Should You Choose an Organic Mattress?
Natural textiles, foams and woods are becoming more popular as people seek to live cleaner lifestyles. In the bedroom, demand for safer mattresses has also grown, spurred in part by newer mattress laws regarding flammability.
While the benefits of organic foods are fairly well known – no toxic pesticides, increased nutrients eco-friendly farming methods – the reasoning behind organic home furnishings may not be quite so clear for many shoppers.
In this guide, we take a look at pros and cons of buying an organic mattress, explain common materials, and compare a few brands.
Organic Mattresses versus Traditional Beds
Traditional mattress options include innerspring beds with different foam and fiber layers, memory foam beds, latex mattresses, and even water beds. Most of these mattresses are made from synthetic materials like polyurethane foams, polyester fabrics, vinyl, press board, and other fibers. They are often treated with dyes, adhesives, antimicrobials, flame retardants and other chemicals as well that contribute to off-gassing, or the release of chemicals into the air.
Organic mattress options primarily include innerspring beds with organic padding and fabric, and latex mattresses. Organic wool and cotton are the most common sources of fabric and padding. Foam made from organically-grown latex trees can also be processed in the Dunlop method to create organic latex beds.
Between these two categories, there are also mattresses that use all-natural or a greater proportion of natural materials than traditional beds (but are not organic). These might include natural fabrics, plant-based poly foams, and natural latex. An organic mattress and natural mattress are not the same thing, as a mattress must contain a certain percentage of responsibly harvested and produced materials to qualify as organic.
Below is a more detailed overview of the advantages and disadvantages of shopping for organic mattresses versus other types.
Pros of Choosing an Organic Mattress
- Hypoallergenic materials
- No pesticide residues
- Non-toxic fire barrier methods
- Free of high-VOC chemicals
- Often customizable
- Sustainable farming and manufacturing
For many people considering an organic mattress, the most important benefits are likely those that have an immediate impact on you and your home environment.
Organic fabrics and fibers are grown and processed differently than traditional versions, without toxic pesticides, chemical dyes, and other treatments. Organic cotton is considered one of the most hypoallergenic materials, used in most organic mattress covers.
Wool and latex foam are also hypoallergenic for most people, and organically-grown wool and latex are also produced without the pesticides and other chemicals used in traditional methods. On the other hand, polyurethane, glues and other ingredients in regular beds can cause skin or respiratory irritation for some people.
All mattresses sold in the United States must pass flammability tests, which can be accomplished in several ways. Some mattresses use chemicals like chlorinated tris, antimony, boric acid, or brominated retardants that may offgas or cause reactions for some people. Most of these chemicals have not been studied for long-term use in mattresses, and some believe they are associated with skin irritation, respiratory issues, kidney damage, neurological issues and other problems.
However, specially-designed fiberglass or kevlar fabrics and wool layers can also be used, with organic mattresses primarily using wool. Some shoppers have concerns about fiberglass as an irritant and may want to look for a mattress without fiberglass.
In addition to chemicals in materials and flame retardants, most organic mattresses will also be made without adhesives or glues, which are a strong source of chemical odors and off-gassing. Altogether, this means that organic beds are more likely to keep your indoor air clean and healthy, while not irritating individuals sensitive to chemicals. Some organic mattress brands also have their beds tested for VOC levels (via Greenguard, Oeko-Tex or Eco Institute) to further demonstrate safety.
For couples with different tastes, the ability to customize firmness levels might offer a significant benefit. Since many organic beds are made or assembled to order, several manufacturers offer customizable firmness options on each side. This is most common with a latex mattress.
The other benefit that encourages many people to shop organic is the reduced environmental impact. Traditional cotton is one of the dirtiest crops in the world in terms of pesticide and herbicide use. Non-sustainable wood harms forests, and the use of non-renewable petroleum products often contributes to pollution. Organic cotton and wool, sustainable woods, and sustainable materials like latex are kinder to the environment, and many are also recyclable or biodegradable as well.
Cons of Choosing an Organic Mattress
- Limited availability
- Limited options
- Can be confusing to shop for
- Often more expensive
The cons of shopping for organic mattresses primarily relate to the convenience factor. Very few places sell all-organic beds, especially in physical retail stores. Some brands sell nationally online, but unless you live in a major metro area, chances are you won’t be able to test many organic beds before buying. However, several stores do offer return or exchange policies just in case it doesn’t work out.
Compared to spring and memory foam beds, there are also less options to choose from when it comes to all-organic mattresses – basically options include latex foam beds, spring mattresses topped with latex and/or wool, or futon-style wool-stuffed beds.
If you don’t have much experience with mattresses or buying organic, it can also be a little confusing to shop for organic beds. There are different terminologies and different things to compare. For example, some brands sell “organic mattresses” that only have organic covers, while the interior components are non-organic. Others may use misleading information (like false certifications or studies) or not provide you with sufficient information to compare and research the beds.
The key things to keep in mind include: get information on each mattress layer and material, ask who certified anything said to be organic, and conduct your own research and comparisons. The internet is your most helpful tool for learning about brands, materials, certifications and owner reviews, and it is worth the time to make sure you get a good mattress and a good value.
Finally, the other potential con of buying an organic mattress could be the price. Since organic materials cost more to produce, are more limited, and since getting certifications can be costly, organic beds do tend to cost more than their traditional counterparts.
An average organic spring or latex bed might cost around $2000-$2500, compared to $1000-$1500 or so for an average traditional spring or latex bed. Ultimately, it will come down to what you value and hold most important, and your budget.
This is where research can be important, however, as brands vary in their markups and some will have occasional sales. With patience and research, you may be able to find a mattress under $2000 with organic materials.
Comparison of Organic Mattress Brands
Here’s a quick look at a few of the more prominent national brands of organic mattresses to get your research started. We’ve included basic information on their beds, pricing, materials and certifications, and guarantees. Information comes from retailer websites, with pricing accurate as of 12/9, excluding limited-time sales and discounts. Brands are listed alphabetically, and prices are given in Queen size:
|Brand||Organic Latex?||Organic Wool?||Organic Cotton?||Returns?||Warranty||Price|
|Flobeds||No||Yes||Yes||100 days||20 years||$1999+|
|Lifekind||Yes||Yes||Yes||90 days (exchange)||20 years||$2495+|
|Naturepedic||Yes||Yes||Yes||120 days (exchange)||20 years||$1999+|
|Savvyrest||Yes||Yes||Yes||90 days (exchange)||20 years||$2,349+|
|SleepEZ||No||No||Yes||90 days||20 years||$1,495+|
Flobeds mattresses are sold online at Flobeds.com and through retail partners. This brand sells mattresses made with blended and natural Talalay latex. Their organic collection features 3 models with natural latex with organic wool and cotton. Mattresses have between 8” and 11” of latex, and queen prices range from $1999 to $2899. Firmness levels are customizable with options for split firmness in queen and king sizes. Certifications include Oeko-Tex for latex and QUL/TUV for wool.
Lifekind by OMI
Lifekind mattresses by OMI are sold online at Lifekind.com. This brand sells latex and innerspring mattresses made with organic Dunlop latex, organic cotton, and organic wool. Lifekind has 4 latex beds with 6” to 9” of latex, ranging from $2495 to $4795. They also have 4 spring models with organic padding and fabrics from $2995 to $3595. Firmness is customizable on some models. Certifications include GOLS for latex, OTCO for cotton, and Greenguard for VOCs.
Naturepedic mattresses are sold through Naturpedic.com and retail partners. This brand sells latex and innerspring mattresses made with organic Dunlop latex, organic cotton, organic wool, and other materials. Naturepedic has 1 latex bed with 9” of latex, priced at $4499. They also have 7 spring models with organic padding and fabrics from $1999 to $6999. Firmness is customizable on some models. Certifications include GOLS for latex, GOTS for wool, USDA for cotton, and Greenguard for VOCs.
Organicpedic by OMI
Organicpedic mattresses by OMI are sold through the brand’s retail partners. This brand sells latex and innerspring mattresses made with organic Dunlop latex, organic cotton, and organic wool. Organicpedic has 8 latex beds with 6” to 12” of latex, ranging from $2195 to $4795. They also have 2 spring models with organic padding and fabrics from $2795 to $3595. Firmness is customizable on some models. Certifications include GOLS for latex, OTCO for cotton, and Greenguard for VOCs.
SavvyRest mattresses are sold online at Savvyrest.com and through retail partners. This brand sells latex mattresses made with organic Dunlop latex or natural Talalay latex, organic cotton, and organic wool. SavvyRest has 3 organic latex beds with 6” to 12” of latex, ranging from $2349 to $3899. Firmness is customizable with options for dual firmness on queen and king sizes. Certifications include GOLS for latex, OTCO for cotton and wool, and Eco-Institute and Greenguard for VOCs.
Sleep EZ mattresses are sold online at Sleepez.com and through retail stores. This brand sells mattresses made with blended and natural Talalay latex. Their organic collection features 4 models with natural latex, wool, and organic cotton. Mattresses have between 6” and 12” of latex, and queen prices range from $1495 to $2300. Firmness levels are customizable with options for split firmness in queen and king sizes. Certifications include Oeko-Tex for latex and GOTS for cotton.
To sum up our guide to organic beds, here’s a quick summary of these types of mattresses and who is most likely to benefit from one. Basically, an organic mattress might be right for you if:
- You are concerned about skin or chemical sensitivities.
- You have asthma or are sensitive to off-gassing odors.
- You are concerned about potential long-term effects of VOCs and/or flame retardants.
- You prefer products made from natural materials.
- You prefer products with less environmental impact.
- You don’t mind researching and learning about beds.
Only you can decide which is the best bed for you and your family’s needs, but if these characteristics describe you, than an organic mattress could very well be a good match.
If you have any other questions on organic mattresses or materials, drop us a line below!