Learn how to choose the best organic mattress for your needs with this comprehensive mattress guide, so you can begin benefiting from a healthier sleep environment ASAP.
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. Since I know a little bit more about mattresses than I knew 20 years ago, I knew I wanted a non-toxic, healthy mattress that was safe to sleep on and better for the planet too.
It took a lot of research to finally find a natural, organic mattress that we were comfortable with and that fit within our budget. As much as we wanted the best luxurious organic mattress on the market, we needed to find an affordable mattress that checked all the boxes but wouldn’t break the bank.
After lots of research, we finally found a healthy, eco-friendly but affordable mattress that was a perfect addition to our non-toxic bedroom! Since we all have different criteria for purchasing mattresses, I put together this mattress guide to help YOU find the organic mattress that you’ve been dreaming of!
I may receive commissions from purchases made through links in this article including Amazon Affiliates. Full Disclosure
Table of Contents
The Problem with Conventional Mattresses
First, let’s talk about what’s wrong with most conventional mattresses you’ll find on the market today.
A typical mattress is made with synthetic materials and petroleum based foam for padding. The foam is treated with chemical flame retardants and mattresses are often covered in PVC vinyl for waterproofing. In addition, toxic formaldehyde is commonly found in synthetic foam, as well as in the adhesives used to make the mattress. Ultimately this means that your mattress is releasing toxic fumes while you sleep.
Those off-gassing fumes, known as volatile organic compounds or VOCs have been associated with a whole host of health disorders including thyroid, reproductive and behavioral problems, as well as cancer.
It’s hard to rest easy knowing you are sleeping in a bed of toxic chemicals – especially since we spend approximately 1/3 of our lives in bed.
What Should I Look for in a Healthy Mattress?
If you’ve ever shopped for a mattress you’ve probably noticed that the mattress industry is complicated and confusing. The number of options and differences between products is overwhelming and each mattress company has their own “proprietary” manufacturing process.
You’ll need to cut through the hype and the clutter to find the elements of a safe and healthy mattress that are important to you.
Here are the top things to look for in a healthy mattress:
- ZERO chemical flame retardants – The chemicals in fire retardants are linked to neurological damage, hormone disruption, and cancer. These dangerous chemicals also bioaccumulate in humans, which can lead to long-term chronic health problems.
- Natural materials and fabrics – Look for mattresses made with certified organic materials including an organic cotton cover and organic wool as a natural fire barrier, instead of synthetic materials like polyester, polyurethane foam and vinyl.
- Natural latex – If you want a cushy layer in your mattress, make sure it is natural talalay latex or dunlop latex made from rubber trees, and NOT petroleum-based polyurethane foams (as is used in memory foam mattresses).
- No chemical adhesives – The healthiest mattresses use only non-toxic adhesives in the mattress assembly.
- Trusted certifications – Look for third-party certifications like MADESAFE, GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) or GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard) and others (learn more about certifications below.)
- Safe waterproofing – If you need waterproof protection, look for food grade polyethylene or ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) instead of PVC vinyl.
RELATED POST: 4 Good Reasons to Buy Natural, Non-Toxic Products for Your Home & Life
Natural & Organic Mattress Certifications
In a category as confusing as mattresses, third-party certifications are an important guide to the safety, quality and eco-friendly attributes of the mattress.
Let’s take a closer look at the non-toxic and organic certifications most commonly found on natural mattresses:
GOTS is an internationally recognized organic standard for textiles including fabric used in clothes, home textiles, yarns, and in this case both the cotton and wool used in mattresses. GOTS ensures the organic status of textiles every step of the way – from the harvesting of raw materials to the processing, manufacturing and labeling of finished products. This is known as the toughest organic textile standard available.
Note: GOTS & GOLS certifications cover three levels – the factory, materials used, and finished product. Ideally both the factory and the finished product will be certified. You may have to do some digging on the company website to find this out.
This standard monitors the natural rubber used to make organic latex and ensures that everything from the rubber plantation, to the manufacturing plant to the final product are in compliance with the standard. To be GOLS certified, a finished product must contain at least 95% certified organic raw material.
When you see the MADESAFE label you know it has met rigorous standards to make sure it does not harm human health, animals or the environment. All certified products are screened for known behavioral toxins, carcinogens, developmental toxins, endocrine disruptors, flame retardants, heavy metals, neurotoxins, high risk pesticides, reproductive toxins, toxic solvents, or harmful VOCs. Only a few mattress brands have met these strict standards.
An international, third-party certification program that tests for more than one hundred harmful substances, including formaldehyde, banned colorants and heavy metals.
This certification looks at air quality standards and assures that products designed for use in indoor spaces meet strict chemical emissions limits. Gold certification considers safety factors to account for sensitive individuals, such as children and the elderly.
An independent certification agency based in Germany that tests for pollutants and emissions. Products are evaluated for formaldehyde, VOCS (volatile organic compounds), heavy metals, pesticides, phthalates, and other potentially harmful chemicals.
CertiPUR-US is a certification for conventional polyurethane foam that ensures that it is low-VOC. It is free from the worst flame retardants (PBDEs, TDCPP or TCEP- “Tris”) but not all flame retardants – so keep in mind that some chemical flame retardants may still be used. CertiPUR foam is also free from ozone depleters, formaldehyde, mercury, lead, and other heavy metals and phthalates. NOTE: This certification was developed by an association of foam manufacturers so it’s not perfect, but could be safer than traditional polyurethane foam.
Finding the Best Organic Mattress for Your Needs
A new mattress is a big investment so choosing the right mattress is a big deal! To avoid information overload, I recommend starting with some online research to learn as much as you can before you buy.
If possible, try to visit a small, local store that specializes in natural and organic mattresses (rather than a mega mattress store), where you can see the mattress in person and test it out. Of course, purchasing a mattress online has become quite common and with trial periods of up to 180 nights, this can be a very reasonable option.
You’ll need to determine your top priorities for a mattress and then shop around until you find the best mattress that meets your needs. Here are some things to consider when purchasing a new mattress:
- Type of mattress – Do you want a latex mattress, an innerspring mattress or a hybrid mattress (both latex and coils or springs)?
- Feel of mattress – Do you want your mattress to be firm and supportive, soft and cushy, or somewhere in between? Most side sleepers prefer a medium mattress that provides support but also relieves pressure from the hips and shoulders. Most back and stomach sleepers prefer a firmer mattress that helps keep their spine in proper alignment.
- Price – An organic Queen size mattress starts at about $1000 and can go up to $5000 or more for a luxury model, with many options in the $1200 to $2000 range.
- Shipping – Do they offer free shipping or is there an extra shipping or delivery charge? Will the company take away your old mattress for free or for a fee?
- Packaging – Does the mattress arrive compact or full size? Do you need a compact bed-in-a-box model in order to get it up the stairs?
- Trial period – Do they have a Happiness Guarantee? Will they take the mattress back if you are not 100% happy with it? How long is the trial period?
- Warranty – How long is the warranty period for the mattress? (typical range is 10 – 25 years)
Best Healthy Mattress Brands
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 (the exact model is no longer available but it is most similar to the Chorus Mattress). It is super comfy and we love it! Now that it is over 10 years old, we added an organic latex mattress topper from My Green Mattress just to add a little extra cush!
After doing lots of research, here are a few of the best organic mattresses that stand up to my green & healthy scrutiny. I’ve personally tried Naturepedic, Happsy and Zen Haven and I’ve heard good reviews about the rest.
Naturepedic has a variety of mattress styles ranging from a basic latex-free mattress, to a luxury, customized organic mattress (and crib mattresses as well.) All their mattresses are GOTS certified, MADE SAFE® certified and GREENGUARD® Gold certified. Use code mindfulmomma15 for 15% off your order.
Happsy keeps it simple with just one mattress – a hybrid with both pocketed springs and a layer of cushy latex. The mattress is shipped compressed so it’s great for apartment living. The Happsy mattress is
GOTS certified, MADE SAFE® certified and GREENGUARD® Gold certified. We have a twin sized Happsy mattress in our son’s room and he loves it! Use code Mindful225 for $225 off at checkout.
(Read my full Happsy mattress review)
Avocado has a number of mattress options including their popular Avocado Green Mattress and their affordable Eco Organic Mattress, as well as a vegan mattress, kids mattresses and crib mattresses. Avocado mattresses are GOTS certified, MADE SAFE® certified and GREENGUARD® Gold certified. Use code MINDFULMOMMA for $100 off the new Avocado Green Mattress, Vegan Mattress or Latex Mattress.
My Green Mattress is known for having the best value organic mattress – the Kiwi – but they have a couple other mattress styles to choose from, as well as the popular Emily crib mattress. Their mattresses are GOTS certified, MADE SAFE® certified and GREENGUARD® Gold certified. Use code MindfulMicaela for $25 off a mattress (twin or larger), and $20 off the Emily Organic Crib mattress.
Savvy Rest has something for everyone – from their flagship Serenity mattress to a simple innerspring mattress to a luxury pillowtop mattress. Savvy Rest mattresses are GOTS certified and GREENGUARD® Gold certified.
The Zenhaven Natural Latex Mattress from Saatva is a dual-sided mattress made with organic natural latex mattress. The mattress can be flipped to the gentle firm side or the luxury plush side depending on your preferences. My youngest son has this mattress and he loves the plush side! The Zen Haven mattress is made with GOTS certified cotton and GOLS certified latex and is GREENGUARD® Gold certified.
Sleep on Latex makes simple latex mattresses that are the least expensive organic mattress I’ve seen, but with fewer customization options (firm or medium only). They are made with GOTS certified cotton and GOLS certified latex and are GREENGUARD® Gold certified. Sleep on Latex mattresses are available on Amazon.
What If I Can’t Afford an Organic Mattress?
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 of a conventional mattress:
- Let your new mattress off-gas in a well-ventilated area for awhile before using it.
- Cover your mattress with a natural latex mattress topper or an organic cotton mattress pad.
- Consider buying a less expensive natural futon instead of a regular mattress.
- Make your bed using organic pillows and organic bedding.
Are you in the market for an organic mattress? What are your most important criteria?