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UPDATED: July 2021

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 email our Home Health Director, John, for individualized help. You can also call him at 802-613-3254.

This video is several years old (from the last time we updated this guide!), but everything in it still holds true. The only change is that Happsy mattress is also the very Best Stuff!

 

EXCLUSIVE NON-TOXIC MATTRESS COUPONS

We’ve negotiated discounts with the following Best Stuff mattresses:

Plush Beds: $100 extra off in addition to whatever other deals they’re running. Use code GIMME100.

Naturepedic : 15% off site-wide. Use code Gimme15.

Happsy: $225 off mattresses. Use code GIMME225. (With this discount, Happsy is the most affordable of the bunch.)

I hope these shortcuts are helpful for those of you looking to make a quick decision.

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 mattress brands.

A Note on This Updated Guide

Thanks to the demands of customers like you, more and more mattress manufacturers have taken the steps to make truly safe mattresses with top-level certifications. This means that consumers have more choices–and our Best Stuff and Good Stuff categories have grown to include more brands than ever before.

We still believe that a fully certified mattress is of the utmost importance. In this guide, we decided to give special attention to those brands that manufacture only toxin-free mattresses. Several mattress companies now have the proper certifications, but they are owned by other entities that make conventional (toxic) mattresses. Our updated Best Stuff category includes only the brands that a) have the top certifications that guarantee the mattresses they sell are free of all toxins, and b) aren’t owned by parent companies that pollute the environment by manufacturing toxic 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 an 8-year-old and a 11-year-old, one of whom still spends a lot of time in our bed. I’m so glad I feel comfortable with (and comfortable on!) the non-toxic mattresses we chose, which is the Soaring Heart Zoned.

Our Top Pick for Non-Toxic Mattress

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 and demonstrated commitment to safety and environmental responsibility.

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.

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.

Toxins in Mattresses

Unfortunately, mattresses are loaded with noxious chemicals, including:

  • Various petrochemicals. Indeed, MOST of what makes up a conventional mattress are petroleum-based.
  • Polyurethane foam is the main ingredient in most mattresses. It’s composed of polyol and diisocyanate, both of which are derived from petroleum. Polyurethane is not environmentally friendly and is dangerous for workers who work in its manufacturing.
  • Flame retardant chemicals are needed in part because polyurethane is so flammable. There is some good news on the flame retardant front–more on that in a minute!
  • Soybean foam is a Sneaky ingredient that sounds non-toxic. Unfortunately, the majority of this type of foam is still polyurethane.
  • Synthetic latex, which usually made from styrene, a human carcinogen.
  • Adhesives that may contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. Some organic manufacturers skip the glues all together–mattresses can be bound with thread, clips, or heat.

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.

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.

In addition to these notoriously toxic flame retardants, companies may use some of the following ingredients to pass flammability tests: boric acid, silica, mealamine, vinylidene chloride, and fiberglass.

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. We simply cannot find any credible evidence showing that metal coils can act like an antenna and concentrate EMFs into our sleeping bodies.


What to Look for in a Non-Toxic Mattress

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. You’ll probably read a lot about Talalay versus Dunlop latex in your search for an organic mattress. In terms of comfort, Dunlop is firmer and Talalay is lighter and softer. If you’re looking for a GOLS-certified mattress (more on this below), you’ll need to choose a mattress made of Dunlop latex.
  • 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!

If You Can’t Afford a Non-Toxis Mattress

Let’s say that you’ve looked all the way down to our Okay Stuff category, and checked out the coupons (top of this page), and you simply don’t have it in your budget to upgrade to a safe mattress right now. Unfortunately, there’s no way to wrap a mattress to protect yourself from VOCs. However, running a robust air filter will go a long way towards purifying your indoor air. This is the one I have in my bedroom, because while I do have a toxin-free mattress, I also have other furniture and rugs that aren’t as clean. I love knowing that the air filter is mitigating the damage!

Non-Toxic Mattress Certifications

Sorting through mattress certifications is maddening. Here’s just some of why that is:

  1. First of all, not all certifications are created equal–some offer great assurance that your new mattress will be non-toxic, while others are essentially meaningless.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.

Best Non-Toxic Mattress Certifications

The two certifications to look for in your mattress are GOLS (for latex) and GOTS (for textiles). It’s worth repeating: the best organic mattress brands have these certifications are written directly to the mattress manufacturer.

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, heavy metals, formaldehyde, and the fire retardants listed above. A GOTS certification on a mattress means that the entire manufacturing and distribution process is environmentally safe and socially responsible. You can check for GOTS certification in the GOTS database if you are curious about a brand that we don’t review in this guide.

One thing we love about GOTS certification is that in order to obtain it, a mattress must be produced in a facility that is also certified. This gives you extra piece of mind.

Similar to GOTS, a GOLS certification means that the mattress is made of at least 95% organic latex. Once again, the remaining 5% of the materials are also restricted in important ways.

Good Non-Toxic Mattress Certifications

While Oeko-Tex Standard 100 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.

Greenguard-certified mattresses have been tested (and are within limits) of certain VOCS, such as formaldehyde. Greenguard Gold has stricter standards than plain old Greenguard.

Okay Mattress Certifications

Organic Content Standard 100 just means that some of the ingredients are organic, but doesn’t ban flame retardants or other harmful chemicals.

CertiPUR was developed “by members of the global foam industry,” although it does ban the use of some chemicals, such as PBDE flame retardants and formaldehyde. It’s important to know that CertiPUR does not certify an entire mattress, only the foam portion.

Sneaky Mattress Certification

NAOMI (National Association of Organic Mattress Industry) was created by Pure Rest Organics (a mattress company!)–it is in no way independent or third-party, obviously!

The Bottom Line on Non-Toxic Mattress 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. You also want to make sure that the entire factory that produces your mattress is certified free of toxins (particularly flame retardants), to guarantee that you don’t have to worry about cross-contamination.

The Best Stuff

The following three brands have the top certifications that guarantee that their mattresses are free of all toxins. They also aren’t owned by parent companies that pollute the environment by manufacturing toxic mattresses.

Soaring Heart Non-Toxic Mattress

Based out of Seattle and in operation for almost 30 years, Soaring Heart hand-crafts most of their mattresses on-site and is one of the most transparent brands we’ve ever investigated.

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. Their latex passes flammability tests by using a combination of a tightly woven, organic cotton fabric encasement and is then wrapped in organic felted wool.

Soaring Heart offers organic crib mattresses and dog beds, too.

We loved Soaring Heart so much that we asked them if we could sell their mattresses! You can now buy Soaring Heart mattresses through our online store, and they ship free anywhere in the United States. I sleep on a Soaring Heart Zoned Mattress, my parents on a Soaring Heart organic latex shikibuton, and we both have toppers. We are basically obsessed with these mattresses, and happy to talk you through their options. Just email John for help choosing.

Shop Soaring Heart


Naturepedic Non-Toxic Mattresses

Naturepedic was founded by a grandfather named Barry when he could not find a non-toxic mattress for his grandson. These mattresses are now used by over 150 hospitals in the United States.

Naturepedic non-toxic mattresses are made of certified organic cotton and a steel innerspring. They don’t use any flame-retardant chemicals or barrier ingredients. Naturepedic includes a layer of polylactide, which is derived from sugarcane, in all of their mattresses to ensure they pass flammability tests.  Since all Naturepedic mattresses are GOTS-certified, you can rest assured that the polylactide they use also passes GOTS standards. Polylactide is also Greenguard Gold certified.

The waterproof crib mattress options use food-grade polyethylene for their outer layer (it acts as a moisture and vapor barrier).

Naturepedic mattresses are available on their website. Adult mattresses mostly run in the $3,000-range, an crib mattresses from $259 to $399. Use code Gimme15 for 15% off everything on Naturepedic’s site.

We offer Naturepedic crib mattresses and children’s mattresses in our online store, and always appreciate your support!

Shop Naturepedic


Happsy

Happsy is the best organic mattress-in-a-box on the market, and comes with a 120-day trial period. Happsy is manufactured by Naturpedic, but is a more affordable option, while still getting high marks for comfort. When it’s time to replace my kids’ mattresses, this is the brand I plan to purchase.

Happsy is certified by GOTS, GOLS, and GreenGuard. Queens go for $1,400.

Use code GIMME225 for $225 off mattresses. (With this discount, Happsy is the most affordable Best Stuff mattress.)

Shop Happsy


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. 


Avocado

This newer brand has recently obtained both GOTS and GOLS certification, both written to Avocado itself. While we feel that Avocado is a great toxin-free mattress, we can’t call it the Best Stuff because it is a subsidiary of Brentwood Home, which manufactures conventional mattresses. It’s worth noting, however, that some of Brentwood’s mattresses do have GOLS certification.

Shop Avocado


Bella Sera

This tiny company has some good certifications, including GOLS. 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

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.


Eco Terra

Eco Terra has OEKO-TEX certifications for their Talalay latex and wool.  They don’t use scary flame retardants, just hydrated silica, about which we have no significant concerns. 2021 update: Eco Terra now has an up-to-date GOTS certificate.

Shop Eco Terra


Holy Lamb Organics

We love this brand–it has always produced only toxin-free mattresses. Because Holy Lamb is such a small business, they do not yet have GOLS certification, but they do have GOTS–and we will move them to Best Stuff as soon as the GOLS comes through. In the meantime, we still enthusiastically recommend this brand.

Shop Holy Lamb


Plush Beds

PlushBeds recently became fully certified with top-level certifications, including GOTS, GOLS, GreenGuard Gold, and Oeko-Tex Standard 100.

Plush’s Botanical Bliss and Luxury Bliss mattresses have all of the above certifications. Their Natural Bliss and Eco Bliss don’t have GOLS certification, but are more affordable.

The only reason Plush is in our Good Stuff rather than Best Stuff category is because they make more conventional mattresses in addition to their fully-certified latex models. Nevertheless, Plush Beds’ memory foam is the first to be certified by GreenGuard Gold, so if you must have a memory foam mattress (and we know a lot of you must!), then this is the way to go. Overall, everything Plush makes is reasonably toxin-free.

Use code GIMME100 to receive $100 off every order, in addition to whatever other deals are running.

Shop Plush Beds


Savvy Rest

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 Oeko-Tex certification. (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.) Savvy Rest’s GOTS certification is written in their name, and their GOLs certifications are written to their latex supplier (see above for more on certifications).

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.

Shop Savvy Rest Mattresses


White Lotus

White Lotus sent along a big box of samples of all of their sumptuous natural materials when I first reviewed them. They are one of our favorite brands to work with, and they have demonstrated a clear commitment to producing non-toxic mattresses.

White Lotus has a GOTS certification for their mattress materials, and they use some cool ingredients in their products, including:

  • 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 buckwheat hulls (for pillows).
  • 100% natural latex (from rubber trees).

When I decided to get toddler Felix a new twin-sized non-toxic mattress, I went with this White Lotus futon.

I do recommend that you 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, toxin-free foam.

We have gotten to know the folks at White Lotus quite well, and we really trust the owner. Because White Lotus does not have GOLS certification written in its name, we classify it as Good Stuff rather than Best Stuff.

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.

Shop White Lotus Mattresses

(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 lesser certifications, and/or Talalay latex. Due to new laws, these mattreses probably do not have flame retardant chemicals.


Awara

While Awara does not have GOLS or GOTS certifications, they do have CertiPUR.


Brooklyn Bedding

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).


Coco-Mat

This brand uses all the right buzzwords to describe their mattresses (“non-toxic,” “sustainable,” etc.). Unfortunately, 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. Still, that Oeko-Tex 100 certification means something, and they don’t use PBDE flame retardants.


Essentia

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!

Shop Essentia


Hastens

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.


Natural Mat

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.


Obasan

Obasan does not have the top independent third-party certifications for their latex mattress cores.


SleepOnLatex

This brand does not have GOLS certification, but does have Oeko-Tex, and doesn’t use the most dangerous flame retardants.


Tuft & Needle

These mattresses certifications fall short of Good Stuff–they have GreenGuard Gold, OEKO TEX, and CertiPUR.


Vivetique

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. 


Joybed is a brand that a lot of you have asked about. Unfortunately, it has no certifications of any kind and therefore can’t be considered for our recommendation.


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 mattresses contain vinyl, undisclosed fire retardants (“trade secret”), polyurethane, polyethylene, and nanoparticles. This includes the mattresses they make for children.


Simmons is the same as Sealy.


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

Colgate‘s “eco” crib mattresses claims to be made of “the finest non-toxic materials in the marketplace.” In reality, Colgate mattresses contain vinyl and polyurethane.

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 has CertiPUR certification and is free of 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!

Purple mattresses don’t have any of the certifications we look for even for our Okay Stuff category. Purple has CertiPUR but nothing more.

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.

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 woolor “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.)

Here’s where I explain the difference between a mattress and a futon:


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Maia James

View Comments

  • Hello! Thanks so much for this write-up, it has a lot of great information and things to think about while mattress shopping. I am trying to find a mattress for my two year old for his first big boy bed and having trouble deciding on one. I've called the big manufacturers to inquire about the safety of their mattresses. Both Simmons and Serta assured me that the foam used in all their mattresses now are CertiPur and that they do not use any chemicals for their fire retardant. Sealy said their foams are not CertiPur but that they do not use any chemicals in their mattresses such as formaldehyde, fire retardant chemicals. This makes me skeptical because why wouldn't they just get a CertiPur certification if that's the case? Do you have any thoughts on these big brands? I found some beds of theirs that I like and the prices are right but I am still hesitant. The Simmons Beginnings line sold at Land of Nod say their mattresses are low-voc, etc. when I called Simmons, they said all their mattresses are low-voc. I am also considering Casper mattresses but don't know if they are as solidly built as a spring mattress. Thanks for any thoughts you have!
    Sincerely, Jennifer

    • Hi Jennifer-
      Sorry for the delayed response, but if you are still looking for a mattress for your son, I am happy to answer the questions you've asked above. I would push Simmons or Serta to send you the MSDSes for their mattresses and also ask them how they meet flammability laws. Also, low-VOC is better than nothing, but ideally you want a zero-VOC mattress.

      • Hey Maia - do you know anything about astrabeds? I just ordered one... They are usda certified organic, along with seceral other certs... Organic latex, wool and cotton... I cant find much info on them from other sites... Returnable within 90 days... Would love any insight, thanks!

        • Hi Jordan,
          John here...
          Although Astra claims to have GOLS certified latex, their certification documents show otherwise. Their GOLS certificate is issued to an entity in India, not to Astra. This may seem like a minor difference but it is not.

          Their latex is certified only to the original supplier but from that point on any number of things can, (and do) happen that can cause their products to be other far less than organic.

          This is the most common problematic we see in the "nontoxic" mattress industry and it raises red flags.

          For about the same price you can get a great mattress with the most robust independent 3rd party certifications available...no sneaky stuff!

          There is a lot of deceptive marketing in the industry and unfortunately it is legal. Yikes!

          Feel free to contact me directly at john@gimmethegoodstuff.org
          I'm happy to help.

          Best...

          • FYI, Savvy uses the same latex export company out of India and has the same GOLS certificate as Astra, as shown on their website.

    • We just purchased Soaring Heart with the OMI latex wave topper for joint pain. Very comfortable and was recommended by Soaring Heart if you have extra joint discomfort.

      • Hi Scott, Like so many manufacturers, Sleeping Organic falls a bit short on independent 3rd party certifications. They do not make our list of "Best Stuff". You can contact me directly at john@gimmethegoodstuff.org
        I'll be happy to help you find a truly nontoxic mattress.

        • So where exactly do they fall and why? I am debating between Happsy and them right now. I am looking for the best option that is not over 2000. All of the "best stuff" is over 3000 it seems.

    • Moonlight Slumber now lists UL Green Guard Gold as a certification for their mattresses.

      Do you have any thoughts or info on Modway?

  • Keetsa mattress is one of the worst offenders out there. They claim eco friendly, lots of green logos and stock photos of smiling people but their beds are 100% petroleum, they use chemicals for the fire retardants and they are made in China. There are good companies out there like Dunlopillo, Nest Bedding, Brooklyn Bedding and others that make good latex beds and non toxic bed.

  • You seem like you really are sincere in your presentation, so I will challenge you to dig deeper into Keetsa's greenwashing NOT transparent hidden lies. If you read the law label, you will see it says 100% Petroleum Foam. The government doesn't let them spin the truth there. Sprinkling in some extract of tea and cedar oil does not disguise the fact it is made from petro-chemicals. Also absent on their site is the ingredients of their fire barrier. Lots of talk about how safe it is, but they won't tell you what is in it. Why? Because its a blend of chemicals. Not good ones, or they would simply list them. Lastly, the beds are manufactured in China. With so many affordable and not toxic beds here, why roll the dice with your health on these beds which are clearly greenwashed? Don't take my word for it, ask them to pony up the truth, ask for the real ingredients.

  • I noticed My Green Mattress did not make the list? The Pure Echo Organic mattress seems to be the cheapest non-toxic mattress I can find. Any thoughts on it?
    Thanks.

    • I'm wondering the same thing. The wool they use is blended with polyester and bleached with hydrogen peroxide- that's my best guess as to why. It's not GOTS/equivalent.

    • Hi folks,
      John here from Gimme the Good Stuff...

      One of the reasons that My Green Mattress has such cheap products is that, from all I can discover, they actually show no true certifications...(none that have much meaning anyway).

      Feel free to contact me directly at john@gimmethegoodstuff and I'll be happy to guide you away from the "Sneaky Stuff" and towards "The Good Stuff"

      Let me know what sizes you are looking for.

      Best,

      • Hi, John -

        I'm looking into these myself and not sure why you would say that. It seems that while their wool has no certifications, their Latex is Okeo Tex 100 certified and their Cotton is GOTS certified. For half the price of some of the mattresses that you guys endorse here, that seems like a really great option for families who can't shell out $2,000+ for a new bed.

        • Yes, I am confused by this above comment on my green mattress. Under the FAQ section they show the certifications. I am trying to wade through all this info and want a latex with spring support mattress for an adult which can be quite pricey! Seems my green mattress has the right price point for me! Now have to convince my husband to throw caution to the wind and buy a mattress online instead of going to try it out.

      • The mattresses have inner coils as opposed to foam/latex. As I am concerned about the EMF implications of this construction, it is not ideal.
        This probably accounts for the price point.
        John

        • I'm most concerned about the adhesive in My Green Mattress. The under layer is also conventional cotton. Anyone have any further insight into this? I can't afford more than $1,600 for a king. Need to make the best choice I can, but don't feel confident that this company is safe.

      • Hi John,
        Thanks for putting together such helpful information. I just bought the below My Green Mattress based on what I thought your article recommended but then saw this comment from you in 2016 that the company is not actually necessarily safe so now Im confused.

        • Hi Julia,
          Thanks for the kind words. My Green does not have the best possible independent 3rd party certifications but they likely do not use toxic flame retardants...so that's good.

  • Hi!

    Thank you so much for this article! Do you know anything about the IntelliBed? I have seen a lot of what look like health conscious websites posting about how great it is, but the reviews all seem a little too good to be true. I would really appreciate any thoughts you have on it.

    Thank you!

  • I'm looking into a buckwheat hull mattress. It looks like a great non-toxic, eco-freindly, less expensive option. You can build your own for around $1000. Have you heard of this and/or do you have any thoughts?

  • Does anyone know anything about the SleepOnLatex mattresses? They say they are 100% natural latex, wool, and organic cotton. The company offers free shipping and returns, and the mattress is considerable cheaper than the other latex mattresses I have seen. Is this too good to be true?

    Thanks for any help!

      • The name of the matters is Pure Green Natural Latex. The website is sleeponlatex.com. I too am looking into mattress specifically for my 9 year old. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

        • Did anyone get a chance to research this one yet? I am looking into putting this on my fiance and my registry for a new mattress for us :)

      • Hi, Nice article, very helpful to navigate what is important and how to look for it!

        Did you look into Sleep on Latex? They look legit (GOTS organic cotton, Oeko-Tex and ECO natural latex, GreenGuard Gold mattress), and they are the cheapest I could find for 100% natural latex mattress ... I am curious to know what you think!
        What about Sleeping Organic?

        Thanks!

    • Hi John. I'm confused. Their website says "natural 100% latex" which is what we are told to look for just above.

    • John,

      I just came across this article. While I appreciate you taking the time to put together this article and it contains some good information, I think the classification of our products as "Sneaky" is wildly inaccurate and misleading.

      I'm not sure I understand the criticism of us using the term "natural" in reference to our latex, when in your article, you yourselves recommend purchasing a mattress made with "natural" latex. Also, our description of natural latex foam is no different than any of the companies that you are recommending.

      I would absolutely agree with you that the word "natural" is thrown around way too much with little meaning. When it comes to latex, however, there are two distinct types of latex. Synthetic Latex is produced from petrochemicals. Natural Latex is harvested from rubber trees. We use only natural latex in our foam, we never use any blends of natural and synthetic latex. As with many of the other companies you recommend, we express that our mattresses are made with only natural latex.

      I'm not sure I understand why you are considering this a "sneaky" practice at all. I'm even more perplexed by the fact that you consider it "sneaky" when we do it, but are recommending several other companies that do the exact same thing. As Irene has pointed out, this is confusing and really doesn't make any sense.

      Karl Shevick
      Founder & CEO
      Sleep On Latex

      • So, were these questions from the CEO of Sleep On Latex ever addressed here? I agree that the term "sneaky" is very negative.

        • Hi Bob,
          John here...

          Thanks for the question.

          We review many many mattress manufacturers. Some of them do not like the fact that their products do not achieve our internal standards for "The Best Stuff". We have recently published an updated Safe Mattress Guide. https://gimmethegoodstuff.org/safe-product-guides/mattresses/

          You'll see that we have added more categories in order to address particular issues.

          Mr Shevick appears to be the founder and CEO of Sleep On Latex and it is natural that he want's to shield his brand from less-than-flattering reviews, but his insinuations that we fail to disclose that we are dealers for certain manufacturers are entirely unfounded. Even a brief look through our site renders his opinion as uninformed at best. His accusations of slander are equally silly.

          We decided it is best to remain silent to his correspondence because it is so angry and beyond credibility.

          We are not trying to harm anyone. We are simply doing research and arriving at conclusions. If a manufacturer changes their products or demonstrates that our assessment of their product is incorrect, we are happy to re-review and publish corrections as necessary. As far as we can tell, Sleep On Latex has neither changed their products nor demonstrated how our assessment is incorrect.

          Thanks

  • Are you familiar with 45th Street Bedding's lattex mattresses? They use Botanicore lattex and use something called Ecoloft Whispershield for their fire retardant.
    Thanks.

  • I just bought the essential mattress but your post has me a bit nervous about my purchase. What are your specific hesitations about them? From what I understand, the "memory foam" isn't memory foam but natural latex mixed with essential oils and water to make it feel like memory foam. They Listed all their ingredients on their website, which was only six ingredients, so that's why I bought it l, because it seemed transparent. I'm still under my 60 day trial so I'd love to know why you don't trust them. I don't want to have a toxic bed. Our baby sleeps in it sometimes too. Thanks!

    • Hi Vanessa,

      John here...
      Essential has been controversial for a long time and is involved in a class action lawsuit over false advertising...

      That's enough to raise concerns.
      What risk it when there are a few really solid manufacturers out there?

      Feel free to contact me directly at john@gimmethegoodstuff.org and I'll be happy to help.

      Best,

  • Hi, thank you for your information. I am in total support of what you say, and hope that more can learn about clean living. I am in the market for a new bed for myself. Both of my little girls have Savvy Rest simplicity mattresses, and I love them. We are looking for a less expensive, but still very clean option. We found Cotton Cloud for futons, and they appear to be be quality products. Have you looked into them, or can you comment on their products? I would skip the borate and go only for the wool.
    Thank you!

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