These days, it seems like everything has an organic option – even mattresses. When you’re shopping for a new bed and see a mattress labeled organic, you might wonder what it actually means.
At the most basic level, an organic mattress is one made from naturally-derived materials instead of manmade chemicals. These materials include fibers like bamboo, cotton, and wool, as well as organic latex derived from rubber trees. A truly organic mattress is made without any chemicals; all of the materials are grown, processed, and manufactured with natural materials and processes.
However, there is a lot of variation in labeling and the standards for organic mattresses, so before you start shopping, it’s a good idea to learn more about what you’re really getting when you buy an organic mattress.
Certification and Labeling
Currently, the FTC doesn’t provide any guidance when it comes to labeling products organic, and some manufacturers take advantage of that and use it as a marketing ploy. For instance, a mattress may be labeled “made with organic materials,” which can mean that anywhere from 1 to 99 percent of the mattress is actually organic.
To help prevent confusion, it’s best to look for the UDSA Certified Organic Seal, which confirms that the mattress is made from 95 percent organic materials and processed without chemicals. It’s also useful to ask whether a mattress meets the Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS). A mattress that’s GOTS-approved may contain some non-organic materials like steel coil springs, but the finished product still meets the established criteria to be considered organic. For late mattresses, to ensure an organic product you should look for the Global Organic Latex Standards (GOLS) certification.
Further adding to the confusion are mattresses label as “eco-friendly” “non-toxic” or “all-natural.” Eco-friendly, for instance, is typically used to describe products made with plant-based foams. While the foams themselves may have organic components, often these mattresses are treated with harsh flame retardants, which aren’t eco-friendly. “All-natural” is another often misleading claim, as it may refer to only some aspects of the mattress (such as a cotton cover) or some of the materials in the mattress. Because there’s no official standard as to what can be labeled “all-natural” when it comes to mattresses, looking for GOTS or GOLS certification is a safer bet.
The same goes for non-toxic, which also doesn’t have any prescribed labeling standards. Unless the mattress is certified organic, and the manufacturer can provide proof that the materials and processes used are not toxic, the label may not mean what you think it does.
So Why Buy an Organic Mattress?
If determining what “organic” really means when shopping for a mattress is so challenging, then why should you even consider such a mattress? As it turns out, organic mattresses actually have a number of advantages.
- Hypoallergenic. Provided you aren’t allergic to cotton or wool (the most common fibers in organic mattresses) you’re less likely to have any type of allergic reaction to an organic mattress because of the lack of chemicals. These include breathing problems, skin reactions, or other illnesses.
- Safer. Because organic mattresses are made with organic wool, they are naturally flame resistant and are safe even without the application of harsh chemicals. Wool contains both keratin and lanolin, natural substances that make it hard to ignite or combust.
- Better temperature regulation. While many mattresses include copper or gel layers to help keep you cool while you sleep, organic mattresses made with wool are naturally more comfortable and cooler for sleeping. Wool wicks away moisture and provides insulation to keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
- Better elasticity. Natural latex conforms to your body and bounces back better than many foam products because it’s naturally more elastic. This not only ensures you remain comfortable but also helps your mattress last longer. Over time when the foam is compressed, it loses the ability to bounce back, but that’s less likely to happen with natural latex.
Shopping for the right mattress can be complex for anyone, but when you start trying to make sense of labels like organic, it can be even harder to know which mattress is best for you. If you are concerned about toxic chemicals in your bedding, though, and you read labels carefully and look for certified organic products, you’ll be able to find the right mattress that gives you peace of mind as well as a night of peaceful sleep.