Latex mattresses can be great for allergy sufferers, and unlike many conventional mattresses, are free from fossil fuels. Read on to decide whether a latex mattress is right for you.
Table of Contents
- Advantages of latex mattresses
- 1. Better for folks with allergies
- 2. Latex is a natural material – not made from fossil fuels
- 3. Latex lasts longer
- 4. Latex can be recycled and is biodegradable
- 5. Latex is great if you sleep warm!
- 6. Latex is easy to maintain
- The downsides of latex mattresses
- 1. Latex mattresses can be quite heavy
- 2. Latex mattresses smell (at first!)
- 3. Latex mattresses can be a bit pricey
- Our latex mattress reviews
There’s no shortage of great quality natural latex mattresses on the market, but is latex a good material to sleep on? Here are the pros and cons of latex mattresses, and some solutions to the few downsides.
Advantages of latex mattresses
1. Better for folks with allergies
It might seem counterintuitive, but latex mattresses are actually a great option for folks with certain kinds of allergies. Specifically, if you are sensitive to household allergens like bacteria, mold, and mildew, rest assured that these are unable to grow in natural latex mattresses. Latex is naturally antimicrobial, resists mildew, and doesn’t harbor dust mites, so it’s especially good for people with asthma.
This is not the case with polyurethane foam mattresses that can develop horrendous infestations even before they leave the warehouse! One study found that 40.5 percent of synthetic foam mattresses without covers, and even 26.3 percent with covers, harbored dust mite feces!
Allergic to latex itself? Don’t rule out a latex mattress. Most such mattresses are entirely wrapped with another material, such as cotton and/or wool. This means you’re not likely to ever directly handle the latex itself, so you can still enjoy all the benefits of a natural latex mattress without worry.
2. Latex is a natural material – not made from fossil fuels
Most conventional mattresses are made of petroleum products. That’s right, you may be sleeping every night on a polyurethane foam mattress that is only a few chemical reactions away from the gasoline in your fuel tank. The stuff of nightmares? Yep. For your health and for the environment.
Latex is made from the sap of the rubber tree and is entirely sustainable as tapping the sap doesn’t kill the tree. In fact, rubber trees can provide rubber serum for up to 30 years. Add a few non-toxic ingredients to the mix and you can turn this sap into soft latex (Talalay) or firmer Dunlop latex. This natural latex is firm, bouncy, and durable and is ideal for creating molded mattresses, pillows, seat cushions, dog beds, and more!
3. Latex lasts longer
Unlike polyurethane foam, latex foam doesn’t break down in a matter of months. In fact, latex mattresses can last for many years, or even a decade or longer! Most foam mattresses lose a third of their density within a year, meaning a much less comfortable sleep. And where does all that material go? It becomes household dust that you and your family (and any pets!) breathe in every day.
Latex mattresses have a lot more life in them, making them much more economical in the long run, in addition to being better for your health and the environment.
4. Latex can be recycled and is biodegradable
Although latex isn’t as biodegradable as wool or cotton, it can be easily recycled and is a great material for use as underfloor insulation or other fill. Then, when its usefulness has come to an end, natural latex will biodegrade without releasing toxins into the environment, unlike polyurethane foam.
5. Latex is great if you sleep warm!
Latex is naturally porous and disperses heat, meaning that it’s a great choice for anyone who sleeps warm. Tend to get chilly at night? Don’t worry, just choose a mattress with a wool cover or add a cozy mattress topper and a latex mattress can still serve you well.
6. Latex is easy to maintain
Like to drink your coffee in bed? Got kids? Latex is a great choice for mattress material.
Latex is easy to care for as you can wipe it down with warm soapy water, dab dry with a towel and let it air dry. Simple!
The downsides of latex mattresses
1. Latex mattresses can be quite heavy
Natural latex is quite dense, so it’s no surprise that huge slabs of it, as found in mattresses, can be pretty darn heavy. If you’re buying a whole mattress made of layers of latex, be prepared to lift that weight and have help on hand. You’ll also want to be sure you can comfortably lift the mattress to change bedding.
A latex and innerspring mattress is a great choice if you want the benefits of latex but need a lighter mattress overall. This is also a good option if you like a bit more bounce in your mattress. Another option is to choose a mattress made up of individual layers of latex. That way, when you need to move the whole mattress, you can do so in stages and reassemble as needed.
2. Latex mattresses smell (at first!)
There’s no getting around it, a fresh latex mattress will smell of rubber. It’s a natural material after all.
Don’t worry though, this smell is not a sign that your mattress is off-gassing noxious chemicals. And if you air out the mattress for a couple of days to a week before sleeping on it, the smell will dissipate and become undetectable.
3. Latex mattresses can be a bit pricey
Latex mattresses tend to be a little more expensive than some other mattresses made with natural materials. The cost is usually dependent on certifications, with more robustly certified mattresses costing more (think GOLS and FairRubber). These certifications are important though as they indicate that the product is made using certified organic rubber sourced in a sustainable way by workers who are well treated and properly paid.
And, again, even if the initial outlay is a bit higher for a latex mattress, the cost per year of use will actually be lower in most cases as these mattresses are long-lasting. They also have a much lower cost to the environment overall!
And, if you’re not in a rush for a mattress, be sure to buy when there’s a sale!
Check out our top picks for eco-friendly mattresses here.
Our latex mattress reviews
We have reviewed several latex mattresses individually at LeafScore. These include: