What Is an Organic Mattress? These Are the Certifications to Look for and Our Favorite Options to Shop Now
Many of us are used to shopping for organic produce at the grocery store or checking our skin care products for clean ingredients, but have you ever thought about sleeping on an organic mattress? "People buy organic household cleaners in order to minimize toxic chemicals, but they often don't realize that the mattress they sleep on may also be full of toxic chemicals," says Barry A. Cik, the founder and technical director of Naturepedic, an organic mattress brand.
To put it simply, organic mattresses are non-toxic and chemical-free—plus, they're made with higher-quality, natural materials. Ultimately, purchasing an organic mattress isn't about following green marketing trends: It's a consumer choice revolving around human impact and global sustainability. "Buying an organic mattress shouldn't just be about the product component," explains Jack Dell'Accio, the CEO and founder of organic mattress company, Essentia. "It needs to be about social responsibility, ethical farming practices, ethical production standards, and fair wages at all levels." To find out what really makes a mattress organic, we asked the experts—and got their recommendations for the best organic mattresses on the market today.
What makes a mattress organic?
"At its most basic, organic refers to components that are derived from all-natural materials without the use of pesticides in farming or chemicals in processing," Dell'Accio explains. So, when it comes to organic versus conventional mattresses, Cik adds, the former are specifically made from premium materials like organic cotton, wool, and latex; they are free of flame retardants and other potentially toxic chemicals, too.
What are the benefits of purchasing an organic mattress?
"The number-one reason to sleep on an organic mattress is indoor air quality," Dell'Accio emphasizes. Beyond the positive environmental impact of organic models, purchasing a certified organic mattress ensures that there won't be any chemical off-gassing in your home—which subsequently prevents the uncomfortable physical reactions you may have to those chemicals. But what does "chemical off-gassing" mean, exactly? Think about the last time you brought a new non-organic mattress into your home. Do you recall a plastic odor? Cik refers to this scent as "new mattress smell"—and it can actually impact your quality of life. "The odor emitted from conventional mattresses is usually a release of potentially toxic chemicals off-gassing into the air," Cik explains. These agents include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which worsen air quality. Inhaling VOCs can result in symptoms such as headaches and dizziness, Cik adds: "In the worst-case scenarios, some VOCs are even suspected or known carcinogens."
In addition to improved air quality and greater environmental responsibility, organic mattresses can also provide increased comfort—particularly when it comes to temperature regulation and cooler sleep. "Petroleum foam—which makes up memory foam mattresses—doesn't breathe, and can make you feel hot and sweaty, causing sleep disruptions throughout the night," Cik explains. Organic cotton and other temperature-regulating materials found in these eco-friendly mattresses—such as wool, which wicks away moisture—can transform your sleep environment, Cik affirms.
How can you tell if a mattress is really organic?
Not all organic mattresses are created equal—in fact, some marketed as organic are anything but. To purchase an organic mattress confidently, look for third-party certifications, notes Cik. If a mattress is labeled as organic and nontoxic, the next step is to ensure it is certified by Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and MADE SAFE, "two of the most stringent certifications on the market," Cik says. Dell'Accio recommends checking for Global Organic Latex Standard certification (GOLS), too: "If you're a certified producer, GOLS ensures that every component meets the highest ethical and organic standards." Shopping for organic mattresses can be an exercise in avoiding "greenwashing," note our experts—certain companies prioritize marketing their products as organic before developing products that are actually organic, Cik explains. Dell'Accio adds that it's common for mattresses to be labeled as "organic" because they include one external organic fabric; meanwhile none of the mattress's inner components are natural. Checking for those third-party certifications will ensure you don't fall for confusing or dishonest promotional tactics. Ahead, discover several options that make the cut.