May 28, 2018
By Lisa Petrison, Ph.D.
Usually for those who are fleeing a moldy environment and replacing most or all of their possessions, I suggest starting off with camping mattresses.
Even if people are not intending to do any camping at all, camping mattresses are much easier to keep clean and much less expensive than standard bed mattresses.
In addition, camping mattresses are reported as being widely tolerated by individuals with mold and chemical sensitivities, undoubtedly in part because they are not required by law to include fire retardants.
Especially when used in combination with a camping cot (but even when used on the ground or on a platform), some of these mattresses are said by many people to be just as comfortable as a regular bed.
However, especially after a few years of mold avoidance, some individuals recovering from chronic illness conclude that they would prefer to go back to sleeping on something more like a regular mattress and start considering various options.
I therefore have put together this article to discuss some of the issues involved and to provide some basic information about some of the better mattress choices that are currently on the market.
To begin with, I see avoiding chemical fire retardants in mattresses as extremely important.
These chemicals often trigger reactions in those with environmental illness and also are conventionally recognized as having the potential of causing very serious negative health effects.
Although most of my own chemical reactivities have faded, I still have a terrible time with the fire retardants that are used to treat tents.
The use of fire retardants seems to me to have the potential of being even more problematic in mattresses than in tents, since chemicals in mattresses likely could never be washed out or neutralized by UV rays from the sun.
The only saving grace here is that it is much easier to find a mattress that is made without fire retardants these days than it is to find a tent that is made without fire retardants.
(I do hope that will change soon and that tents without fire retardants also will become more widely available.)
Avoiding various off-gassing chemicals in mattresses also is a relevant factor for those individuals who are recovering from mold-related illness, since most of these people have chemical sensitivities.
That being the case, mattresses that are made of higher-quality natural materials may be particularly appealing to them.
However, while most individuals who are recovering from mold-related illness seem to agree that all things being equal they would prefer a mattress that is as natural and organic as possible, other factors – especially concerns about mold growth or mold cross-contamination – may be considered even more important.
Also, in some cases, individuals may be unwilling or unable to spend the money for an expensive natural mattress – either because their savings have been decimated as a result of their illness or because they are afraid that their new mattress soon will become contaminated with toxicity (either from the environment or from their own detoxification processes) and thus need to be discarded.
In addition, some people with pain issues conclude that comfort is the biggest priority for them, and may be willing to accept a mattress that is more comfortable but less natural as long as they personally can tolerate it.
In order to get a better idea of which mattresses may be particularly appropriate for those recovering from mold-related illness, I asked members of the Mold Avoiders Facebook group to share information about recent positive and negative experiences that they have had with mattresses currently on the market.
I used the information obtained from this discussion to select a group of 20 mattress companies that seemed worthy of consideration by those individuals with chronic illness issues who are considering buying a mattress.
This article profiles each of these companies and also lists several dozen other mattress manufacturers that also might be worth a look.
One thing that I found in writing this article was that even if we assume that the primary goal in purchasing a mattress is to avoid problematic toxicity, the question of what type of mattress to purchase is not one with any sort of a clear-cut answer.
For instance, many people report positive experiences with 100% natural latex, but I also have heard stories about mattresses made from it not wearing well or becoming moldy.
Futons that consist of 100% wool and cotton are appealing in a lot of ways, but they also require regular rotating and flipping, usually cannot be returned if they do not work out, are difficult to clean, may be pre-contaminated with mold toxicity, may have objectionable odors, and may not be very comfortable for many people.
It therefore seems that the best mattress choice may vary substantially even among those who are sensitized to mold and chemicals.
Hopefully the wide variety of mattresses discussed here will provide a good starting point in considering the kinds of choices that are available so that an optimal individual decision can be made.
One article that I found especially useful in seeking out information about non-toxic mattresses was “Mattresses and Bedding: Chemical-Free Options” by Corinne Segura on the blog My Chemical-Free House.
Another good article is “Looking For Safe Bedding?” by Andrea Fabry on the blog It Takes Time.
Additional information sources that also provide very helpful information are listed in the section toward the bottom of this article.
Those reports will be incorporated into updated versions of this article.
MATTRESSES AND CHEMICALS
In the early 1970s, primarily with the goal of preventing fires that started from smoking cigarettes in bed, some mattress manufacturers began adding various chemical fire retardants to their products.
Eventually, some of these chemicals were withdrawn from the marketplace due to health concerns and other newer fire retardants – most of them not tested any more rigorously than the old ones had been before hitting the market – began being used in mattresses.
Over the ensuing decades, various laws have been passed at the state and federal levels in the U.S. (and also in the UK) regulating the extent to which mattresses must be able to withstand exposure to fires.
While early laws required only that mattresses be able to withstand a smoldering cigarette, more recent laws – which went into effect in 2004 in California and in 2007 in the U.S. as a whole – require that mattresses be able to withstand the application of a large open flame (similar to a blowtorch) for 70 seconds without catching on fire.
In 2012, the Chicago Tribune wrote a high-profile, multi-part series exposing the deceptive practices used by the chemical industry to put into place legislation that resulted in virtually all upholstered furniture and tents – as well as the vast majority of mattresses – being treated with chemical fire retardants.
The article series pointed out that these chemicals had been shown in many studies to cause a wide variety of serious health problems and also suggested that there was a total lack of evidence that they were of actual benefit in terms of reducing deaths due to fires.
Largely as a result of the article series, legislation in California that required that upholstered furniture foam contain fire retardants was repealed, meaning that obtaining furniture without such chemicals became much easier throughout the U.S. as a whole.
Note that there never had been any requirement either in California or in the U.S. that mattresses contain chemical flame retardants. There only has been and continues to be a requirement that mattresses be able to pass the open flame test.
During the past five years since the Chicago Tribune series brought concerns about fire retardants to the forefront, dozens of smaller companies (many of them selling primarily through the Internet) have begun offering mattresses that use non-toxic fabric fire barriers rather than chemical fire retardants in order to pass the open flame tests.
In some cases, a heavy layer of natural wool is sufficient to allow a mattress to be able to pass the test.
Another option is for companies to use a “sock” consisting of stiff non-toxic fireproof fabric over the core mattress material (but underneath the mattress cover) to keep the mattress from catching on fire when subjected to open flame test.
Usually the sock consists either of Kevlar (a heavy-duty synthetic fabric used to make bulletproof vests) or a rayon/silica combination, but other materials may be used as well.
Although major mattress manufacturers usually refuse to talk about which chemicals they are or are not using in their mattresses, rumors suggest that in at least some cases these big companies are using non-toxic flame-proof socks rather than chemical fire retardants in their products these days.
For instance, on a recent trip to Mattress Firm, I got a chance to examine a sock of this sort that had been removed from a Simmons Beautyrest memory foam mattress, and it did feel totally non-toxic to me.
Simmons Beautyrest is one of the few major brands that has been stated as not containing chemical fire retardants, and so the presence of the fabric barrier in their mattresses is consistent with that.
For the most part though, large mattress manufacturers categorically refuse to answer any consumer questions on whether their products contain fire retardants and provide no information whatsoever on this topic to sales representatives at stores selling their products.
Personally, I suspect that this is because their feeling is that answering any questions at all will just lead to more questions about other chemicals and then to public criticisms suggesting that their products are dangerous.
In any case, those individuals who are considering buying a mattress from a large manufacturer and who want to know what kind of fire retardants that mattress might contain are likely to come up with a complete blank no matter who they ask and no matter how much time they spend searching for information on the Internet.
The only two mainstream mattresses that I have found that have been stated as including no fire retardant chemicals at all are Simmons Beautyrest and the iSeries line from Serta (a sister company to Simmons).
For all other products, questions of this type directed at corporate headquarters generally go wholly unanswered.
Mattress store managers usually freely state that the company provides them with no information on this topic and then offer customers their own best guess – everything from “All the mattresses that we sell are loaded with formaldehyde and PBDE’s, you can’t get away from them in any mattresses” to “All mattresses made today are using non-toxic barrier socks rather than chemical fire retardants.”
Based on everything that I have read, I don’t think that either of these speculations is actually true.
Rather, it seems to me more likely that most upholstered furniture and some mattresses do still contain fire retardant chemicals but that in many cases these chemicals are ones that are currently considered to be less dangerous.
Older furniture and mattresses (as well as other household items such as carpets, curtains and television sets) very well may contain large amounts of particularly problematic fire retardants, including PBDE’s and other organohalogen and organobromine compounds, however.
Even if such items are free of obvious off-gassing problems, they still may be releasing large amounts of super-toxic dust into the home.
(Those who would like to find out what exactly kinds of fire retardants their own furniture has in it may do so by submitting a piece of the foam to researchers from Duke University for free testing. I would like to request that those who do this share the results that they get back in the comments section of this article, along with the approximate date of manufacture of the piece of furniture, so that others interested in this topic can learn from their experiences.)
The current literature suggests that older fire retardants are extremely hazardous and that items containing them likely should be considered as toxic waste.
I therefore think that it would likely be best for everyone – especially those with chronic toxicity-related illness – if items that are likely to be contaminated with these chemicals were simply discarded.
Although the known effects of these toxins are bad enough, I am even more concerned about Erik Johnson’s proposal that environmental chemicals and metals can serve as a food source for molds and other microbes, allowing them to much more easily create toxins that will cause severe reactions in sensitized persons.
I therefore am currently thinking that the removal of fire retardant chemicals from the home may be helpful not just in reducing direct exposures to these chemicals but also in reducing the likelihood that particularly problematic mold growth will occur.
Note, in addition, that some of these fire retardants contain not only chemicals such as PBDE’s but also toxic heavy metals such as antimony and phosphorus.
The idea that certain molds can volatilize heavy metals into gaseous forms that can be particularly dangerous to those who breathe them is a wholly uncontroversial one in terms of the science.
A documentary program called “Hidden Killers of the Victorian Home” discussed the Gosio’s gas phenomenon.
For instance, during the 1800’s and early 1900’s, arsenic was used to create bright colors in wallpaper.
One theory suggests that this may have been the cause of or a contributing factor to the death of Napoleon Bonaparte, for instance.
In the case of the fire retardants, antimony may be transformed into stibene gas and phosphorus may be transformed into phosphine gas.
The Richardson Hypothesis suggests that babies who breathe in these gases may die of SIDS (known in some countries as cot death).
This would explain, for instance, why SIDS is more common in babies who sleep on their tummies (because they are breathing in more concentrated amounts of the toxic gases wafting up from their mattresses) and also more common in babies who are sleeping on hand-me-down or otherwise previously used mattresses (because those mattresses are more likely to be moldy).
While babies may be especially at risk as a result of this phenomenon, I see no reason to think that the production of poisonous gases due to the volatilization of antimony and phosphorus by mold would not be harmful to other residents of the household as well.
Phosphine, in particular, has a main toxic mechanism of causing health damage and death through the production of large amounts of oxidative stress and damage to the mitochondria.
The idea that the presence of phosphorus in fire retardants in the context of a moldy building might lead to a condition looking much like ME/CFS seems to me pretty reasonable, therefore.
Stibene (which has effects similar to arsine) causes symptoms that seem similar to those frequently observed in ME/CFS as well.
Although I think it is safe to say that fire retardants containing organohalogens, organobromines and heavy metals are being used less in U.S. furnishings (including in mattresses) than they used to be, they still may be present in many items currently for sale in this country.
The CertiPur-US certification (an initiative created by foam manufacturers) precludes the usage of these particular kinds of fire retardants in furniture or mattress foam, thus providing consumers with some information about whether products contain the chemicals currently seen as the most dangerous.
However, the CertiPur-US certification allows the usage of other kinds of fire retardants such as Firemaster 550 (which contains endocrine disruptors that have been found to lead to obesity and health problems) and boric acid (an element often used as a roach killer that can cause respiratory issues in humans).
In addition, the CertiPur-US certification provides no reassurance with regard to what kinds of chemicals might be present in fire-retardant barrier cloths or in other furniture fabrics.
When I wrote to CertiPur-US asking about this topic, this is the response that I received from them:
You are correct. The CertiPUR-US program still has a foam family (similar formulations) that contain flame retardant chemicals. This category is necessary for many foam producers that have specialty or commercial types of furniture and bedding customers that require a specific flammability requirement. Firemaster 550 is still an approved flame retardant for use in these specific cases.
On the other hand, if you are looking to purchase a mattress or furniture, the flexible polyurethane foam will probably not contain any flame retardants. For mattresses, in 2007 the CPSC passed the 16 CFR 1633 mattress open flame testing requirement. At this time, the flame retardants were remove from the flexible polyurethane foam and the burden of mattress flammability was put upon the outer covering (ticking) or the use of a barrier material between the flame and the flexible foam.
In 2013 the furniture industry in California changed its testing to a smolder test and most of the nation switched to this testing method. There is also a law label standard that most of the USA adheres to that must state on each piece of furniture whether or not the flexible foam contains any flame retardants.
This link might be helpful to explain the mattress industry changes.
The furniture industry changes can be explained by this link.
I hope this information is helpful.
AFPF CertiPUR-US® Program
Personally, I think that Firemaster 550 (which has been shown to cause severe obesity, cardiovascular problems and early onset of female puberty) is problematic enough that I would prefer that there not be any of it in the furniture foam.
In addition, I would prefer that the mattress barrier not include any of this chemical or any other fire retardant chemicals.
Therefore, while the CertiPur-US certification may be better than having no information at all, it does not seem like in itself it is going to allow me to for sure avoid even the worst fire retardant chemicals, much less all fire retardant chemicals.
Where the CertiPur-US certification does seem like it might be a little more useful is at helping people to avoid furniture foam that is blatantly objectionable in terms of VOC’s.
The requirements to get the certification are that the foam must contain less than 0.5 parts per million with regard to VOC’s and that it also must be free of heavy metals, phthalates, formaldehyde and ozone depleters.
Again though, the certification says nothing at all about components of the furniture other than the foam, such as any fabric, wood or glues that might be used.
Thus, while I will not go so far as to say that the CertiPur-US designation is not of any value at all, it seems to be of fairly limited benefit in terms of allowing people to for sure avoid products that are going to be problematic for them.
This concerns me especially since virtually all furniture and mattress sales representatives that I have encountered routinely tell their customers that products with the certification are free of all harmful chemicals – a claim that is not surprising considering the “Certified Pure” implication of the name but that is nonetheless patently untrue.
In addition, regardless of how much it off-gases or what other chemicals it contains, the mere fact that the foam in most mattresses is made of polyurethane and various other synthetic substances is considered to be a deal-killer by some people who are concerned about toxicity issues.
This especially may be the case for most memory foam, which apparently has various unspecified objectionable chemicals added in order to make it softer and springier.
People who object to all synthetic foam generally suggest using all-natural (and preferably organic) materials for mattresses – usually some combination of 100% natural latex, wool and/or organic cotton.
Unfortunately, even if we are looking at the situation solely from the point of view of being willing to spend infinite amounts of money and energy to reduce toxic exposures, it seems to me that the situation is not nearly as simple as these “non-toxic” proponents make it seem.
Rather, the fact that these materials may have a particular risk of mold issues means that “natural” and even “organic” is not necessarily a safe or non-toxic choice either.
MATTRESSES AND MOLD
Especially for those who have become sensitized to mold toxicity, the idea that a mattress will arrive already contaminated with mold or will become moldy after a period of use may even more concerning than the presence of toxic chemicals in a mattress.
Of course, if a mattress is kept in a moldy environment, then it should be no surprise if it goes moldy itself. That is to be expected.
Mattresses that are cared for poorly – for instance, that have been subjected to spills or used without the recommended base – also might be expected to go moldy.
In addition, certain kinds of newer-style mattresses – such as adjustable air mattresses (e.g. Sleep Number) and synthetic memory foam mattresses – have had a reputation for a while of having the potential of becoming moldy even when they are used in good environments and even when care is taken with them.
Recently, though, I have been hearing quite a few reports about phenomena that seem to me much more disturbing: 1) mattresses containing natural latex going moldy after careful use in relatively dry environments without general mold problems and 2) mattresses arriving on the doorstep already contaminated with mold growth or mold toxins.
The former issue has been a particular surprise since the folk wisdom always has been that natural latex is inherently antimicrobial and thus should not become moldy as a result of ordinary use.
For instance, in a blog article in My Chemical-Free House, Corinne Segura wrote:
Warning about natural latex (October, 2016). I am getting reports from several different people on problems with natural latex. My 3-inch piece of latex started to “melt” after about a year. Another one of my pillows became covered in grey mould after two years in low humidity. Others have noticed issues of disintegration and mould. Another blog reader has just written to me to tell me that her natural latex bed went mouldy on the underside even though it was on slats and it was not in high humidity. I have since seen many other cases of this on a forum. It is not clear if this is a defect (these were all different brands), or whether there is a certain condition that leads to the latex breaking down. I still have a natural latex sofa and so far it is OK. I would strongly suggest not going with natural latex. I would not buy it again myself. If you do buy natural latex look closely at the warranty.
The “forum” mentioned here is the comments section of a blog article by non-toxic living advocate Debra Lynn Dadd, in which a number of people reported that their own 100% natural latex mattresses had developed mold issues.
Unfortunately, these discussions do not mention which companies’ mattresses have become moldy, and it also is difficult to tell from many of these comments whether people may have been living in a moldy home or a bad location that made mold growth on the mattresses more likely to occur.
It therefore is hard to know just how much of a risk individuals who already are pursuing mold avoidance successfully in a good location may be taking when they purchase one of these mattresses.
It also is difficult to know whether purchasing from some companies rather than others may reduce the risk.
Although all reputable mattress companies have some kind of warranty, whether they would honor it if a mattress developed a mold problem is another question.
Several mattress companies – including Avocado Green, Naturepedic, Purple, Tuft & Needle, and Zinus – specifically exclude mold from warranty coverage.
Most other companies have warranties that cover only defects in materials or workmanship, leaving themselves the possible option to suggest that any mold growth is not their fault.
What I suspect is that in at least some of the cases where the mattresses became moldy, the latex was contaminated with dormant spores during the preparation phase (usually done in India, Sri Lanka or wherever else the latex was harvested), and that the mold growth then occurred when ordinary moisture from use caused these spores to turn into live mold.
Proving this to the point that the mattress company would be willing to honor a warranty claim sounds like it could be a real uphill battle, though.
When I wrote to a number of natural mattress companies asking them about the issue of mold, the majority suggested that it conceivably could be a problem and gave me suggestions on how to prevent it.
Most suggested that mold problems would not be covered by the warranty, but a few said that it would depend on the circumstances.
Of all the companies that I contacted, only Intellibed promised me that mold would not be a problem with their mattresses.
Purple Mattress (which seems very similar to Intellibed) told me that even though mold was not covered under their warranty, mold should not be a concern because the mattress does not hold water.
Avocado Green, on the other hand, told me that if I was living in a humid environment or if my home was prone to mold, it would be better if I just didn’t buy a mattress from them at all.
While many Mold Avoiders members report having had to discard expensive mattresses due to cross-contamination issues, only one individual reported losing a mattress as a result of mold growth after a period of use while already pursuing mold avoidance.
That report was for the Tuft & Needle mattress. I therefore checked on the Amazon site to see whether any reports about mold issues were listed for Tuft & Needle.
Out of more than 6,500 customer reviews, mold or mildew was mentioned in only two:
February 15, 2017: We purchased a twin mattress from Tuft and Needle several years ago. It never seemed to change in its level of comfort. Recently, I moved the mattress and noticed some patches of mold on the bottom, between the mattress cover and the box spring. I enquired through T&N about what to do and they assured me that their main concern was health and safety and this situation and they would not take the risk of just having us clean the cover. Within a matter of days of us proving our purchase, sending pics of the mold, and emailing them our concerns, we had a replacement mattress sent to our home. The customer service has been phenomenal with emails and phone calls. We will definitely be making sure our next mattress purchase comes from T&N.
February 8, 2017: They say the mattresses is compatible with flat surface bed frames (we have a Sleep Number frame). It was fine up until we lifted the mattress to vacuum the rug and noticed mold on the bottom and the bed soaking wet! Nowhere do they tell or warn you of this! – T&N Response: I’m not quite sure what could have caused the mold but I’d love to discuss it further and possibly offer a solution. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
In addition, in response to a question about whether mold should be a concern with the mattress, a Tuft & Needle representative wrote on the Amazon page: “As long as your mattress is on a proper foundation that promotes breathability, we don’t anticipate any type of mold or mildew. Our mattress works great with slatted frames (where slats are no greater than 4″ apart), platform frames, box springs, and adjustable frames. We hope this helps!” (August 26, 2017)
In personal correspondence with me, a Tuft & Needle representative pointed out that mold was not covered by their warranty, stated that the company did not use fungicides in their mattresses but worked to reduce mold growth in other ways, and gave me a long list of measures that could be taken to reduce the likelihood that the mattress would get moldy. (The entire text of the comment may be read in the Tuft & Needle profile below.)
My takeaway here is that although I am not 100% reassured that mold will not become a problem if I buy a Tuft & Needle mattress, it probably is fairly unlikely to occur since otherwise more customers likely would have brought it up in their Amazon reviews.
On the other hand, the very popular and inexpensive mattresses made in China by Zinus – including the Zinus Green Tea Mattress, which is the #1 best-selling mattress on the Amazon site – seem to be more concerning when it comes to mold issues.
I was alerted to this issue when two different Mold Avoiders group members reported having received a moldy mattress from the company.
When I looked at the Amazon listings for Zinus mattresses, I immediately found dozens of reviews (some within the past couple of weeks) suggesting that individuals had received Zinus mattresses that smelled like mold or mildew, had visible mold growth, or had made the users ill with symptoms that they attributed to mold issues.
Nonetheless, several other Mold Avoiders members who had purchased Zinus products recently reported good experiences with them, and most of the Amazon purchasers did not report any sort of negative experiences either.
It therefore seems to me likely that only a subset of the company’s mattresses are problematic and that the rest (so far anyway) have been okay.
Although it’s hard to guess exactly what has gone awry just by reading reviews, one potential problem that I see is that the mattresses are made in China, crammed into tight plastic bags, and then shipped to the U.S.
Perhaps the issue is that the mattresses with problems had been exposed to worse weather conditions (e.g. hotter and more humid) or kept in the plastic bags for longer periods of time than the mattresses that did not develop mold problems.
It also seems plausible that with such a large number of mattresses being sold, more than one Zinus factory in China exists and that just one of those factories has a mold problem.
In most cases, the complaints about Zinus describe mattresses that arrived on the doorstep smelling or looking or feeling like they were contaminated with mold growth.
However, in a few instances the Amazon reports instead were from people who insisted that they had done everything that they could to protect their new mattress but still experienced substantial mold growth shortly after the return window had closed.
Personally, I am not very enthusiastic about the idea of purchasing any product when there seems to be a chance that it will be horribly moldy on arrival.
That would be especially problematic with a large item like a mattress, since I would not be able to store it in the house and am not sure what else I could do with it while waiting for the company to dispose of it for me.
In addition, some customers buying directly from the company have reported that dealing with Zinus to get their money refunded for the moldy mattresses has not been especially easy.
Purchasing through Amazon does not necessarily seem like a good solution either, since some customers reported that Amazon was expecting them to return the moldy mattress to the company – quite a challenge since it expands to a much larger size after being removed from its plastic bag.
All of this is really too bad since the Zinus mattresses are quite inexpensive and appear to be fairly well-liked by those customers who do not receive the moldy versions.
I guess conceivably some people might feel that it would be worth taking a risk to purchase the mattress if the possibility existed to just have the garbage truck take it away from the home if it turned out to be moldy.
I don’t think I would want to keep it around long enough to try to get my money back from Zinus if it didn’t work out though, since the fact that numerous people have reported getting really sick from the moldy mattresses makes me think that the mold toxins involved must be pretty bad.
I also would be inclined to open the box outdoors rather than indoors, so that my house did not become contaminated if the mattress did turn out to be moldy.
Perhaps the best idea for those who would like to try a Zinus-made mattress, though, would be to buy one from the company’s Slumber 1 line through Walmart and then to have the item shipped to a local Walmart store.
For one thing, I do not see evidence in reviews on the Walmart site that the Zinus Slumber 1 mattresses have the sorts of frequent mold problems that are reported on the Amazon site for the Zinus flagship mattresses such as the Green Tea.
In addition, if it turns out that the mattress causes a reaction (which for those who are skilled in mold avoidance likely could be ascertained without removing the mattress from the packaging), then a full refund could be obtained without the purchaser ever having to take delivery of the item.
Moving on, I also have received three very emphatic assertions from Mold Avoiders members who said that they had received mattresses from The Futon Shop (a mattress manufacturer and retailer based in San Francisco) that appeared to be contaminated with substantial amounts of mold that they perceived to be very problematic for then.
In one of these instances, the individual stated that a well-respected mold professional had done a vacuum sample and that the contamination turned out to be Stachybotrys.
These situations occurred over a period of several years (in 2013; in 2015/2016; and in 2018).
However, I have received several other positive reports about The Futon Shop from other Mold Avoiders members. Perhaps just a few batches of material have been problematic.
What especially concerns me is the report that The Futon Shop refused to take back the problematic mattress even after testing showed Stachybotrys contamination.
The individual reporting the experience stated that the company said that the there was no way of proving that the contamination was not something that occurred after it had arrived at the home, and that they accepted no responsibility for the problem having occurred.
The Futon Shop did not respond to my query about whether mold should be a concern with regard to their products.
Insofar as it indeed is the case that The Futon Shop refuses to take back mattresses when they are pre-contaminated with mold, then I tend to think that it may not be a great idea for anyone to be buying from this company.
Selling products that are contaminated with mold and then not accepting returns on them when people complain is just way beyond the pale in terms of what I consider to be acceptable retailer behavior.
In addition, mattresses from The Futon Shop are too expensive to be viewed as throwaways.
Therefore, only if I could try out the exact mattress that I was planning to buy in a retail outlet – or if the company told me that they would take back contaminated mattresses after all – would I consider buying from them no matter how otherwise interested I was in a particular mattress of theirs, I think.
When it comes to buying a new mattress, the reports that natural latex mattresses may go moldy even if great care is taken with them make me somewhat disinclined to spend a large amount of money on an expensive natural mattress containing this material unless I have some confidence that the company will cover that kind of problem for at least a while under the warranty.
Perhaps in time, it will become more clear that mattresses from certain companies carry less of a risk, either because they are unlikely to go moldy to begin with or because those companies take more responsibility with regard to addressing the problems.
With regard to the question of how to prevent mold growth in mattresses, here are a few thoughts.
First, one thing that strikes me is that with the exception of Sleep Number mattresses and memory foam mattresses, I have seen very few reports of products from large mattress companies going moldy.
That makes me wonder what kinds of anti-fungal chemicals those mattresses might include, and to ponder whether the use of those chemicals in mattresses is likely to be a good idea or a bad idea.
One thing that I do know is that Simmons Beautyrest mattresses with “DualCool Memory Foam” are stated as containing silver for the purpose of controlling microbial growth:
DualCool Technology Memory Foam contains natural silver and is designed to help move heat away from the surface of your mattress so you stay cool and comfortable while you sleep. The silver’s antimicrobial properties prevent the growth of odor-causing bacteria, mold and mildew in the foam to help keep your mattress fresh.
Whether the DualCool mattresses also include other anti-microbial chemicals in addition to the silver is unclear.
While polyurethane-based foam mattresses presumably include antimicrobial chemicals but leave the consumer guessing as to which ones those might be, mattresses containing natural or organic latex materials are usually stated as using no chemicals or other antimicrobial treatments at all.
An exception is Saatva, which uses a “natural anti-microbial” containing essential oils and minerals called Guardin in all mattresses sold under the Saatva, Loom & Leaf, and Zenhaven brand names.
Although I would guess that the essential oils used in the Essentia organic latex and organic memory foam might have an anti-microbial benefit as well, the company makes no claims about this in its marketing materials.
While it may seem to some people that an easy solution to preventing mold growth is to just use a conventional mattress that (presumably) contains chemical fungicides, I am not convinced that is a good idea at all for people to be spending large amounts of their time sleeping in close proximity to these chemicals.
For instance, fungi are known to mutate very quickly and appear to be able to use a wide variety of environmental chemicals to their advantage.
I’ve been hearing for more than a decade of people reporting that super-toxic molds grow just fine right on top of mold-resistant paint, for instance.
My fear, therefore, is that breathing in anti-fungal chemicals will cause changes to the microbiome and mycobiome of the body – that is, that the chemicals will kill off the microbes that are supposed to be present and thus open up a niche for much worse microbes to take their place.
This possibility makes me think that it very well may be a good idea to stay away from these chemicals, even if it does increase the likelihood that mattresses being used will become moldy.
If individuals want to avoid such chemicals, though, then it seems that it will be necessary for them to stick with mattresses from specialty companies, since the big companies seem to be even less inclined to share information about which anti-fungals they are using than they are about which fire retardants they are using.
The CertiPur-US designation says nothing whatsoever about anti-fungals, for instance.
Second, one thing that strikes me is the suggestion that the reason that SIDS deaths are more frequent in subsequent children than first-borns is because many parents re-use their baby mattresses.
The hypothesis here is that used mattresses are more likely to have mold growth, thus allowing the creation of poisonous gases to occur earlier in the babies’ lives when they are more vulnerable.
It thus is often is suggested that parents purchase a new baby mattress for each new child, rather than using a hand-me-down from one of their older children or from someone else’s child.
When it comes to adult mattresses, though, people often anticipate that they are supposed to be kept for decades.
I wonder if that is a wise idea, from a mold perspective.
Especially if certain kinds of mattresses are particularly prone to going moldy in general, the idea of spending thousands of dollars on one of those mattresses and then using it for many years seems to me potentially unwise.
Maybe we would be better off buying less expensive mattresses and then replacing them more frequently, such as every year or two.
Not that this is what I have done myself, yet, but the idea still is feeling like it has may have some merit to it.
Third, some mattress materials seem more likely to become moldy than others.
To my understanding, artificial foam (especially memory foam) may be especially likely to become moldy, and so the fact that most mattress companies and stores selling such products do not currently express much concern about the problem seems to me to suggest that they likely are using anti-fungal agents.
Natural latex has the reputation of being fairly mold-resistant, but there nonetheless seem to be quite a few reports out there suggesting that it can become problematic.
The fact that it can be very expensive and that some of the mattress manufacturers using it are explicitly excluding mold issues from their warranties makes me wary about it.
Cotton seems to me to definitely have the potential of getting moldy since it dries so slowly when it gets wet.
In addition, the glyphosate residues in non-organic cotton conceivably would make it more likely that any mold growth would be of the more toxic kind (e.g. glyphosate use in fields is known to lead to Fusarium growth).
Although I personally like cotton as a material for clothing, I wonder if maybe it is not the best choice as a core material for mattresses.
Air mattresses (such as those sold by Sleep Number) seem to have the potential of eventually growing mold on the inside of them. I would be really hesitant to use any type of air mattress – especially an expensive one – for that reason.
Oddly, although many Mold Avoiders members have slept for large amounts of time on self-inflating mattress pads (such as those made by Therm-A-Rest), I have not heard any complaints about them with regard to mold growth.
However, a quick Google search turned up a number of instances where mold growth did occur inside these kinds of mattress pads.
I’m therefore wondering if in the future, perhaps it might be wise for me to buy a new sleeping pad periodically (such as every 6-12 months), rather than using the same one for years.
I also am now wondering if anti-fungal chemicals may be used inside those sleeping pads. That thought makes me a lot more inclined to avoid blowing them up with my own breath again.
Closed cell sleeping pads – such as the Therm-A-Rest RidgeRest Solar – seem to me fairly unlikely to grow mold. That kind of sleeping pad is not necessarily the type of surface that many people find to be very comfortable though.
A mattress made of 100% wool is usually said to be unlikely to develop mold problems, and I have heard very few people report having owned wool items of any sort that have gotten mold growth on them. (The only exceptions have been some kind of white mold – or maybe a white spore-producing bacteria – that a few people have stated grows well on wool items that have been treated with dry cleaning chemicals.)
However, wool mattresses may trigger other kinds of reactions due to smell or allergies; may be especially inclined to collect dust mites; and may pack down into a particularly hard and possibly uncomfortable sleeping surface.
Like human hair, wool mattresses also may be particularly likely to become cross-contaminated with problematic mold toxins and then be difficult to remediate if rinsing in water is not possible.
If I were going to take a guess, it would be that an old-fashioned (1950’s style) coil mattress with a minimum amount of padding and with a plain fabric cover made of wool or synthetic material would probably be pretty unlikely to develop a mold growth problem and also would be a lot more comfortable than a lot of the natural mattresses currently on the market.
However, finding such a mattress that is guaranteed not to have any mysterious chemicals in it has been a surprisingly difficult undertaking.
The closest that I have been able to find are ones that are stated as not containing chemical fire retardants and that carry the only vaguely helpful CertiPur-US certification.
Fourth, regardless of what type of mattress material is used, maximizing the likelihood that moisture will evaporate into the general air rather than collecting as condensation inside the mattress seems critical.
As people sleep, moisture from sweat and breath has the potential of making the mattress damp. It therefore is more likely to become moldy than most other items in the home.
One way to encourage ventilation is from the bottom of the mattress. For instance, rather than putting the mattress on the floor or on a solid platform, it may be better to put it on a frame with slats so that air can hit the mattress from underneath.
A box spring also may be a somewhat acceptable choice in terms of preventing condensation from occurring.
Also, although it may be tempting to use the area under the bed as storage space, keeping it clear may allow more ventilation of the mattress to occur from the bottom.
Leaving the covers pulled back from the mattress rather than immediately making the bed upon arising may allow ventilation to occur from the top of the mattress.
If the mattress is thin and light enough, lifting it up and storing it on its side during the day (as the Japanese do with their futons) can be an even better way to help it to dry out.
Fifth, it may be a good idea to think about the bedding system in terms of layers, rather than to just have one thick mattress.
For instance, the very expensive Samina Sleep System is actually several layers (wool, latex, grounding pad, wooden support) that can be easily pulled apart.
Some other mattresses have zippers that allow them to be entirely taken apart with no special skills or equipment needed.
Periodically disassembling the layers of a mattress may allow it to become more thoroughly dry than if all the components are constantly sealed together inside a bag.
It also may allow the user to keep an eye on what is going on and thus to notice very early in the process if any mold growth ever does occur.
I have heard of a number of individuals who – rather than buying an expensive thick mattress – have pieced together their own sleeping surfaces.
Often this involves using a base layer of firm natural latex, with a softer piece of latex or a wool mattress placed on top.
For instance, Kim Goodwin wrote the following about her use of latex mattress toppers purchased from the company Sleep on Latex:
The most affordable option for a latex bed, the way my husband and I have done it, is to just buy two layers of toppers, and put our own sheets over them. A 3″ king-size topper is $349. So two are $700, and 6 inches thick – which is the thickness of a regular latex mattresses anyway, and more than enough.
The best thing about this is that you have a bed you can easily air out. We use sheets to cover the latex just when we are sleeping, and we also turn the sides of the mattress up for drying during the day. It’s actually quite quick.
We did end up experiencing mold directly on the latex one time – when we were sleeping with it on an uninsulated concrete floor in the winter, and got lazy about turning it up. We finally did flip up and air out the latex after about a two week hiatus, and there was a small spot of mold on it. We cut it out and haven’t had a problem since.
In our experience, the cotton covers are the mold-prone part. We do use the cotton cover, but only on the top layer of latex, just to protect it. The other layers are still in their plastic. So there is still a solid surface under the cotton-encased top layer, which is a risk.
But we’ve been fine (for about 6 months so far), because we flip the mattress up each morning to air out the top half. The top half gets the most moisture, whereas the lower half where mainly one’s legs lay doesn’t seem to be problematic.
Sixth, the materials used for the mattress cover and bedding may make a difference in terms of how likely it will be that condensation that will lead to mold growth will collect.
For instance, wool is particularly breathable and has the potential of absorbing moisture and then diffusing it. It therefore may be a good material from the standpoint of preventing mold when used in mattress toppers or pads as well as in blankets.
Using a vapor-permeable mattress cover that protects the mattress but also prevents condensation from building up inside also may be very important.
For instance, although I don’t have any knowledge with regard to whether this is actually accurate, PlushBeds suggests that a knit organic mattress cover may accomplish this goal better than a woven one.
Waterproof mattress covers, on the other hand, likely should be avoided unless there is a risk of bedwetting, since those will allow moisture to collect inside.
Seventh, following standard mattress upkeep practices may help to prevent mold growth from occurring.
A good mattress pad will absorb moisture from the top and then disperse it, so that it doesn’t get inside the mattress.
Changing the sheets frequently also can be helpful in reducing the amount of moisture that gets into the mattress.
Rotating and flipping the mattress regularly will prevent the same spots from constantly being exposed to moisture and give all parts of the mattress a chance to periodically dry out thoroughly.
An air conditioner or dehumidifier may be used to reduce humidity levels in the house during the summer months, thus making mold growth less likely.
Being careful not to let the mattress get wet as a result of spills, wet towels or other accidents obviously is important as well.
Eighth, certain natural treatments may have the potential of discouraging mold growth on mattresses.
One possibility is essential oils. Although Thieves Oil (which contains a combination of lemon, eucalyptus, cinnamon, clove and rosemary oil) is often asserted to be particularly effective with regard to preventing mold growth, other essential oils may be helpful as well.
For natural latex mattresses without a cover, the standard suggestion seems to be to mix the essential oils with baking soda, sprinkle the mixture on top of latex, let it sit for at least 30 minutes, and then vacuum the mattress to remove the excess.
For other types of mattress materials, I probably would be inclined to mix the essential oils with a little bit of vodka and then to use this to spray the mattress every time I changed the sheets or otherwise aired it out.
Diffusing essential oils or smudging sage also conceivably could be of some benefit in preventing mold growth.
Another preventative measure that some people have suggested is a probiotic solution (such as Homebiotic or EM1), with the general goal of introducing more good bacteria into the area and therefore making it less of an open ecological niche for molds to be able to settle down and take root.
Occasionally spraying the mattress or the room in general (such as as once every 6-12 months) with the probiotic solution is often recommended.
Using a diffuser to disseminate the probiotics into the air also could be considered.
While a mattress that is used in a home with a mold problem may get moldy no matter what, no home is entirely free of mold spores since these get into the house from the outside air.
Using an air purifier to filter out some of these dormant mold spores – thus keeping them from landing on the mattress and turning into living mold – could be helpful.
Another possibility is the periodic use of ozone to destroy any mold spores that might be in the environment.
I would be a little concerned that ozone might break down natural latex, but conceivably it might work well with some other kinds of mattress materials.
(Of course, since ozone can cause damage to lung tissue and to electrical wiring, becoming knowledgeable about it before proceeding with it is very important.)
In addition, periodically exposing mattresses and other bedding to sunlight is an activity with a strong historical tradition, and recent research has shown that UV light indeed may be effective in killing mold spores and denaturing mold toxins.
Some care should be taken to put natural latex mattresses only into indirect rather than direct sunlight, however. (One individual who allowed her expensive latex mattress to sit under the bright sun said that the mattress thereafter smelled like burnt popcorn and that eventually she got rid of it as a result, for instance.)
Probably synthetic latex or memory foam mattresses should be kept out of bright sunlight as well.
An Additional Note: Mold professional John Banta has been doing some potentially interesting research relevant to the topic of mold in mattresses, and so I will be interested in reading his findings when they are released.
Recently I read an article by Tony Mitra suggesting that rubber plants in Sri Lanka are using glyphosate for cultivation purposes.
Since glyphosate is known to kill off good microorganisms in the environment and to allow some species of toxic mold to grow unchecked, it now makes sense to me why some of these natural latex products might be exhibiting toxic mold problems.
Thus far, I have not heard of any products containing organic latex to have gone moldy, and so perhaps that will turn out to be a solution to this problem.
In the meantime, I personally am planning to avoid latex that is natural but not organic, since I do not have any interest in sleeping in close proximity to something that has been treated with glyphosate even if it has not yet grown any mold.
Following are profiles of twenty different mattress companies that either were particular popular choices among members of the Mold Avoiders group or that recently have generated a lot of positive word-of-mouth in this community.
All of the mattresses profiled are stated as not including any chemical fire retardants.
Beyond that, I made a particular point in including a wide variety of mattresses that I thought might be of interest to at least some individuals recovering from mold-related illness, without using any firm criteria to exclude mattresses using particular materials.
Most of the information in this section was obtained from the companies’ websites.
For the “Mold Responses” section of each profile, I emailed each company and asked the following question: “I would like to know if I should be concerned about the possibility that your mattress might become moldy or what would happen if it did.”
In cases where the company representative responded that this would never happen unless the customer did something wrong, I sent a copy of the blog article by Debra Lynn Dadd discussing instances when natural latex mattresses had gone moldy despite the fact that customers said that they had taken good care of them.
Positive reports from the Mold Avoiders group were generated as responses to the following question: “If you have had enough success with a mattress that you would consider purchasing it again, please check the mattress brand in this poll.”
Negative reports from the Mold Avoiders group were generated as responses to the following question: “If you have recently had a bad enough experience with a mattress that you would be hesitant to purchase from the company again, please check the mattress brand in this poll.”
Relevant certifications are listed for many of these mattresses. Some of the more common certifications include:
CertiPur-US – Prohibits certain chemicals from use in foams but allows others
Eco-Institut – Tests for emissions and certain content substances
Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) – 95% organic latex
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) – 95% organic, no polyurethane foam, no chemical fire retardants
GreenGuard & GreenGuard Gold – Low VOC’s
Oeko-Tex – Limits on VOC’s; prohibits dangerous flame retardants and dyes
Overview: A moderately priced, all-natural mattress containing organic cotton, natural wool, 100% natural latex, silica and pocketed support cords, handcrafted near Los Angeles and recently rated by Consumer Reports as #1 of more than 100 tested mattresses.
Positives: All-natural materials. Moderate price point. High initial comfort ratings. Good reports regarding tolerability. Good return policy. Highly rated by Consumer Reports and other reviewers.
Negatives: New product. Durability untested. Possibility of mold growth in latex, explicitly not covered by warranty. The company’s suggestion that people living in humid or mold-prone environments not buy these mattresses makes me wonder if mold is a particular problem with them.
Background: “It started in 2015, when we wanted a green mattress — made from non-toxic, natural and organic materials — that we could actually afford. But instead of options, we found snake oil and charlatans. What was being marketed as green, all-natural or non-toxic was, in truth, hardly so. Unlike other mattress and bed-in-a-box companies, our products are handcrafted in the USA without petroleum-based polyurethane foam, without toxic flame retardants, without dangerous pesticides, and without risk from volatile chemicals and gases. Our luxury products are healthy and respect the planet.”
Origins: Handmade near Los Angeles, California.
Purchasing: Sells through the Internet. “Experience Center” located across from the Hoboken Path Station in Hoboken, NJ (near New York City). Mattresses ship via Fed Ex and arrive in about 7 days. In-home delivery and setup is an additional $199.
Return Policy: Full refund within 100 days of purchase.
Fire Retardancy: “The chemical fire retardants used by most mattress manufacturers are toxic, suspected to cause organ toxicity, hair loss and other neurological damage. That’s why we use a special fire barrier protectant of natural hydrated silica — the same compounds as the gemstone opal — to protect both sides of your mattress. We also use natural New Zealand wool, which chars but is hard to ignite, as an additional fire barrier. Avocado mattresses exceed all federal flammability and CPSC standards without using chemical flame retardants.”
Other Materials: “Our manufacturer’s latex is certified by the eco-INSTITUT in Cologne, Germany, to be free from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), persistent organic compounds, heavy metals, pesticides, formaldehyde and phthalates. Our ticking uses Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified cotton. And there are no petroleum-based polyurethane foams, no memory foams, no chemical adhesives between the comfort layers, no chemical fire retardants and no ozone-depleting substances used.”
Warranty: 25-year limited warranty. Specifically excludes “dampness or mold.”
Mold Response: “We recommend not purchasing the mattress if you live in a very humid area or if your home is susceptible to mold. So long as the mattress is placed on a slatted surface that allows for airflow underneath, mold should not be a problem. If you have a solid surface that you’d like to put the mattress on, we recommend placing the mattress on a coconut pad that will still allow for breathability.”
Certifications: GreenGuard Gold.
Consumer Reports: CR gave the Avocado Green a score of 85, meaning that it came in as #1 among the 59 innerspring mattresses reviewed by the organization. They wrote: “What pushed the Avocado into standout territory? It accommodates a wider range of body types and sleeping styles, offering an Excellent support score for petite, average, and large/tall side sleepers as well as for average and large/tall back sleepers.”
Avocado Green Mattress. Natural wool, organic cotton, 100% natural latex rubber, silica, and up to 1414 pocked support cords. Queen, $1399 plus $400 for optional pillow-top. (Current promotion: $150 off or two free pillows.)
Mold Avoiders Reports:
Total Reports – 7 Positive, 1 Negative
Report #1: “I ordered an Avocado Green queen mattress and have been sleeping on it since Thanksgiving….no off-gassing that I noticed at all…somewhat expensive and very firm but I really like it. It was shipped to us rolled up and we don’t have a box springs. If you go to the Avocado Green website you can submit questions–they are good about answering. We really like our mattress. I like it because it is very comfortable and I didn’t react to any smell.”
Report #2: “I just purchased the Avocado Green mattress. We were replacing our toxic memory foam $$$ mattress that caused me to itch all over for months. We were not able to return. I like that Avocado you can try for 100 nights and they will pay shipping to return.”
Report #3: “My Avocado mattress is my safest feeling purchase to date. It has no chemicals, we nearly got the Tuft & Needle but we decided against the risk of more chemicals. Then at checkout they offered Affirm as payment, to pay in installments without using credit. We were offered zero APR and really needed it at the time. Just this week we decided we could afford it and paid it in full. It was a lifesaver to get the best for so little cost per month. As a side note, we got it without the topper, so we could add a disposable natural latex topper which we put inside an allergy case. We also put the mattress in an allergy case.”
Report #4: “The Avocado is excellent so far. Time will tell.”
Report #5: “I love our Avocado mattress. I can’t imagine that there aren’t negative impacts to sleeping on a petroleum-based mattress, especially with fire retardants. We spend so much time in bed. I wish everyone could afford a natural latex and wool mattress. Avocado is reasonable compared with other natural mattresses and they have excellent customer service. We also use their pillows.”
Report #6: “A friend had an Avocado that I tried. It was a little more lumpy than I’d like, but I don’t know if it was because it was worn in. I eventually bought an Essentia and have had an excellent experience with it.”
Debra Lynn Dadd – February 28, 2017
Overview: A Canadian company concerned about health issues manufactures its own non-toxic memory foam and 100% latex foam from all-natural and organic materials (including essential oils) to make these relatively pricey, no-springs, vegan mattresses.
Positives: All-natural and apparently very high-quality product. Established company. Manufacturer control over production of latex and memory foam, as well as essential oil use, may reduce mold risk. Product may be tested in stores. Good reports regarding tolerability and durability. Possibly appropriate for those with pain issues. Highly rated by Consumer Reports.
Negatives: Very expensive. Latex still could get moldy. Trial period not free (9% of purchase price deducted for returns).
Background: “It all started when a family member was diagnosed with cancer. Physicians made me aware of the toxins in everyday items like couches, paint and even traditional mattresses. My family had been in the latex foam business for years and supplied most major brands. I studied the industry and realized that mattresses were manufactured with poor quality components, filled with chemically derived foams treated with harsh chemicals and layered together with glue. In looking for alternatives I realized there weren’t any. I decided to research and developed something different, memory foam made from natural ingredients. I tried offering this foam to major mattress brands but most weren’t interested because of the high cost. Those who did buy it only integrated an insignificant amount in order to promote the foam’s natural qualities. As I evaluated brand after brand I realized the industry wasn’t overly concerned about consumer health or product quality, just catch phrases and profit margins. That’s when I founded Essentia, more than a brand; a commitment to comfort and quality, without compromise.”
Origins: The entire mattress, including the latex foam and memory foam, is manufactured just outside of Montreal, Canada.
Purchasing: Stores in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New York, Washington State and Canada. Products are delivered via mail order through UPS or Fed Ex.
Return Policy: Refund within 60 days, excepting transportation fees (9% of listed price).
Fire Retardancy: “By using Kevlar, the same fabric used in bulletproof vests, Essentia organic mattresses, and organic crib mattresses provide the same safety standards as other mattress brands without compromising its product integrity and its commitment to a healthier night’s sleep. Since the Kevlar is a fabric sock for the mattress, we don’t spray any harsh chemicals in our factory.”
Other Materials: “Hevea Milk: Milky white ‘sap’ of the Rubber tree, collected much like Maple tree sap. Our hevea milk is sourced from Indonesia, collected from Rubber Plantations where acceptable working conditions are maintained and there is no practice of child labor. This milk is processed to make our natural memory foam and Dunlop Latex Foam. A natural and healthy alternative to man-made oils or petroleum, we use organic essential oils. Grapefruit seed, cone flower essence and jasmine essence all help us achieve proper consistency in our natural memory foam while providing soothing and rejuvenating properties to the body and spirit. As a substitution to harsh toxic chemicals used in conventional memory foam, plant extracts such as hydrolyzed corn help us achieve the proper consistency for our natural memory foam. Every Essentia mattress is covered in unbleached organic cotton. Our mattresses are Vegan, containing no animal products.”
Warranty: 10-20 year prorated warranty against defects in workmanship and materials.
Mold Response: “In case of mold issues, this is what we recommend: 1) Take the cover off the mattress. Wash cover in cold water with mild detergent then let air dry. Pillow covers as well to destroy mold spores that might be harbored in them. Replacing pillows even better. 2) Vacuum the mattress thoroughly to remove any loose debris. Empty the vacuum’s contents outdoors into a garbage bag to avoid spreading mold spores in your home. Change the air filter outdoors because mold spores may be trapped inside it. 3) Dab the affected area to soak up excess liquid. You can use damp cloth (water) for light cleaning by dabbing the affected area. 4) Let affected area air dry fully before recovering. In the sun in well-ventilated space and airing it outside will help destroy existing spores. Sunshine is the most natural way to combat mold. We strongly advise against using any chemicals or cleaners directly on the mattress as it might damage the foam and void the warranty. We did have one customer tell me she mixed a bit of lavender oil in with the water she used on the mattress. She never got back to us, so I am assuming it did not negatively affect the foam. Please note that mold is not covered under warranty as our mattresses get inspected before leaving the warehouse and are made in controlled temperatures. Don’t worry, accidents have happened to some customers but the method above is very effective and safe for the mattress.”
Certifications: Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS), Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), EuroLatex Eco-Standard, OekoTex and a variety of other certifications and independent testing results.
Consumer Reports: CR gave the Essentia Stratami a score of 81, meaning that it came in as #1 among the 49 mattresses without springs reviewed by the organization. They wrote: “This mattress performed excellently for petite and average sized back sleepers. Large/Tall back sleepers and all side sleepers will find very good performance. In our durability test this mattress performed excellently showing no noticeable changes in performance. This mattress proved to be very stable and limited the amount of vibration felt.”
Essentia Mattresses. 100% natural organic latex; organic cotton; Kevlar protective liner. Some models include natural memory foam. Queen, $2,204-6,426.
Mold Avoiders Reports:
Total Reports – 3 Positive, 0 Negative
Report #1: “I absolutely LOVE my Essentia mattress. Absolutely no off-gassing as it is a memory foam mattress made from natural tree rubber. Costs a lot, however, but they last 25 years. I’ve had mine for five years and there is no change in it at all.”
Report #2: “I’ve had an excellent experience using this mattress. No reactions and it retains its integrity unlike other organic mattresses I’ve used which sink or feel slightly too hard for my liking. It’s dense and heavy, but gently conforms to my body without losing support. I do experience lingering nerve and joint pain from Lyme, especially in my pelvis and lower back, and this mattress has helped exponentially decrease the aches I used to wake up with. Before I bought this one, I had a mattress from the East Coast Organic Mattress Store – that one sank in the middle and gave me back pain. I also looked into brands like Helix, Avocado and Naturepedic. The Essentia mattress that I have is called the Dormeuse. I went to a showroom in Santa Monica and tried them out. Their cheapest model felt a little lumpy to me. The next model up was nice, but just a bit too soft for me. This one felt like the best of everything I was looking for- supportive, but soft enough to make me feel weightless. It is expensive, but I waited until they had a big sale – I believe it was Labor Day. They tend to heavily discount around major holiday weekends, so I’d suggest if someone wanted one, save up for a holiday sale. I paid about $4,000. There was a very mild inoffensive odor when I unwrapped it because they use a small amount of essential oils inside the mattress to keep it fresh, but it dissipated very quickly. I should note that I can be particularly sensitive to some essential oils, and this didn’t bother me. The Essentia has been definitely worth it for me! If anyone has the means, I’d recommend this over the others I checked out 100%!”
Report #3: “I’ve had two Essentia mattresses, and I have found NOTHING that compares with them. Their only possible drawback is that they are expensive, but I waited until they were on a great sale. No off-gassing, no smell, the best support I have ever had (and I have back problems). Not hot and sweaty. I have loved them! They even took back my first mattress after I found out I had been re-exposed to mold in a new place.”
Get Green Be Well – November 23, 2016
Forbes – January 22, 2016
Essentia – Fire Retardants
Overview: A brand-new, 100% organic mattress-in-a-box, manufactured in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and containing only organic cotton, organic wool, organic latex and steel springs.
Positives: 100% organic. Moderate pricing. Good return policy. Zipper allows mattress to be opened up.
Negatives: Brand-new company. No Mold Avoiders reviews yet. Few general reviews. Latex could grow mold.
Background: “When we saw the mattresses available in the market, we saw a need for an organic bed-in-a-box alternative that was attainable by everyone. We couldn’t understand why educated, savvy, environmentally aware consumers were buying memory foam, gel infused foam and the like – all made with polyurethane foam, polyester fabrics, glues/adhesives and flame retardants. The reason, of course, was because there were no better alternatives. Happsy products not only deliver premium quality and comfort, they are handcrafted in the U.S.A. using domestically-sourced materials as much as possible. We focus on certified-organic, non-GMO materials for minimal environmental impact. We pay our employees a fair wage, give back a portion of our profits (1% For The Planet), and use honest practices in every aspect of our business. It really is a mattress you can feel good about.”
Origins: Manufactured in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Purchasing: Mattress may be tried out in the company headquarters in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Delivered in a box within about a week.
Return Policy: 120-day trial period, 100% refund (including shipping) if not happy.
Fire Retardancy: “Wool is naturally resistant to burning, which helps us pass flammability standards without any fire retardant chemicals or synthetic flame barriers. Unlike other mattresses, Happsy is naturally flame resistant, and is designed to pass all the same fire safety tests without adding any flame retardant chemicals or flame barriers. Some of our competitors claim to not use flame retardant chemicals, but use questionable barriers instead. Some use wool but don’t tell you there’s also a flame barrier. Others have even been known to treat their cotton and/or wool with boric acid! We’ve also seen ‘natural’ fire barrier claims based on hydrated silica, but this is actually rayon, a synthetic fiber! No matter how safe they tell you their flame barrier is, it’s not as good as a mattress that doesn’t need one in the first place. ”
Other Materials: “The Happsy mattress features a luxurious, made in U.S.A. organic cotton ticking fabric for a healthier non-toxic sleep surface. This fabric has a soft feel and built-in stretch that easily conforms to your body. The side of the mattress is also upholstered in an organic cotton fabric. Wool has unique physical properties that make it ideal for use in mattresses, like creating a micro-climate that helps regulate body temperature and humidity. Comes from an organic farm with free-roaming sheep (U.S. or New Zealand), processed without bleach or other toxic chemicals, certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). Similar to the way maple syrup is made, the milky sap from the Hevea Brasiliensis tree is tapped and baked into a luxurious organic foam (like a giant waffle)! Sourced from organic rubber trees in India and Sri Lanka, certified to the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS), harvested sustainably by hand with fair wages. Pocketed springs made without any glues or adhesives.”
Warranty: 10-year warranty on defects in materials or workmanship.
Mold Response: “Your Happsy mattress will not be at any greater risk for mold than any other household furniture item. In fact latex is quite resistant to mold, and the encased metal coils allow for a substantial amount of air flow. Fabric itself, even the organic wool pad sewn into the top, aren’t much of a problem. With mold, the real issue is air flow, humidity and dampness, as mold will grow can grow on pretty much anything under the right conditions: vinyl shower curtains, plastic toys or even wood varnish. (I know because I once had a mold issue in a basement.) If you live in a high humidity area or even if you want to take extra precautions, you can maximize the airflow to your mattress, and that holds true for any mattress. That means, if possible, having the mattress on a slatted foundation and not on the floor. You’ll also want to make sure your mattress or furniture don’t get wet, so if that’s a problem, you may want to use a waterproof pad. Other than that, as much as makers of synthetic foams like to suggest natural materials are a mold risk, it’s really the conditions, not the materials, that really make the difference. Mold loves damp, dark, stagnant areas, so give it that and it can practically grow on anything! Mold itself is not specifically covered by the warranty. Of course anything that is a damage resulting from a manufacturing issue, whether from a material failure or design flaw, would be covered. A moldy mattress with obvious water (or other liquid) damage from the customer or a mattress stored improperly (say in a wet basement for years) wouldn’t be covered. This type of situation would be a case-by-case basis and would only be covered if the damage was a result of some problem with the materials provided.”
Certifications: Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS), Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), GreenGuard Gold.
Happsy Organic Mattress. Organic cotton, organic wool, organic latex, pocketed springs. Queen, $1,199.
Mold Avoiders Reports:
No Reports Yet
Awards & Recommendations:
Non-Toxic Reboot, “2018 Most Affordable Mattress”
Happsy – Fire Retardants
Overview: Inexpensive basic mattresses that have been used successfully by some individuals with mold and chemical sensitivities.
Positives: Low prices. Fairly well tolerated. Long exchange period (365 days). Can try products in stores. Established company.
Negatives: Materials are not all natural. Glues may be a problem, especially with some models. In the U.S., zippers/piping/stitching may include fire retardants containing phosphorus. Company not transparent about materials being used. No money-back returns. Basic comfort levels – probably less appropriate for those with pain issues. Mold growth potential in foam and latex mattresses.
Background: “The IKEA Concept starts with the idea of providing a range of home furnishing products that are affordable to the many people, not just the few. It is achieved by combining function, quality, design and value – always with sustainability in mind. The IKEA Concept exists in every part of our company, from design, sourcing, packing and distributing through to our business model. Our aim is to help more people live a better life at home.”
Origins: According to several online websites, Ikea mattresses sold in the U.S. are made in “North America.”
Purchasing: Purchase by visiting one of Ikea’s 47 U.S. stores. Products may be carried home or delivered for a fee ($29-59 depending on location).
Return Policy: Exchange for a different Ikea mattress within 365 days of purchase.
Fire Retardancy: “The IKEA approach to chemicals is to only add them if necessary. IKEA strives to totally refrain from the use of chemical flame retardants in our products and instead use techniques and materials with flame retardant properties, e.g. wool. However, in some countries, chemical flame retardants are needed in specific products in order to pass a local legal requirement. The products treated with chemical flame retardants need to fulfill strict emission requirements as well for all flame retardants added to the product. Chemicals are not the only way to improve fire safety. For instance, IKEA has developed a solution based on an interliner that provides fire proof products. By further investing in innovations and product development we are convinced that we can increase fire safety in our products, without using unwanted chemicals. In US: Mattresses/mattresses sets has a fiber fire barrier made of rayon/polyester batting with an inherently fire resistant property. Flame retardant chemicals (non-halogenated phosphorous-based inorganic salts) are only used for some stitch bonds, piping and zippers on spring mattresses in the US. In UK and Ireland: Mattresses and upholstered furniture contain flame retardant chemicals. This is needed for passing the UK legal requirements where each material in the mattress shall be tested separately.”
Other Materials: Polyester, cotton, viscose, polypropylene, polyurethane, synthetic latex, natural latex, steel coils, polyamide.
Warranty: 25-year limited warranty on defects in materials or workmanship.
Mold Response: No response.
Consumer Reports: CR gave the Ikea Holmsbu a rating of 52, meaning that it was #55 of 59 tested mattresses. The mattress was suggested as quite problematic for back sleepers but good for side sleepers.
Ikea Spring Mattresses. Polyester, cotton, viscose, polypropylene, polyurethane foam, steel coils, polyamide. Queen, $179-799.
Ikea Memory Foam Mattresses. Polyurethane foam, synthetic latex, cotton, polyester, viscose fiber, polypropylene. $89-499.
Ikea Latex Mattresses. Synthetic latex, polyester, viscose, polypropylene, cotton. $399-499.
Ikea Natural Latex Mattresses. 85% natural/15% synthetic latex, wool, linen, viscose rayon, cotton. Queen, $899-999.
Mold Avoiders Reports:
Total Reports – 11 Positive, 5 Negative
Report #1: “We went with an IKEA spring mattress. I’ll take a toxic zipper over $3,000 for moldy organic. They only have one mattress that you could call natural, but I’m more worried about moldy latex or foam than chemicals (as long as they aren’t horrible like fire retardants) at this point. I think the air between the coils of an old-school mattress might be a good thing. Lesser of evils, in my opinion. We’ll see. After throwing $8,000 of organic mattresses in the dump, I’m all about cheap.”
Report #2: “We have used three basic, medium-firm mattresses from IKEA (Mesa, AZ, location). Even with moderate MCS, I was able to tolerate them.”
Report #3: “I do well with anything from Ikea.”
Report #4: “We got one at Ikea because it is closer to natural. But NOT organic. The others were too expensive for us. At Ikea they can point you toward the non-memory foam ones, and give you a print out of what’s in the mattress.”
Report #5: “Our first mattresses post-mould (after air mattresses all summer) are Ikea foam. I aired them for a week before they want on the beds to avoid chemical sensitivities but have had no mould reaction whatsoever – and I can tell when something’s mouldy in a heartbeat! We use waterproof mattress protectors so I’m not overly worried about contaminating them through detox.”
Report #6: “I spent my first night on my new $500.00 Ikea mattress. Not one hot flash all night. I woke up full of energy, happy, rested and feeling healed. My mattress was poisoning me. I knew it. I am so listening to my body from now on. This one is super comfortable.”
Report #7: “I bought a latex mattress from Ikea for our guest bedroom. I opened it and let it expand for a couple of days before I covered it with a mattress cover. I think it is a good value for the price. The off-gassing was minimal, I have had latex pillows that have off-gassed more than the mattress did. Latex mattresses do sleep warmer though.”
Report #8: “I change my mattress every three years and air it out every day, meaning I leave the covers off at least an hour after I get up. I occasionally spray essential oils on it. IKEA sells affordable mattresses and I think that our mattress is such an important factor in keeping us healthy, we spend half of our lives on it.”
Report #9: “We bought four Ikea mattresses last year and our kids all reacted to them. We returned them and got a full refund after we explained what had happened. I would not recommend.”
Report #10: “We got foam mattresses from Ikea (not memory foam) and the out gassing is awful! Made me sick for weeks. We drug them outside daily, washed the covers, aired them out continually and they still smell after two months. It’s so bad I can taste it. I wish we had returned them, but they only do store credit. I would never buy another Ikea mattress again. I eventually put them in completely zippered waterproof allergy covers and the smell is no longer as noticeable but I still worry about what they are off-gassing. And these are supposedly non-toxic! I don’t believe it for a second. If I had to do it over again I would definitely go with one of these companies that offer a 100-day money back guarantee.”
Sleep Like the Dead – February 15, 2018
My Chemical-Free House – November 2014
Overview: A line of expensive therapeutic innerspring mattresses said to be appropriate for those suffering from pain as a result of fibromyalgia or structural problems, manufactured in Utah using advanced synthetic gel and foam materials said to be relatively low in toxicity.
Positives: Positive reports from those with pain issues. Established company. Possibility for trial in local Sam’s Club demonstrations. Company is emphatic that mold problems will not occur.
Negatives: Very expensive. Synthetic materials used – possibly may not work for those with severe chemical sensitivities. Not everyone likes sleeping on this kind of mattress. Need to pay shipping costs to return after trial period.
Background: “Founded in 2000, Intellibed is known as the world’s most advanced mattress manufacturer. Intellibed’s patented next-generation Gel Matrix technology promotes the three keys to healthy sleep: good posture-support, pressure point relief and a healthy sleep environment. Gel Matrix, our proprietary technology, is the most advanced cushioning material ever created for properly supporting the human body. Gel Matrix is a cutting edge combination of science and patented materials.”
Origins: Made in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Purchasing: The company has many stores in Utah and also sells through a few retailers in other states and in Canada. Representatives travel throughout the U.S. to demonstrate mattresses at Sam’s Club locations. Internet sales are delivered by a local company to the home.
Return Policy: Full refund minus shipping costs for 60 days, provided the mattress is in good condition when returned.
Fire Retardancy: “We use a silica based fire blocker with a modacrylic fiber and no bio available chemicals. It basically goes on the bed like a sock.”
Other Materials: Premium Quiltflex top layer with silica fire blocker; non-toxic, hypoallergenic gel matrix; high-density non-toxic foam; 100% natural Talalay latex; laced innerspring steel support layer.
Warranty: 20 year limited warranty.
Mold Response: “I am pleased to inform you that we have never had a bed mold on a customer in the 18 years we have been in business. Intellibed will not get moldy.”
Consumer Reports: CR gave the Intellibed Numea Azure mattress a score of 67, meaning that it came in as #35 among the 59 innerspring mattresses reviewed by the organization. They suggested that the mattress could be problematic for larger individuals who sleep on their backs, and they also expressed some concerns about “stabilization” (that is, whether you can feel your sleep partner moving around).
Intellibed Mattresses. Certified non-toxic foam or 100% natural Talalay latex, non-toxic hypallergenic gel matrix, non-toxic fabric with silica fire blocker, laced innerspring steel support. Queen, $3,799-8,999.
Mold Avoiders Reports:
Total Reports – 1 Positive, 0 Negative
Report #1: “I have the Intellibed and LOVE it! I have fibromyalgia and a lot of pain at night and this bed is miraculous – no hot spots or sore areas, very firm but not hard. It also lasts forever (30 year warranty). I had my last one for 12 years and had to get rid of it because I was in a moldy house, but otherwise it would have had many years left. I just purchased a new one and did not notice any odors. I am moderately sensitive to chemicals/VOC’s but don’t have severe MCS, but I didn’t notice any odor at all. They also have a 30 day return policy if you don’t like it.”
Wellness Mama – April 23, 2018
Debra Lynn Dadd – October 5, 2014
Website Address: http://www.mattressfirm.com/
Overview: A conventional mattress-store buying experience, featuring a selection of products (including Simmons Beautyrest, iSerta, Sleepy’s, Purple and Tulo) suggested to be somewhat lower in toxicity than some other mainstream mattresses.
Positives: Very convenient. Can try mattresses before purchasing. Established company.
Negatives: Many items are relatively high priced. Not all-natural. High-pressure sales environment. Fee for exchanges or returns. Company not transparent about materials being used.
Background: Mattress Firm is a large chain of mattress stores founded in the mid-1980’s. They have 3,000 stores throughout the U.S. Currently they are said to be stocking only brands carrying the CertiPur-US certification, which prohibits the use in foams of some chemicals that have found to be especially problematic but allows the use of other chemicals (including some chemical fire retardants). These brands include Simmons Beautyrest, iSerta and Purple. In addition, Mattress Firm sells two moderately priced house-brand mattress lines – Sleepy’s (with conventional innerspring, memory foam or hybrid options available) and Tulo (a bed-in-a-box mattress that can be tried out in the stores). Note that some franchise stores – including all of the ones in Iowa – have chosen to sell a totally different line of products (including some that do not have the CertiPur-US certification) even though they are still using the Mattress Firm name.
Origins: Serta and Simmons (which are sister companies) make their mattresses in factories scattered throughout the U.S. The Sleepy’s mattresses are manufactured by Corsicana Mattress Company, a private label manufacturer headquartered in Corsicana, Texas (about 50 miles south of Dallas), with factories throughout the U.S. Purple Mattress has manufacturing facilities in Utah. Tulo mattresses are manufactured in Las Vegas, NV.
Purchasing: Mattresses can be purchased in stores or online. Tulo’s and Purple mattresses are delivered via UPS or Fed Ex. Other mattresses are delivered to consumers’ homes via a delivery company.
Return Policy: “Our 120 Night Sleep Trial is valid for one return and/or one exchange per purchase, which must be done within 120 days of the delivery date of your original mattress. You may exchange your mattress once, with a redelivery fee of $79.99 ($99.99 in select markets). If you still aren’t satisfied with your new mattress, you can return it with a return delivery fee of $79.99 ($99.99 in select markets) plus a restocking fee equal to 10% of your original mattress purchase price (not to exceed $250).”
Fire Retardancy (Overall): All mattresses sold by Mattress Firm corporate stores (and by franchises that have not divorced themselves from corporate policy) carry a CertiPur-US certification. This means that many chemical fire retardants that are considered to be the most harmful are not used in the mattress foam, but that other chemical fire retardants – including Firemaster 550 (which contains endocrine disrupters) and boric acid (a respiratory irritant often used as a roach killer) – may be included. In addition, the CertiPur-US certification says nothing about which chemicals may be used in the fabrics of the mattress. The CertiPur-US statement about fire retardants reads as follows: “Some PBDEs (polybrominated diphenylethers) were used in foam to meet certain state flammability requirements, but those PBDEs were effectively banned in the U.S. by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2005. Other flame retardants that have been identified by the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) as substances that may cause cancer, may cause genetic defects or may damage fertility or unborn child (1A, 1B) may not be used in certified foam. TDCPP or TCEP (“Tris”) are among these FRs. A complete list of specific FRs prohibited in certified foam may be found in our Technical Guidelines. ”
Fire Retardancy (Simmons Beautyrest): As discussed in the separate section on Simmons Beautyrest, statements from company executives and representatives suggest that these mattresses use a Kevlar sock barrier rather than chemical fire retardants.
Fire Retardancy (iSerta): “All of Serta’s foams are made without the use of PBDE flame-retardants, CFCs, lead, mercury, prohibited phthalates and other potentially harmful materials. iSerta’s fire retardant barriers are made primarily from cotton or other cellulosic renewable fibers and use no harmful chemicals or processes.” An article by a customer who toured the Serta factory several years ago also reported that iSerta mattresses do not use chemical fire retardants and stated that the fire retardant being used in other Serta mattresses was boric acid.
Fire Retardancy (Sleepy’s): The less expensive mattresses from Sleepy’s – including the Basic, Calm, Rest and Relax models – are stated on the Mattress Firm website as having a “Natural and Chemical-Free Fire Barrier.” Nothing about fire retardancy is mentioned on the descriptions for the other Sleepy’s mattresses. I was not successful in obtaining further information about fire retardancy issues with regard to Sleepy’s mattresses from either Corsicana Mattress Company or from Mattress Firm.
Fire Retardancy (Tulo): I was not successful in obtaining further information about fire retardancy issues about Tulo mattresses from Mattress Firm.
Fire Retardancy (Purple): The Purple website states, “We decided not to use chemical treatments, and instead found a special flame barrier fabric with unique non-toxic fibers that naturally slow flames.We then got our flame barrier GreenGuard Gold Certified, which means it meets the health standards for use in environments such as schools and healthcare facilities, to assure our customers that we hold ourselves to the highest safety standards.”
Other Materials: Mattresses contain CertiPur-US certified foam and a variety of other materials.
Warranty: Mattresses sold at Mattress Firm carry a limited warranty, usually for 10 years. The mattress manufacturer is responsible for fulfilling the warranty.
Mold Response: “All mattresses have the possibility of mold or mildew if liquids are introduced or a humid environment. The best thing to do is make sure the mattress is on a properly ventilated base as use a mattress protector to reduce moisture. It is the same as any mattress. The all foam mattresses respond the same as an innerspring mattress. I am sorry but mildew/mold is not covered under the warranty.”
Sleepy’s Mattresses. Memory foam, innerspring or encased coil mattresses. Queen, $149-1,099.
iSerta Mattresses. Memory foam or hybrid mattresses. Queen, $297-2,199.
Simmons Beautyrest Black Memory Foam Mattresses. Polyurethane memory foam, innerspring, or hybrid mattresses. Queen, $497-4,699.
Tulo Mattresses. Memory foam, polyurethane, knitted polyester and Tencel blended fabric, polyester elastan blended fabric. Queen, $575.
Purple Mattresses. Memory foam or hybrid mattresses. Queen, $999-1,599.
Mold Avoiders Reports:
Total Reports: 1 Positive, 0 Negative
Report #1: “I am hesitant to order anything online these days because I can’t test it first. I went to Mattress Firm to buy my mattress. I went to three stores and didn’t get any bad vibes so I decided to just go for it. It’s working out fine so far. I bought the Sleepy’s Relax 11.5″ Pillow Top.”
Business Insider – April 15, 2018
MomTrends – July 1, 2011
An article from the Illinois Daily Herald provides details on a woman who said that the new Simmons Beautyrest Hartfield Luxury Firm mattress and box spring that she bought from a Mattress Firm in Elgin, Illinois, were contaminated with mold and that she was hospitalized with respiratory symptoms as a result. She sued the company for $50,000.
MY GREEN MATTRESS
Overview: Simple, moderately priced, all-natural mattresses consisting of wool, organic cotton, pocket springs and optional 100% natural latex, originally developed by a Chicagoland mattress maker looking to address his baby daughter’s eczema and allergies.
Positives: All-natural. Low to moderate prices. Established company. Good return policy.
Negatives: Mixed reports on tolerability and comfort. Version with latex could grow mold.
Background: “My Green Mattress was founded by Tim Masters. Tim is an experienced businessman, master craftsman, and devoted family man. Tim’s daughter, Emily, inspired him to expand his offerings to include all natural mattresses. Shortly after Emily was born, it was apparent that she suffered from eczema and allergies. Tim and his wife, Cindy, took Emily to see the best pediatric dermatologists, but also did their own research and found that all-natural products could help alleviate Emily’s symptoms. Tim realized it was time to offer all-natural mattresses to his customers, and rushed to put one in his daughter’s crib. Emily is now sleeping on a twin-size, all-natural mattress handcrafted by her Dad. She is a happy, healthy little girl that loves to play with her three sisters, Rylee, Madelyn, Megan, and with her brother, Kyle. Tim began working as an apprentice at family-owned, Quality Sleep Shop, that was established in 1968. As an apprentice, Tim mastered the art of mattress making. He eventually bought the business, and has expanded it with the addition of the My Green Mattress division in 2007 to keep up with the ever changing needs of his customers.”
Origins: Made in La Grange Highlands, Illinois (Chicago suburb).
Purchasing: Mattresses are available for purchase only through mail order. Mattresses are sent via Fed Ex and should arrive within two weeks of placing the order.
Return Policy: Full refund within 100 days of purchase.
Fire Retardancy: “As you are probably aware, the government requires all mattresses to pass burn tests. We are able to pass both the 1633 open flame test and 1632 cigarette test by quilting natural wool into the organic cotton cover of your mattress, without use of any chemical flame retardants. Wool is a natural flame retardant and was used in years past to make firemen’s coats.”
Other Materials: “Our 100% natural wool is sourced from a company in California. The wool batting is 100% natural, is not treated with any flame retardants, and contains no polyester fibers. We partnered with Woolgatherer Carding Mill in Montague, California to supply the wool used in our GreenGuard Gold Certified mattresses. Their wool suppliers are located in the Northern California and Southern Oregon regions where the cool, wet climate provides for excellent grazing conditions. Our wool is certified organically processed, but cannot be considered ‘certified organic’ wool. To be granted this certification the farmers would be required to feed their sheep a strict organic diet from the third month of gestation. Woolgatherer’s farms allow their sheep to graze naturally in lush, open pastures rather than follow a strict organic diet. We believe open grazing allows for a much happier life for the sheep and stand by their practices. Our wool is cleaned with an alcohol based cleaner that is GOTS compliant. We use GOTS Certified Organic Cotton. We exclusively use 100% all-natural, GOLS certified organic Dunlop latex in our mattresses.”
Warranty: Full 10-year warranty against defects in workmanship or materials, minus transportation fees.
Mold Response: “Mold growth in a mattress, like any other piece of furniture, is going to be reliant on the environment in which it is placed. Like any mattress, you’ll want to keep it as dry as possible. Mold growth would not be covered by warranty as it is not a manufacturer defect. With that said, our organic Dunlop latex that we use is naturally antimicrobial and is more resistant to microbial growth than other materials.”
Certifications: GreenGuard Gold, Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS), Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Oeko-Tex, Eco-Institut.
Consumer Reports: CR gave the My Green Mattress Natural Escape a score of 60, meaning that it came in as #46 among the 59 innerspring mattresses reviewed by the organization. They suggested that the mattress was better for side sleepers than back sleepers, and they also expressed some concerns about “stabilization” (that is, whether you can feel your sleep partner moving around).
Pure Echo Mattress. Organic cotton, natural American wool, pocketed coil springs. Queen, $779.
Natural Escape Mattress. Organic latex, organic cotton, natural American wool, pocketed coil springs. Queen, $1,199.
Mold Avoiders Reports:
Total Reports – 6 Positive, 2 Negative
Report #1: “My Green Mattress! We recently purchased seven of them and love them.”
Report #2: “We bought a full size My Green Mattress and a Tuft & Needle after we moved out of our mold problem and into an apartment. We like them both and noticed a little off-gassing only for a couple hours. I think they’re both comfortable.”
Report #3: “My Green Mattress is a more affordable organic mattress (natural Dunlop latex option) that meets my no chemical standards.”
Report #4: “I have a My Green Mattress Pure Echo. It smells like a barn on account of the wool they use. I’m unsure if I will keep it because of this. It’s been sitting in my apartment for about a month and the smell seems the same to me. I get headaches from it.”
Report #5: “I decided my new My Green Mattress was too squishy and I had weird sensations. So I am looking for something closer to a traditional mattress for the firm flat surface, maybe made from cotton and wool.”
Report #6: “We have a My Green Mattress and it’s horrible. Smells like a barn after five months and back pain is unbearable. We did purchase a water proof protector and dust mite protector.”
Report #7: “I bought a My Green Mattress one-sided Pure Echo about two years ago. It did come smelling like a barn at first but I felt the smell faded fairly quickly. I was very happy with this mattress as it was comfortable and I was not reactive to it. I would absolutely buy it again. We’ve since moved out of a place which may or may not have developed mold in the HVAC. I decided to get rid of it. Rather be safe than sorry. I may be buying another one when the funds allow.”
Awards & Recommendations:
Gimme The Good Stuff, “The Good Stuff Mattresses”
Bottom Line: All-natural premium-quality mattresses containing your choice of organic cotton, organic wool, organic latex, non-GMO plant starch, metal coils and polyester fabric, designed with the help of pediatricians to be safe for babies and built by Amish craftsmen in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.
Positives: All-natural and mostly organic products. Established company. Good reports about tolerability and durability. Stores are available to try the products. Available with or without coils. Customized mattresses available.
Negatives: Expensive. Latex could grow mold, which is specifically excluded by the warranty. Need to pay shipping costs to return after trial period.
Background: “Naturepedic was founded by Barry A. Cik, a veteran in the field of environmental engineering with over 30 years of experience chasing chemicals. In anticipation of his first grandchild, Barry went searching for a suitable baby crib mattress. Sadly, he found that all of the crib mattress offerings on the market were completely unacceptable. Most bedding manufacturers, to his shock, used harmful chemicals and materials in both the assembly process and the final products. Barry, together with his two sons, set out to found Naturepedic, a non-toxic and organic mattress manufacturer dedicated to providing parents with a better alternative. All of our organic mattresses have been designed with the help of pediatricians, chemists, and engineers to be safer and more comfortable without those risky materials.”
Origins: Mattresses are constructed by Amish craftsmen at a factory in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.
Purchasing: Sells mostly through company stores and a nationwide network of partner stores. Purchases can also be made online. Ships in 3-5 days.
Return Policy: Full refund except for shipping charges within 30-90 days (depending on the mattress), for purchases directly from the company.
Fire Retardancy: “Through extensive research and creative product design, we’ve eliminated the need for fire retardant chemicals and flame retardant barriers in our products. In particular, we use materials such as organic cotton fabric, organic cotton batting, plant-based non-GMO PLA batting, and steel innersprings in place of memory foam, other forms of polyurethane foam and synthetic fabrics that have much higher fuel loads. Our materials tend to smolder instead of bursting into flames with very high heat release. This unique and innovative approach provides a simple and elegant solution that meets all Federal and State flammability standards without the need for any fire retardant chemicals or flame retardant barriers.”
Materials: “Naturepedic uses only U.S. grown and certified organic cotton as filling for our mattresses, and we buy directly from USDA-certified sources. Organic wool facilitates healthy, well-treated sheep and the elimination of harmful chemicals in the processing of the wool. The PLA comfort layer adds resiliency and improved moisture wicking for a more comfortable night’s sleep. PLA is a plant-based material used in a variety of industries, including food packaging and medical supplies. Our PLA is made from non-GMO plant starch and does not contain or off-gas harmful chemicals. Our high-density microcoils are individually wrapped for full-body-contouring comfort in a lightweight yet durable polyester fabric. They resist body impressions while providing comfortable pressure point relief. They also improve breathability and heat dissipation for cool and comfortable sleep. Our exclusive construction completely avoids the use of glues and adhesives.Unlike synthetic and even all-natural blends, we only source our latex foam from reputable certified organic suppliers, ensuring purity, fair labor practices and support for healthy farming to protect our planet’s latex forests. The finished foam is certified to the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) and wrapped in a stretch-knit organic cotton outer casing.”
Warranty: 10-20 year limited warranty depending on the specific mattress; excludes “dampness or mold.”
Mold Response: “That it isn’t something we are familiar with happening and as long as the waterproof pad and sheets are being changed after every occurrence, it shouldn’t be an issue. If the mattress were to develop mold, at that point you wouldn’t want to use it as it would be unclear if the mold was just on the surface and or got deep within the mattress. The warranty does not cover mold.”
Certifications: Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS), Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), GreenGuard Gold, Non-GMO Verified and various other certifications.
Naturepedic Chorus Mattress. Organic cotton, organic wool, non-GMO plant starch, coils, polyester fabric. Queen, $1,999.
Naturepedic Serenade Mattress. Organic cotton, organic wool, organic latex, non-GMO plant starch, coils, polyester fabric. Queen, $2,499.
Naturepedic EOS Classic. A “you design it” mattress made of organic cotton, organic wool, organic latex (optional), non-GMO plant starch, coils, polyester fabric. Queen, $2,999.
Naturepedic Luxury Series. Luxury wool blend (organic wool, alpaca wool and cashmere), organic support coils, organic latex with microcoil option, organic cotton. Queen, $4,999-7,999.
Mold Avoiders Reports:
Total Reports – 4 Positive, 1 Negative
Report #1: “This is an excellent comfortable organic latex mattress that costs a lot more (best mattress I’ve ever owned and worth every penny if it’s in one’s budget).”
Report #2: “I love Naturepedic.”
Report #3: “Not cheap, but zero VOC’s with the Naturepedic.”
Report #4: “My family has four Naturepedic Chorus (latex-free) mattresses and we love them. Very comfy. I’d say moderately firm, no gross odors, and caused no reactions for me or my sensitive son.”
Report #5: “I’ve slept on a Naturepedic before. I found it to have a scent and to be way too firm for me. I eventually bought an Essentia and have had an excellent experience with it.”
Awards and Recommendations:
Non-Toxic Reboot, “2018 Best Overall Mattress”
Gimme The Good Stuff, “The Best Stuff Mattresses”
Debra Lynn Dadd – October 15, 2017
Naturepedic – April 29, 2017
Naturepedic – April 1, 2014
Overview: A mattress industry veteran improves the system by offering a range of less-toxic and less-expensive conventional-type mattresses as well as a better buying experience.
Positives: Moderate prices. Full refund if returned within 30 days. Similar to conventional mattress in terms of feel. Variety of options available. Strong organizational focus on serving individuals with chemical sensitivities.
Negatives: Most products not all-natural. Foams could go moldy.
Background: Established in 2011, family-owned, and founded by a mattress industry veteran. “Featuring bedding and mattresses, presented in a low-overhead business model, and hosted by helpful, non-pushy and just darn nice, well-trained humans, Nest Bedding is the little engine that could against the mountain of high pressure, big-name mattress brands. Nest Bedding proudly represents brands and products produced by Americans, good quality and even better pricing. If you are looking to go green for not a lot of green, eco-friendly and made in America, you came to the right place.”
Origins: Made in the U.S.
Purchasing: Stores in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco Bay Area. Also mail order. Orders are made by hand and ship within 2-4 days. Transit may take another 1-5 days.
Return Policy: Full refund within 30 days.
Fire Retardancy: “We use hydrated silica for our fire barriers. This is a fabric impregnated with inert silica, a naturally occurring element found in toothpaste.”
Materials (Love& Sleep and Alexander Mattresses): “All our foams are USA made and CertiPur-US certified, which means they are tested by a credible third party for any harmful chemicals.”
Materials (Latex Hybrid Mattress): “Top layer consists of wool and organic cotton and 3″ natural latex accessible with a zipper. The base consists of individually wrapped coil unit, 1100 coils. There is NO memory foam in this mattress. The very bottom of the mattress has a thin layer of quilting foam (CertiPur-US certified) and the sides have quilting foam for appearance, but the sleeping surface is 100% latex.”
Materials (Q3 Natural Latex Mattress): “Available in all organic certified components or Oeko-Tex Certified Blended latex, PureGrow Wool and Blended Organic cotton option. Not a Certified Organic Mattress, just a mattress made with all the major components certified organic.”
Warranty: Limited lifetime warranty against cover defects, zipper defects, and visible sagging of foam.
Mold Response: “Our mattress is vacuum sealed at the time of manufacture and stays that way all the way to delivery. I would not have any worries about a mold problem. If it later became moldy from a cause of poor mattress care it would not be covered by the warranty, but if the mattress was in any way defective it would be covered. I understand your concern, but if I can give you any reassurance I will say I myself have never come across a mold issue with a Nest bed as well as any other of my fellow employees in our office. I hope this has eased your concern.”
Certifications: CertiPur-US. Some mattresses have additional certifications.
Nest Bedding Love & Sleep. Certi-Pur-US certified memory foams, silica, other materials tested by CertiPur-US as “non-toxic.” GreenGuard Gold certified. Queen, $599.
Nest Bedding Alexander Signature Select. CertiPur-US certified memory foams, silica, optional microcoils, other materials tested by CertiPur-US as “non-toxic.” Queen, $1,199.
Nest Bedding Hybrid Luxury Contour. CertiPur-US certified memory foams, microcoils, silica, other materials tested by CertiPur-US as “non-toxic.” Queen, $1,599.
Nest Bedding Latex Hybrid. Wool, organic cotton, Talalay latex, pocketed coils, CertiPur-US certified quilting foam, other materials tested by CertiPur-US as “non-toxic.” Queen, $1,599.
Nest Bedding Q3 Natural Latex Mattress (Blended). Blended latex, Joma wool, blended cotton, other materials tested by CertiPur-US as “non-toxic.” Queen, $1,499-$1,999.
Nest Bedding Q3 Natural Latex Mattress (Organic). Certified organic latex, certified organic cotton, certified organic wool,other materials tested by CertiPur-US as “non-toxic.” Queen, $2,499-3,299.
Mold Avoiders Reports:
Total Reports – 3 Positive, 1 Negative
Report #1: “I bought four Alexander Hybrid mattresses from Nest Bedding. The Alexander Hybrid feels like a pillow top mattress with coils. I like it because it is made in America from certified pure materials that have absolutely no smell. Be aware that they do offer a latex mattress that does have a natural rubber smell, which I would not be able to tolerate.”
Report #2: “Nest Bedding makes non-toxic beds that do not off-gas. It has been perfect for me to sleep in with mold illness and MCS. I have the Love bed. It’s under $1000 for a queen size. We got an organic bed for thousands of dollars to start over at my in-laws after we lost our mold place, not realizing she had mold too. Finding Nest Bedding has been a saving grace because it’s still non-toxic but more affordable and very comfortable.”
Report #3: “I had a Nest Bedding pillow that went moldy. I have never had another pillow go moldy in my life.”
Nest Bedding – Chemical Sensitivities
Overview: Your choice of 100% organic, all-natural or non-toxic synthetic luxury foam mattresses, all made without innersprings and backed up with many third-party certifications to provide assurance of their health safety.
Positives: Some products are organic or all-natural. Moderate prices. Many certifications. Reports suggest tolerability and comfort levels are good. Good return policy.
Negatives: Mold growth could occur. Not very many reports.
Background: “We manufacture and sell luxury mattresses that promote good health and facilitate quality sleep. We achieve this by focusing on three things: 1) high-quality, non-toxic materials; 2) luxurious comfort; 3) relentless innovation. We’ve earned our great reputation by fostering trust with our customers. We don’t make any unfounded claims – the safety of our products is backed up by third party certifications, and we are re-certified regularly to be in compliance with their exceptional standards.”
Origins: “Most 100% natural latex is manufactured outside the US at or near the plantations the latex sap is derived from. Our latex cores are manufactured in Sri Lanka and our mattresses are manufactured in our Moorpark, California production facility.” (Information provided by company representative.)
Purchasing: “Your mattress will be custom-made after you place your order and will leave the factory within 7-9 business days of your order date, after passing through a rigorous quality control process. Shipping time of an additional 7 business days may apply for custom orders or during busy holiday periods as all mattresses are handmade by our skilled craftsmen.”
Return Policy: Full refund for 100 days after purchase.
Fire Retardancy: “No fire retardants.” Flame resistance is provided by the wool in the mattress or by the company’s “Eco Fire Barrier” (a knitted material made from silica and plant fibers).
Other Materials (All Mattresses): “Unlike most of our competitors, our entire mattress is GreenGuard Gold Certified as a low-emitting product. Through rigorous testing, UL Environment certifies our mattresses meet some of the world’s most rigorous, third-party chemical emissions standards with strict low emission limits for over 360 volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Our mattresses get reviewed quarterly to maintain this seal of approval.”
Other Materials (Botanical Bliss): “PlushBeds brings the world’s finest latex directly from ARPICO’s certified organic plantations to your bedroom. More expensive than natural Talalay latex or traditional Dunlop, certified organic latex as per the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) is latex that has been processed using only organically-grown, milky-white latex sap tapped from the rubber tree grown without chemicals, fertilizers, or pesticides, as well as being grown using one or more sustainable energy sources. Right underneath your mattress’s organic cotton cover is a plush comfort layer of the world’s finest 100% natural Talalay latex, which offers a pressure-reducing, buoyant sensation found only with 100% natural Talalay latex. Non-woven organic cotton cover. Every Botanical Bliss is made in the USA with up to 10 pounds of Pure New Zealand wool – over three times what competitors use – allowing your body to get to a comfortable sleeping temperature quicker and maintain it through the night. Mattress summary: organic cotton cover; pure New Zealand wool; 100% natural Talalay latex; 100% ARPICO organic latex; all-natural spruce woods; no glue or glued layers; no harsh chemicals; no chemical retardants, formaldehydes, carcinogens, synthetic blends, petroleum fillers, anti-fungicides, harsh chemicals, pesticide-treated cottons.”
Materials (Natural Bliss): “For those with wool allergies or those seeking an animal-free (vegan) mattress, we’ve created the Natural Bliss latex mattress; 100% natural latex in the firmness of your choice, covered in our proprietary knit Eco Fire Barrier™ derived from silica & plant fibers and a cover made with stretch certified organic cotton. Mattress summary: no wool or animal products; stretch organic cotton cover; proprietary Eco Fire Barrier; 100% natural ARPICO latex; all-natural spruce woods; no glue or glued layers; no harsh chemicals; no chemical retardants, formaldehydes, carcinogens, synthetic blends, petroleum fillers, anti-fungicides, harsh chemicals, pesticide-treated cottons.”
Materials (Memory Foam): Certified non-toxic foam, other certified non-toxic materials.
Warranty: 25-year limited warranty from defects in materials or workmanship.
Mold Response: No response.
Certifications: GreenGuard Gold, Oeko-Tex, USDA Organic, Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS), Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Eco Institut, CertiPur-US. All certifications are re-issued every 90 days.
PlushBeds Memory Foam Mattresses. Certified non-toxic foams, other certified non-toxic materials. Queen, $1,199-$1,849
PlushBeds Natural Bliss Mattress. Organic cotton, 100% natural latex, other certified non-toxic materials. Queen, $1,299-1,999.
PlushBeds Botanical Bliss Mattress. Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) certified organic latex, pure New Zealand Wool, quilted organic cotton. Queen, $1,699-2,299.
Mold Avoiders Reports:
Total Reports – 2 Positive, 1 Negative
Report #1: “I purchased a Plush Bed Botanical Bliss Mattress (organic latex, organic cotton, and organic wool- no coils). I was so disappointed when a reacted to it- racing heart, brain fog, headache, and night sweats. I’ve had these symptoms (except for racing heart) with previous exposures to mold/mycotoxins and to other substances, even natural substances like EM3 laundry additive. However, the reaction was not right away and did not include other symptoms that I commonly get with mold/mycotoxins. I also wasn’t impressed with PlushBeds customer service. Plus, they also charge extra for a return if done less than 30 days after purchasing.”
Andrea Fabry (February 2016): “Chris and I invested in a queen-size high-quality mattress. We chose the Botanical Bliss latex mattress offered by PlushBeds. (I have no financial affiliation with this company, just an interest in sharing information.) We bought it sight unseen after careful research. We have been happy with the firmness and comfort, and there was no chemical smell when it arrived.” (Update May 2018: “Still love it!!!”)
Overview: A newer and quite popular high-tech, lower-toxicity mattress with a synthetic gel matrix top layer (similar to that used on the Intellibed), manufactured in Utah and promoted as providing an especially comfortable cushioned sleep experience at an affordable price.
Positives: Many people report that they find this mattress to be especially comfortable. All-foam and foam/coil hybrids available. Moderately priced. Good refund policy. Reports suggest materials are fairly tolerable by those with chemical sensitivities. Highly rated by Consumer Reports.
Negatives: Not all-natural. Durability is still a question mark. Some individuals complain about reacting to the plastic powder used for packaging.
Background: “1989 found two brothers, engineers Tony and Terry Pearce, fly fishing in the Rockies and talking about partnering to change the world. Tony’s 13 years of experience in advanced aerospace materials, and Terry’s 20 years of experience in manufacturing, design, and project management led to a partnership creating high-tech carbon fiber sporting goods and wheelchairs. Three years ago, the Pearces set out to combine all their knowledge of cushioning into the world’s best mattress. Today, they’re delivering that mattress. The Purple Bed would be better than any $4,000 mattress and cost only about $1,000—that was the goal, and Purple achieved it!”
Origins: Manufactured in Alpine and Grantsville, Utah.
Purchasing: Sold mostly through online ordering. They are on display in some Mattress Firm stores.
Return Policy: Full refund within 100 days of delivery.
Fire Retardancy: “We decided not to use chemical treatments, and instead found a special flame barrier fabric with unique non-toxic fibers that naturally slow flames. We then got our flame barrier GreenGuard Gold Certified, which means it meets the health standards for use in environments such as schools and healthcare facilities, to assure our customers that we hold ourselves to the highest safety standards.”
Other Materials: “Purple does not use any memory foam in any of our products. This is not just because memory foam sleeps hot, develops a body impression, and lacks adequate support, it’s also because it tends to emit strong off-gassing and can be harmful to sleepers. Purple’s products have no off-gassing and only use CertiPur-US Certified foam with our mattress. Purple’s Hyper-Elastic Polymer is made with non-toxic, mineral oil-based, food-contact grade materials. You could eat it if you wanted to and be totally fine (even though we don’t recommend that!) Purple’s flame barrier is free of dangerous chemicals and is an extra barrier, in addition to the cover, between people and the non-toxic plastic powder coating we use to prepare our beds for packaging. Purple’s Hyper-Elastic Polymer material is a natural dust mite deterrent and is hypoallergenic, along with our foam and cover. And we never use latex with any of our products.Naturally antimicrobial with no artificial germicides, the materials used also protect against allergens and dust mites. ”
Warranty: Ten year limited warranty. Specifically excludes “damage caused by normal wear and tear, moving, storage, natural disasters, Acts of God, inks, cosmetics, bleach, grease, nail polish, alcohol, dyes, chemical hair treatments, tanning related chemicals, solvents, molds, mildews, stains or odors of unknown origins.”
Mold Response: “The mattress does not retain moisture, so it should not get moldy. Mold and water damage is not covered under our warranty. But you should not be concerned about mold.”
Certifications: GreenGuard Gold (fire retardant barrier), CertiPur-US.
Consumer Reports: Consumer Reports gave the Purple Mattress a score of 76 (#10 among 49 mattresses without springs).
The Original Purple Mattress. Polyurethane foam, hyper-elastic polymer, plastic powder coating, fabric barrier, other materials. Queen, $999.
The New Purple Mattress. Polyurethane foam, hyper-elastic polymer, plastic powder coating, fabric barrier, support coils, other materials. Queen, $1,599-2,799.
Mold Avoiders Reports:
Total Reports: 3 Positive, 1 Negative
Report #1: “I slept on my son’s Purple Mattress last night (visiting him in Denver). No smell plus it slept great! Wished I would have bought it (cost effective) instead of buying an organic latex encased in fibers from Italy.”
Report #2: “I like my Purple Mattress. It is very comfortable, and the brand is held in high regard by many with environmental sensitivities.”
Report #3: “Several weeks ago, my husband and I invested in a Purple Mattress. We were so excited to finally have a comfortable bed! Unfortunately, I started waking up with a swollen face and painful joints every morning. My body felt so inflamed! So I decided to send it back. Blinded by charming ads and reports of low-toxicity it took us several weeks to realize that our new mattress was the reason for the swelling. I tried laying on it when I was feeling well. I got some minor throat and nose irritation and a general feeling of heaviness. I decided not to lay on it long enough to get the facial swelling. I suspect it’s whatever that plastic powder they use. The pillows seem even worse than the mattress.”
Saatva Website: https://www.saatvamattress.com/
Loom & Leaf by Saatva Website: https://www.loomandleaf.com/
Zenhaven by Saatva Website: https://www.zenhaven.com/
Overview: Comfortable and relatively affordable luxury-style mattresses with less toxicity than conventional alternatives, made with either plant-based synthetic foam or 100% natural latex.
Positives: Moderately priced. Good return policy. Personal delivery and setup service included. Good reports on tolerability and comfort.
Negatives: Mattresses other than Zenhaven include conventional foam and other conventional materials. Mold growth could occur in foam.
Background: “At Saatva, we’re committed to delivering the most comfortable, durable, and affordable luxury mattress without the drama or expense associated with mattress retailers. Over the last several years, we have grown from a mid-sized regional luxury mattress company to one of the largest online-only mattress companies in America, shipping coast to coast. Today, Saatva comprises 19 factories throughout America fabricating our patented products, as well as 135 fulfillment centers that deliver our mattresses. Working with our team of professional online representatives, we are able to bring our environmentally friendly brand to consumers across all 50 states.”
Origins: Made in 19 factories throughout the U.S. Mattresses are delivered to the customer’s home from a nearby factory to minimize travel time.
Purchasing: Mail order only. Free nationwide company delivery and in-home setup. Free removal of old mattress. Delivery usually occurs within 2-3 weeks.
Return Policy: Full refund minus $99 transportation fee within 120 days of purchase.
Fire Retardancy (Flagship and Loom & Leaf): “Our mattresses and foundations are all flame retardant. We use a ‘Natural Thistle Barrier.’ This is a plant based fiber mesh ‘Natural Thistle’, made from mainly wood pulp and bonded with a small amount of polyester. This creates a flame retardant barrier without the use of harmful chemicals.”
Fire Retardancy (Zenhaven): “Our flame-retardant contains a pure blend of 100% organic New Zealand wool and non-toxic materials, which enhances the breathability and comfort of the mattress, wicking away moisture for a cooler, drier sleep.”
Other Materials (Flagship and Loom & Leaf): “The exact components of the Saatva mattress are: organic cotton backed with hypoallergenic fibers; plant based natural thistle which consists of wood pulp and a polyester bonding agent; cotton; foams of 30% soy and corn oil coupled with polyurethane and Dacron; recycled steel springs/coils; eco-friendly visco memory foam; rayon; and Kevlar thread. There are no sprays applied to a Saatva mattress. We are not 100% organic. We have taken a green initiative, which means our foams are eco-friendly using at least 30% soy or corn oil. The organic cotton in our covers is GMO free by nature of the organic label. All eco-friendly foams have a derivative of soy as the bio component. GMO free soy is a specialty item which carries a premium in foodstuffs and is therefore not used in TDI or Polyol production of foam. For the Loom & Leaf, we have applied our proprietary cooling gel to our top foam layer that is non-toxic and stable.”
Other Materials (Zenhaven): “100% natural latex. The mattress is finished with a cover of rich organic cotton. It’s healthy, breathable, supremely comfortable, and has our exclusive Guardin botanical antimicrobial fabric treatment that inhibits bacterial growth to prolong the life of the organic cotton fabric. All the latex layers in Zenhaven are made from 100% natural latex, which is organic. However, once the latex is harvested, a small amount of nontoxic, inorganic material must be added in order to convert natural latex from its liquid, tree-tapped form to its solid form. Every support layer is made from 100% natural latex. While our flame-retardant layer contains natural, 100% New Zealand wool, and our cover is made of organic cotton, we must use a small amount of non-toxic, dermatological tested adhesive and synthetic reinforcement material to keep top layers from shifting.”
Warranty: Full, non-prorated warranty that the mattress will be free of defects in materials or workmanship for 15 years for the flagship and Loom & Leaf; 20 years for the Zenhaven.
Mold Response (Saatva Flagship and Loom & Leaf): “There are no mattresses that are mold resistant other than a Natural Latex mattress. For best prevention against molding issues, it’s best to protect your mattress by keeping it dry. If you want to ensure protection, you can use a mattress cover. If you are placing this on a Saatva/Loom & Leaf mattress, it is important to make sure your cover breathes. Our mattresses have fantastic airflow between the foam layers and they are wrapped in healthy, organic cotton covering exclusively featuring ‘Guardin’, our natural anti-microbial protection. You do not want anything to stifle the flow of air as you want the bed to consistently stay cool.”
Certifications: Saatva Flagship and Loom & Leaf are CertiPur-US certified. Zenhaven is Oeko-Tex certified.
Consumer Reports: CR gave the Saatva Flagship mattress (Luxury Firm Eurotop) a score of 74, meaning that it came in as #15 among the 59 innerspring mattresses reviewed by the organization. They wrote: “This mattress performed very good for average and large/tall sized side sleepers. Petite and average back sleepers will also find very good performance. Petite side sleepers and large/tall back sleepers will find good support. In our durability test this mattress performed excellently showing no noticeable change in performance.” The organization gave the Saatva Zenhaven a 63 (#39 of 49 mattresses without springs) and the Saatva Loom & Leaf a 60 (#43 of 49 mattresses without springs), saying that those mattresses were much better for side sleepers than back sleepers.
Saatva Mattress. “Eco foam” (made from natural plant-based polyol), organic cotton, steel springs, wood pulp, polyester bonding agent, Dacron, Guardin botanical antimicrobial fabric treatment. Queen, $999.
Saatva Loom & Leaf Mattress. “Eco foam” (made from natural plant-based polyol), non-toxic cooling gel foam, organic cotton, wood pulp, polyester bonding agent, Guardin botanical antimicrobial fabric treatment. Queen, $1,099.
Saatva Zenhaven. 100% Talalay natural latex, certified organic New Zealand wool, organic cotton cover, Guardin botanical antimicrobial fabric treatment, non-toxic/synthetic adhesive and reinforcement materials. Queen, $1,899.
Mold Avoiders Reports:
Total Reports – 3 Positive, 0 Negative
Report #1: “We bought a Saatva mattress last year. Absolutely no off-gassing…I was able to sleep on it the first night. We researched a lot before we bought it.”
Report #2: “We had a Tuft & Needle one and none of us liked it. We replaced it with a Saatva and we all love them!!! Our Tuft & Needle mattresses didn’t feel like real beds, the support on the edge was terrible and both my husband and myself had bad back pain on them. The Saatva mattresses are amazing!”
Report #3: “I love our Loom & Leaf mattress!”
Sleep Like the Dead – November 11, 2017
Overview: An extremely expensive, all-natural layered sleep system made in Austria and endorsed by health-oriented celebrities such as Dave Asprey.
Positives: All-natural, organic-type components. Company has health focus. Grounding pad to reduce EMF’s. Customized to each individual. Separate system for each sleep partner. Layered system allows easy airing out, possibly decreasing likelihood of issues with mold or dust mites. Endorsed by high-profile health advocates such as Dave Asprey and Wendy Myers.
Negatives: Very expensive. Shipping costs not refundable.
Background: “We have only one mission: healthy sleep. Our health, productivity and well-being strongly depend on the recovery we can get only through sleep. Since 1989, we have developed a natural sleep idea. Samina’s healthy sleep products are carefully crafted by hand. We rely on the power and intelligence of nature concerning every single element. Carefully detailed in the style of traditional craftsmanship produced. Like the human body, the Samina healthy sleep concept exists layer by layer. The natural interplay of the individual elements work synergistically and ensures you an incomparable, customized orthopedic sleeping experience. Freely suspended elements for optimal contouring. Sleep is a complex issue. The personal advice and sharing of our knowledge gained from over 30 years of sleep research is very important to us. In our sleep-specialized shops, we take the time for our customers for individualized healthy sleep solutions for the best possible quality of sleep.”
Origins: “The production center is in the lovely natural surroundings of Frastanz, Vorarlberg, Austria.”
Purchasing: Stores demonstrating the Samina Sleep System are located in California (Pasadena and San Francisco), Connecticut and Hawaii. Sleep System is also displayed at a number of health-oriented trade shows.
Return Policy: “If dissatisfied for any reason, within 30 days from date of purchase, customer may return eligible components in original condition and shipped at customer’s expense. Original shipping and delivery costs are not refundable.”
Fire Retardancy: No fire retardants except wool layer. “Merino wool is not really burning, it is smoldering. It resists flames naturally.”
Other Materials: “Only the purest organic natural materials are used. Organic bioactive sheep’s wool. Untreated, breathable cotton. Highly flexible natural rubber. Solid and flexible ash wood. The Lokosana grounding pad is the ideal complement to a Samina healthy sleep system where it is placed between the natural rubber mattress and the wool mattress topper. It is grounded with a CE certified energized plug from the AC outlet. The grounding pad uses a thin layer of bio-active sheep’s wool, bio-magnets, and a layer of fabric interwoven with pure silver. It is the silver composition in particular that impacts the expense of this component. The sheep’s wool is unbelievably soft, keeping the pad from feeling stiff and providing a pathway for moisture from your body. The bio-magnets stabilize the distorted electromagnetic fields of our modern lifestyle.” No glues, solvents or chemicals of any kind.
Warranty: “After you have purchased Samina, we want you to have a lifetime of healthy sleep so at any time you may call to have your sleep questions answered and for other sleep-related advice. Samina was designed as a sustainable product so the virgin wool may require replacement after 10 to 12 years of regular usage and the natural rubber components after 20 years or so. The wooden slats in the frame will last at least 20 years but usually much longer. In the unlikely event you should notice a manufacturing defect, it is important that you promptly notify the Samina Authorized Retailer where your purchase was made. To exercise your rights under this warranty, you must submit the original sales receipt when making a claim and be issued a Return Merchandise Authorization.”
Mold Response: “Samina’s natural rubber and breathable materials prevent mold from being a problem in your slumber. The open air design and perforated rubber and merino wool layer make mold uninhabitable in Samina.”
Certifications: Green America Certified Business.
Samina Sleep System. Five layers: Wood bed frame, ash base layer, natural rubber layer, Lokosana grounding pad, wool mattress topper. “Expect to spend between $10,000 to $20,000 to outfit your sleep sanctuary with a Samina.” (During late 2017, a Bulletproof Bed with three essential layers was sold for $2,400 for a queen.)
Mold Avoiders Reports:
Total Reports: 2 Positive, 0 Negative
Report #1: “I throw another one out there, which I thought looked suitable for us. It is a system by a company called Samina (the do have outlets in the states). I looked at it the other day. I was quite impressed. The mattress comes in layers that can be aired out instead of one huge mattress. I can’t tolerate the wool layer but the rubber mattress has no chemicals or glues in it. They use ash and chalk as a binder. The slat base in all natural (spray free wood and a latex layer in between).”
Report #2: “Samina mattress is my number one choice if you can afford it.”
Dave Asprey: “Samina beds provide possibly the highest end sleep experience possible because they pay attention to every little, detail, even things you wouldn’t know make a difference. The result is an amazing night’s sleep like no other!”
Myers Detox – Interview with Claus Pummer
Wealthy Welthy Life – Interview with Claus Pummer
Overview: Simple and moderately priced futon-type mattresses containing quality U.S. wool and nothing else, made by hand in a small factory in Mt. Shasta, California.
Positives: 100% wool and nothing else.
Negatives: Non-returnable. Relatively expensive. May not be comfortable for some people. Need to rotate and flip regularly. Not very many reports. Wool may have a scent.
Background: “Shepherd’s Dream began as the work of Eliana Jantz in 1984. Inspired by the simple and elegant Japanese cotton futon, Eliana began to promote alternatives to the typical North American bed. Soon after, she was leading workshops and providing ‘do-it-yourself’ instructions, on how to create simple, healthy futon beds. This eventually led to the creation of Jantz Design — where Eliana began selling hand-made cotton futons in northern California. Dissatisfied with the quality of commercially grown cotton batting available for her endeavor, Eliana began working with the industry to promote an organic cotton production in her region. Eliana collaborated with one of the first California-based organic cotton growers and a nearby garneting mill to create certified organic cotton batting. A few years later, wool batting, with its comforting and life promoting properties became available to Eliana. She quickly realized that wool was a superior fiber for natural bedding fill.”
Origins: Manufactured in Mt. Shasta, California. The company offices are in Ashland, Oregon.
Purchasing: Mattresses are made to order and ship within 3-4 weeks.
Return Policy: Mattresses are non-returnable. Samples are available to gauge tolerance.
Fire Retardancy: Wool is naturally resistant to fire. “Rest assured knowing that this mattress passed the federal flame tests for mattresses produced in the USA. All of our materials are grown and processed in the USA without toxic chemicals or flame retardants.”
Materials: Pure Eco-wool batting and soft melton wool textile, all grown and processed in the U.S.
Warranty: Limited warranty on indentations that are more than 2-3″ and on weakened/damaged seams or fabric flaws.
Mold Response: “With proper care (exposure to sun and air) mold should not be an issue at all. Wool is naturally mold and mildew resistant. Wool quickly absorbs and releases moisture and thus does not allow the damp conditions that molds thrive on. Other fibers, such as down and cotton, do not readily release moisture. Under rare extremely humid conditions mold could theoretically occur. You would have to rub it off and clean the affected area with vinegar.”
Certifications: Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Oeko-Tex and a variety of others.
The Simplicity All-Wool 4″ Mattress. (Known as “The Skinny” in Canada.) 100% wool. Queen, $1800.
The Premium All-Wool 5″ Mattress. 100% wool. Queen, $2150.
Mold Avoiders Reports:
Total Reports – 1 Positive, 0 Negative
Corinne Segura (2013): “I went with the purest and simplest option I could find which is a 100% wool mattress from Shepherd’s Dream. It is a (relatively) economical choice at $1200 for a queen (I have the Skinny version). It does have a wool scent and is very firm as it gets compacted with time. If you don’t like firm mattresses I would recommend using a topper with it or using the thicker version. I would buy this again.”
Debra Lynn Dadd – March 5, 2015
Shepherd’s Dream – Chemical Sensitivities
Overview: Expensive conventional luxury-type mattresses widely available in local retail stores, carrying a CertiPur-US certification and reported as tolerated by a few Mold Avoiders members.
Positives: Widely available for trial in many retail stores. Established company. Little risk of mold due to chemicals used.
Negatives: Made of synthetic materials. Manufacturer not transparent about chemicals used. Mixed reports on tolerability from those with environmental sensitivities. Expensive. Negative reviews about durability problems such as sagging. Returns usually limited to exchanges (with a fee deducted).
Background: “Better sleep is why we invented the first Pocketed Coil spring back in 1925 and why we continue to pave the way with new mattress technologies today. Ever wonder who invented the king mattress? Yeah, we did that. Queen mattress, too. And the electric blanket. And the first no-flip mattress. How about the first hybrid mattress—you know, that power-couple combo of traditional innersprings and ultramodern memory foam? Yep, us again. Look, we’re not bragging, but innovation is part of our DNA—and has been since day one back in 1870. That’s because we think outside the mattress, so to speak. For us, it’s all about the science of better sleep—and that’s what leads to the latest mattress innovations.”
Origins: Company is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Products are designed in the U.S. and manufactured in one of 16 plants scattered around the country.
Purchasing: The company has a special line of mattresses sold only through Mattress Firm. Products listed on the company’s website are sold through many other stores.
Return Policy: Mattress Firm allows exchange for a different mattress sold by the store within 120 days of purchase for a flat fee. Other retailers may have different policies.
Fire Retardancy: From a 2007 press release: “Simmons Chairman and CEO Charlie Eitel said the company supports the CPSC’s move to enhance the safety of products in the bedroom. ‘A mattress is not the first thing to catch fire, however if flames spread to the bed, the risk of injury increases greatly,’ said Eitel. ‘An FR-compliant mattress may make it possible for consumers to have additional, precious minutes to escape in the event of fire. After evaluating literally hundreds of possible FR components, we feel that we have developed the safest, most effective barrier possible, without compromising the comfort and durability that are hallmarks of the Simmons brand.’ Simmons’ FR barrier, called SIMGARD, uses a proprietary blend of flame-resistant components that are non-toxic and recognized by the CPSC as being safe for consumers. The SIMGARD FR barrier includes as a component DuPont Kevlar brand aramid fiber. Kevlar fibers, which uniquely combine high strength with thermal protection, have been used in protective solutions for firefighters, first responders and the military for over 40 years.” A Simmons Beautyrest company representative recently stated in a telephone conversation that the company was continuing to use Kevlar – and was not using chemical fire retardants – in its mattresses.
Materials: Polyurethane foams, steel springs, various other materials and unspecified chemicals. Simmons Beautyrest mattresses with “DualCool Memory Foam” contain silver for the purposes of controlling microbial growth.
Warranty: Limited warranty, 1-25 years depending on the mattress.
Mold Response: “Mold is not covered under the warranty terms and conditions. The mattress should not be exposed to liquids, if you live in a high humidity area we suggest you use a mattress protector that suites your environment to protect the mattress from liquid or stains on the product.”
Consumer Reports: CR rated the Simmons Beautyrest Silver Golden Gate Pillowtop with a score of 75 (#10 of 59 innerspring mattresses tested); the Simmons Beautyrest Silver High Tide Luxury Firm Summit Pillowtop with a score of 75 (#13); the Simmons Beautyrest Silver Hybrid Grand Isle Firm with a score of 72 (#20); the Simmons Beautyrest Black Mariela with a score of 72 (#20); the Simmons Beautyrest Silver Navy Pier Pillowtop with a score of 71 (#23); the Simmons Beautyrest Legend McFarland with a score of 69 (#30); the Simmons Beautyrest Black Hybrid Gladney with a score of 67 (#34); and the Beautyrest Black Katarina Lux-Firm Pillowtop with a score of 59 (#47).
Simmons Beautyrest Silver Mattress. Innerspring or hybrid mattresses. Queen, $699-$1,999.
Simmons Beautyrest Platinum Mattress. Innerspring or hybrid mattresses. Queen, $1,299-2,999.
Simmons Beautyrest Black Mattress. Innerspring or hybrid mattresses. Queen, $1,799-3,499.
Products (Mattress Firm):
Simmons Beautyrest Black Memory Foam Mattresses. Polyurethane memory foam, innerspring, or hybrid mattresses. Queen, $497-4,699.
Mold Avoiders Reports:
Total Reports: 5 Positive, 1 Negative
Report #1: “I have a Simmons Beautyrest Black and like it. There was some off-gassing when it was new but I was still able to sleep on it.”
Report #2: “I called Simmons and asked them what they use for fire retardants. I have had decent (non-reactive) nights’ sleep on Simmons Beautyrest mattresses at hotels, assuming the hotel itself wasn’t moldy. They told me they use a Kevlar sleeve and don’t use chemical fire retardants. They are one of these companies that has different models for different markets/retailers so its hard to find out which exact mattress I did okay with. Their consumer line now has some models with ‘silver’ embedded in the fabric to help with microbial growth. I’m not sure if thats a good thing or not. The have a hotel line that is sold to the public, but I’m not sure if thats the exact same as ones sold to hotels. They make their mattresses to order, so presumably if it comes wrapped in plastic and their factory itself isn’t moldy it should be okay. They appear to have multiple factories in the USA.”
Report #3: “I bought a Simmons Beautyrest in 2009. I do ok on it now. I bought one with the least amount of pillow. It’s very firm innerspring. It developed a bit of nesting (dips) after the first year, but hasn’t affected the comfort for me. I do keep it in a fully zipped dust mite cover. The box springs from the Simmons had a strong smell when we first got them, wood or glue I think. It has died down over the years.”
Gimme the Good Stuff – February 16, 2018
Sleep Like the Dead – January 28, 2018
Debra Lynn Dodd – May 4, 2014
Kelly the Kitchen Kop – August 16, 2012
Businesswire – June 29, 2007
SLEEP ON LATEX
Overview: A line of highly-rated and affordable latex mattresses and latex mattress toppers, made in Chicago and containing only organic cotton, organic New Zealand wool, and high-quality 100% natural latex sourced from Sri Lanka.
Positives: Mattresses are moderately priced; toppers are economical choice. 100% natural. Mostly well-tolerated. Highly rated for comfort. Can customize firmness level. Good return policy. Highly rated by Consumer Reports.
Negatives: Latex could go moldy.
Background: “Sleep On Latex was founded by Karl Shevick as a one-man operation in 2013. Working in conjunction with a distributor of latex foam, Sleep On Latex began selling latex mattress toppers and pillows. Sales grew quickly but Karl soon came to a realization that he needed to combine the sales and shipping operations to ensure customer satisfaction. In the beginning of 2014, Karl acquired a small warehouse space and enlisted the help of his younger brother Ezra. In little more than a year, they would move into a factory 10x the size of their original warehouse. In 2014, Karl’s quest to find the best latex foam in the world led him to Sri Lanka, a small island nation located to the south of India. Sri Lanka has a long-standing natural latex foam industry that has grown around the availability of natural rubber trees on the island. Karl worked with a factory in Sri Lanka to develop and produce our signature Pure Green Latex Foam. We strongly believe that Pure Green Latex Foam is the best latex foam available in the world.”
Origins: Products are designed, sewn, assembled and packaged in the company’s Chicago factory.
Purchasing: Mail order only. Ships via Fed Ex within one business day.
Return Policy: Free returns within 30 days of receipt.
Fire Retardancy: “Wool has inherent fire-resistant properties and provides an effective fire barrier in our mattress. This allows the Pure Green Natural Latex Mattress to naturally comply with federal flammability regulations without the use of any fire retardant chemicals or barriers.”
Materials: “Made of 100% Natural Latex Foam, GOTS-Certified Organic Cotton and GOTS-Certified Organic New Zealand Wool, this mattress marks a new standard in Latex Mattresses. The main component of our mattresses is our Pure Green 100% natural latex foam. We work directly with our partners in Sri Lanka to bring you the highest-quality latex foam available. Pure Green latex foam contains absolutely no synthetic latex or fillers and is made through the energy-efficient Dunlop process. Our foam carries both Oeko-Tex and eco-Institut certifications. The 100% organic cotton knit fabric used in the cover is is GOTS-certified and features a very smooth, soft feel. It is stretchy but also very durable. When designing this mattress, we insisted on using only organic cotton fabric, which has a soft, cool surface that perfectly complements natural latex foam. We also use 100% organic cotton knit fabric for our quilt backing. This fabric is thin, flexible, strong and GOTS-certified. Our GOTS-Certified Organic New Zealand wool adds a thin layer of softness and comfort to the surface of the mattress. Combined with our cotton fabric, wool contributes to a breathable cover that keeps you cool while you sleep.”
Warranty: 10-year limited warranty against “sinkage” or “indentations” of one inch or more and against significant cracks or splits in the mattress.
Mold Response: “Latex is a mold resistant material and we do not usually have issues with our mattresses and mold. Unless the mattress is placed directly onto a wet surface, or moisture is somehow trapped underneath the mattress, we would not expect any mold growth with our mattress. If you were to run into this issue, you could reach out to us with pictures of the issue and we would do our best to help you from there. Given that this rarely occurs, we do take everything on a case by case basis.”
Certifications: Oeko-Tex, GreenGuard, eco-Institut.
Consumer Reports: CR gave the Sleep on Latex mattress a score of 81, meaning that it came in as #3 among the 49 latex mattresses without springs reviewed by the organization. They rated the mattress as very good for side sleepers and excellent for back sleepers.
Sleep on Latex Pure Green Latex Mattress. 100% natural latex foam, organic cotton, organic New Zealand wool. Choice of firmness and of thickness. Queen, $779-795.
Sleep on Latex Pure Green Latex Mattress Topper. 100% natural latex foam, organic cotton cover. Queen, $109-378.
Mold Avoiders Reports:
Total Reports – 12 Positive, 3 Negative
Report #1: “I have a Tuft & Needle and like it fine. I have moderate MCS and seemed to do OK with it but it definitely smelled like chemicals and needed to off-gas. Before the Tuft & Needle, I got a Sleep on Latex mattress online (very affordable for latex and wrapped in a nice wool cover). I got the extra soft version and it hurt my back (but I have horrible back issues)… thought about getting the medium firmness but can only return one mattress per year and I wasn’t sure it would be OK. They both have amazing ‘return’ (donate to an organization of your choice or get picked up by Got Junk) policies so I got a full refund for the latex mattress. Sleep on Latex did smell a little like a sheep at first… but it was fine for me.”
Report #2: “We have those mattress toppers from Sleep on Latex too, they are very comfortable but they still smell heavily of latex 4 or 5 months later if you are sensitive to smells. I aired mine out for a good few months before sleeping on it. They are cheap and uber comfy.”
Report #3: “I bought a Sleep On Latex mattress. It smelled so strongly of rubber that I could not keep it. I don’t think I have a latex allergy but my skin broke out, maybe because it can’t really breathe with latex. But I know other people love them.”
Report #4: “We have a Sleep on Latex mattress but are not happy with it. It seems fine when I am the only one in bed, but it turns to a weird mush when we are both there.”
Report #5: “Daily flipping of my natural latex topper didn’t keep it from getting moldy. I’ve been guarding my air quality like a watchdog for two years now since we got out of mold. I run dehumidifiers daily, I flip the bed daily, the IQ Air machines are going all night long (or whenever windows are closed). I spray and diffuse essential oils and probiotic spray on walls and beds etc. I wipe and mop and vacuum and clean everyday. This was on a slatted bed frame. I flipped it religiously every morning. Opened all five windows in the bedroom to air dry any possible humidity built up during sleep. Later in the day I close windows and turn on both dehumidifier and air filter to further dry and prevent possible cross contamination. Before bed I turn on essential oil diffuser and flip the bed back on the frame. I do this every day without fail. It’s one of my post-mold routines. Also my children are potty trained and I do not allow our cat in the bedroom. Nothing else has molded in the house so far (except for a lemon or leftover in the fridge). So it’s most definitely not a matter of living in a house contaminated with mold or moldy things. I’m convinced this was not due to ‘user error.’ Latex is prone to mold even if it’s natural latex. This one is from SleepOnLatex which I considered to be a very good clean company and was very satisfied with the service and quality.”
Kim Goodwin: “We’ve had very good luck with latex mattresses. We’ve bought three toppers from Sleep on Latex. When I was first getting out of mold, I did go through a latex-sensitivity period, and had to cover the topper. That sensitivity healed as I healed. Right now we are out of mold and in a good environment. We have one twin size for my husband for camping, and also his side of the bed. We are sleeping on a concrete floor, with one 3″ king size topper layer for both of us, and then my husband gets the extra twin 3″ for his side of the bed. We flip each side up after we wake, just to let it breathe. I did a lot of shopping around, and believe Sleep on Latex has the best prices. Also, I have MCS and tested latex on myself ahead of time. Right now we’re on the floor, on a 3″ latex topper, which is enough for me. On my husband’s side, he has an additional 2″ topper, twin size, that we also used for camping.”
Sara Riley Mattson (from the book Camp Like A Girl): “Healthy mattresses are really tough to find. Even the ones that say they are healthy are often still loaded with flame retardants. Yuck. I solved this by following the advice of my healthy home specialist friend, Kim Goodwin, and ordered latex toppers from the internet company, Sleep on Latex. I ordered a 3-inch firm topper and a 1-inch soft topper. Together they made a very nice, firm mattress. If you like a softer mattress, I’d suggest either adding a medium intermediate layer, or do 2-inches firm and 2-inches soft. There are many options, but we found that our bodies adjusted to this mattress rather quickly. I also ordered the organic cotton cover, and although it specified that it was for 3-inches maximum thickness, it did quite nicely with the four inches together. Two layers of mattress covers went on top of that, just to be safe, and with a minimum of expense, it’s a healthy, comfy bed! People with biotoxin illness, when presented with an environment which is less stressful to their systems, can often start detoxing years (or even decades) of toxins and toxicants. This means that beds can become saturated with toxins and a source of continued exposure over time. I put two mattress covers over my mattress to help prevent this. However, recovering from biotoxin illness requires a fierce commitment to remaining detached to belongings, and if I feel a layer of this mattress has gone ‘bad,’ I can easily toss it and replace it. For this reason, doing layers of toppers seems ideal to me. Each layer is fairly inexpensive. ”
Overview: Organic mattresses and futons with a good reputation among individuals with severe chemical sensitivities, made in Seattle using only high-quality organic cotton, organic latex, organic wool and steel springs.
Positives: Strong focus on high-quality organic materials. Established company. Apparently well-tolerated even by very sensitive individuals. Samples available for testing purposes.
Negatives: Expensive. Returns involve paying restocking fee and shipping charges. Mattresses need regular rotating and flipping. Mold growth is a possibility.
Background: “Each mattress, mattress topper, comforter, pillow, and pad we make is handcrafted with care from the finest organic and all natural ingredients we can find. Plus, with more than 30 years of craftsmanship behind us, you can rest assured that we stand behind everything we make. We’re proud that Soaring Heart is a little different from any other mattress store you’ll find. When others offer inventory sales and discounts we build to order. When others find new fabrics, less expensive fillers and new ways to comply with regulations we stick to the same all organic, toxin free materials that our customers rave about.”
Origins: Made in Seattle, Washington.
Purchasing: Purchases may be made through a small group of retailers or via the company website. Mattresses are typically delivered within 10 days.
Return Policy: “Soaring Heart Natural Beds’ 30 Day Comfort Guarantee is an exchange program, not a return policy. You have 30 days from time of delivery to modify your mattress into a more suitable sleep system of equivalent or lesser value. Modifying your sleep system above the value of original purchase will incur additional cost of materials. 30 Day Comfort Guarantee is contingent upon the purchase of a Soaring Heart Mattress Pad in order to protect the mattress. Any stains or damage to mattress voids the 30 Day Comfort Guarantee. Fees will apply for any additional materials or restocking. Returned products are subject to a 30% restocking fee. Customer is responsible for shipping charges on all returned items.”
Fire Retardancy: “Soaring Heart avoids synthetics and makes sure all of our materials are natural, organic, and grown responsibly—no synthetics, no chemicals. Because it turns to ash when exposed to flame, wool cannot ignite and therefore requires no fire retardant. Incorporating wool as the outer layer of any bed we build makes that bed more fire-resistant as well.”
Other Materials: “We source our wool from small family ranchers in New Zealand. We use a special blend of wool from 8 different breeds and then make sure all the washing, processing and handling meets exacting standards for purity. We are pleased to use certified organic wool in all our products and make sure members of our team have the time to visit the mill, help out with sheep shearing, and understand all the steps from the ranch to your bed. Our USDA certified organic cotton batting comes from the Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Coop (TOCMC) and is grown by a select group of farmers who are committed to growing cotton without synthetic fertilizers, chemical pesticides or harmful bleaching. Our organic fabrics come from suppliers around the world who certify their products and stand behind these guarantees. Our GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard) certified Dunlap processed latex comes from Sri Lanka and you can watch every step of their manufacturing process right here. Sleep Comp West/Latexco is our US supplier and certifier of all our latex.”
Warranty: 20 year limited warranty on latex and innerspring mattresses.
Mold Statement: “Mold and mildew—mold, in particular—have the potential to cause a number of health problems and can affect each person differently. Allergic reactions are most common, but mold can also cause asthma attacks and severe illness in sensitive individuals. Mold or mildew can grow in a bed if that bed does not have proper aeration, thus leading to moisture accumulation. To make sure your mattress is properly aerated, keep mattress on a slatted frame or foundation. Slats allow air to flow underneath the mattress, reducing condensation and allowing any moisture to evaporate. Using a Soaring Heart Mattress Pad will also reduce any moisture buildup. Unfortunately, once mold or mildew is present, it’s often too late to fix. However; if there’s just a trace of mildew or mold starting to appear, there are several steps you can take to try to save your bed. Click here for some tips on removing mold or mildew.”
Certifications: USDA Certified Organic Wool, Cotton and Latex; Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS); Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS); Oregon Tilth Organic Certified Wool; other certifications.
Soaring Heart Balsa Mattress. 6″ organic Dunlop latex core with organic cotton and organic wool zippered encasement. Queen, $1,574.
Soaring Heart Organic Latex Mattress. A single 6″ deep piece of organic Dunlop latex. Queen, $2,519.
Soaring Heart Zoned Organic Latex Mattress. Organic Dunlop latex core with organic cotton/organic wool encasement. Queen, $3,255.
Soaring Heart Organic Innerspring Mattress. Organic cotton, organic wool, interlocking coil innerspring. Queen, $4,999.
Soaring Heart Organic Cotton and Wool Shikibuton. Organic cotton, organic wool. Queen, $1,049.
Soaring Heart Organic Latex Shikibuton. Organic Dunlop latex wrapped in organic cotton and organic wool. Queen, $1,574.
Soaring Heart Organic Cotton and Wool Futon. Organic cotton, organic wool. Queen, $1,679.
Soaring Heart Organic Cotton Latex and Wool Futon. Organic cotton, organic wool, organic Dunlop latex. Queen, $2,099.
Mold Avoiders Reports:
Total Reports: 3 Positive, 0 Negative
Report #1: “We have had six Soaring Heart beds over the years. I now have severe MCS and could sleep on their organic bedroll the day after it was delivered. I would highly recommend their beds, great customer service.”
Report #2: “I have a Soaring Heart latex mattress on top of a solid cherry and maple platform bed with slats on 13″ legs that let air in under the bed. Everything is organic and certified. It’s really great.”
Report #3: “I have a cotton tight-weave dustmite protector on my latex mattress, which is on a simple slatted frame with legs. I’ve never had a mold problem despite living in a humid place with no air conditioning. I only flip it once every 3 months and my husband sweats a lot. This is a Soaring Heart latex mattress.”
Awards & Recommendations:
Gimme The Good Stuff, “The Best Stuff Mattresses”
THE FUTON SHOP
Overview: An established company offering moderately priced organic or all-natural futon-style mattresses made in San Francisco, unfortunately reported as having had some particularly problematic mold contamination issues.
Positives: All organic and natural products. Established history. Moderate prices. Good experiences in the past reported by some Mold Avoiders members.
Negatives: Reports from Mold Avoiders members of mattresses contaminated with particularly problematic mold without being able to be returned. No returns in general. Exchanges only on more expensive mattresses within 30 days.
Background: “Our founder Suzanne Diamond with a commitment to her chemical free lifestyle started designing healthy non-toxic futon mattresses. From 1976 to today we have continued that commitment using eco-friendly ingredients to create healthy non-toxic furniture for all. The Futon Shop brand continues to evolve manufacturing their products with an increased emphasis on craftsmanship and high quality chemical-free materials. From our manufacturing floor in San Francisco to our stores throughout the state our end goal remains consistent, to empower our customers and our community. Assisting them to live a comfortable and healthy life in their homes.”
Origins: Made in San Francisco.
Purchasing: Operates a chain of stores in California. Products also may be purchased through a number of other partner stores. Sells through Internet to 48 U.S. states. Orders generally are received within three weeks of purchase.
Return Policy: 30-day comfort guarantee to exchange mattress only on futon mattresses of $459 or more. No returns.
Fire Retardancy: “The Futon Shop’s handmade mattresses and cushions for our sofa and sofa beds made in San Francisco contain no fire retardants in our foam, memory foam, memory gels, latex and wool. To ensure we pass Federal and state flammability laws for mattresses and cushions we use virgin wool as a natural fire retardant or natural Borax in our cotton. We can eliminate the Borax, with a physician’s note.”
Other Materials: “Our futon mattresses and sofa cushions are made from natural and organic cotton, fire retardant free soybean based foams, fire retardant free memory foam, memory gels, fire retardant free natural latex, fire retardant free virgin wool, coils and fabrics. Organic cotton is shipped to our San Francisco factory from farmers throughout the United States. Naturalux Latex is extracted from the tropical rubber tree in a way that is similar to tapping a maple tree for syrup. Our unique Dunlop Process for manufacturing creates high density foam natural latex futon cores in a way that preserves the natural characteristics of latex. Virgin wool is shipped to our San Francisco factory from American sheep farmers. Viscose memory foam is a premium, high density, memory foam, manufactured using the exclusive, patented Variable Pressure Foaming SM (VPF) process. VPF manufacturing means our soybased memory foam outperforms existing memory foam products in consistency, quality and shape-conforming comfort, allowing you to create mattresses and pillows that offer the ultimate individualized sleep experience. VPF is virtually emissions free—just one more reason you’ll sleep better on our futon mattress made with soybased memory foam.”
Warranty: Limited warranty on seams, tacking and zippers for seven years.
Mold Response: No response.
Certifications: USDA Organic (cotton); Oeko-Tek (wool, coconut coir); CertiPur-US (soybean foam); EcoLatex (organic latex)
Here is a selection of some of the options offered. Mattresses are usually heavily discounted on the website (such as 50-65%) compared to the regular prices.
The Futon Shop Organic Cotton Mattress (Medium Firm). 100% organic cotton with sodium borate fire retardant (which may be omitted with a doctor’s prescription). Queen, $970. (Recent sale price: $485.)
The Futon Shop Pure Comfort Mattress (Medium Firm). Virgin wool, organic cotton, 4″ pocketed micro coils. Queen, $1,740. (Recent sale price: $609.)
The Futon Shop Teddy Bear Mattress (Soft). Natural wool, organic cotton cover. Queen, $2,010. (Recent sale price: $703.)
The Futon Shop Comfort Rest Mattress (Firm). Virgin wool, organic cotton, natural Dunlop latex core. $2,240. (Recent sale price: $784.)
The Futon Shop Eco Pure Mattress (Medium Firm). Virgin wool, organic cotton, natural Dunlop latex core. $2,240. (Recent sale price: $784.)
The Futon Shop Eco Support Mattress (Medium Firm). Virgin wool, natural Dunlop latex core, microcoils, organic cotton. $2,300. (Recent sale price: $805.)
The Futon Shop Nova Mattress (Soft/Medium/Firm). Organic wool, organic cotton, organic Dunlop latex core. Queen, $2,740. (Recent sale price: $959.)
The Futon Shop Eco Wool Mattress (Soft/Medium/Firm). Organic wool, organic Dunlop latex core, 4″ pocketed microcoils, organic cotton, organic wool. Queen, $2,900. (Recent sale price: $1,015.)
The Futon Shop Cocorest Mattress (Extra Firm). Virgin wool, Dunlop latex core, organic coco latex core, organic cotton. Queen, $3090. (Recent sale price: $1,081.)
The Futon Shop Serenity Plus Mattress (Firm). Virgin wool, organic cotton, Dunlop latex core. Queen, $3730. (Recent sale price: $1,305.)
The Futon Shop 8″ Organic Wool Mattress (Soft). 100% organic wool, organic cotton cover. $4,280. (Recent sale price: $1,498.)
Mold Avoiders Reports:
Total Reports: 6 Positive, 3 Negative
Report #1: “I’m happy with my Futon Shop mattress. It’s all organic cotton and wool with metal springs. No chemicals. I have the Pure Comfort model and I love it. Around $500.”
Report #2: “The Futon Shop has great organic cotton futons for under $400.00 and Organic Grace has the cheapest latex and organic wool beds I have found. We own both and I love them.”
Report #3: “I got The Futon Shop’s Pure Comfort organic futon mattress for $500, and it is more comfortable than my 3k organic latex mattress was.”
Report #4: “I have an organic wool futon mattress from The Futon Shop. I would only recommend it for those who like an extremely firm sleeping surface and can handle a very, very heavy mattress. I would purchase it again to use as a sofa, but not as a sleeping mattress.”
Report #5: “The Futon Shop has a a variety of choices.. wool, latex, coconut, foam, combination of these. Not cheap, I bought when they were having 60% off sale. I chose their mattress because of their natural products, no outgassing to worry about. They meet fire retardant state requirements by using materials that are naturally so, such as wool.”
Report #6: “My mattress from The Futon Shop was contaminated with Stachy. John Banta [a well-known mold professional] did a vacuum sample from it. My husband insisted. An organic mattress with no fire retardants and a wool wrapper, purchased in Palo Alto in 2013. They said that there was no way to prove whether it was from them or whether it was cross-contaminated, but we had it tested when it was brand-new. They refused to take it back.”
Report #7: “Be careful with The Futon Shop. I think that my organic cotton futon from The Futon Shop was moldy as ****. I immediately started coughing etc. It was ordered online and shipped to me, no chemicals, doctor’s note, organic, organic cotton cover, no wool, in 2015 or 2016. Based on my reaction, I assume it had Stachy. It also smelled like pepper, but that’s a different issue. We tossed it and moved on. It was a hectic time and not worth the effort to try to return it.”
Report #8 (May 2018): “I bought an all-wool mattress from The Futon Shop about two months ago. It only has a faint wool smell. I have had no reactions to it.”
Report #9 (September 2018): “We bought a mattress from The Futon Shop, but we were having reactions to it and just threw it away. I wonder when in all of this my family will stop having to learn everything the hard and most expensive way. Here are the subtle reactions my family was having and almost immediately resolved when we got the futon out of our apartment. Mine: severely depressed (suicidal thoughts like “My family would be better off without me”), super-sad, extremely angry, every little thing overwhelmed me, lower back pain (I get this when my body is detoxing), super-anxious about everything, severely brain fogged, can’t make simple decisions. Daughter #1 (11 years old): extreme pre-teen attitude. Daughter #2 (7 years old): angry, frumpy, no motivation, not her usual happy bubbly self. Daughter #3 (3 years old): super-angry toddler, eczema flared up on her legs again (has not been bad since we moved into new apartment, but flared up again when we brought futon into safe apartment). All of these symptoms resolved within just a few hours of throwing out our newly purchased $1300 futon from The Futon Shop.”
TUFT & NEEDLE
Overview: A much less expensive and also possibly less toxic alternative to conventional mattresses is offered by this very successful company, which pioneered the concept of shipping polyurethane foam mattresses without springs in boxes to customers’ homes.
Positives: Moderately priced. Many positive reports from Mold Avoiders members on tolerability and overall satisfaction. Good return policy. Large company with mostly good reputation.
Negatives: Not a non-toxic product. One report of mattress going moldy – specifically excluded from product warranty. May not be comfortable, especially for those with pain issues.
Background: “JT had just gotten married and he and his wife set out to buy their first piece of furniture together–a new mattress. The search began at local mattress showrooms; vast fields of mattresses neatly laid out under the buzz of fluorescent lights. Pushy salesmen pushed them to buy a fully loaded, feature-rich memory foam mattress. For $3,500 it should have been the pinnacle of comfort, but it wasn’t. To make matters worse, the return policy rendered it impossible to return. It was like car shopping. Actually it was worse than car shopping. At work the next day, he shared his story with Daehee. The two friends from college had been working together at a company in Palo Alto, and unsurprisingly had similar experiences. There was work to be done. We believe that business can be honest and premium products don’t need to cost you an arm and a leg. Especially not mattresses.”
Origins: Fabric is from a “a 90-year-old, family-owned textile mill in the Carolinas.” Foam is “freshly poured and cut here in the United States.” Finally, “we put the finishing touches in Southern California, compress the mattress for efficient delivery and send straight to you.”
Purchasing: Stores in Arizona and in Seattle. Primarily mail order. Arrives in 1-5 business days.
Return Policy (Website Purchases): Refunds for 100 days after purchase. Mattresses do not need to be returned to company.
Return Policy (Amazon Purchases): Amazon’s standard 30-day return policy for refunds seems to apply. “To start a return for your mattress, give Amazon Customer Service a call at (866) 423-5353 from the phone number you have on your account or that is associated with your order if possible. Please be sure to ask for the Special Handling Department, as they are better able to help with mattress returns than the general customer service team. The Amazon Special Handling Department will take care of the return and refund process as well as provide help and suggestions for the mattress removal. Returns through Special Handling do not require you to ship the mattress back to Amazon.”
Fire Retardancy: “Our mattress also includes a chemical-free, TB-117 compliant fire barrier. It’s a fabric blend that fits on the mattress like a sock, underneath the cover, and is comprised of a blend of mostly rayon, with small amounts of polyester and fine-grained silica. The silica is inserted into the fiber and does not make contact with the skin.”
Materials: “Our Mattress is comprised of 2 layers of high-density high-quality polyurethane foam. It’s a synthetic petroleum-based foam that has undergone a rigorous certification by a third party organization called CertiPur-US. They have certified our foam to be free from known harmful chemicals and carcinogens, PBDEs, heavy metals, phthalates, and formaldehyde. Our mattress has a 7-inch support layer on the bottom that helps keep your spine and neck properly aligned. The top comfort layer is 3 inches of Tuft & Needle Adaptive Foam, a proprietary foam unique to T&N alone, which provides pressure relief and support without feeling like you’re sinking in and getting trapped. It’s also infused with a cooling gel and graphite to help you sleep cool. The two foam layers are glued together by a rubber and water mixture, similar to the glue used in shoes. This glue layer does not come into contact with the skin. It is certified by Green Guard for safety concerns. The mattress cover is a high-performance tactel fabric which is a soft, breathable blend of rayon and polyester. It is tested and certified by Oeko-Tex to be free from chemical residues, phthalates, and heavy metals.”
Warranty: Limited 10-year warranty against defective materials or workmanship. Specifically excludes “dampness or mold.”
Mold Response: “We definitely understand that mold is a significant health concern. Our warranty doesn’t cover mold. As a result, we work to avoid the problem. While we don’t use any fungicides on our mattress, there are steps that can help reduce the risk of mold growth and maximize the breathability of our mattress. First, you’ll want to make sure your mattress isn’t tucked against a wall or enclosed in a frame that is similar to a waterbed frame. Our mattress is open-celled so keeping all sides of the mattress exposed to the air will help air circulate through the mattress. You’ll also want to avoid using unsealed plywood or place the mattress on natural fiber rugs. As the air moves through the mattress, condensation can occur. This moisture will naturally move toward the bottom of the mattress. Because of this, we add a spacer fabric to the underside of the mattress exclusively to help prevent moisture build up. While this helps to prevent problems when the mattress is on a platform or solid surface, plywood and natural fabrics are absorbent. Over time, this release of moisture can be soaked into the plywood or fabrics like a sponge. If you need to use plywood, we recommend sealing it against moisture or tipping the mattress on its edge once a week or so in order to allow it time to dry out. I also want to mention, as I’m sure you know, that environment will also play a large part. A moist environment, such as the Northwest or tropical Florida, can result in evaporation and the drying out process take longer while more arid areas like the Southwest, with a low humidity, would have less of a problem.”
Certifications: GreenGuard Gold, Oeko-Tex, CertiPur-US.
Consumer Reports: CR gave the Tuft & Needle mattress a score of 74, meaning that it came in as #13 among the 49 latex mattresses without springs reviewed by the organization. They rated the mattress as good for side sleepers but potentially problematic for back sleepers.
Tuft & Needle Mattress. Greenguard certified polyurethane foam, rubber, graphite, gel, rayon, polyester, silica. Queen, $575.
Tuft & Needle Mint Mattress. Greenguard certified polyurethane foam, rubber, graphite, gel, rayon, polyester, silica. Queen, $895.
Tuft & Needle Mattress. Greenguard certified polyurethane foam, rubber, graphite, gel, rayon, polyester, silica. Queen, $575.
Mold Avoiders Reports:
Total Reports – 14 Positive, 3 Negative
Report #1: “I love my Tuft & Needle mattress, only one I didn’t react to after trying latex, ones from Ikea, etc. Tuft & Needle mattresses don’t need box springs, they can just go on slats, I’m pretty sure.”
Report #2: “My Tuft & Needle took about a week to off-gas but now it feels fine. It was the least toxic mattress I could find in my price range and as a bonus it’s pretty comfortable.”
Report #3: “We ordered it. We didn’t like it. Although it’s a safer option–in our opinion, it’s too soft. Akin to Momma Bear’s bed, in Goldilocks and the Three Bears. ‘Momma Bears bed was too soft.’ That’s the Tuft & Needle mattress.”
Report #4: “I live in the Phoenix area and I did go to their show room and the bed is very comfortable and they do a no questions asked donate. They were really good about things.”
Report #5: “I bought a Tuft & Needle mattress from Amazon and was pleased. Reacted horribly to other mattresses in a mattress store, thus the Amazon order of Tuft & Needle. It was comfortable and did not off-gas much.”
Report #6: “I’m on my second Tuft & Needle mattress and it is easily the most comfortable affordable mattress I have ever had. That being said, now that we are out of mold and in a new place I have MCS and may have mast cell issues -I’m having trouble with our new one. I never noticed the off-gassing in the first one and I was fairly sensitive back then, but now that I’m hyper sensitive (and a stomach sleeper) I’m having trouble. Its been a few months now and its not terrible if I make myself sleep on my back. I really wonder if there is any new mattress that would work for me though. If you are not hyper sensitive I think it will be fine but if you are then keep looking. FYI, we had a platform bed and didn’t need a boxspring.”
Report #7: “I have the Tuft & Needle mattress and it is very comfortable. I actually really like it! I am using it in my tent. (Even after throwing away my Tempurpedic contaminated mattress and sleeping on an air mattress.) I have an Avocado Green pillow and I really like that too! I would consider the Avocado mattress if I had a safe home to use it in, but for now the economical Tuft & Needle is great.”
Report #8: “We had a Tuft & Needle ones and none of us liked it. We replaced it with a Saatva and we all love them!!! Our Tuft & Needle mattresses didn’t feel like real beds, the support on the edge was terrible and both my husband and myself had bad back pain on them. The Saatva mattresses are amazing!”
Report #9: “We bought a full size My Green Mattress and a Tuft & Needle after we moved out of our mold problem and into an apartment. We like them both and noticed a little off-gassing only for a couple hours. I think they’re both comfortable.”
Report #10: “I have a Tuft & Needle and like it fine. I have moderate MCS and seemed to do OK with it but it definitely smelled like chemicals and needed to off-gas.”
Report #11: “My son likes his Tuft & Needle but needed their topper for more comfort. They have a great return policy.”
Report #12: “I got this mattress. I love it.”
Report #13: “When we replaced our mattresses after leaving mold, we purchased Tuft & Needle (three of them) and have LOVED them!!!”
Report #14: “My Tuft & Needle mattress – bought after I was already avoiding mold – went moldy. I was so disappointed. Now I am scared of mattresses and am sleeping on a camping cot again.”
Sleep Like the Dead – November 27, 2017
Debra Lynn Dadd – August 14, 2017
Overview: A line of very inexpensive bed-in-a-box mattresses (including the #1 best-selling mattress sold on Amazon – the “Green Tea”) with apparently moderately low levels of chemical toxicity, but made in China and with many reports of mold or mildew problems.
Positives: Some Mold Avoiders members and many Amazon customers have done well with these mattresses, suggesting that the mold issues likely affect only a segment of mattresses rather than all of them. Very inexpensive. High user satisfaction other than the reported mold issues. Apparently moderately low in chemical toxicity and fairly well-tolerated by sensitized people when the mold issue is not present.
Negatives: Numerous reports on Amazon and elsewhere of mold/mildew smell, visible mold growth, and illness symptoms resulting from mold exposure. Some reports suggest that returns to the company may not be easy. Returns to Amazon are reported to require sending back the mattress (which may be challenging after it has been removed from the box) rather than donating it to charity or throwing it out. Short warranty period that specifically excludes mold/mildew resulting from “accident or neglect.”
Background: A line of inexpensive memory-foam mattresses, made in China and shipped to consumers in boxes.
Origins: The product is designed in South Korea and manufactured in Xiamen, China.
Purchasing: Purchases may be made via the company’s website or through other retailers such as Amazon or Walmart. Mattresses are delivered to consumers in compressed form through UPS, USPS or other carriers.
Return Policy: “If you purchased the mattress right here on our site, we give you 100 days to thoroughly test your new Zinus product in the comfort of your own home. For decompressed mattresses and/or toppers, please reach out to us for special refund instructions. If you purchased your mattress at any of our partner sites, then house rules apply and your return window and conditions are defined by that specific retailer.” (Note that some reviews suggest that Amazon seems to want the mattress to be returned to them in order to process a refund and that this can be difficult once it has been removed from the box and expanded into its full size.)
Fire Retardancy: “We know there are so many chemicals in fire retardants, so we’ve created a chemical-free fire barrier in every mattress. So you can sleep without nightmares of fires or weird fire-stopping chemicals.”
Other Materials: “We designed our memory foam, known as BioFoam, with natural ingredients like green tea extract, castor natural seed oil and all-natural charcoal to help absorb moisture and keep your mattress smelling fresh.”
Warranty: Five year limited warranty. “This warranty is void if the product is found to have been tampered with or misused by the purchaser beyond reasonable wear, and shall not apply if the product has been physically damaged intentionally or due to accident and/or neglect; including burns, cuts, water damage, mold, stains, or is otherwise abnormally soiled or unsanitary. If a heating pad or electric blanket is used with a memory foam mattress, it will void this warranty.”
Mold Response: “Our mattresses are low maintenance. They only need a flat surface like a platform bed frame or the floor – but we do recommend a foundation to provide the mattress extra support. This includes a traditional box spring or a slatted bed frame—just as long as the resting area is flat and secure. Note that you can pair any of our mattresses with any of our bases, bed frames, or box springs. Flipping your mattress might result in all your dreams being upside down, so we can’t recommend it. Our mattresses aren’t designed to be flipped, so doing so should be avoided. Rotating your mattress is not required, but won’t affect the performance of your mattress in any way. Mold comes from moisture build up. So as long as you do not have plastic underneath or keep somewhat ventilated, that should not be a problem. Your warranty covers manufacturing defects, mold is not something that is a manufacturing defect.”
Zinus Memory Foam Mattresses. Polyurethane memory foam, other materials. Queen, $150-334.
Zinus Spring Mattresses. Polyurethane memory foam, steel springs, other materials. Queen, $294-337.
Zinus Slumber 1 Mattresses. Polyurethane memory foam, steel springs, other materials. Queen, $166.
Zinus Mattresses. Polyurethane memory foam, other materials. $189-370.
Slumber 1 Mattresses. Polyurethane memory foam, steel springs, other materials. Queen, $139-264.
Mold Avoiders Reports:
Total Reports: 5 Positive, 2 Negative
Report #1: “I just ordered a mattress from Amazon that had a couple of reviews were people said there was not much off-gassing. While it arrived last week and it is still in a spare room, it seems to be okay. I ordered the Zinus Foam Green Tea mattress. Although it says green tea in the name and that gave me some concern because of MCS, there were two reviews that said there was little-to-no off-gassing. The mattress does come with an insert that says it will off-gas for a day or two. The green tea bit seems to be an advertising gimmick only, there seems to be nothing green tea related about it. LOL. I can say that right out of the box it had no adverse effects (off-gassy or mold smell), although after leaving it in the guest room for a couple of days with all the windows closed I could detect a small amount of off-gassing. I presumed this would be so and so have left it for at least a week rather than use it in the master bedroom. I had researched Tuft & Needle and it seemed that they were controlling their reviews, as some people off of Amazon and off of the Tuft & Needle website had bad reviews. The mattress I chose is also entirely foam and may not provide good long-term support, which was less of a concern to me then off-gassing or toxicity. This one also came in at a lower price point.”
Report #2: “We have bought Zinus extra firm mattress in the past for one of our guests and my husband says he did not smell any gassing-off. My one doubt is that on Amazon they do not clearly say ‘low-VOC’ for all their models, but all their mattresses are with CertiPUR certified foam described above.”
Report #3: “Bought the Zinus from Amazon based on some of these comments, because I didn’t want to spend big bucks on a new mattress until I knew definitively that I didn’t bring any mold with me. I have to say it’s quite comfortable. Am I reacting to it? Hard to say, since almost everything I have is new. Feeling ok at the moment, not waking up with a headache.”
Report #4: “The Slumber 1 [made by Zinus] is the unbelievably cheap mattress I bought at Walmart. Granted I have no idea if anything other than a twin size is comfortable. As from my past experiences with mattresses, the larger the diameter, the greater the ‘sag’ factor comes into play. However, I bought this mattress because it was cheap enough where I wouldn’t feel terrible if it didn’t work.”
Report #5: “Buyer beware!!! Many of us have purchased mattresses from Zinus and it appears they have continued to ship however they have closed down their phones and customer service department. (This info is from a friend of mine in another group.) We actually received a moldy mattress a month ago. “
Report #6 (September 2018): “I bought a Zinus Green Tea and it was terribly moldy. Now I am worried about foam in general even if it is ‘safe’ foam.”
ADDITIONAL POSITIVE REPORTS
Following are reports on some additional mattresses reported by at least one Mold Avoiders group member as having provided a positive experience.
I have found statements from the following companies that they do not include fire-retardant chemicals in their mattresses: Abaca Organic, Brooklyn Bedding, Casper, Charles P. Rogers, Cotton Cloud, European Sleep Works, Flobeds, Heart of Vermont, Lifekind, Organic Grace, Pure Rest, Rest Assured, Savvy Rest, Sleep Essentials, The East Coast Organic Mattress Store.
Mattresses from Stella Rubino and The Bed Boss are stated as having CertiPur-US certification. Apparently this means that the foams in these mattresses do not include some of the fire retardants considered to be most harmful but possibly may contain others. In addition, since the CertiPur-US certification refers only to the foams, mattresses with this certification may be surrounded with a barrier cloth containing any kind of fire retardants.
(Note that the Stella Rubino mattress is made in Italy and sold mostly outside the U.S. in countries where fire retardancy is not required. The Mold Avoiders member reporting a positive experience with this mattress was from Australia.)
I have not been able to find any statements about the use of fire retardant chemicals from Southern Mattress, Lightspeed, Sleep Number or Aerobed. (To my understanding air mattresses do not ever need chemicals in order to pass the open flame test, however.)
Total Reports: 1 Positive, 0 Negative
Giles Meehan: “This company is in the UK and I purchased an all-wool mattress from them. They’re even more expensive now than 5 years ago (I guess inflation does that?!) but it’s a great mattress, and I’ve slept so well, chemical-free.”
Total Reports: 4 Positive, 1 Negative
Report #1: “We couldn’t sleep in the bedroom at first when we got our Aerobed vinyl blow up bed. It had a horrible odor and we couldn’t sleep on it until I ozoned it.”
THE BED BOSS
Total Reports: 1 Positive, 0 Negative
Report #1: “After sleeping on air mattresses for a year we finally purchased a bed three months ago called Bed Boss. We happen to find this brand by accident (at a local furniture store) and absolutely love it. We have the Visco Crown PT model.”
Total Reports: 2 Positive, 0 Negative
Report #1: “After reading the Mattress Underground I got a Brooklyn Bedding mattress. Very pleased.”
Total Reports: 1 Positive, 1 Negative
Report #1: “Casper is pretty good — a little too firm, but good otherwise. I’d be happier with a latex topper but I’m not willing to buy one yet.”
Report #2: “My mom ordered a Casper mattress and it off-gassed worse than a regular bed. She does not have MCS but could not stand the chemical stink. I encountered it after weeks of off-gassing and can confirm it was pretty bad. Her entire bedroom smelled. She had to return it.”
CHARLES P. ROGERS
Total Reports: 1 Positive, 0 Negative
Report #1: “We purchased a bed from Charles P. Rogers. Each one is hand made with no chemicals at all. It was made in New York and shipped to California. It was rated #1 in the Consumer Report article last year.”
Total Reports: 1 Positive, 0 Negative
Report #1: “Cotton Cloud company here in Portland has organic wool/cotton mattresses for very reasonable prices.”
EUROPEAN SLEEP WORKS
Total Reports: 1 Positive, 0 Negative
Total Reports: 1 Positive, 0 Negative
HEART OF VERMONT
Total Reports: 1 Positive, 0 Negative
Report #1: “For chem-intolerant: FYI re organic futons. (1) organic all-cotton tend to be ‘harder’ futon mattress; (2) wool ‘wrap’ adds softness in addition to fire-resistant. (3) you can custom order differing thicknesses & sizes; (4) personally, I found the 4″ thick to be too thin/hard; but the 6-8″ thick to me are wonderful sleeping mattress on a ‘slat’ platform frame–in fact, I like it better than my innerspring organic cotton/wool mattress. (5) disadvantage of organic futon mattress = usually NOT returnable because they’re hand made & they become contaminated by body fumes or house fumes of the buyer. So buying from reputable company is important. My source: Heart of Vermont.”
Total Reports: 1 Positive, 0 Negative
Report #1: “I love Lifekind mattresses. I buy the least expensive and their most popular Euro. They are organic, and they ozone their factory every night. Lifekind’s latex mattresses are made with only natural rubber-tree latex, which instantly conforms to each unique contour of your body for exceptional support and pressure relief. Latex mattresses are proven to provide 30% more pressure relief and contouring support than memory foam. You will awake feeling refreshed and renewed. Our natural rubber latex mattresses are also exceptionally durable and resilient. Our latex mattresses are certified to GOLS, the Global Organic Latex Standard.’ I only buy the ‘firm.’ The others are too soft, felt like a hammock. You can always soften them with a wool mattress pad. If you buy a mattress and you are uncomfortable with it, they will exchange it for you. Lifekind has a sale the first of every year, that’s the best time to buy. But you can always call them and ask them when their best price will be. They will be honest with you. It’s a small company and I often catch the same two or three ladies on the phone. Oh, and often there is free shipping.”
Awards & Recommendations:
Non-Toxic Reboot, “2018 Recommended Mattress”
Gimme The Good Stuff, “The Best Stuff Mattresses”
Total Reports: 1 Positive, 0 Negative
Report #1: “I can add a plug for Lightspeed non-PVC air mattress. It might have flame retardants but at least none of the nasty plastic fumes.”
Total Reports: 1 Positive, 0 Negative
Report #1: “The Futon Shop has great organic cotton futons for under $400.00 and Organic Grace has the cheapest latex and organic wool beds I have found. We own both and I love them.”
Total Reports: 1 Positive, 0 Negative
Report #1: “We bought an organic cotton and wool mattress with a wool topper from Organicpedic. The topper prevents moisture from getting to the mattress. It’s been four years with no issues.”
Total Reports: 1 Positive, 0 Negative
Total Reports: 1 Positive, 0 Negative
Report #1: “This company is in Rochester, MN. I bought a mattress about 2 years ago. The factory is attached to the showroom. They make all the mattresses right there. They are happy to give anyone a tour of every step of assembly. It felt good to me when I was there at that time. Wonderful mattress as well.”
Total Reports: 2 Positive, 1 Negative
Report #1: “We were really pleased with the Savvy Rest organic Dunlop latex mattress we bought after we first moved out of the mold to our first apartment. It didn’t give me any trouble at all with the chemical sensitivity, even when I was at my most reactive. The only thing that I would encourage is to make sure you are well advanced in your mold avoidance before spending that much money (over $3000 in our case) on something so easily contaminated. It cost us a little over $1500 to learn that little lesson. I feel like we got off relatively easy because we learned fast and were able to sell it soon after we got it. Now we have a couple of sleeping pads from REI, which is fine.”
Report #2: “I loved my Savvy Rest organic latex. I was worried because I have mild latex skin sensitivity. However, it comes as 3 layers that are zipped into an organic cotton bag, with an organic cotton quilted cover that lays flat on top and ties under the corners, and I had no apparent latex problems. It never went moldy. I did make it smell bad by erroneously leaving the latex layers out in the hot sun for a few hours. Now I know better. It smelled like burnt popcorn from the sun/heat for a very long time. I had to leave it in my garage and that’s not super clean, so I eventually sold it. It was so sad to lose it and only get like 10% of my purchase price. It never had visible mold or mold smell.”
Report #3: “I spent a lot of money on a Savvy Rest latex mattress. It came in parts and I had to put it together. It turns out the latex wasn’t cured properly. I developed a severe latex allergy after two weeks of use. It’s really too bad, because it was very comfy.”
Awards & Recommendations:
Gimme The Good Stuff, “The Good Stuff Mattresses”
Total Reports: 1 Positive, 1 Negative
Report #1: “After a ton of research, I found a mattress company here in Richmond, VA that does that and got one. It was expensive and it weighs a ton and I don’t know how I will ever move it because it is several separate layers without structure (floppy), but it has really helped my aches and pains. And I know I am not breathing in chemicals 8 hrs a day.”
Total Reports: 2 Positive, 3 Negative
Report #1 (2016): “If you have a Sleep Number bed, I want to share this information. I have two and I love them. However, two weeks ago I was taking our bed apart, moving some things and when I pulled back the foam that is between the top of the mattress (the part that zippers) and the ‘chambers.’ They were literally covered in mold. I was horrified and scared. I googled it and found the following article. I called Sleep Number and they sent me to their ‘allergy department’ and then read something scripted about how it isn’t ‘toxic’ and they would send me everything new (chambers and foam pieces). The rep stated that they changed the foam in 2004 and added an anti-microbial and that it is ‘only from sweating.’ At the time I wanted it gone and threw it all away and then regretted not keeping it as I then found the Mold Inspector. So, two nights ago I decide to check on the other bed (we had been on vacation so I didn’t do it right away) and again there was mold. This bed was bought in 2005 (per their records) and I was put in contact again with the ‘allergy department,’ given the same script and I am now awaiting new pieces for that bed. I did cut a sample and put it in a bag, and today the inspector took it.”
Report #2 (2016): “We had the same problem with mold in our Sleep Number. Only, at the time, I wasn’t having health issues with mold, or so I thought. When I saw the mold on our Sleep Number bed, I just wanted it out of there. I don’t think I would be able to sleep on it even with new parts. We have a Serta now, but it is 10 years old and needs to be replaced. I want an adjustable bed so bad, but I don’t think I can ever purchase a Sleep Number again.”
Report #3 (2016): “My Sleep Number is just three years old and I did buy their mattress cover. I love the bed but was scared what I would find since it hadn’t been unzipped since it was set up three years ago. I fully checked it out a few hours ago and it’s fine. Phewww.”
Report #4 (2016): “I have a Sleep Number bed. We had to undo it in 2012 and there was no mold when the roofer damaged my home and we were getting remediated.”
Report #5 (2016): “I suggest being cautious with Sleep Number. My wife and I had one for about six years and then I discovered mold inside the air tubing going from the compressor to the air chamber. That pretty much kinda ruined air mattresses for me!”
Total Reports: 1 Positive, 0 Negative
Report #1: “I took a chance and bought the Southern mattress for my Casita trailer. No problems. It is encased in a breathable mattress protector, covered by a mattress pad, sheets, etc. It’s very comfy. It does seem to have a dent where my butt sits. The butt dent started probably 4-6 months after using it. That seems too soon to me. It’s a really slight butt dent and not noticeable at all when looking. Still, my last mattress never got a butt dent and I had it for years, too.”
Total Reports: 1 Positive, 0 Negative
Report #1: “I have a Stella Rubino latex mattress — not pure latex but has the Oeko-Tex mark. It’s been amazing. I think it’s the reason why even though I have ME/CFS, I don’t have chronic pain (I just sleep on the mattress a few nights and my back sorts itself out, after using sleeping mats on balconies etc.). I had the mattress outside for months, in a reasonably ventilated area, and it’s fine. If you can handle the latex, and the expense, the mattress is nothing short of a miracle, as far as I can see.”
THE EAST COAST ORGANIC MATTRESS STORE
Total Reports: 1 Positive, 1 Negative
Report #1: “I slept on a thick wool futon for years. It was fantastic if you like a firm, non-springy surface. No flame retardants because wool. Fit on any queen frame with slats. I am considering getting one again if my house proves tolerable. If you want a fancy mattress, I really liked our organic latex beds from The Mattress Store. I can’t afford to lose them again though, and I really liked that futon.”
Report #2: “I had a mattress from The East Coast Organic Mattress Store – that one sank in the middle and gave me back pain. I eventually bought an Essentia and have had an excellent experience with it.”
THE WOOL BED COMPANY
Total Reports: 1 Positive, 0 Negative.
Report #1: “We used to have a wool topper on our bed from Surround Ewe. It was the most comfortable way we ever slept.”
Total Reports: 1 Positive, 0 Negative
Report #1: “Latex off-gasses just like everything else. Just because it’s ‘natural’ does not make it ‘non-toxic.’ Many ‘natural’ things are ‘toxic.’ Petroleum and anything made from it. Latex is a rubber. But I have found White Lotus uses materials tolerant for my past level of MCS. I’m not sure if a new purchase would be able to accommodate the more severe MCS I suffer with now, though.”
Awards & Recommendations:
Gimme The Good Stuff, “The Good Stuff Mattresses”
MORE MATTRESS POSSIBILITIES
Following are links to some additional mattresses that claim to be relatively low in toxicity, meaning at least to the point of not containing fire retardant chemicals.
(Note that it is difficult in some cases to verify exactly what is in these mattresses since not all companies list their materials straightforwardly. If anyone has information that any of these mattresses do not belong on this list, please do let me know so that I can investigate and if necessary remove them.)
For those who are feeling exasperated with regard to the negative aspects of all the ready-made mattresses currently on the market, or who just want to try a totally unconventional bedding solution, a homemade or do-it-yourself mattress may be worth exploring.
For instance, mold avoidance pioneer Erik Johnson uses a pile of cotton blankets as a mattress for his camping cot. He wrote recently:
I used the same strategy for a mattress as I did for my pillow.
A stack of cotton blankets. So I can remove the top layer and wash.
I put the clean one on the bottom, so that I have a constantly revolving fresh surface.
I bought a dozen cotton blankets ten years ago. They still work well.
I know that people don’t like this, but it works for me.
Before he started doing all of his laundry by hand, Erik stacked up sleeping bags rather than cotton blankets as a mattress. He wrote in 2006:
While my chemical intolerances have abated to the point that I could use a vinyl inflatable, I see absolutely no value in trying to achieve restorative sleep on such a highly questionable surface when better alternatives can make such a difference.
Plus the dang things have no insulation and are freezing cold. The air circulation just sucks the warmth right out of you. They required so much insulation on top that I could pretty much sleep on just whatever material I used for insulation, so that’s what I did.
I recommend the backpacking solid foam Therm-a-Rest mattresses, since they can be easily washed and quickly dried after cross contamination.
I washed five or six sleeping bags in a good laundromat, kept them in plastic bags until use, and piled them up to make a mattress. When the top one became contaminated, I’d just put it to one side and move to a fresh surface.
By keeping rotation going of a pristine sleeping surface, I could make my nights much more comfortable.
In addition, during the time he was living in a larger RV, Erik used cotton blankets to replace the foam in his sofa cushions. He wrote in 2006:
Somewhere I have a picture of the mattress from my new RV after some months of use.
I wrapped it in plastic straight off and thought that this was a good preventive measure. But eventually even through the plastic, I could feel that this the mattress went bad.
When I unwrapped it, you could see the outline of where I sleep delineated in pure mold.
Mold really grows well on the foam cushions in RV’s. I fought with that for years and kept replacing with more foam.
Just smell that new foam that they use. Loaded with stuff that I don’t want to breathe, and there’s no real reason to.
I just use towels or blankets folded to approximate the size of the zippered covers. They look about the same. But this way, you can wash them if you get spore plumed.
More quotes from Erik detailing the specifics of his avoidance activities may be found in the book Erik on Avoidance, which is available in free downloadable PDF format as well as in Amazon Kindle format.
Moving on, another Mold Avoiders member stated the following:
I have started experimenting with making my own mattress using a layering approach. There are a couple of interesting websites. DIY Natural Bedding sells most of the piece parts you would want. That site has amazingly clean and natural materials. If it’s square I can sew it, which has saved money.
Still another Mold Avoiders member reported making his own mattress based on latex and springs.
I got parts to make a mattress instead of choosing a brand.
I have blended latex. It’s 85% natural and 15% synthetic. I chose blended for the durability and less smell.
It’s a Talalay natural/synthetic blend. I was told that the blend lasts longer, it’s more tried and true as it’s the traditional way of making it. And it has less of a rubber smell.
I brought home samples of 100% natural and blended and slept with them by my head to see if I was sensitive. I wasn’t sensitive to either but after weighing the pro and cons, I preferred the pros of the natural/synthetic blend. 100% natural has more cons than people think.
The owner of the company I bought the latex from only sleeps on blended if that means anything. The blended is slightly less expensive, not much.
I checked the inside of my mattress about a week ago. Very clean.
I’m skeptical of the organic latex from India. Mine came from a factory in the Netherlands. I remember researching their facility and being impressed with it.
I actually use springs with Talalay which works out great. And I think it’s probably an excellent for breathability and preventing mold.
But the owner of Organic Living AZ showed me with a voltmeter how much this could potentially increase your electrical/EMF exposure. Remember that a coil is a conductor that increases the electromagnetic field. So maybe not wise to use in a high EMF environmental or near areas of the house with strong electromagnetic fields (like near breaker boxes, AC, power outlets, electric heaters, etc).
The EMF aspect generally doesn’t really concern me much as I don’t believe I’m as sensitive to EMF’s as some others.
Here’s what Avocado Green says about coils and EMF’s. I have the same coils they use, so perhaps it’s not a problem with these coils.
Most mattress companies use glue spray guns and put an extremely generous amount of glue between layers. I used no glues. Just some organic wool carpet pad (from an extremely good local store called Organic Living Arizona) to make the bottom more durable so it lasts.
I would check out Avocado Green mattress. It doesn’t have any glues. It’s a good price. It didn’t exist when I was looking. I can’t give a review because I haven’t tried it. But you can return it if it doesn’t work and the company is clearly concerned about toxicity. Believe it or not, it’s not much more expensive than making it yourself.
Quite a few other Mold Avoiders members have put together layers of latex mattress toppers, wool mattresses and/or wool mattress toppers (sold by companies listed in the sections above) to create their own customized bedding solutions. Some examples are discussed in the company profile of Sleep on Latex above, for instance.
A few companies that sell supplies that can be used for do-it-yourself mattresses are listed below in this section.
I think that the Heartfelt Collective approach of using layers of wool felts to create a customized sleep surface is especially intriguing, for instance.
This approach is similar to Erik Johnson’s, except that – especially if they are laced together – the wool felts seem like they might end up feeling a little more like a regular mattress than do the cotton blankets that Erik is using.
Of course, washing wool felts is not nearly as easy as washing thin cotton blankets. However, I think that with a layer or two of mattress covers over the stack of felts, and then a sheet over the top of that, the felts would be fairly unlikely to become cross-contaminated anyway.
If a felt layer ever did become cross-contaminated with toxicity that could not be washed out, it could be replaced with a new layer for much less money than it would cost to replace an entire regular mattress.
The current price for a single felt is $120 for a twin and $185 for a queen.
Thinner felts that can serve as a mattress pad and then be fairly easily washed in a bathtub from time to time are $100 for a single and $125 for a queen.
Heartfelt Collective suggests 8-10 layers of felts if no padding (such as latex or tatami) is used underneath. The cost would therefore be a maximum of about $1,200 for a twin and around $1,900 for a queen.
Although this is a little pricey for what is essentially a pile of wool blankets, it also seems to me that this is the one sleeping solution that – personal comfort preferences aside – checks all the boxes that I see as important.
It is totally natural, carries no risk of getting moldy, can be totally taken apart for airing or sunning on a periodic basis, can be washed in water if necessary, can be used on its own or in combination with an inexpensive layer of latex for more comfort, and has the potential of lasting for a century or more.
In addition, the felts are made in conjunction with Shepherd’s Dream mattress company, which seems to have a good reputation among those with chemical sensitivities.
The fact that one layer can be ordered at a time makes this approach less risky than purchasing via mail order an expensive regular mattress that might, for instance, have an objectionable smell or be contaminated with toxic mold.
Although after all this investigation I still am not sure what kind of mattresses I am going to end up buying myself, this approach is seeming really intriguing to me.
Maybe I will start out by buying a wool mattress pad from this company to see what I think of it.
Debra Lynn Dadd – June 20, 2017
Debra Lynn Dadd – Heartfelt Collective Interview
Very often, even if they are not planning to do any camping at all, those who are starting off with mold avoidance may do well to choose a camping pad rather than a regular mattress.
For one thing, for people who are in the process of replacing their belongings, camping pads are much less expensive than regular mattresses and can be easily moved from place to place.
In addition, while mattresses are difficult to clean and may be ruined by cross-contamination, camping pads generally have a waterproof shell that can be thoroughly cleaned on a daily basis if necessary.
In addition, if camping pads do need to be discarded due to contamination, it is less problematic than with a regular mattress since they are not very expensive to begin with.
Camping pads can be surprisingly comfortable and often are well-tolerated by even very chemically sensitive individuals.
They may be used on their own (on the ground or on a platform) or as a mattress on top of a cot.
Although I think it is conceivable that the inside of a self-inflating mattress could develop a mold problem, I have not yet received any reports of this happening from mold avoiders and have found very few reports in Internet searches.
By far the most popular camping pads for those pursuing mold avoidance have been ones made by Therm-A-Rest. I have received almost no reports of these not being tolerated, and they generally hold up quite well.
A small contingent of those pursuing mold avoidance are extremely enthusiastic about Wiggy’s sleeping pads. However, note that only “new and unopened” items can be returned to Wiggy’s and that even then a 25% restocking fee applies for refunds.
In general, though, starting with Therm-A-Rest may be the safest choice, especially since the company manufactures a wide variety of sleeping pads.
For those who are considering a camping pad instead of a regular mattress, conceivably the larger and more luxurious pads from Therm-A-Rest may be especially appealing.
For instance, I slept for a number of years in my RV on the Therm-A-Rest Dreamtime Mattress.
The mattress includes a self-inflating pad plus a thin layer of foam, held together by a fleece cover. I found it very comfortable and – despite the presence of the foam – it did not feel toxic to me at all.
A more moderately priced but still quite comfortable mattress that I slept on for many nights when tent camping is the Therm-A-Rest Base Camp.
Although the reports that I have gotten suggest that virtually everyone pursuing mold avoidance can tolerate these Therm-A-Rest self-inflating mattresses, I have heard of a few individuals with particularly severe chemical sensitivities that have done better with the Therm-A-Rest closed-cell foam mattresses.
This is the kind of sleeping pad that Erik Johnson said that he had used successfully as a base for his own “mattress” made of layers of blankets or sleeping bags.
These closed-cell mattresses also might serve as a good base layer for those who are attracted to the idea of sleeping on a wool mattress topper or a natural latex mattress topper, but do not currently have a bed frame to use those on.
Therm-A-Rest Self-Inflating Mattresses:
Therm-A-Rest Closed-Cell Foam Mattresses:
Additional Camping Mattresses:
INFRARED SLEEPING MATS
About a year ago, I tried an hour session on a Biomat in a local healthy living spa and immediately fell into a deep sleep. This seemed so therapeutic to me that I decided to buy a mat of my own.
Although the Biomat seemed really expensive to me, I eventually purchased a far infrared mat called Charmed on the Amazon site for a substantially lower cost (about $800). It is a professional size mat (26 1/2 x 71″) and – like the Biomat – contains large amounts of amethyst crystals.
I asked the company if the mat included any fire retardants, and the owner responded, “Fortunately these days there are better solutions than toxic chemicals. We use self-adhesive pure aluminum foil which is fire resistant and high temperature resistant.”
Although I never would have imagined a bed full of rocks would be a good sleeping surface, I am very enthusiastic about this mat and – even though I have a separate bed with a regular mattress that I also use – sleep on it most of the time now. It does seem slightly uncomfortable when the heat automatically goes off after eight hours, but otherwise, I feel like it has been a really good thing for me.
(Note that the mat did put off quite a strong smell for the first couple of days that I used it. Since then it has been fine though.)
At a regular heat setting, the mat feels like it is mildly detoxifying.
In addition, sometimes I will put on some flannel pajamas and turn the mat up to the high setting, and then use an additional smaller mat (this one with jade stones) also on the highest temperature setting on my abdomen, with a sheet and then a wool blanket on top to seal in the heat. This provides me with what I feel is a very deeply detoxifying experience focused on my gut area (and one that seems much more effective than any sauna treatment that I have ever done).
A good side benefit of the Charmed infrared mat is that it seems to make the particular type of mattress that I am using underneath it seem almost irrelevant. At present, I am using a regular old-fashioned coil mattress (Spring Air) that is at least 25 years old. It feels okay to me, toxicity-wise, but since I am not sure what fire retardants it has in it, I feel like I should replace it with something else.
I’m pretty reluctant to spend a lot of money on something new now that I am sleeping on the Charmed mat on that bed though. In addition, since I sometimes use this mattress on its high setting, I will need to avoid natural latex and any other material negatively affected by heat as a sleeping choice.
I also need to buy a new non-toxic mattress for my other bed and am open to the idea of trying out – say – a mattress containing natural latex for that.
Whether other people would be comfortable sleeping regularly on a heated mat filled with rocks, I have no idea. I just personally like it.
But it very well may be that other similar mats might be just as good as or even better than the Charmed mat. Here are some of the mats that I would consider if I were in the market again.
UTK Far Infrared Natural Jade Heating Pad. 24″x70″. $499.
Medicrystal Far Infrared Amethyst Mat. 32″x71″. $790.
InfraMat Pro 3-in-1 Healing Experience. 24″x72″. $795.
Charmed Far Infrared Mat with Amethyst and Tourmaline. 26 1/2″x71″. $799.
Bio Amethyst Far Infrared Amethyst Mat. 29″x73″. $990.
Bio Amethyst Far Infrared Amethyst Mat with Bio Magnetic Field. 29″x73″. $1,139.
Biomat Pro. 28″x75″. $1,695.
Following are some lists of selected articles that are in my opinion worth reading.
Articles on the topic of general toxicity in mattresses:
Nontoxic Reboot – 2018
Green Med Info – March 20, 2018
Consumer Reports – February 20, 2018
Gimme the Good Stuff – February 16, 2018
Sleep Junkie – January 1, 2018
The Sleep Advisor – February 12, 2017
Debra Lynn Dadd – November 29, 2016
Natural Living Ideas – November 22, 2016
Empowered Sustenance – July 29, 2014
Healthy Child – November 5, 2013
Huffington Post – April 18, 2013
Mattress Inquirer – April 9, 2013
The New York Times – January 14, 2009
Mother Jones – March/April 2008
Articles on the use of fire retardants in mattresses:
Consumer Reports – September 29, 2017
Consumer Reports – February 13, 2017
ABC-TV Chicago – July 6, 2015
My Chemical-Free House – November 2014
Dr. Mercola – December 11, 2013
Huffington Post – November 26, 2013
Washington Post – April 15, 2013
Forbes – February 8, 2013
Laura’s Rules – April 15, 2012
Chicago Tribune – July 1, 2007
Bed Times – January 1, 2005
Articles that discuss the topic of mold growth on mattresses:
Oliver Travel Trailers – February 15, 2018
Sun Coast – December 27, 2017
The Mattress Underground – September 27, 2017
Home Steady – September 26, 2017
My Chemical-Free House – October 2016
Happy Mothering – March 16, 2016
ABC-7 News San Francisco – October 28, 2015
Debra Lynn Dadd – February 18, 2014
Lifekind – December 31, 2012
Nest Bedding – October 18, 2012
Articles on the topic of mattresses and environmental sensitivities:
EI Resource – 2018
Naughty Little Mast Cells – February 22, 2016
It Takes Time – February 9, 2016
Green Living – December 17, 2015
My Chemical-Free House – February 2013
Information about natural and synthetic latex:
Tony Mitra – May 14, 2018
Latex Buyer’s Guide – What’s the Best Latex?
Latex Buyer’s Guide – Synthetic vs. Natural Latex
ABOUT THIS BLOG
Lisa Petrison is the executive director of Paradigm Change. Formerly, she worked as a marketing and research consultant to a number of large companies, as a business school professor, and as a journalist. Her Ph.D. is in marketing from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Living Clean in a Dirty World is a community blog project on recovering from mold-related illness. It is presented by Paradigm Change.
More information on recovering from mold-related illness – including the popular book A Beginner’s Guide to Mold Avoidance – may be obtained via the Paradigm Change website.
Comments about this blog may be shared below or sent to Lisa Petrison at info at paradigmchange dot me.
Affiliate status was requested of all companies mentioned in this article (after the article was already written for the mattress companies). Those companies that have granted affiliate status are the following: Amazon, Bear, Eco Terra, Essentia, Happsy, Helix, Moosejaw, My Green Mattress, Naturepedic, Nest Bedding, PlushBeds, Purple, Saatva, SOL Organics, Walmart, Zenhaven. Clicks on links from these companies in this article that are followed by a sale may result in a small percentage of the proceeds being directed to Lisa Petrison, with the money used to help to provide additional online information about the role of toxic mold in chronic illness and on recovering from mold-related illness on the Paradigm Change sites.
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