All about organic mattresses
In recent years, many consumers have become interested in organic mattresses. “Organic mattresses” typically means mattresses that are primarily constructed of natural materials such as:
- Natural latex
Some people seek out organic mattresses for health reasons, others out of environmental concerns, and some prefer the high longevity and durability of green mattresses. Organic mattresses are a broad category, and can be made of a variety of materials, which offer very different sleep experiences.
Whether a mattress is organic or not is rarely a yes or no question, and more a matter of degrees. Some mattresses are only slightly organic, while others use nearly all natural components. Finding the right level on this spectrum will depend on your needs and your budget. Some of the most fully natural organic mattresses are also the most expensive, and can easily cost several thousand dollars. Meanwhile, other mattresses may use some synthetic materials, but still avoid harsh chemicals and can appeal to health-conscious consumers.
When choosing an organic mattress, ask yourself which needs are your biggest priorities, and which materials can best cater to them. Also, look out for false labeling of products that aren’t truly organic.
On this page, we’ll walk through the various types of organic mattresses, the most common organic certifications and what they mean, and list some of the best-reviewed organic mattresses on the market.
What makes a mattress organic?
There is no one single definition of what makes a mattress organic. However, every mattress with a legitimate claim to the term “organic” balances both health and environmental concerns. Generally, all organic mattresses have at least one thing in common: they don’t contain flame-retardant chemicals, which have been linked to respiratory and skin problems and other serious diseases. While some non-organic mattresses are sprayed with chemicals to pass US safety regulations, organic mattresses use either synthetic or natural materials to create fire-resistant products with safer materials, such as kevlar, wool, or thistle. In addition to the health benefits of this, it also means organic mattresses are less likely to emit unpleasant odors, known as “offgassing.” All organic mattresses also emphasize natural materials, but there is a great deal of variation between models, and few mattresses can really claim to be “100% organic.”
When shopping for organic mattresses, keep a close eye on certifications. Truly organic mattresses will be certified by at least one group, such as Greenguard, eco-INSTITUT, or Certi-PUR. These certifications can mean that a mattress is free from harmful chemicals, made of natural organic materials, or that it meets other environmental standards. New certifications appear often, so it’s worth looking up what a particular seal of approval actually means. Additionally, check to make sure that any certification hasn’t expired, which can indicate that a mattress may no longer be in compliance. Figuring out what all the different certifications mean can be a challenge, but without certification, words like “green” and “eco-friendly” can be both empty and misleading.
What to look for in an organic mattress
There are eco-friendly mattresses constructed out of nearly every traditional support core: latex, memory, and innerspring. However, some support cores are capable of being more organic than others. Many foam and latex mattresses are “hybrids” of organic and non-organic materials, but it’s important to be aware of the percentage of each type of material, so you’re not getting a 99% synthetic mattress.
Types of organic mattresses
As opposed to synthetic latex, natural latex is made from the sap of the rubber tree. Latex mattresses can be some combination of synthetic and natural, and even “all-natural” latex uses some chemicals in the manufacturing process. Nevertheless, natural latex is one of the most truly organic options. For the most part, latex is manufactured using either the Dunlop or Talalay process, and while either can be organic, Dunlop is generally firmer while Talalay has more bounce. Mattresses that use only natural latex are regarded as very durable, but can also be very expensive.
All memory foam is made with polyurethane, meaning that it can never fully organic. However, some companies have begun using plant-based materials to create memory foam products which are at least partly natural. Despite using synthetic materials, memory foam mattresses can still be a healthy choice, if made without harmful chemicals.
Relevant certifications: CertiPUR. CertiPUR tests foam products and those that receive certification have no formaldehyde, heavy metals, and low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
You’re probably familiar with innerspring mattresses, which use metal coils as their support core. While these obviously can’t be “organic” in the traditional sense, some manufacturers have committed to being more eco-friendly by using recycled or responsibly-sourced metal. Innerspring mattresses that claim to be organic use natural fibers such as wool and cotton for their comfort layers.
Pros and cons of organic mattresses
Natural mattresses appeal to many consumers, but finding a reputable model at a reasonable price can be a headache. Weighing the pros and cons of buying one might mean deciding how much time and money you’re willing to invest in your sleep.
- Highly durable: Mattresses made of natural materials have some of the longest lifespans of all mattresses, and frequently offer some of the longest warranties.
- Environmentally friendly: For consumers trying to reduce their carbon footprint, plant-based materials and low-emissions manufacturing are big advantages.
- Healthy: Organic mattresses offer peace of mind for consumers anxious about inhaling harmful chemicals used in other mattresses. This is especially true for people with allergies, compromised immune systems, or the the parents of young children.
- Expensive: Natural materials come at a high price, and can cost several thousand dollars, putting them out of reach for many consumers.
- Heavy: Most organic mattresses use natural latex, which is very dense and heavy. This contributes to its longevity, but can be an issue for people who move homes frequently.
- Research required: There are many different organic certifications with different meanings, and some companies use deceptive language to “greenwash” products that aren’t organic at all. The amount of education needed to make a smart purchase can be a turn-off for consumers.
What type of sleeper should consider an organic mattress?
Organic mattresses can be made of many materials, which run the gamut from soft to firm. So regardless of your personal sleeping style, you can likely find an organic mattress to provide the support and comfort you need. The same guidelines hold true for organic mattresses as other mattresses. Heavier sleepers typically need greater firmness, while side sleepers often favor soft comfort layers to cradle them. (For more information on the right mattresses for different types of sleepers, please visit our guide to mattress support cores.)
Organic mattresses primarily appeal to:
- Environmentally-concerned consumers: Many organic mattresses are more eco-friendly than the alternatives. Some substitute plant-based materials for synthetic and petroleum-based chemicals. Others rely on natural fibers, and source their cotton and wool from organic farms. Regardless, it’s important to check every mattress’ certifications and understand what they mean.
- Health-conscious consumers: Many consumers are alarmed to learn of the potentially hazardous chemicals used to make non-organic mattresses fire-retardant. These can include heavy metals, formaldehyde, and PBDEs, all of which can be harmful, given prolonged exposure.
- People with allergies: For some consumers, non-organic mattresses can aggravate respiratory or skin conditions. Organic mattresses promise low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are the source of that “new mattress smell” and the offgassing that irritates people with allergies.
- People with children: Children are particularly vulnerable to harmful chemicals, so it’s important to many parents to buy mattresses that don’t release fumes.
- People who want durability: Organic mattresses can be expensive, but high-quality organic materials are also known to last longer than the alternatives. For people looking to make a 10 to 20-year investment, organic might be the right choice.
The best organic mattresses
The Zenhaven by Saatva is a well-reviewed mattress that ranks high for both durability and natural materials. The Zenhaven is constructed of all-natural latex and organic cotton and wool. It’s certified by Oeko-Tex, and the company prides itself on its transparency and customer service to answer questions. The Zenhaven has the unique feature of offering two different firmness levels, to allow users to experiment with which is right for them. However, the heaviness of the Zenhaven can make flipping it somewhat difficult. The Talalay latex is springier than mattresses made with the Dunlop method, which many couples enjoy. The Zenhaven’s price tag is in the middle of the organic mattress pack, and is offset by a 20-year warranty.
- Very durable: Zenhaven offers a comprehensive 20-year warranty.
- Two firmness options: The Zenhaven can be flipped, allowing users to choose between “gentle firm” and “luxury plush.”
- Professional setup: Unlike many other mattress delivery services, which force buyers to set up the mattress themselves, Zenhaven offers professional installation, and is generally known for excellent customer service.
- Natural materials: These mattresses feature 100-percent natural latex, with no synthetic latex materials or foams, and organic cotton and wool.
For more information on Zenhaven, please read our full Zenhaven mattress review.
Sleep On Latex Pure Green Mattress
The Sleep On Latex Pure Green mattress is one of the most organic mattresses at its price range on the market. The mattress has an 8-inch support core of natural Dunlop latex, and is available in soft, medium, or firm. On top of the latex, this mattress features 1 inch of wool for comfort and to act as a flame retardant, and an organic cotton cover. This mattress is popular with couples for its low rate of motion transfer, though its lack of bounce can make it difficult to change position often. The all-natural materials mean this mattress has very little odor; however, the denseness of the latex means that it is extremely heavy.
- Very organic: With 100% natural latex, organic cotton, and New Zealand Wool, this is a highly organic mattress, and is Greenguard gold certified.
- Support: The Dunlop latex support core makes this one of the best latex mattresses for back sleepers who need good spinal support.
- Budget-friendly: The Pure Green mattress offers an organic mattress with a much lower price tag than many of its competitors.
- Durability: The Sleep On Latex Pure Green comes with a 10-year warranty, and has a removable outer cover for occasional dry cleaning.
Buy the Sleep On Latex Pure Green mattress from Amazon.
PlushBeds Botanical Bliss
PlushBeds manufactures several mattresses which offer different levels of organic credentials, and the PlushBeds Botanical Bliss is its top-of-the-line model. The support core is constructed of three levels of all-natural Talalay latex, which the consumer can rearrange to get the right combination of comfort and support. This unique feature is a big advantage for sleepers whose needs might change over this mattress’ 25-year lifespan. The cover is constructed of USDA-certified organic cotton and certified Eco-wool, which promise softness and breathability. At over $2000, this is the most expensive mattress on our list, but it’s also one of the most highly certified, and is both healthy and eco-friendly.
- Adjustable: The Botanical Bliss has three latex layers, each a different firmness, which allows users to unzip the cover and rearrange as often as needed.
- Durable: This mattress comes with a 25-year warranty and a 100-night risk-free trial.
- Highly organic: The Botanical Bliss boasts numerous certifications, including Greenguard Gold, eco-INSTITUT, Forest Stewardship Council, GOLS, and others.
Purchase the PlushBeds Botanical Bliss latex mattress on Amazon.