Learn how to create a non-toxic bedroom by purifying the air and buying safer products.
Imagine spending 8 hours in one place, with no expectations and nothing to do. Imagine breathing deeply and letting your body relax completely. Imagine drifting off into a peaceful, restful sleep.
Sounds heavenly and incredibly healthy, doesn’t it?
But here’s the wake-up call: Your bedroom might actually be a haven for chemicals that could be harming your health. Turns out those 8 luxurious hours might not be so healthy after all.
Why It Matters
There are a lot of sneaky ways chemicals get into our bedrooms. They may be off-gassing from our mattress, or from the carpet or furniture in our bedrooms. Chemicals may be sprayed into the air from cleaning products or air fresheners. Toxins also end up in dust that hangs around longer than we would like to admit.
Keep in mind, this applies to kids bedrooms and baby nurseries as well as our own. In fact, the impact of chemical exposure on babies and kids is even worse than for adults, given their developing bodies and immature immune systems.
Non-Toxic Bedroom Checklist
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I know all this can sound a bit scary – but I don’t want you to worry. You can significantly reduce your exposure to chemicals and create a healthy bedroom environment by working your way through this checklist. Don’t worry about doing everything immediately – start with the small stuff and eventually make the more expensive changes when it makes sense for you.
Because of all the ways toxins get into our homes, it’s no surprise that indoor air can get pretty polluted with chemicals. Pollutants like VOCs, dust mites, pet dander, mold, pollen and smoke can all have serious health effects from respiratory issues to cancer. Using an air purifier is one solution but there are other ways to keep indoor air fresh as well.
Some things you can do to purify the air in your bedroom:
- Open windows – getting polluted air out is part of the solution
- House plants – certain plants are known for to filter air including English Ivy, Spider Plants and Peace Lily
- Salt lamps – Salt purifies air by attracting water vapor that may contain mold or other allergens. I have a small night light salt lamp in my bedroom but tabletop salt lamps are popular too
- Use an air purifier with a HEPA filter
- Air filters for your furnace/air conditioner – Get one that is rated MERV 10 or higher (MERV rates a filter’s ability to capture particles)
- Essential oil diffuser – a great alternative to commercial air fresheners. Many essential oils are anti-bacterial.
Most mattresses on the market are filled with toxic chemicals including flame retardants, polyurethane foam and PVC plastic. These chemicals are linked to health problems like hormone disruption, respiratory irritation and even cancer.
If you want to get into the nitty gritty about mattresses – head over to my posts about how to buy a natural mattress and non-toxic mattress brands. Meanwhile, I’ll tell you that I sleep on a firm Naturepedic mattress every night and love it. My son has a Zen Haven mattress and it is probably the most comfy and luxurious mattress I’ve ever tried! He uses the soft side but you can flip the mattress to the firm side if that’s what you prefer.
Some things to look for in a non-toxic mattress:
- GOTS certified organic materials (cotton, wool, latex)
- Latex should be natural latex rubber, not synthetic latex
- No chemical flame retardants added
- If you prefer memory foam, look for eco foam made with part soy and CertiPUR-US certified to be low-VOC
- For accident protection, look for safe mattress covers made from polyurethane laminate (PUL) fabric or polyethylene instead of PVC or vinyl
Tip: If a new mattress is not in your future, consider a natural wool, latex or cotton mattress topper instead.
Natural Fiber Bedding
Since we’re spending one-third of our lives in bed, we should make sure the bedding we are sleeping in is not only cozy, but safe. Conventional bed-sheets often contain chemical residues – either from pesticides sprayed on cotton or from plastics used in polyester. Some sheets are also treated with chemicals to make them stain or wrinkle resistant. Pillows are often synthetic and are sometimes treated with chemical flame retardants.
Here are some better bedding alternatives:
- Organic cotton sheets – I’ve purchased organic sheet sets at Target, and there are some high quality brands like Under the Canopy sheets available on amazon.
- Bamboo fiber sheets – Renewable bamboo is naturally temperature regulating (Target has an affordable bamboo rayon sheet set).
- Wool & organic cotton pillows – We love our natural wool pillows from Moss Envy (made in Minnesota!), Naturepedic also has high quality organic pillows.
- Latex pillows – These latex/kapok combo pillows from Avocado look great, although I have not tried them myself. Kapok is similar to cotton and is often used as stuffing.
Tip: If your regular sheets are well-worn and frequently washed, they don’t necessarily need to be replaced. When it comes time for a new sheet set, consider going organic.
Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
When we grab our cleaning products we expect them to well, clean. Little do we know, many cleaning products actually impart toxic chemicals into the air we breathe – in the form of VOCs (volitile organic compounds).
Use these safe cleaning products in your bedroom:
- Clean surfaces with non-toxic cleaning agents – here are some of my favorite all purpose cleaning sprays
- Dust windowsills and wood furniture with non-toxic wood cleaner
- Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to trap harmful particles like dust mites, pet dander and pollen
- Wash bedding with non-toxic laundry products including eco-friendly laundry detergent and laundry fresheners
- Clean windows using natural window cleaners that don’t contain ammonia or artificial fragrances
- Skip the toxic dryer sheets and use these safer alternatives instead
Tip: To freshen up sheets I spray them with Eco Breeze from Earth Friendly Products. It smells wonderfully fresh but is eco-friendly and non-toxic!
Sadly, upholstered furniture and carpet are other ways that toxic chemicals sneak into our bedrooms.
Furniture: Most upholstered furniture and cushions are made with toxic flame retardant chemicals, and many also contain stain or water repellents. These chemicals off-gas and accumulate in dust in your home. Also avoid furniture made from plywood or particle board, which can emit formaldehyde fumes.
- Furniture made using natural latex foam or low-VOC certified foam (CertiPUR-US)
- Label reading “The upholstery materials in this product contain NO added flame retardant chemicals.”
- Solid wood that is FSC-certified
Carpet: Wall-to-wall carpeting is a hotbed of synthetic chemicals, chemical treatments (stain and water proofing) and glues, all of which can be associated with respiratory issues, skin irritations and even cancer.
- Wool carpet – a natural, renewable fiber that is biodegradable and long-lasting
- Greenguard or Green Label Plus certified carpet – lower VOCs than traditional carpet
- Low-VOC adhesives
Some resources for non-toxic home and bedroom furnishings:
Note: You’ll still need to ask a lot of questions – but these companies are known for having some non-toxic, eco-friendly offerings.
- Room & Board
- Crate & Barrel
- West Elm / Pottery Barn
- Flor carpet tiles
- Earth Weave carpet
What have you done so far to create a non-toxic environment in your bedroom? What are you still working on?