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Many consumers are making a move to non-toxic household products. A new mattress is one of the most important non-toxic items you can buy because the old mattress you’ve been sleeping on might be affecting your health in a negative way, without you even realizing it.

Unless you specifically seek out a non-toxic mattress, most mattresses contain harmful chemicals and substances that are absorbed over time as we sleep. It’s time to switch to a non-toxic mattress to improve your sleep quality and overall well-being. So, how do you know the difference between a synthetic mattress and a chemical-free mattress?

First, you need to know what to avoid. Once you can spot harmful chemicals and questionable materials, you’ll be able to start searching for the best non-toxic mattress for you and your family.

What is a Non-Toxic Mattress?

A non-toxic mattress is a mattress that is free of harmful chemicals, and will not cause negative health effects from exposure. We spend a lot of time on our mattresses over the course of our lives. When you think about the chemicals you’re inhaling and absorbing day after day, it can get pretty scary.

Non-toxic mattresses are made without harmful chemical flame retardants, without synthetic latex, and without the petrochemicals that are found in so many conventional mattresses on that market today.

Additionally, non-toxic mattresses do not go through a chemical off-gassing process. If these terms are unfamiliar to you, keep reading. We will be covering them all in this article.

How do Mattress Toxins Cause Harm?

Mattress toxins can cause far more harm than you might realize. Unfortunately, aside from flame retardant requirements, there is not much regulation when it comes to all the materials that go into mattresses and other household products. Because of this, some mattress brands choose to mass-produce mattresses, using cheap materials to ensure the highest profits at the lowest expense.

These cheap synthetic materials can wreak havoc on the human body, especially considering how much time we spend on and near a mattress during our lives.

Toxins Absorb into the Body Overnight

The toxins from chemical flame retardants, polyurethane foam, and other toxic chemicals absorb into our bodies while we sleep through a number of processes. We inhale them as gases, and we absorb them through our skin.

Some of the most toxic chemicals are water-soluble, meaning that any sweat, saliva, or other means of liquid will cause them to absorb more quickly.

Toxins Keep the Body from Recovering

Our body does its recovering while we sleep. If the body is working to fight off dangerous toxins, it is unable to get the essential rest and recovery it requires to function at 100 percent.

Certain Toxins can Lead to Serious Illness

Many of the most toxic chemicals found in synthetic, unhealthy mattress materials have been linked to serious side effects and health problems. Some of these include:

  • Developmental delays in children
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Neurological disorders
  • Cancer

What Toxins to Avoid in Mattresses

Below are some of the toxic chemicals and materials found in conventional mattresses. Steer clear of all mattresses that contain these chemicals. Non-toxic mattresses will never contain dangerous materials like the ones found below that have been associated with mild to severe side effects.

Chemical Flame Retardants

Chemical flame retardants were added to mattresses to prevent them from immediately going up in flames in the event of a fire. Unfortunately, while the idea behind flame retardants was to make mattresses safer, these kinds of chemical flame retardants themselves are actually extremely toxic.

Certain flame retardants have been banned over the last few decades, but many toxic chemicals of similar nature are still used in the manufacturing process today. 

Petrochemicals (Petroleum-Based Chemicals)

Petrochemicals are petroleum-based chemicals. Some mattress brands claim that their materials are “natural” because petroleum is a naturally occurring material on the planet. The truth is that all petroleum-based chemicals, or petrochemicals, emit VOCs, which can be harmful and lead to unpleasant side effects.

Popular memory foam mattresses include petrochemicals. What we know as memory foam is typically polyurethane foam, a petrochemical. Polyurethane foam contains all kinds of toxic chemicals. Even a memory foam mattress that is supposedly plant-based still contains VOCs. 

So, the truth is that a memory foam mattress is not a good choice if you’re looking for non-toxic mattress components.

Synthetic Latex

Organic latex is a great, non-toxic mattress choice. However, not all latex on the market is the same. Synthetic latex mattresses and latex hybrid mattresses contain synthetic chemicals, and are not organic or natural. Mattress brands sometimes try to save money by blending natural latex with latex hybrid and synthetic latex.

It is so important to ensure you’re buying a non-toxic natural latex mattress and not a hybrid or synthetic that contains harmful chemicals.

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

Some mattresses include PVC, which contains chlorine. Some phthalates have been banned, but many are still used today. PVC shares many components with dangerous phthalates.

Ozone Depleters

Many ozone depleters have been banned in the US. However, if you come across a mattress manufactured outside the US, which many are, there is no telling if ozone depleters will be contained within. Ozone depleters are harmful both to humans and to the planet.

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen in humans. Formaldehyde can result during the memory foam manufacturing process. Formaldehyde is also used as an adhesive in some mattresses. It’s not as commonly used today, but you will likely run into formaldehyde in cheaper mattresses.

Pesticide

Mattresses that contain cotton might have harmful pesticides within them. Certified organic cotton will not contain pesticides, so you should always look for certified organic cotton labels on your all-natural, non-toxic mattresses.

Chemical Additives

Along with all the harmful chemical components that conventional mattresses contain, some mattress brands add even more chemical additives to their mattresses:

  • Chemical fragrance
  • Chemical antimicrobial components

Mattresses don’t need fragrance. The only reason a mattress brand would add fragrance would be to hide the synthetic chemical smell of its unhealthy mattress. Additionally, naturally non-toxic mattresses, like natural latex mattresses, are naturally microbial, and do not need any added chemicals.

Benefits of a Non-Toxic Mattress

Now that you’re more familiar with the harmful substances and toxic chemicals that exist in many mattresses on the market, you have a better sense of why choosing a non-toxic mattress is so important. Non-toxic mattress brands strive to produce healthy, safe mattresses that customers can feel good about purchasing.

No Harmful Chemicals

Without harmful chemicals, there’s no worry of nasty side effects. A natural latex mattress won’t go through an off-gassing process, so you and your family won’t be subjected to toxic VOCs.

Better Sleep Quality

We are at our most vulnerable when we sleep. That’s why mattresses that contain harmful chemicals are so harmful to our well-being. If your body can actually rest without fighting off toxins all night, you can become fully rested, and enjoy better sleep quality.

Improved Overall Health

Better sleep quality leads to better health. Moreover, the side effects of mattress toxins and VOCs can include poor immunity and respiratory illness. Without those dragging you down, your health can improve overall.

Naturally Hypoallergenic and Microbial

Natural latex mattresses are hypoallergenic and antimicrobial by nature. That means dust mites, pollen, bacteria, and other allergens aren’t going to make their home inside your natural latex mattress.

Longer Lasting

Natural latex mattresses can last up to 20 years or more. So, you will save money by keeping one mattress for decades, and you will help the environment by keeping synthetic mattresses out of the landfill.

Best Non-Toxic Mattress Materials

With so many harmful mattress materials, you might wonder what the best non-toxic mattress materials are. Organic latex, cotton, and wool are the safest and most natural non-toxic mattress materials you can find.

Natural Latex

Natural latex is the best non-toxic mattress base you can find. It is completely organic, as it is made from the sap of rubber trees. Organic latex is completely healthy, and contains no harmful toxins or chemicals. The only people that would need to worry about natural latex would be people with latex allergies.

Organic Cotton

Organic cotton is often used along with organic latex as a mattress cover. Organic cotton is breathable, comfortable, and promotes airflow. Certified organic cotton is free of dangerous pesticides, so you needn’t worry about harmful chemicals.

Organic Wool

As with organic cotton, organic wool is often used with organic latex as well. Organic wool is not only soft, comfortable, and breathable, but it is a perfect natural flame retardant. Unlike dangerous chemical flame retardants, organic wool is all-natural, and contains no harsh substances.

What to Look for in a Chemical-Free Mattress

It’s not always easy to sort through all the claims of different mattress brands. Some mattress brands make claims that their products are “green” without actually putting in the work. When you’re looking for a chemical-free mattress, be sure to use a discerning eye to choose the best, safest mattress for you and your family.

Additionally, don’t forget to prioritize your comfort and personal preferences!

Trustworthy Mattress Brands

Non-toxic mattress brands should have plenty of data and certifications to back up their claims. Some less reliable mattress brands use a tactic called “greenwashing,” which is when a company tries to market products as being environmentally-friendly without actually putting in the work.

Avoid falling for greenwashing tactics by double-checking that claims are backed up by sources. See if mattress brands that claim to be natural and eco-friendly actually put in the work behind the scenes to use sustainable practices.

Non-Toxic vs. Other Labels

When looking at mattress labels, there are a few different ones that will likely come up in your search. These seem to all mean the same thing at first glance, but they are actually different.

  • Chemical-free mattress
  • Natural mattress
  • Organic mattress
  • Eco-friendly mattress
  • Green mattress

A “natural mattress” is not the same thing as an “all-natural mattress.” Natural latex, cotton, and wool can make up an all-natural mattress. However, some mattress brands sprinkle some natural materials with synthetic materials, and market a mattress as natural.

Usually, when it comes to the word “organic,” there will be important distinctions between “made with organic materials” and certified organic latex, or certified organic cotton or organic wool. That’s why these certifications are so important. They can point you in the right direction when it comes to claims of “organic” mattresses.

Eco-friendly is not always to be trusted. For example, petrochemicals exist naturally on the earth, so some memory foam mattresses might be considered eco-friendly by their mattress brands. However, polyurethane memory foam is not eco-friendly.

It gets pretty confusing with all these different designations. That’s why it’s crucial to follow the certifications, and read all labels carefully.

Safe Materials

The best non-toxic mattress will be free of all the harmful chemicals that have been found unsafe for humans. Organic mattresses will include safe materials like organic cotton, organic latex, and organic wool.

Mattress Certifications

When searching for a chemical-free mattress, you should keep an eye out for important mattress certifications. These certifications are indicators of a mattress’s quality and standards. Mattress brands with certifications have been tested and found safe for humans.

Your Preferred Comfort and Firmness

Just like with other mattress types, you can buy a non-toxic mattress in your preferred firmness level. Non-toxic mattress brands produce durable, long-lasting products, so you want to choose an organic mattress that you find comfortable.

Your Ideal Price Point

Obviously, you want to find a non-toxic mattress that fits your ideal price point, and doesn’t break the bank.

An all-natural latex mattress can be more expensive than conventional mattresses because of the eco-friendly means by which it is produced. More work and craftsmanship are involved in each mattress, which can increase the price point.

When shopping for a chemical-free mattress, don’t be discouraged by a high price point. At Latex For Less, you can find a natural latex mattress at your ideal price point, because you can avoid markups.

Safe Flame Retardants

With so many dangerous flame retardants used on mattresses in the past and today, you might wonder if any safe flame retardants exist. Fortunately, there are a few popular non-toxic flame retardants that mattress brands use to ensure their natural, organic mattresses are completely safe, and meet regulations.

Pure Organic Wool

Pure wool is flame-resistant by nature. Many mattress brands that create natural, non-toxic mattresses use pure organic wool as the flame retardant for their products.

Not only is wool excellent for fire safety, due to its high ignition temperatures and low flame support, but it is also a comfortable and breathable material, perfect for mattresses.

Silica

Dehydrated silica is a natural, safe, non-toxic flame retardant. Silica naturally occurs as a mineral all over the earth. When the mineral is dehydrated, it becomes naturally resistant to fire. Silica is a popular flame retardant choice for those seeking non-toxic flame retardants.

Kevlar

Kevlar is not a natural material. It is made of plastic fibers. However, Kevlar is not treated with any harmful chemicals, and it is non-toxic. Therefore, Kevlar is considered a safe flame retardant. It is an especially good flame retardant choice when pitted against the other dangerous, very toxic options used in some mattresses.

Non-Toxic Mattress Certifications

When shopping for non-toxic mattresses, you want to keep mattress certifications in mind. These certifications are the best indicators of what mattresses are truly non-toxic.

Below are the mattress certifications on the market. While not all of these certifications are created equally, many of these are helpful in finding the best non-toxic mattress for you and your family.

GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) Certification

GOTS organic certified products are created from start to finish with environmental and social responsibility in mind. The standard for a product to become GOTS organic certified begins with processing and manufacturing, and ends with distributing. GOTS organic certified textiles are made from at least 70 percent natural organic fibers.

GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard) Certification

GOLS-certified organic latex products contain certified organic latex and additional approved materials. GOLS-certified organic latex is globally recognized as the standard for organically-grown natural latex.

Oeko-Tex Standard 100 Certification

An Oeko-Tex certification is given only to textiles that have been deemed harmless for humans. For a textile to become Oeko-Tex certified with the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 label, every component that makes up the final product must be tested and found safe.

The testing requirements to become Oeko-Tex certified with Oeko-Tex Standard 100 are typically more rigorous than international regulatory requirements.

GreenGuard Gold Certification

GreenGuard Gold certified items have been put through rigorous emissions tests. For a product to be GreenGuard Gold certified, its entire manufacturing process is subject to review, and the final VOC emissions must be limited.

GreenGuard Gold certified products have even lower VOC emissions than other emissions standards, and are considered safe for use in schools and healthcare facilities.

MADE SAFE Certification

The MADE SAFE certification requires that a company be completely transparent about all ingredients in an item. When no stated ingredients are known to cause harm, and have been deemed safe by an independent third party, a product can be certified.

MADE SAFE uses an ingredient database that screens thousands of known harmful ingredients from around the world.

CertiPUR-US Certification

The CertiPUR-US certification is given out by a non-profit specifically to foams. For foam to receive a CertiPUR-US certification, it must be free of certain harmful chemicals that can negatively affect humans.

Foams with CerfiPUR-US certification contain no formaldehyde, ozone depleters, heavy metals, and regulated phthalates. Additionally, these foams don’t contain certain chemical flame retardants, and have low VOC emissions.

Eco-Institut Certification

An Eco-Institut certification means that a product emits low emissions and pollutants indoors. To receive an Eco-Institut certification label, a product must meet certain emissions criteria when lab tests are performed.

Rainforest Alliance Certification

The Rainforest Alliance is a certification given to companies that operate sustainably, and maintain a sense of environmental, social, and economic responsibility. The Rainforest Alliance certified products and ingredients meet sustainability standards in terms of climate, environment, human rights, and economic livelihoods.

FAQs About Non-Toxic Mattresses

No one said mattress shopping was easy. But, with more information about non-toxic mattresses, you’re equipped to make a well-informed decision about your health and the health of your family.

If you’re still wondering about non-toxic mattresses, check out the frequently-asked-questions below, to see if you find an answer to a question you might have.

What is Mattress Off-Gassing?

Off-gassing is the process through which an item made with synthetic substances releases VOCs into the air. All kinds of household products go through an off-gassing process, but that doesn’t make it any less concerning.

Mattresses are especially notorious for their off-gassing. Synthetic mattresses that aren’t organic or all-natural contain harsh chemicals, and chemical compounds are released into the air in the form of gas, once a mattress begins settling.

The smell is usually unpleasant, and it can even have negative side effects like respiratory irritation and nausea.

What are VOCs?

VOCs are volatile organic compounds. Products like mattresses that contain volatile organic compounds emit them as gasses into the air. An organic latex mattress will not emit volatile organic compounds, but any mattress that contains man-made chemicals and harsh substances will.

Unfortunately, these gases can cause side effects when exposure is prolonged. That’s why non-toxic mattresses made with organic materials are so important.

How is Natural Latex Made?

Natural latex is made from the sap of the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis). Farmers harvest the sap from the tree, and whip it into a foam, which is then poured onto a mold and baked.

There are two different production processes that result in either natural Dunlop latex, or natural Talalay latex. Both natural Dunlop latex and natural Talalay latex are organic latex, but they have slightly different finishes.

Dunlop Latex

To create natural Dunlop latex, all the latex foam is poured into the mold, and baked at once. This creates a solid, firmer mattress bottom, and a slightly softer top.

Talalay Latex

Talalay latex is poured and flash frozen in sheets for a more even consistency across the entire mattress. The Talalay latex process involves more steps.

Both natural Dunlop latex and natural Talalay latex are preferred by different people. Dunlop latex is usually seen as more supportive, and Talalay latex is thought to be softer. 

Is Non-Toxic Latex Good for a Crib Mattress?

An all-natural organic latex mattress is a great choice for a crib mattress. You want the healthiest mattress you can find for your family, especially your baby. When shopping for a crib mattress, look for an organic latex crib mattress. It will have no harmful chemicals, and your baby will have a comfortable surface to sleep on each day.

What Non-Toxic Accessories Do I Need?

Since the goal is to create a non-toxic sleeping environment, you should invest in non-toxic bedding and accessories to pair with your non-toxic mattress.

Be sure to clean your bedding regularly with non-toxic cleaning agents.

The Latex For Less Commitment to Non-Toxic Mattresses

Latex For Less mattresses, pillows and toppers are non-toxic, comfortable, long-lasting, and sustainable. That is because here at Latex For Less, we truly care about our consumers and the environment.

Any mattress brand can quickly develop and release mattresses with little thought or care, but Latex For Less’s all-natural, non-toxic mattress is the product of 10 years of research and testing.

Each mattress is handmade, and free of harmful chemicals. In fact, Latex For Less has top industry purity certifications to prove the high standards and safety of each mattress. The mattresses are Oeko-Tex certified, and include GOTS-certified (Global Organic Textile Standard) organic cotton.

All of the natural latex comes from one single origin, meaning that Latex For Less uses one grower for each batch of natural latex. So, not only is each mattress all-natural, but customers do not have to worry about inconsistent materials, or third-party markups.

Why Choose a Latex For Less Mattress?

Latex For Less’s organic latex mattress is extremely comfortable, natural, and backed by a 20-year warranty. Unlike other mattresses that are full of toxic chemicals, and fall apart after only a few years, Latex For Less uses superior craftsmanship and non-toxic materials to create long-lasting, durable mattresses that offer incredible sleep.

Each mattress has both a medium side and a firm side, so you can choose your preferred comfort level.

Additionally, since there are no third parties or retailers involved, you can get a luxurious, high-quality mattress at a reasonable price point, without the annoying markups.

Latex For Less offers potential customers a risk-free 120-night sleep trial. Choose your preferred mattress size and height, and Latex For Less will ship it to you with free shipping. If you don’t love your mattress after the 120-night sleep trial period, Latex For Less will pick up your mattress, and offer free shipping on the return as well.

Elizabeth Magill

Elizabeth Magill is a professional freelance writer and editor who holds an MBA. Liz specializes in writing about health news, medical conditions, healthy living, small business, career and work, personal finance, and green-living, including news and trending topics in these specialties. Her clients include Healthline, The Motley Fool, GoBanking Rates, LIVESTRONG.com, Big Interview, HealthNews, Intuit Small Business Blog, Intuit Health, American News Report, Travels.com, IFX Medical, and many others. She’s also a published eBook author and ghost writer for various clients in the health, medical, career, small business, and personal finance niches.