What to Look for in a Non-Toxic Mattress: Brands and Where to Buy

It seems crazy that something we spend one third of our lives on might be toxic. Yet while your mattress isn’t toxic in the sense that it’ll kill you on contact (well, not likely anyways), it may have some less-than-desirable ingredients. Most people think of non-toxic mattresses for a new baby’s crib – but we deserve a chemical-free sleep too!

What’s in Conventional Mattresses

Most conventional mattresses are made with polyurethane foam. This is derived from petrochemicals and can offgas VOCs long after the product is brought into your home. If you have particular sensitivities, you may notice an increase in headaches or other reactions after sleeping on a new mattress. Depending on the construction of the mattress, it may also contain glues which can offgas harmful VOCs as well.

Now, most people are worried about flame retardants but there’s good news here. Because synthetic foams are so flammable, they historically required flame retardants to meet safety standards. The good news is, because of public pressure and shifting regulations, many mattresses are now using alternative methods like inherently flame retardant covers instead of chemical additives.

The biggest concern were PBDEs, which were commonly used flame retardants that are now banned in Canada (though may still be in imported products). They are pervasive in the bodies of people and wildlife around the globe. These  can imitate thyroid hormones in our bodies and disrupt their activity. Though the effect of low doses is unknown, a CDC Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals indicates that effects on animal studies suggest “thyroid function impairment” and they’re on EWG’s Endocrine Disruptors Dirty Dozen.

Even though flame retardants are less common, I still advocate for really drilling down to find out what’s in the mattress. As chemicals are banned, new ones take their place in the market without necessarily being proven safe. It often takes years of a product being in people’s homes before a substance will be deemed potentially dangerous and ultimately removed from production. Learn how to avoid greenwashing claims here.

What to Look For in a Mattress

Natural fibres, such as cotton or wool, are naturally flame resistant and therefore typically do not contain flame retardant chemicals. While wool isn’t suitable for those with allergies, natural mattresses won’t off-gas VOCs like conventional foam-filled products. In addition, many brands use certified organic materials, demonstrating commitment to the environment and further reducing potential exposure to chemicals.

You can also look for GREENGUARD certified products. These may contain synthetic chemicals, but the 3rd party certification demonstrates the product meets maximum emissions levels of certain chemicals. Here’s a list of common marketing terms used to make a mattress sound healthy, but don’t tell the whole story – be an informed consumer!

Non-Toxic Mattress Brands

Naturepedic is one of the most recommended non-toxic mattress brands. They feature certified organic cotton and latex rubber without use of chemical flame retardants. In addition to full-size, Naturepedic offers crib mattresses with high waterproofing performance without vinyl or PVCs (vinyl is a carcinogen and PVCs typically contain phthalates which are hormone disruptors).

Sleeptek is a Canadian company that uses certified organic cotton, latex rubber, and wool in their bedding products. They also use Canadian wood for their bed frames. (I have a shredded rubber pillow that I picked up from Organic Lifestyle and am loving how it retains its loft more than conventional pillows.)

Obasan mattresses are made in Ottawa with certified organic cotton, latex rubber, and wool. They offer custom designs for a comfy and healthy sleep.

Balancer Das Original Beds are an innovative natural latex bed system that is a good option if you’re looking for a bedframe as well.

There are a TONNE of new mattresses coming on the market that claim various forms of “green-ness”. Some are alright, but others are just plain green-washing. Make sure you do your research on their claims before you invest!

Where to Buy a Non-Toxic Mattress

Investing in a natural mattress is just that – an investment. They are more expensive than conventional mattresses, but might be one of the most important changes you can make in your home (when your current mattress is ready to be replaced).

Many brands now offer delivery, but I find working with independent distributors (either online or in store) helpful in case problems arise or you want to build a better relationship. Here are some of my favourites, especially for my fellow Canadians:

Organic Lifestyle is a Toronto-based online retailer of healthier products for your bedroom and home. I’ve been working with Dihan, the founder of Organic Lifestyle, for years and love his approach to healthier homes as well as customer service (because I’m a customer too!).

Sunshine Mattress Co. is a new retailer to the scene with a physical shop in Toronto and free shipping across Canada. They offer certified organic natural latex mattresses, wool bedding, and non-toxic pillows. Use code GREENATHOME and save 10%!

Soma Organic Mattresses have physical shops in the west end of Toronto as well as online collections of eco-friendly and healthier housewares.

 

No matter what mattress you choose, allow it to off-gas outside of it’s packaging and ideally in a well-ventilated area away from your living space for as long as possible. If a new mattress is in your future, do you research and have a look at your budget. Do what you can to start saving money to make a healthier mattress a reality. Your body will thank you later.

 

 

This post contains affiliate links. This means that I make a small commission for any purchases made from certain links. I only partner with businesses who I truly support and who represent the kind of products I do or would use in my own home. Thank you for your support!

0 thoughts on “What to Look for in a Non-Toxic Mattress: Brands and Where to Buy”

  1. Did you come across the Essentia brand when you were doing your research? They have a store in the beaches and claim to make their mattresses from “natural” memor foam with GOTS certified cotton covers.

    Reply
    • As a memory-foam alternative it’s a better bet, but as they state on their website, even natural foams contain chemicals. They claim to test all products for VOCs, though don’t carry a 3rd party certification for the foam itself. If you’re in love with memory foam, I would say this is a good option. And it’s made in Canada :).

      Reply
  2. Hi, I just bought a sealy twin mattress from Costco for my 3 yr old, before I came across your post… how would I know if the materials used are safe in this one, or if it has flame retardants?? Do most ‘conventional’ big store mattresses contain harmful materials? Now I am worried…thx for your help

    Reply
    • Hi Katie,
      You can write to Sealy and ask whether the mattress you purchased contains chemical flame retardants. Most conventional foam-based mattresses do, unfortunately. Truth be told, my kid sleeps on a conventional mattress we got before really thinking about it. I’m planning to replace it this year – it’s an investment for sure! Feel free to email me (see the Contact Me tab at the top of my site) with questions and I should be able to answer you more quickly. You can also check out the Green Product Forum on Facebook to crowdsource answers :).
      Emma

      Reply
    • Katie I have contacted Simmons and Sealy as I too was worried about my family sleeping on conventional mattresses and they have stopped using flame retardants in mattresses prior to 2007 so if bought after that it should be ok in terms of formaldehyde. Big conventional brands are CertiPUR certified google it to see what they don’t use. It is better than in the past but unfortunately they are still laced with a number of questionable chemicals. I am currently looking to replace all our mattresses with safer options that won’t put us into debt. It makes me sick thinking about our safe sleeping places being toxic 🙁

      Reply
    • Hi Felicia,
      If it’s a contact allergy, you may be OK if they’re wrapped in a different material. I would reach out to the manufacturers. The Naturepedic mattresses are non-latex if you want to avoid it altogether. They’re spring-based with cotton fill. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  3. We bought our organic latex mattress online from MFC. It’s a customizable mattress made with organic dunlop latex, 100% organic cotton and wool as a flamme retardant. We are happy with our purchase and the money we saved from buying online.

    Reply
  4. Is it necessary to worry about third party certification if I am purchasing a pocket-coil mattress. I realize that most mattresses do contain some level of VOCs in the materials.

    Reply
    • Hi Graham,
      It depends what your goals are. Typically pocket coil mattresses will have a layer of foam as a topper, so you’d want to look into flame retardants if it’s not natural latex. Pocket coil is my preference, ideally filled with cotton and with a wool top instead of foam.

      Reply
  5. We have a bed by Swiss Dream Beds that doesn’t have flame retardants and a lot of certifications to back up their claims. They’re also Canadian! 🙂

    Reply
  6. We purchased Naturepedic mattresses from Luxurious Beds in Oakville. Thank you for letting us know about Naturepedic. They are wonderful to deal with knowledgeable with no pressure. Highly recommend.

    Reply
  7. Thank you so much Emma,
    I am looking seriously into Balancer Das Original Beds. They are the same as Swiss Dream Beds. Is it correct?
    Is there anything that you do not like about them or have doubts about certain claims etc.?
    All the info looks great on their website but I want to be absolutely sure before I shell out the big bucks.

    Reply
  8. Hello.. I keep looking into getting a new mattress, but then putting it off because it’s overwhelming trying to dig through the false advertising. As well, I don’t have a big budget. I wanted to stay below 1500, but I see that is impossible in Canada. I literally can’t go a penny over 2k and really can’t even afford that. So that eliminates Naturepedic and Obasan. I came across the hybrid line of essentia. But you had mentioned it wasn’t entirely certified. I can’t find any information on what isn’t certified? I’m wondering if you’ve gotten any more information on this brand? Though I’m not impressed with their sleep trial as they charge you 9% to return it.

    Do you know of any brands that I can get within Canada (just don’t want to pay duty) that are non-toxic, have actual “risk-free” sleep trial, and aren’t over 2K?

    Thanks for posting this information. It’s so hard to find it all one spot.

    Reply

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