Mattresses have come a long way since horsehair and hay. With hundreds of mattresses on the market, though, how do you know which one to choose? And are those ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘non-toxic’ mattresses really green and clean? Here’s the Mattresses 101.
Table of Contents
Types of mattress
Most modern mattresses fall into one of the following categories:
- Polyfoam / memory foam
- Polyfoam plus innersprings
- Polyfoam plus natural latex
- Latex hybrid with innersprings
- All-cotton futon or all-wool futon (with a cotton cover).
Each type of mattress has pros and cons, though the polyfoam options are decidedly not eco-friendly or non-toxic. Here’s why we don’t recommend polyfoam mattresses (or sofas or pillows, for that matter!).
Natural mattress materials
Once you’ve decided to give polyfoam a pass, it’s much easier to find a mattress right for your sleep needs. Narrowing the field means you can choose between a latex hybrid mattress featuring latex and innerspring coils, an all-latex mattress, or a simpler futon made with just cotton or cotton and wool.
How can you choose with confidence, though? We help guide you on your quest for great sleep by talking through the:
- Pros and cons of natural latex as an alternative to synthetic foam
- Differences between Dunlop and Talalay latex
- Innersprings or metal coils in mattresses.
Suffice it to say, most (but not all!) modern innerspring mattresses have come a long way from those nightmarish oh-so-bouncy monstrosities with poky springs clearly visible through thin cotton batting. If it’s been a while since you tried a metal coil mattress, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.
We answer the questions keeping you up at night, including whether your mattress emits electromagnetic radiation and why pocket coils are the way to go, especially if you have a sleep partner who tosses and turns.
For a truly non-toxic, eco-friendly sleep set-up, we also scrutinize certifications and ask…
How green and clean is a mattress really?
If you like the idea of an eco-friendly, non-toxic, organic mattress, you probably already know a few of the certifications to look for when comparing mattress options. What do these certifications really mean, though, and when are they just another example of greenwashing?
Find out more about:
- Important mattress certifications
- Why GreenGuard Gold isn’t the gold standard for eco-friendly, non-toxic mattresses
- The Made Safe™ mattress companies pushing the industry to do better
- Oeko-tex and what it really means.
Now you’ve got the 101 on mattress materials and certifications, let’s jump into finding a mattress that meets your specific needs.
Choosing the right mattress for you
The right kind of mattress for you and your family will depend on how you sleep, your body type and any health issues, where you live, and your budget, among other things. That’s why we’ve put together carefully curated recommendations for a wide range of needs, including the best non-toxic mattresses for:
- Back pain
- Heavier adults
- Lighter adults
In the LeafScore Guide to Mattresses, we also look at the best:
- Mattress in a box
- Mattress toppers
Mattress brands we love (and don’t love!)
Finally, the Leaf Score Guide to Mattresses offers in-depth reviews of a wide range of more eco-friendly mattress brands and their mattress options. Wherever possible, we test out these mattresses to provide a first-hand perspective on performance, packaging, and what’s really inside that cotton cover.
As we put together our list, we look for mattress makers we can actually stomach, meaning ones with a solid approach to sustainability. Sure, there are dozens of stomach-sleeper-friendly mattresses available to buy online but most are made with petrochemicals by companies that don’t really care about people and planet, even if they have a ‘natural’ mattress greenwashed with a scrap of organic cotton.
Our wish list for mattress-makers includes:
- A transparent and ethical supply chain
- A fully organic and sustainable product line
- Audited and certified ethical factories
- Carbon neutral shipping and operations
- Closed loop, zero-waste programs
- U.S. manufacture for reduced carbon emissions
We also strongly favor mattress brands with a record of exemplary customer service and that have a charitable arm of their business. Ideally, these are B Corporations or 1% for the Planet members that donate mattresses to people in need.
Some of our favorite companies making mattresses include:
- Naturepedic / Happsy
- Savvy Rest
- My Green Mattress.
As more mattress companies pop up or switch their polyfoam products to more sustainable, non-toxic materials, we’ll keep adding reviews and updating our top 10 lists. And while we like to keep things positive here at Leaf Score, we’re not averse to highlighting so-called eco-friendly mattress brands that are greenwashing bog-standard planet-polluting products made with toxic chemicals.
Looking for information on eco-friendly, non-toxic, organic crib mattresses? We’ve got you covered here.