You spend about a third of your life in bed, so it only makes sense to ensure that space is as nontoxic as possible. While brands abound today that promise you a blissful night’s sleep on an eco-friendly mattress, the reality is that “green-washing” is rampant within the sleep industry, and your new “natural” mattress might be anything but.
Let’s look closer at why you should care about this, starting with what makes a mattress natural in the first place.
What to Look for In a Natural Mattress
Most “mattress in a box” brands today contain what’s known as polyurethane foam. This petroleum-based product lends the mattress support and keeps you comfortable, but it’s far from natural and could contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and other troubling components.
To be clear, few (if any) mattresses are 100% natural or organic. Most contain synthetic or inorganic components to add support and durability. Even so, many brands make conscious choices to use natural materials as much as possible, and those deserve our recognition.
Key Natural Mattress Certifications
Forget the empty buzzwords and greenspeak—what you’re looking for with a natural mattress are certifications that stand up to scrutiny in the real world. Here are some to keep on your radar.
- Certified Organic Materials: Guaranteed by the National Organic Program to have been grown according to US organic standards.
- Global Organic Textile Standard: This standard guarantees that a textile contains at least 70% organic fibers and that the synthetic components meet rigorous toxicology and environmental impact standards.
- Global Organic Latex Standard: Certifies that the latex within the product is at least 95% organic.
- OEKO-TEX Standard 100: All OEKO-TEX certified textiles must undergo rigorous evaluation to prove they are free of over one hundred potentially toxic compounds like nickel, formaldehyde, and various banned substances.
Most natural mattresses have at least one thing in common—latex. This material is made from the sap of rubber trees, which is processed to create a flexible foam used as the support structure for the mattress. Hybrid latex mattresses, in contrast, contain steel coils for support as well as latex.
Sometimes natural latex is blended with synthetic compounds to cut down on costs, though this often decreases the material’s overall durability. For example, the average lifespan for organic latex mattresses is over 8.5 years, while models with synthetic latex average a full year less.
Natural latex often produces a smell that some find irksome for the first few days you use the mattress. However, the compounds responsible for the odor are completely nontoxic and the smell will soon dissipate.
Exploring Natural Mattress Brands
Two of the biggest names in the mattress business right now are Casper and Leesa. Here’s why these brands don’t quite make the cut from a natural perspective, and four that offer better alternatives.
About Casper Mattresses
Casper is a direct-to-consumer mattress company that many consider responsible for the “mattress in a box” phenomenon today. Each mattress contains layers of latex and foam that the company claims are arranged for optimal support, cooling, and comfort.
You’ll receive your mattresses packed tightly into a box, and it should take a day after unpacking to reinflate itself.
But here’s the drawback for the eco-conscious. Casper mattresses contain memory foam, a petroleum-based product that’s nonrenewable and doesn’t biodegrade. And while some of the models have covers made from recycled plastic bottles and polyester, these materials also aren’t ones you’ll find in nature.
For those who want an all-natural mattress, Casper doesn’t fit the requirements.
- Pricing: $536- $2,696 (Original Queen is $1,095)
- Styles: Four (Wave Hybrid, Nova Hybrid, Original, Element)
- Materials: polyurethane foams, recycled bottles, recycled polyester, upcycled cotton, rayon and lycra, latex. Some models include springs
- Certifications: CertiPUR-US® approved foams
- Warranty: 100-day sleep trial
About Leesa Mattresses
Established in 2015, Leesa is a relative newcomer in the sleep product world. Its mattresses are known for their balance between support and cushioning for all sleep positions. Most models contain a synthetic memory foam top with a soft covering made from natural materials. The result is a mattress that’s not aggressively firm but still keeps you from sinking through the center.
One of the most significant drawbacks to Leesa mattresses is an intense, almost overwhelming scent when you first set them up. This is the result of a process called “off-gassing,” where the mattress releases the odors that built up in packaging during the shipping process. The smell will dissipate within 24 hours or so, but some customers complained that it seemed to stink up their hair after their first night’s sleep.
Another downside? This mattress is heavy. Expect to need help getting it set up if you aren’t sure you can handle all 120+ pounds of floppy memory foam alone.
- Pricing: $699-$2,199 (Original queen is $949)
- Styles: 4 (Original, Hybrid, Legend, Studio)
- Materials: polyurethane foams, organic cotton, merino wool, recycled polyester yarn
- Certifications: CertiPUR-US® approved foams, B-Corp Certified,
- Warranty: Risk-free 100-night trial
4 Best Natural Alternatives to Casper and Leesa Mattresses
For those looking for the convenience of a mattress in a box without questionable materials, here are four we think deserve the most consideration.
- Pricing: $899- $2,399 (Queen Green mattress is $1,499)
- Styles: five (Latex, Green, Vegan, Vegan Latex, Organic Crib)
- Materials: organic latex, certified organic wool, certified organic cotton,
- Certifications: GOTS- Certified, GOLS-Certified, Certified B Corporation®, CertifiedSTANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX®, Certified Made Safe®,GREENGUARD Gold Certified by UL Environment, certified formaldehyde-free by UL Environment
- Sleep Trial: 365-night sleep trial
While Avocado got its start as a mattress brand for kids in 2016, the company has made a name for itself with its eco-friendly mattresses for adults as well. Each mattress is made in Los Angeles in a GOTS-certified factory with organic wool, cotton, latex, and other materials. This means every mattress fulfills the USDA’s requirements for organic certification upon completion.
From a health standpoint, each Avocado mattress is guaranteed free of toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like acetaldehyde and formaldehyde. Consciously shoppers can even choose a vegan mattress that’s guaranteed free of wool and certified by Vegan Action.
Equally notable, the company claims to be the first mattress brand to achieve net-zero emissions. Avocado has committed to going carbon negative by offsetting more carbon than it puts into the atmosphere. This means every factory, office, and other buildings associated with the brand runs on wind and solar power from Arcadia Power.
Your Avocado mattress will arrive compressed in a box and might take a day or longer to reinflate to full size once you release it.
- Pricing: $259-$8,999 (Chorus queen is $1,999)
- Styles: Three adult (Chorus & Serenade, Eos, Halcyon), two kids (2-in-1, Verse), three baby (Classic, Breathable, Breathable Ultra)
- Materials: GOTS certified organic cotton and wool, organic latex, glueless encased steel coils, pla layer (non-GMO sugarcane)
- Certifications: GOTS Certified, GOLS Certified, Made-Safe Certified, Forest Stewardship Council/ Rainforest Alliance, Certified Non-Toxic, Tested for Chemical Emissions, Organic Cotton Standard, Green America Certified Business, PETA vegan approved, Sustainable Furnishings Council Gold
- Sleep Trial: 90-day sleep money back guarantee
Naturepedic mattresses have become a trusted brand for parents over their two decades in business. Founder and grandfather Barry A. Cik started the company when he found that the available crib mattresses didn’t meet his standards for safety, as they contained potentially toxic compounds like polyurethane foams, PVCs, VOCs, and other flame retardants.
His solution was to craft mattresses for kids and adults made from certified organic materials, including a food-grade waterproof surface made from non-GMO sugarcane (known as the pla layer). Many Naturepedic beds contain inner steel coils for traditional support, while others include the pliable latex support structure popular with other brands on this list.
Naturepedic mattresses range from the relatively affordable Chorus to the ultra-luxe Halcyon, which contains a comfort layer of blended alpaca and cashmere fibers. Each mattress is handcrafted in the United States, and most are delivered compressed in boxes for simple setup.
- Pricing: $1,049- $1,799 (Queen is $1,499)
- Styles: One (Birch Natural Mattress)
- Materials: GOTS certified cotton, wool fibers with rayon, birch wool, natural latex, steel coils
- Certifications: GOTS certified cotton, GreenGuard Gold certified, OEKO-TEX Standard 100, Eco Institut Certified, Wool Integrity NZ
- Sleep Trial: 100-night sleep trial
Birch by Helix sells one of the most highly rated natural mattresses available today. Each mattress contains sustainably sourced materials like organic wool, cotton, and latex and is entirely free of polyurethane-based foams and other dubious compounds.
While Birch mattresses arrive in boxes and require some time to reinflate on delivery, they still incorporate an inner-spring system of latex pocket coils for extra support as you sleep. Overall, this gives the mattress a medium-firm feel that’s ideal for back or stomach sleepers.
Every mattress is OEKO-TEX and GREENGUARD Gold certified, but a few components deserve special recognition. For example, the wool within Birch mattresses comes from free-range sheep raised to the standards of the PGC Wrightson Wool Integrity Program. This New Zealand certification standard provides full transparency through the wool supply chain and guarantees that it comes from sheep raised in ethical conditions.
Likewise, the Talalay-brand latex is Rainforest Alliance Certified and sustainably harvested from rubber trees throughout Asia, Africa, and Brazil. Birch also supports the natural world by donating 1% of all sales to the National Forest Foundation and planting one tree for every mattress sold.
- Pricing: $1,199-$1,899 (Queen is $1,699)
- Styles: One (organic latex mattress)
- Materials: Organic latex, organic wool, organic cotton
- Certifications: Certified organic materials
- Sleep Trial: 365-night risk-free trial
If you’re looking for a durable mattress made from all-natural materials, Spindle offers an all-latex design that should keep you comfortable, especially if you are a hot sleeper. Each bed is constructed with three layers of Dunlop latex for a denser, more supportive frame. Two of these layers are rated as medium-firm while the third is firm.
Swap the layers around, and you can adjust the mattress’s firmness level to suit your comfort level. Once you have your ideal setup, it’s still smart to flip these layers on occasion, as the company suggests that this can protect them against impressions and indentions. And, once these layers start wearing out, you can trade them back to the company for new ones at a 30% discount.
Spindle mattress’s latex earns certifications from the Rainforest Alliance and Forest Stewardship Council, meaning that the trees it comes from are sustainably cultivated and managed. The rest of the mattress contains organic wool batting with an organic cotton cover for extra comfort and breathability.
Each Spindle mattress arrives deconstructed within three separate boxes. You’ll be responsible for assembling it on arrival, and the company offers instructional videos online to guide the process (printed instructions are also included).