How to Buy a Natural or Organic Mattress

How to Buy a Healthier Mattress // www.mindfulmomma.com

In the market for a new mattress? I know – it’s a big deal! Not only money-wise but it’s an investment in your health and comfort too. And that’s something you shouldn’t take lightly.

Our mattress was a wedding gift. It served us well but after 20 years, our backs were telling us it was time for something new. I know a little bit more about mattresses than I knew 20 years ago, and this time around I wanted something greener and safer than the typical, conventionally produced mattress.

It took a lot of research to finally find a mattress that we were comfortable with and that fit within our budget. But we did, and we are very happy with it!

Now it’s your turn! Learn from my research and find the healthy mattress of your dreams!

The problem with conventional mattresses

Most conventional mattresses are made with synthetic foam, treated with chemical flame retardants and covered in PVC vinyl. Basically, a conventional mattress is a chemical-laden contraption that releases toxic fumes while you sleep. These off-gassing fumes, known as VOCs have been associated with a whole host of health disorders including thyroid, reproductive and behavioral problems, as well as cancer. Unfortunately, current law states that all mattresses must be able to resist open flames, which usually means a chemical treatment.

Criteria for a “better” mattress

One thing I’ve learned for sure is that the mattress industry is complicated and confusing. The number of options and differences between products is overwhelming and every brand has their own “proprietary” way of doing things. I recommend starting with some online research and then visiting a small, local store that specializes in natural and organic mattresses, rather than visiting a mega mattress store. Here are some things to look for:

  • No chemical flame retardant chemicals – this was my #1 criteria
  • Non-chemical flame retardants include wool, cotton and sometimes a combination of baking soda and hydrated silica
  • No synthetic, polyurethane foam
  • If you want latex, make sure it is natural latex rubber, not synthetic
  • Made with certified organic materials including cotton, wool and latex, certified by GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) or GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard)
  • If you want waterproof protection, look for food grade polyethylene or ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) instead of PVC vinyl
  • Look for GREENGUARD certification – 3rd party testing for low-VOC products

Choosing the mattress that’s right for you

Choosing a mattress is complicated. Determine your top priorities for a mattress, shop around and by all means test out the product! That means taking off your shoes and getting comfy in a public space. Embarrassing but necessary!

We had a tight budget for our new mattress. While I was willing to spend extra to get a safe, organic mattress, I could not quite afford the ultimate green mattress I was dreaming of. We ended up buying a quilted, organic cotton innerspring mattress from Naturepedic. It is super comfy and we love it!

Natural & Organic mattress brands*

Here are a few mattress brands that stand up to healthy scrutiny and that I’ve heard good things about. (Note – the only one I’ve personally tried is Naturepedic.)

Other options

If a natural or organic mattress is simply not in your budget, here are a few things you can do to lessen the negative effects:

  • Let your new mattress off-gas in a well-ventilated area for awhile before using it.
  • Cover your mattress with a natural latex, wool or cotton mattress topper.
  • Consider buying a less expensive natural futon instead of a regular mattress.

Are you in the market for a new mattress or have you purchased one lately? Any words of wisdom to share?

(*Note: I purchased my new organic mattress with my own money and was not compensated in any way to write this post. There are affiliate links in this post which may put a small amount of money in my pocket. Thank you!)

{image from SaavyRest} 

392x72 Naturepedic Logo

About Micaela

Micaela Preston is a marketing and communications consultant specializing in natural, organic and eco-friendly products and the health and wellness space. Micaela is available as a social media manager, green lifestyle writer, public speaker, brand ambassador and marketing manager.

Comments

  1. Do you know, is Temperpedic that bad?

  2. Great post, Micaela! So glad you have a good, local option. Great summary of what to look for in a mattress. I’m going to add a link to this post in my bed post. This is one of the toughest issues people deal with b/c of the cost.

  3. I found, when looking for an organic mattress, that it was challenging to find a retail store to touch and feel the mattresses. After much searching, I finally found a local shop where we could test out the beds before buying. I’m glad you had the same option. Your criteria are very helpful-buying bedding is overwhelming in general. Unfortunately organic bedding can be cost prohibitive. Hopefully with more consumer demand the price will come down over time.

  4. Hi Lisa – it is my understanding that Temperpedic mattresses are made from polyurethane foam – which unfortunately is highly flammable and must be treated with flame retardant chemicals.

  5. Thanks Besty. I agree – deciding on a mattress is a tough decision to make. I had a hard time spending the money but justified it knowing it was an investment in our health!

     

  6. Lori – good point – not everyone has a local store that carries natural mattresses. While you can certainly buy one online, it would be tough not to test it out first. Let's hope that prices come down – so more people can afford safe mattresses!

  7. We went on this journey in the spring, looking for a mattress for our toddler. I thought I knew it all and by the end of it I realized that no one knows it all. You have to ask, “Is this latex mattress 100% natural, chemical-free, free of petroleum, and non-blended? And is it made with the Talalay process?” Eventually with went with the Natura Starlight Organic for our toddler and the Naturepedic for our newborn. Luckily for us, the store Wildflower in Austin had mattresses to try out. If you don’t have a store to try out Naturepedic, your shipping is free. My write-up of everything is here, if you don’t mind me posting: http://therobynnest.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/my-head-is-going-to-explode/

  8. Great article! After researching mattresses for our children, I knew I needed to make a different choice for us when it was time to upgrade. Since I, too, live in Austin I will head to Wildflower. Thank you, TheRobynNest!
    Once you educate yourself on such matters, you cannot ignore the facts about how you are poisoning yourself with those toxins. Sometimes I wish I could.
    Lisa, I would challenge you do your research on the matter of Tempurpedic and the like. The headaches, endocrine disruption, etc. all seem pretty bad to me. Of course, you need to decide the pros and cons for yourself. The chemicals have more profound effects on some than on others.

  9. Hi Robyn – thanks so much for your insightful comments! Yes, the whole latex thing is tricky. I looked at Natura and was confused by all of the different choices and combinations of materials. I'm so glad that you found mattresses for your kids that you feel comfortable with!

     

  10. Hi SAHMmelier – you are so right that once you educate yourself about the problems with conventional mattresses, it's hard to go back. Good luck with your mattress shopping at Wildflower!

  11. Thanks for mentioning the Sustainable Furnishings Council Mary – it's a great resource!
     

  12. The Sustainable Furnishings Council was formed many years ago to help people find the best of products nearest them.

    I like that you listed a third party standard, GreenGuard, as one of the things to look for when making a decision.

  13. I always love finding people’s personal exerts on buying an organic mattress. It can be a real process, what with all the researching and then shopping! Overall, it’s a pretty big purchase, so you want to make sure you’re happy and healthy in the end.

    In regards to your “ultimate green mattress” – I’ve heard great things about the Savvy Rest Serenity organic mattress – http://www.savvyrest.com/products/organic-mattresses. It seems like the phrase “you get what you pay for” has never been more true!

  14. Hi Lindsay – The Saavy Rest mattress wasn't in my budget, but lucky to those who can afford it! I'm sure it's awesome!

     

  15. Great article! I recently decided on a Naturepedic for my son too. However, I also need a trundle and those are hard to find since they are shorter than a twin mattress. Would you ever buy a mattress that is GreenGuard certified, but not organic? I found one at PBK, but I’m not convinced it’s safe.

  16. Hi Jodi – Good question- the GreenGuard certification helps because you know it has met certain criteria. I would recommend asking a lot of questions about the mattress you are considering. Is it 100% organic or partially organic? What type of flame retardant materials are used? Does it contain synthetic foam? I hope you enjoy your Naturepedic mattress for your son!

     

  17. What about what happens to the old mattress? Do you know of an easy way to keep it out of the landfill? Companies that recycle them?

  18. Theresa – Good question about recycling – it's an important part of the equation. Some mattress stores and manufacturers will take back old mattresses for recycling – ask about it when you visit the stores. Also you can check Earth911.com for recycling options in your zip code.

     

  19. We also got a Queen innerspring from Naturepedic and Moss Envy. Did you have any issues having yours arrive undamaged? Ours took 3 deliveries to come undamaged, we were wondering if we just had bad luck, or if that typically happens with Naturepedic’s shipping. I just wrote a post about our experience and linked to your site too. http://theurbanhomestaed.blogspot.com/2012/05/why-we-chose-to-purchase-organic.html

  20. Julie – What a bummer you had so much trouble getting your mattress delivered! We didn't have any trouble at all. Ryan & Tina at Moss Envy are awesome, aren't they? I hope you are getting a good night's sleep on you new mattress!

  21. Micaela,

    My name is Andy and I work for a company called The Natural Sleep Store. I think you wrote a really great post that touches on a lot of things that are important when researching a new mattress purchase. I had a question for you, we just started carrying Naturepedic and it sounds like from your post that you really like your mattress. We value consumer feedback more than anything else and since Naturepedic is brand new for us I was wondering if you could give me any other feedback about your mattress.
    Thanks in advance for your time
    –Andy

  22. I agree with Andy Aust that you touch a lot of things that are important when researching a new matress purchase. We have our own store in the Netherlands and also want to introduce Naturepedic, maybe it’s an idea for a new article (your experiences with this brand?)

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