys, and now we’ve just upgraded to a Soaring Heart Zoned for our bedroom.
Why did I swap out my Savvy Rest for a Soaring Heart? Well, thanks to my dad’s even more intensive research, the updated version of this Guide breaks mattresses into even more categories, and we really separate the Best Stuff from even the Very Good Stuff when it comes to finding a non-toxic mattress. (For the master bedroom of our nontoxic retreat space, we also chose a Soaring Heart Mattress.)
Our Top Pick for Mattresses
As you’ll see below, there are only three non-toxic mattress brands that qualify as the Best Stuff, thanks to their super legit certifications.
We are both (Maia and John) now sleeping on Soaring Heart mattresses, which happen to also be the most comfortable, luxurious mattresses we’ve found.
Sick Beds: Why a Non-toxic Mattress Matters
I often tell my private consulting clients that their mattress is the very first thing they should upgrade when detoxing their homes. This is particularly true when it comes to a crib mattress.
The reason I feel so strongly about sleeping on a non-toxic mattress? Well, for one thing, babies and kids spend a lot of time sleeping, and even busy, night-owl grownups spend at least 25% of their lives in bed. Moreover, there is evidence that your immune system works hardest at night, so it seems reasonable to make your sleep environment as clean as possible. Unfortunately, mattresses are loaded with noxious chemicals, including:
- Various petrochemicals. Indeed, MOST of what makes up a conventional mattress are petroleum-based.
- Plastics or vinyls.
- Flame retardant chemicals (although there is good news on this front–more on that in a minute).
- Synthetic latex, which usually made from styrene, a human carcinogen.
This chemical cocktail releases VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which are linked to a host of health problems, from respiratory irritation to cancer.
A Myth About Off-Gassing
Many of my clients think that their mattresses are okay if they are old because they have “already off-gassed.” Unfortunately, this is not true in the case of foam mattresses. In fact, as the foam degrades, more PBDEs (hormone-disrupting flame retardants) may be released.
Crib mattresses are often covered in vinyl for waterproofing, which often contains phthalates. In 2009, Congress passed a law that forbids the use of three types of phthalates in products for young children, including mattresses. Of course, other plasticizers are likely used in place of phthalates, and they may be just as bad.
Fire “Safety”: The Most Dangerous Part of Your Mattress
Mattresses are required by the Consumer Product Safety Commission to meet flammability laws, which previously meant that they were almost always treated with bromated or chlorinated flame retardant chemicals, typically one of the first three on this list:
- Polybrominated diphenyl ethers. PBDEs are associated with hormone disruption, hyperactivity, and neurodevelopmental delays, including lowered IQ . The European Union has banned the use of PBDEs in electronic devices. Studies show that children in the United States have higher levels of PBDEs than adults do. Oh, and here’s the kicker: they don’t even work very well at stopping fires.
- Firemaster 550. This nasty chemical cocktail is made with bis(2-ethylhexyl) tetrabromophthalate (TBPH). Yes, you saw that word in there: phthalate. TBPH is nearly idential to DEHP, the phthalate banned in children’s products (including mattresses!!) due to evidence of carcinogenicity and developmental toxicity.
- Chlorinated tris. This is the notorious chemical that was removed from children’s pajamas in the 1970s because it was shown to cause cancer.
- Halogen-free flame retardants. This newer class of chemicals (such as ammonium polyphosphate, aluminium diethyl phosphinate, and melamine polyphosphate) is believed to be much less likely to bioaccumulate than bromated flame retardants. I still prefer my mattresses to be free of even these.
Are Coils Bad Stuff?
There has been a lot of chatter on the net in recent years regarding metal coils in beds. We paid close attention to this and did some research and arrived at the conclusion that steel springs present no known danger.
The bottom line is that there is no reason for concern. It’s not that we think EMFs are benign, it’s that we can find no credible evidence showing that metal coils can act like an antenna and concentrate EMFs into our sleeping bodies.
Now that you know what can make a mattress toxic, let me tell you about the materials and certifications that make up a non-toxic mattress. They include:
- Organic wool (untreated) is naturally flame and mildew/dust mite resistant.
- 100% natural latex (made from rubber trees) is safer than latex blends, which may contain petroleum-based polyurethane.
- Organic cotton (grown in untreated soil, without pesticides) can be used for batting or mattress wrapping. There is a robust debate about whether or not the herbicides and pesticides used on cotton crops will wash/bleach out as the cotton is processed. Most studies show that it does, but some folks believe that a residue remains. We believe that the risk of sleeping on a mattress or sheets made from conventionally grown cotton are tiny. Still, for the good of the planet, we should all choose organically grown cotton whenever possible. (Sadly, certified organic cotton is costly…about two times the cost of conventional.)
- Trusted certifications, from third-party certifying bodies, mean that some ingredients in the mattress have been vetted by organizations committed to improving air quality. This also means a safer sleeping surface for you. However, all certifications are not created equally! (See below.)
Non-Toxic Mattress Certifications
Sorting through mattress certifications is maddening. Here’s just some of why that is:
- First of all, not all certifications are created equal–some offer great assurance that your new mattress will be non-toxic, while otherwise are essentially meaningless.
- What’s more, just because a company shows a certification doesn’t mean all of the material in that mattress are certified, or even that all of THAT material is certified. One of our readers wrote to us about a mattress that contained Oeko-Tex 100 certified wool, but the company wouldn’t confirm that they solely purchases the wool from this source. Thus, in this case it would be impossible to know if the mattress you’re purchasing contains the certified wool or not (to say nothing of the other materials in this mattress).
- Sometimes, a mattress will claim to have a certification that they don’t really have. One of the of the most common deceptive practices is when a manufacturer claims to have GOLS certification for their latex mattress, and they even display the GOLS logo on their website. They might even show an actual copy of it on their website, complete with date and signatures. If, however, the certificate is not written to the same name as the manufacturer, it is not particularly meaningful. They are commonly written to a latex supplier out of Sri Lanka or India or South America. A certification written to an entity or person in Sri Lanka shows only that the latex was certified up to that point on its journey to becoming someone’s bed. Between Sri Lanka and your bedroom all sorts of things can (and do) happen to the latex to cause it to be more toxic than the certification implies. (Only three companies have the best certifications written directly to the company: Soaring Heart, LifeKind, and Naturepedic..)
Best Non-Toxic Mattress Certifications:
GOLS (for latex) and GOTS (for textiles).
To obtain a GOTS certification, at least 95% of the mattress must be made of certified organic materials, and certain chemistries are prohibited entirely, even for that other 5%. These include polyurethane foam and the fire retardants listed above.
A GOLS certification means that the mattress is made of at least 95% organic latex, and again, the other 5% of the materials are also restricted in important ways.
Good Mattress Certifications:
Oeko-Tex Standard 100. While this certification doesn’t require any organic materials to be used in a mattress, it does set limits for VOC emissions (such as formaldehyde). It also prohibits the use of dangerous flame retardants and dyes.
Okay Mattress Certifications:
Greenguard-certified mattresses have been tested (and are within limits) of certain VOCS, such as formaldehyde, and Greenguard Gold has stricter standards than plain old Greenguard.
Organic Content Standard 100 just means that some of the ingredients are organic, but doesn’t ban flame retardants or other harmful chemicals.
Sneaky Mattress Certifications:
NAOMI (National Association of Organic Mattress Industry) and CertiPUR. NAOMI was created by Pure Rest Organics (a mattress company!), and CertiPUR was developed “by members of the global foam industry,” although it does ban the use of some chemicals, such as PBDE flame retardants).
Bottom Line on Certifications:
Most certifications are of SOME value, but they can be used sneakily by mattress manufacturers. Manufacturers may claim to have a certification that they don’t actually have. So you really need to ask to see the actual signed certification, keeping in mind that if it’s out of date, it’s worthless. Only three companies have the best certifications written directly to the company: Soaring Heart, LifeKind/OMI, and Naturepedic.
The Best Stuff
Soaring Heart Natural Bedding Company was quick to answer our questions about their mattresses. They are also incredibly transparent. Based out of Seattle and in operation for almost 30 years, Soaring Heart hand-crafts most of their mattresses on site.
Soaring Heart makes two kinds of non-toxic mattresses: organic innerspring and latex. The organic innerspring is made of 95% recycled steel and wool, with an organic cotton casing.
Soaring Heart’s latex mattresses are made of 100% organic latex. They have both GOLS and GOTS certification, written to Soaring Heart itself.
Soaring Heart mattresses contain no chemical fire retardants. They explained to me that “the latex passes the flame test by using a combination of a tightly woven, organic cotton fabric encasement and is then wrapped in organic felted wool.” Soaring Heart discloses the materials of all mattress components on its website, something that most companies do not do.
Bad Stuff About Soaring Heart
The only downside to Soaring Heart is that if you live on the East Coast there is only one way to lie on this mattress, which is to come stay in our non-toxic retreat space in Lancaster, PA. 🙂
How to Get a Soaring Heart Mattress
You can now buy Soaring Heart mattresses through our online store, and they ship free anywhere in the United States. Depending on the specific model you choose, as well as the size of your bed, these mattresses run from $1,500 to $3,650. Soaring Heart offers organic crib mattresses and dog beds, too, which are both also available in our store. I sleep on a Soaring Heart Zoned Mattress, my parents on a Soaring Heart organic latex shikibuton, and we both have toppers.
Naturepedic was founded by a grandfather named Barry when he could not find a non-toxic mattress for his grandson. Naturepedic mattresses are now used by over 150 hospitals in the United States.
Naturepedic mattresses are made of certified organic cotton and a steel innerspring. Naturepedic use no flame retardants of any kind. Naturepedic mattresses are less expensive than other natural mattresses, and Naturepedic has received many awards/certifications for their products.
Naturepedic is one of only three companies that has the best certifications (GOTS and GOLS) written to the company itself (see above under “The Best Non-Toxic Mattress Certifications” for more on this.)
The waterproof mattress options use food-grade polyethylene for their outer layer (it acts as a moisture and vapor barrier). I’m skeptical about the safety of all plastics, although this one seems about as good as it gets for those of you wanting a truly waterproof mattress.
How to Get a Naturepedic Mattress
Naturepedic mattresses are available on their website. Adult mattresses mostly run in the $3,000-range, an crib mattresses from $259 to $399. We offer Naturepedic crib mattresses and children’s mattresses in our online store.
Also known as OMI or OrganicPedic, LifeKind makes fully certified organic mattresses. (We confirmed this after shooting the video at the beginning of this post, which is why we only mention two premier brands in that). We have yet to test out a LifeKind mattress for comfort, but if you have, please share your thoughts below.
(Don’t forget to scroll up to read about The Good Stuff, The Okay Stuff, The Bad Stuff, and The Sneaky Stuff!).
You can find LifeKind crib mattresses on Amazon, and to buy any other LifeKind mattress, please visit LifeKind’s website. Use code SAVE50 at checkout for $50 off your LifeKind mattress, excluding cribs, closeouts and clearance mattresses.
The Good Stuff
The mattresses that we are calling “The Good Stuff” make all the claims of safety and non-toxic materials and processes, but don’t have all of the top-level certifications. Of course, this doesn’t mean they actually have questionable materials in them, but simply that we can’t be completely assured of their non-toxicity in the same way that we can for the stuff we have deemed The Best Stuff.
This tiny company has some good certifications, namely GOLS, but unfortunately it’s not written directly to the company (but rather the foam manufacturer; you can see why this may be problematic by reading the Certifications section above). They use wool as a flame retardant, which makes them Good Stuff rather than Okay Stuff.
CozyPure’s mattresses skip all the flame retardants in favor of wool, which is significant. Unfortunately, though, their GOLS certification isn’t written directly to them, so I can’t call this brand the Best Stuff.
The only reason I’m calling the Lotus Good Stuff instead of just Okay is because it’s the best of the travel/portable crib options, with no chemical flame retardants and a GreenGuard certification. It is, however, made of polyurethane foam and polyester, and would definitely not be my first choice for a regular crib mattress.
Metta is free of all flame retardant chemicals, and is made with GOTS-certified organic cotton and wool. The reason Metta is not in the Best Stuff category: the mattress itself is not GOLS certified, as the latex (at least 95% pure latex) is not GOLS-certified. Metta offers a good value for those looking for a safe mattress with some but not all certifications.
If you want 5% off your entire order at Metta Bed, use this link and enter code GOODSTUFF at checkout.
This company doesn’t have GOLS certification for latex written in their name or GOTS certification for their wool, but they do have GOTS for their cotton. They do have GreenGuard certification, and they use wool as a flame retardant rather than any toxic chemicals. Overall, I consider this brand a safe option with negligible risks, and they can be purchased on My Green Mattress website.
Savvy Rest is the non-toxic mattress we bought when I was pregnant, and we slept on it for six comfortable years. The latex used by Savvy Rest is 100% natural, and other materials used include certified organic wool (which serves as flame retardant) and cotton. Note that the Dunlop latex is organic, while the Talalay is not.
Savvy Rest mattresses have various natural certifications, including Oeko-Tex. (It’s important to note that these certifications are for specific materials within the mattress, rather than the mattress itself; you can read more about this above.)
The process of picking the right mattress can feel complicated when you’re choosing your Savvy Rest mattress, despite great customer service. Like most other mattress brands, Savvy uses some proprietary materials and processes in the manufacturing of their mattresses, and we know that chemicals are needed to convert latex into foam. Savvy Rest’s certifications are not written to the company itself (see above for more on certifications).
How to Get a Savvy Rest Mattress
Visit Savvy Rest’s website to see their wide array of mattresses and learn more about all the materials they use. Our king-sized mattress cost around $3,500, but prices depend on which model you choose in addition to the size you want.
White Lotus provides a comprehensive, transparent website (complete with an ingredients page), and they sent along a big box of samples of all of their sumptuous natural materials when I first reviewed them. (My kids had a blast making beds for their stuffed animals out of the goodies.) Not all White Lotus mattresses qualify as Good Stuff, though, so make a note of the issues below.
White Lotus uses some really cool ingredients in their products:
- Kapok to stuff their mattresses. The “harvesting of the kapok pods provides jobs to indigenous people and helps maintain this vanishing ecosystem,” according to the White Lotus website.
- Wholesale green cotton, which is totally unprocessed once harvested from the bolls–no bleaches, dyes, or fungicides.
- Wool, which is 100% virgin lamb’s wool.
- Organic cotton.
- Organic buckwheat hulls (for pillows).
- 100% natural latex (from the rubber tree).
Note that you will need a doctor’s note to to buy some White Lotus mattresses since they are free of flame retardants. (The wool mattresses are an exception as wool is a natural flame retardant.)
When I decided to get Felix a new twin-sized non-toxic mattress, I went with this White Lotus futon.
Bad Stuff About White Lotus
Avoid the Evergreen Foam used by White Lotus, which is a blend of “natural, oil-based foam” and conventional polyol, an alcohol used in the production of polyurethane. While off-gassing is heavily reduced and the environmental impact better than conventional foam, I don’t consider this truly natural, safe foam.
The cotton used in the White Lotus standard crib mattress is treated with borate powder (note that there are organic cotton options available without the borate powder, and you’ll need a doctor’s prescription for one of those).
We have gotten to know the folks at White Lotus quite well, and we really trust the owner, but White Lotus does not have those top level certifications we mention above.
How to Get a White Lotus Mattress
We now carry White Lotus mattresses and futons in our online store! If you don’t see the model or size that you want, contact us and we will get it for you. Prices range from $1,100 to $2,490. Crib mattresses run from $470 to $825. Please note that we do not carry any White Lotus products with any of the questionable ingredients listed above–if you see it in our store, you know it’s free of borate, toxic foam, and other synthetics.
(And here’s a video I made on the difference between a mattress and a futon.)
The Okay Stuff
The brands we call “Okay Stuff” may have CertiPUR or other dubious certifications, and/or Talalay latex, but due to new laws, they probably do not have flame retardant chemicals, so should be reasonably non-toxic.
This new-comer fails to back up their claims with good certifications, but if you believe said claims, this mattress should be non-toxic!
This company claims to have OekoTex certification but failed to present proof to us of this. They do have CertiPUR certification (meaning at least the very worst flame retardants won’t be present in these mattresses).
This brand uses all the right buzzwords to describe their mattresses (“non-toxic,” “sustainable,” etc.), but they are lacking somewhat in the certification department (although with digging we discovered they do carry the Oeko-Tex 100 certification). The big question mark for us is the “natural rubber” they use, which doesn’t have any certification, sadly. Still, that Oeko-Tex 100 certification means something, and they don’t use PBDE flame retardants.
Eco Terra has OEKO-TEX certifications for their Talalay latex and wool. As of this writing their GOTS certificate is long out of date. The good news is they don’t use scary flame retardants, just hydrated silica, about which we have no significant concerns.
We field a ton of questions about Essentia from people who love memory foam and want a safer option. Standard memory foam (made of petroleum derivatives) is decidedly toxic, and I’ve long suspected Essentia of being Sneaky stuff. After researching Essentia thoroughly for a recent client, I came away (still reluctantly!) recommending them as Okay Stuff, although I do still have a few reservations. They use a proprietary flame retardant in their foam, which involves Kevlar–a material that is not remotely natural, but which appears to be non-toxic, based on current research available. Kevlar is a type of plastic, however, and you probably know I don’t love plastic, period!
I spoke to the people at Essentia, and they sent me the independent testing results for their mattresses—I saw no red flags and everything checked out as non-toxic. They also have a number of certifications, some of which are more legit than others. There is always chance that sneaky manufacturers might hide things under the “trade secret” laws, but I didn’t learn anything from Essentia that suggests that they are doing so. I personally will continue to buy our mattresses from manufacturers who use wool as a flame retardant, but if you want a memory foam mattress, this is your best bet!
These super expensive mattresses are very comfortable and contain no foam; they also carry the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification. The price puts them out of range for most people: starting at $10,000, Hastens mattresses go up to a whopping $99,000! Hastens does use steel springs in their mattresses, which some folks would prefer to avoid for the reasons listed above.
This brand appears to be made of all the Good Stuff and none of the bad, but doesn’t come with any certifications proving this. They do use wool for flame protection, which is a plus.
These guys DO have some good certifications, but they are written to a foam manufacturer in Sri Lanka, not to PlusBeds directly.
This brand does not have GOLS certification, but does have Oeko-Tex, and doesn’t use the most dangerous flame retardants.
This company claims to have Oeko-Tex and the GOTS certifications, but have been unable to provide us with proof. Furthermore, one of our readers recently called us to relay a frustrating experience with Vivetique. Their website is somewhat maddening to navigate, too.
The Bad Stuff
It’s safe to assume that all conventional mattresses contain petrochemicals and that many are treated with toxic flame retardants of one kind or another.
IKEA mattresses are tempting because they are cheap. But they have no certifications of any kind, and had this to say about the use of fire retardant chemicals: In our adult mattresses, mattress pads and mattress sets a fiber fire barrier made of rayon/polyester batting is used that has an inherently fire-resistant property. Flame retardant chemicals (phosphorous-based inorganic salts) are only used for some stitch bond and zippers.
IKEA children’s mattresses sold in the U.S. have a fiber mix barrier as described above. The fiber batting is quilted into the mattress cover and is not treated with any flame retardant chemicals. (Note from Maia: So the crib mattresses at least are free of all fire retardants!).
Sealy is the same as Simmons, if you’re worried about toxins.
Newton Wovenair. The polymer this mattress is made from appears to be fine, but the cover is made of polyester (this doesn’t post a real health risk, but is not environmentally friendly and a form of plastic). Newton uses phosphate flame retardants. This is better than bromated or chlorinated, but still should be avoided if possible.
Tempurpedic mattresses are wildly popular…and wildly toxic. “Memory foam” is made of inexpensive polyurethane, and you’ll notice that a brand new Tempurpedic is smellier than most other mattresses–this is because it’s off-gassing more. The fire retardant used on Tempurpedics is NOT PBDE, but they do not disclose what it is. The Environmental Protection Agency has also raised concerns about emissions formed during the production of polyurethane foam products, which include methylene chloride and other hazardous chemicals.
The Sneaky Stuff
Casper. These popular, inexpensive mattresses contain a top latex layer that is Oeko-Tex certified, but I’m not crazy about the memory foam component (which is not certified and contains polyurethane). The flame retardants seem pretty safe: “A fire retardant knit sock covers the foam before the outer cover is placed on the mattress. The knit sock is made from a proprietary yarn with a silica core and a polyester/acrylic/nylon/rayon outer wrap…The knit sock is made without any toxic chemicals and each component is OEKO-TEX® certified.” However, the latex in the lower layers is not 100% natural but rather a blend, and synthetic latex can be very toxic when made from carcinogenic styrene. Readers who have purchased a Casper mattress have complained of the smell and sore throats.
Eco Dream mattresses (sold at Target) are basically just memory foam mattresses that don’t even make claims of non-toxicity!
IntelliBED claims to be non-toxic, and is heavily promoted by natural parenting blogger Mommypotamus (for the record, I usually agree with her assessments and love her recipes). The only certification they have received is the dubious CertiPUR, and Mommypotamus says they use a “green fire blocker,” but the company hasn’t gotten back to me on what this is. They claim that they use a soy-based foam, but companies can make this claim when the mattress contains only a small percentage of soy foam (the rest being petroleum-derived polyurethane), and IntelliBED gives no specifics about their foam. Mommypotamus has this to say: “Based on my research, I believe the materials used by intelliBED are inert, aka non-toxic/non-offgassing. Though generally I prefer to use natural materials I feel there are some very unique benefits to intelliGEL regarding sleep quality, and for me that played a factor in my purchase decision.” I respect her decision, but my recommendation is to go with one of the mattresses recommended under the Good Stuff.
Keetsa mattresses (which are manufactured in China), are described by many retailers as “natural” or “green.” The company is, in fact, pretty transparent, and clearly states that “Keetsa’s mission is to deliver a comfortable, affordable and durable mattress in an eco-friendly manner. We are not producing organic or natural mattresses. By replacing some of the petroleum product with cedar oil and introducing green tea extract into the mixture, we have created a foam that is less toxic and has a less-offensive odor than traditional foam. We also utilize sustainable materials, such as bamboo, in our cover materials.”
Layla, like so many others, is a memory foam mattress with only a CertiPUR certification.
Moonlight Slumber set off an alarm for me right off with their bogus certification: “Green Safety Shield” is their own certification, and is not third (or even second!) party. They do have testing that shows no VOCs from their mattresses, but that’s only one issue of concern. I’m more worried about their “Visco foam,” whatever that is! They do have a CertiPUR certification program, but this is from a polyurethane industry group. Finally, their flame retardant is proprietary, although they claim it’s natural and free of chemicals.
Natura World mattresses may contain (depending on the model you select) boric acid and fiberglass flame retardants, petroleum-derived latex (as in, not the kind from rubber trees), and nanoparticle. The organic model may be safe, but I don’t have enough information at this point to know for sure.
NECTAR is exactly the same as Tuft & Needle in terms of certifications (just CertiPUR) and flame retardants (all we know for sure is that NECTAR doesn’t use PBDEs). Nothing about this mattress is particularly non-toxic, in other words, but it’s better than a standard mattress.
Nest Bedding says that they are a “Organic, Natural, and Certified Bedding and Mattress Company” but ithey too rely on only CertiPUR certification.
Nook crib mattresses fail to show independent certification. I also don’t love that their mattresses contain plastic (PETE, which is among the safer types of plastic, but plastic nonetheless!). They claim to use wool as a flame retardant, but one of our readers had the foam tested in her Pebble Lite model and it tested positive for flame retardants!
Saatva and their sister company Loom & Leaf are memory foam mattresses with only CertiPUR certifications. They use only about 30% “plant-based foams.” The rest is petroleum-based.
The Sealy Naturalis mattress has an organic cotton layer; unfortunately, it is surrounded by a vinyl cover.
Swiss Dreams mattresses appear to have exactly zero certifications, making it impossible to back up any of their claims of non-toxicity.
Tuft & Needle mattresses are listed on a number of natural lifestyle sites as a great “non-toxic mattress.” But Tuft & Needle doesn’t make any claims to be such, other than the CertiPUR certification. This is just an inexpensive foam mattress, although it doesn’t contain the very worst flame retardant chemicals. One reader told us: “We got a Tuft & Needle at the beginning of this month and are sending it back. I am pregnant and have been experiencing terrible headaches since we got it. It had a very strong smell the first week, which has subsided but I can still smell it.”
YogaBed doesn’t even really make any claims of non-toxicity, but I’m calling it Sneaky Stuff. Anything with “yoga” in the name is trying to project a green image, don’t you think?
ZenHaven is just another mattress company jumping on the greenwashing bandwagon, and they have no certifications. This is not a non-toxic mattress.
Don’t Be Fooled By:
- Natural latex. Petroleum comes from the earth, so petroleum-based mattresses can be “natural.” A “natural latex mattress” may only contain only 50% natural latex and may be blended with polyurethane foam and treated with VOCs. Look for mattresses that specify that they are made from 100% natural latex.
- “All-natural wool” or “pure wool” or “eco-wool.” Unless wool is certified organic, it is likely processed conventionally, with a variety of chemicals. You may or may not be okay with this (I feel that the flame retardants are more concerning). In some cases, a wool producer may not bother with organic certification, despite organic practices.
- Biofoam. Soy or plant foam is still made of mostly polyurethane; biofoam mattresses typically contain less than 20% plant material.
- Certifications. Oftentimes, these certifications apply only to certain parts of the mattress, not necessarily the mattress as a whole. In some cases the mattress company creates its own certification. You can read more about this in the section on certifications, above.
- Most of all, remember that there is a lot of deceptive marketing in the mattress world and it is not illegal to throw around terms like “natural,” “green” and even “organic” without actually having to prove it.
Less Expensive Ways to Sleep Safely
Do you want to co-sleep with your baby but don’t want to buy a new mattress? Consider a futon as an alternative to an expensive non-toxic mattress. They are much more comfortable than they were in your childhood, and I love the ones by Soaring Heart in particular. (Conventional or Sneaky futons will be loaded with all the same scary chemicals as mattresses.)