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Shopping for a New Mattress? Here’s What to Look For (and What to Avoid)

published Sep 25, 2019
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Considering we spend a third of our lives sleeping, mattresses should be as comfy and cozy as possible—and somewhere you can feel good about going to sleep at night. But as inviting as most mattresses might seem on the outside, many have hidden health hazards on the inside.

While mattresses are regulated to be flame-retardant and meet other safety standards, most are made with materials that aren’t exactly healthy or natural by any means. That’s exactly why Tim Masters founded My Green Mattress: to make natural, handcrafted mattresses that he could feel good about his family sleeping on every night. As one of only a handful of GOTS and GOLS certified factories in the country, My Green Mattress helped us identify the top things to look for (and avoid) when selecting a mattress you can truly feel good about sleeping on. (They also gave us a code for $125 off your mattress that’s just for AT readers; use AT125 when you’re checking out!)

Chemical Flame Retardants

Why you want to avoid it: Many modern mattresses rely on chemical flame retardants to make them non-combustible. Unfortunately, these chemicals have also been linked to everything from cancer to infertility even when a fire isn’t present. And, in the event of a fire, they’re actually responsible for releasing more toxic gases.

What to look for instead: Today mattresses can be made with a non-combustible organic wool layer that meets the same stringent safety requirements as chemical alternatives (firemen’s jackets were traditionally made of organic wool before higher-tech fabrics existed). All mattresses at My Green Mattress use organic wool instead of chemical flame retardants, so you can rest easy knowing that they’re safe in more ways than one.

Polyurethane Foams

Why you want to avoid it: While they’re comfy, polyurethane foams used in mattresses and some pillows “off-gas” toxic volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, that are released into the air we breathe at home. If you’ve ever noticed your new memory foam mattress has a weird smell, VOCs are to blame. Unfortunately, they can cause anything from headaches to kidney and liver damage in the long-term.

What to look for instead: My Green Mattress makes all of their latex toppers, mattresses, and pillows with 100 percent GOLS certified organic Dunlop latex. Organic latex, which is chemical-free, lasts longer (typically up to 25 years), and is fully recyclable. 100 percent natural Dunlop latex is better for you and the environment. It’s naturally hypoallergenic, dust mite resistant, and antimicrobial, which inhibits the growth of bacteria, mold, and mildew. My Green Mattress offers free samples of their organic latex to anyone with allergy concerns, so you can be sure everything is copacetic before you buy (their Dunlop latex is fired in molds, which burns off the plant proteins that most people are allergic to). Try the Hope Latex Mattress for a plush-firm feel.

Chemical Adhesives

Why you want to avoid it: Modern mattresses are often made with chemical adhesives which end up emitting toxins into your home environment.

What to look for instead: Button-tufted mattresses. Instead of relying on chemical glues to keep layers together, these mattresses are tufted with buttons and cord to ensure durability and a consistent feel. My Green Mattress’ Kiwi and Natural Escape mattresses are button-tufted by hand, a time-honored (yet labor-intensive) technique only used by premium mattress makers these days. 

You already have enough things keeping you up at night, from work stress to managing your kids’ busy schedules—your mattress shouldn’t be another added worry. Luckily, there’s a silver lining. My Green Mattress is offering AT readers $125 off twin mattresses or larger with the code AT125. That way, you can rest easy knowing you’re sleeping on something safe and healthy.