A one-stop guide to buying and maintaining an organic mattress

A one-stop guide to buying and maintaining an organic mattress

We spend more than a third of our lives in bed, so picking a good mattress to sleep on is an important lifestyle decision that affects our health and well-being. A mattress is more an investment than an accessory, and the decision of which one to buy becomes all the more important if you experience back and body pain by sleeping on the wrong type of mattress. Many toxic chemicals are used in the mattress and bedding industry, and their long-term effects can be worrying. So, here’s a comprehensive guide to help you switch to an organic mattress.

What are organic mattresses?
An organic mattress is a healthy alternative to conventional mattresses, as the components used, like latex, wool, and cotton, are organically grown or cultivated. Conventional mattresses often contain toxic flame retardants and other synthetic chemicals that can cause harm in the long run. On the contrary, organic mattresses use natural fire retardants like wool instead of harsh chemicals. There is quite a lot of concern regarding the adverse health effects of non-organic mattresses, prompting many to look at safer options.

Certified organic mattresses offer several ecological benefits. Organic crops help protect the soil and keep it healthier, reducing its water requirements. Plus, the CO2 emissions are greatly reduced. Purchasing an organic mattress also adds to your feel-good factor, as you are contributing to maintaining a cleaner and healthier planet while promoting your own overall health and well-being.

Things to know about organic mattresses
Once you’ve made the decision to buy an organic mattress, the next step is to consider the key points you must keep in mind to zero in on one mattress. Here are a few important points to keep in mind while buying an organic mattress:

  • Material
    Most organic mattresses are made of naturally-sourced, eco-friendly materials, but you should read about the product and verify the details of the materials used. Without due diligence, you won’t be able to determine whether the mattress is organic. So, ask for the details and check the source of the materials.
  • Price
    Organic mattresses are expensive, as the component materials cost more to produce and source. More importantly, more funds are required to keep the entire process chemical-free. Organic cotton, for example, accounts for only around 5% of the global production of cotton. Besides, the certification costs are high but are also very important. You should check the costs, and if you’re going for an EMI option, you may have choices with lower interest rates as the product is eco-friendly. There are also several offers and discounts to encourage more people to try out organic mattresses, so make the best of them.
  • Firmness
    Decide whether you want a medium-firm, relaxed-firm, or firm mattress. You can choose a firmness to suit your age, body type, preferences and comfort, and back health requirements. It is a long-term investment, so consider your future requirements as well while selecting the firmness.
  • Customer rating
    You should also consider the customer ratings and comments before you make a choice, as they help you get first-hand accounts from people who have used the product. With customer reviews, you have ready-made benchmarks to help you make an informed decision.
  • Warranty
    Check the warranties of the mattresses in your list of options and ensure that there’s no catch or any added cost.
  • Trial periods and delivery
    Several companies offer trial periods on their mattresses, but you should account for transport costs during returns, if any, within the trial period. You should also keep in mind the transport costs for delivery. Additionally, check whether the price includes shipment or if there are any additional costs. Another important thing is to ensure that you’re not responsible and that transit insurance covers any damages during transportation.

Materials used to make organic mattresses
An organic mattress is made of natural materials. Let’s look at some of the common materials used to make organic mattresses:

  • Natural latex
    This is the primary material found in organic mattresses and has the longest known lifespan when compared to other materials used to make organic mattresses. Natural latex is obtained from the sap of the rubber tree, which is harvested in an eco-friendly manner. Once the sap has been extracted, it is processed into latex foam using either the Talalay or the Dunlop method. The major difference between the two types of latex is the level of firmness, with the Dunlop mattress being more firm. You can determine the level of natural latex in your mattress by checking the certifications like Global Organic Latex Standard, Greenguard, or OEKO-TEX®.
  • Wool
    Wool is also used as a topper in organic mattresses, but you should ensure that the wool used in the bedding is organically certified. It can be used with cotton or natural latex or with innerspring. Organic wool mattresses are extremely comfortable, and wool acts as a natural insulator to regulate your body temperature. Plus, woolen mattresses are flame-resistant, which makes them safe and eliminates the need to use chemical fire retardants. That said, you should avoid woolen mattresses if you’re prone to allergies or rashes by wool.
  • Organic cotton
    Organic cotton mattresses are breathable and keep your body cool through the night. Additionally, cotton provides great moisture-wicking benefits, but you should ensure that the bedding you choose uses organically-certified cotton that is grown without pesticides. Also, you must understand that cotton mattresses are heavier and feel firmer than foam mattresses. Plain cotton mattresses tend to flatten over time, so they are combined with natural latex to help maintain their shape.
  • Hemp
    Hemp is a sustainable, renewable resource with several applications in various industries. It is an eco-friendly fiber, and the crop is naturally resistant to pests and grows thick, preventing the growth of weeds. As a result, pesticides or herbicides are not used when growing hemp, which enriches the soil and eliminates the need to use fertilizers. Besides, the roots of the hemp plant grow deep and prevent soil erosion on slopes.
    Although hemp is an environment-friendly option for bedding, hemp mattresses are not widely available, which makes them more expensive. Also, hemp is not soft, so avoid this bedding if you prefer flexible mattresses.
  • Kapok
    Kapok fiber is a natural cellulosic fiber obtained from the seed hairs of the kapok tree and is traditionally used to stuff pillows, bedding, and soft toys. The fiber is lightweight, soft, and sustainable, and it is a good choice for organic mattresses. Like wool, it can also help with temperature regulation. That said, it is not fire-resistant, so it has to be paired with wool or with fire-retardant chemicals. One of the crucial reasons why it is not a popular choice for organic mattresses is that it may fail the tests when combined with other fire-retardant materials.

Tips for maintaining an organic mattress
Most mattresses last from 7-10 years and should be replaced as the bedding breaks down with use, more so in the case of conventional mattresses. Organic mattresses made of natural latex have a longer life span (almost double) than a memory foam mattress. They are known to last for 20-30 years, but caring for and maintaining them is important. Here are a few tips to help you maintain your organic mattress:

  • Use mattress protectors
    Mattress protectors protect your mattress from stains, cuts, and other wear and tear. They are recommended by most manufacturers and contribute significantly to keeping a mattress in the best possible condition. Most often, mattress manufacturers themselves make protectors or pads to suit the mattress size, and it’s best to buy them from the manufacturer or the brands they recommend.
  • Clean the mattress regularly
    Ensure that you change your sheets at least once every week, as oil and grime can seep through your sheets onto the mattress. Organic fibers on natural mattresses are more absorbent than polyurethane, which is used in conventional mattresses, and can soil more easily. Regularly changing the sheets helps keep the oil and grime away from the organic fibers. Also, dust the mattress while changing the sheets, and try to keep your pets away from it, as their sharp fingernails can ruin the bedding. If it is difficult to keep pets away, you can use thick waterproof protectors to minimize the damage.
  • Sun-dry the mattress
    Use natural ways to keep the mattress odor-free. Clean the mattress, apply some baking soda, and dry it in the sun. You can sun-dry organic mattresses as they are made of natural materials. Baking soda removes any odor from the mattress, and the sun provides warmth to remove any unpleasant smell and dampness.
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals
    You can use natural ingredients like cold water spray, baking soda, essential oils, or eco-friendly dish detergents to clean the natural fibers. Also, dilute the detergents before using them. Mix one part hydrogen peroxide with one part dish soap and one part table salt or baking soda to make a mild cleaning agent that can be used to lift urine, dirt, or bloodstains from the mattress. You should use any cleaning agent in small quantities in a swab on the mattress. Test it on a small area and wait for a week to check for any damage before using it on the whole mattress.

Certifications to look for when buying an organic mattress
An organic mattress should have the USDA Organic seal. Several mattresses claim to be made naturally or in similar terms, but they can be called organic only if 95% of the materials used are certified as organic. Also, the product should be processed without potentially harmful chemicals. The certification can have a mixture of any of the following labels as well:

  • The Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS)
    GOLS certification means that a latex mattress has 95% organic latex. The remaining 5% of the mattress’s components are also checked with severe restrictions to be organic and chemical-free, and a natural latex mattress may have both the Global Organic Textile Standard and the GOLS labels.
  • The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
    This certification requires a minimum of 95% of the materials to be certified as organically grown or sourced. The GOTS certification is stringent enough to also check the remaining 5% to ensure that the mattress is free of substances like chemical fire retardants and polyurethane. Other substitutes must be used for polyurethane, which is the main component of memory foam. GOTS prohibits child labor and forced labor for manufacturing products, and this standard also ensures the welfare of workers throughout the supply chain.

These two certifications are very stringent, and there are also a few other certifications that do not ensure that a mattress’s fiber is produced organically. That said, they set limits for the emission of harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, which can cause respiratory illness. Limits are also set for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which may be present in the mattress:

  • The GREENGUARD Gold Certification
    This certification requires the testing of a finished mattress for the emission limits of formaldehyde and certain VOCs.
  • STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX®
    This certification aims to control emissions by setting standards for the use of harmful chemicals.
  • The CertiPUR-US® certification
    This certification is given only to the polyurethane foam in the mattress. While other certifications prohibit the use of polyurethane foam, this certification prohibits only certain substances that are present in the foam, like some flame retardants. It also requires testing for formaldehyde and certain other chemicals.

Warranties for an organic mattress
Ensure that you understand the warranty terms while buying an organic mattress, which is a big investment considering the cost. A warranty covers the cost of any damages included in the policy by fixing or replacing the mattress. Clarify all your doubts and do not assume anything, as it can cause confusion and lead to last-minute hassles. Organic mattresses come with warranties of up to 20 years, depending on the manufacturer, and the warranty covers a range of problems from manufacturing defects to normal wear and tear of the mattress.

You can choose from several popular organic mattress brands like Avocado, PlushBeds, Tuft & Needle, and Purple. Save a copy of the bills and the warranty card or e-warranty details, as you may require these to claim the warranty.

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