Mattresses & Bedding: Chemical-Free Options

First, a quick backgrounder on the Chemicals in our Mattresses and Furniture...

Conventional mattresses are usually made of polyurethane foam or synthetic latex which generally off-gas VOCs. It's difficult to find out exactly which chemicals were used in a particular mattress. On top of that, flame retardants like PBDEs, chlorinated Tris, or newer chemicals are often added, and won't be listed anywhere in sight. Couches, curtains and pillows also frequently contain flame retardants.

You also want to avoid mattresses, curtains and upholstery that are stain resistant, as they contain harmful perfluorochemicals. Similarly, the chemical that makes sheets (and clothes) wrinkle-free releases formaldehyde.

With furniture you want to avoid: plywood, paneling, particleboard, fiberboard, and any furniture and cabinets which contain chemicals including formaldehyde. (More about kitchen cabinetry and countertops in: A Non-Toxic Kitchen). Stay away from wood that has been treated with conventional stains, paints or varathane as these are noxious chemicals.


VOC-Free Organic Mattresses

Natural Latex

There are plenty of options for natural latex mattresses made in US and Canada. I have sourced the most affordable ones. (Make sure it is 100% natural latex, claims zero-VOCs, and test for odours/sensitivities to make sure nothing was added to it).


My top pick for an affordable non-toxic mattress is from Nest Bedding. You can get a 6-inch piece of latex for $650 and a mattress cover for $250 (queen size, plus tax and shipping from the US). I was able to test a couple samples - they do have a natural rubber smell, but it didn't cause me to feel sick. The smell dissipates with time but does not go away. An organic mattress cover would block some of the scent.

A slightly more economical option is to buy a 3-inch piece of latex. For $299 (plus tax and shipping) you can get 3" natural latex from Amazon (queen). I find that 3 inches is very comfortable to sleep on. You will need to have a cover made.

People with MCS vary greatly in their ability to tolerate the natural smell of rubber and different brands work for different people. Ammonia or unspecified curing agents are used to stabilize the rubber. I do wonder if they fully off-gasses during the processing.

Wool

Another good option is a 100% wool mattress from Shepard's Dream (California). It is a (relatively) economical choice at $1200 for a queen (skinny version pictured). This is the mattress I use and it does have a wool scent and is very firm as it gets compacted with time.

Conventional Style Layered and Spring Mattresses

Check out The Clean Bedroom which has a complete collection of natural mattresses from spring to latex and wool. The site has a good range of options and great brands that you can compare. A queen spring mattress can be found for $1700. Multilayer latex options are more expensive.

Organic Grace also has some conventional style affordable organic mattresses to compare. A queen starts at $1350.

Other Options:

Buckwheat:

This company will sell the organic cotton canvasses and buckwheat hulls that you twist together yourself (300$ for the canvass)! They don't seem to guarantee that the buckwheat is organic so I would source the hull yourself (they don't deliver hull to Canada). A mattress topper or pad would likely be needed for comfort. Or, you could fill the canvass with Organic Cotton Batting, wool batt, or even recycled wool sweaters, and use the same twist system to make your own true DIY chemical-free mattress!

Futons:

Futons are often affordable and often don't use flame retardants - but look for organic cotton or wool filled.

Silk:

I have seen silk filled mattresses (which seem to be more affordable in the UK) if you cannot tolerate cotton, wool or latex.

Camping:

Or for a quick and easy solution maybe a camping cot will do! Let it offgas a bit first. The plus side is there is not much to offgas there, so some time in the sun should do it. For sleeping pads this one is tolerable for sensitive people after a bit of offgassing. Most camping pads and air mattresses are very toxic and take a long time to offgas.

 Pillows and Sheets


For pillows you will want natural latex, wool filled or organic cotton filled. Never use non-organic cotton batting as the bats contain a lot of pesticides. Organic cotton batting sometimes still retains a strong smell from the oils of the cotton plant. I would highly recommend this Organic Cotton Pillow that I use.

Coyuchi also makes organic sheets, pillows and other bedding that is made with the chemically sensitive person in mind and I highly recommend this company. The safest bet is always virgin fabric but they do use natural dyes. If you react to the product you can return it. I've been really happy with all their products.

Cotton that has been processed into fabric (sheets, pillow cases etc) no longer contains pesticides in theory. But stay away from permanent pressed finish (wrinkle-free finish), and make sure the dyes are steadfast or all natural. I find that a lot of cotton that is not organic has a chemical added to it and smells horrible.

NB (While we are on the topic of chemical-free fabrics here is a guide to buying chemical-free clothing or removing "sizing" chemicals and other harmful odours.)

Blankets 

My bed with Coyuchi Blankets
I use wool blankets from Coyuchi - the natural colour with indigo stripes. It does have a wool smell, so if you are sensitive to wool try their cotton blankets. I really like wool because it's hard for me to stay the right temperature at night without them and I often need to sleep with the window open. The wool blankets were a super good investment in my case as they stopped me from waking up through the night due to being too cold.






Bed Frames

A metal bed frame that is powder coated would be a great option. This one (pictured right) is only $116 for a twin on Amazon.

Or, if you can tolerate the natural smell of wood, go with a solid wood bed frame, with solid slats (not laminated), finished with a natural finish.

For wood frames check out Organic Grace which has simple frames for $780 (queen, ships from the US).
For cool wooden headboards and frames with zero-VOC finishes check out Coyuchi (pictured below)
coyuchi.com

For something really simple and cheap this healthy Nomad Solid Hardwood Platform Bed ($124 for a twin) on Amazon is made of low odour poplar with solid slats.

IKEA sells solid wood frames but beware the slats are laminated and the glues will be toxic.

79 comments:

  1. Corrine,

    Good info, if we can ever help out any of your east coast customer we would love to www.theorganicbedroom.com.

    If this posted twice my apologies...

    Joey

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Joey, lying on a Napure Air Mattress helps you discharge the static current while you are sleeping. This not only helps improve quality of sleep but also helps prevent static current from building up in the body. For detail review visit:
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  2. Hi,Joe from Nest Bedding! Thanks for the link. So, here are some hopefully helpful comments.

    My friend Lynne makes the twist buckwheat mattress, but that $300 is for the covers only, you still have to buy the buckwheat and stuff them. They are very firm. The Shepherds Dream mattress is very nice and also very firm.

    Latex is a good option for those who like a little comfort as well as support. I have recently added USDA certified organic latex and talalay to my product selection.

    Thanks!
    Joe, Nest Bedding

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the info Joe! Look forward to checking out the samples from Nest Bedding!

      Delete
    2. This Pillows and Sheets are lovely. I adore that you simply discovered something you needed and figured out how to make it as opposed to spending a great deal of cash. I additionally adore the yellow and blue cushions you matched with it. You generally move me to accomplish more specialties.

      http://brownsofweston.weebly.com

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  3. Excellent ideas. I am worried about latex. I know everyone says it's non-toxic to MCSers, but latex gloves smell and there are so many people with latex allergies. I can say "well, I'm not allergic to latex" and not care, but that would be like my neighbor bathed in perfume and saying "well, I'm not allergic to perfume so why should I care about you?"

    I like the idea of the mattress pads piled on top of each other. Does anyone have personal experience with this. I like the idea they can be washed in a washing machine. Beds harbor all kinds of dust, dust mites, and maybe mold. It would be cool to be able to wash a bed!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, there's a big difference between natural latex and synthetic latex rubber. The natural one still does have a rubbery smell but it is dissipating with time. I don't believe that it is technically toxic though natural scents bother many people.

      I'm loving the all wool mattress, It's very firm but Im sleeping so much better than I was when I was breathing flame retardants all night.

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  19. Who did you use to make the custom latex cushions for the couch you had built?

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    1. just re-sizing mattresses from nest bedding. will then get a dressmaker to sew the cushion covers.

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  41. l latex, or wool mattresses with cotton (or wool) covers are two great ... furniturecovers.blogspot.com

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  42. I would love to get a foam mattress. I think I will have to shop around. I want to get something that is free of chemicals. I'm sure there are some shops in my area that offer these. http://www.sureline.ca

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  43. s, curtains and pillows also frequently contain flame retardants. ... couchbedframe.blogspot.com

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  45. n is also a good option if it is filled with 100% organic cotton or wool batting. ... sofabedsheetsqueen.blogspot.com

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  47. Thank you for sharing! Very helpful information! I tend to wool mattresses (very simple and natural solution, and I always have more confidence in nature than in technology). My search shows that wool mattresses are very expensive, but I found an Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheHomeOfWool which I liked very much. Very affordable and trustworthy. I look for reviews. It would be great if someone could help!
    Best regards!

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