How to Buy a Safe, Reasonably Priced Mattress Without Harmful Chemicals

Updated on July 2, 2016
It's easier to sleep peacefully knowing your mattress is free from toxins.
It's easier to sleep peacefully knowing your mattress is free from toxins. | Source

I recently came across an interesting story about a man named Michael Paese. Six years ago he developed debilitating health problems. His energy levels were depleted and he slept most of the day. He also had difficulty focusing and developed a serious metabolic disorder. As a former triathlete he knew something was radically wrong. Fortunately he had a very intelligent internist that asked him if anything changed in his life when he became ill. The only thing he could think of that had changed was his new bed. Even though it seemed like a long shot, he decided to replace his mattress again. Amazingly enough, after getting rid of his mattress he began to recover over time, and is finally able to compete in triathlons again. Later his wife admitted that she was convinced he had been dying, but was afraid to say so.

Unfortunately, there are numerous stories that are very similar to this one. I had been wondering about the safety of our mattresses for years, but Michael's story finally prompted me to do some serious research.

We spend approximately one third of our life sleeping (and a lot of us spend additional time lying around in bed). The typical mattress is comprised of many harmful toxins that over time build up in the body leading to an overall decline in health. Few people know about this, but a little research yields a lot of proof. If you could change this potentially dangerous aspect of your environment without much effort, wouldn't you make it a priority?

I decided that due to my history of cancer and the reality of sleeping on a mattress that had seen better days it was time to finally get a new, safer one. Some of my earlier research had led me to believe that the only way to get a mattress without the harmful chemical flame retardants was to get a doctor's note, and then I'd be left with a dangerously flammable sleeping environment. In addition, such a custom request could be prohibitively expensive. Fortunately, it turns out I was incorrect, and the goal was much easier to accomplish than I feared.

In fact, after doing research for this article I feel compelled to replace the mattresses my children use as well. I was surprised how dangerous the majority of mattresses really are and how many chronic illnesses that often seem to mystify doctors can be cured by simply removing dangerous mattresses from the house.

These beautiful  beds can be deceptive.
These beautiful beds can be deceptive. | Source

Would you pay slightly more for an organic mattress that uses wool rather than toxic chemicals?

See results

Dangerous Chemicals are Contained in Most Mattresses.

90% of all mattresses contain numerous harmful chemicals such as polyurethane foam, formaldehyde, and cotton pesticides. However the real danger is in the toxic chemicals used as a flame retardant.The Consumer Products Safety Commission requires all mattresses sold in the U.S. to be able to withstand thirty minutes of exposure to an open flame. Soaking the mattress in chemicals is the most economical way for mattress companies to comply with these requirements. Some of the chemicals that coat the entire mattress are boric acid (poison that causes hair loss, skin reactions, and serious illness), antimony (arsenic that can cause kidney and liver damage and even cancer), silicon (a carcinogen that causes respiratory issues), melamine (a carcinogen found in industrial cleaners), formaldehyde (another carcinogen), and decabromodiphenyl oxide (another carcinogen). As you all know, a carcinogen is a substance capable of causing cancer.

These chemicals ultimately leach through any mattress covers or sheets and are absorbed through the skin. When you spend approximately one third of your life sleeping, how can you rest peacefully knowing you may be filling your body with harmful chemicals?

Fun Mattress Facts:

  1. The average memory foam mattress emits 61 chemicals.
  2. Many people have complained of rashes, flu-like symptoms, sore throats, and frequent nosebleeds after purchasing a new mattress.
  3. Using carcinogens as a flame retardant is much more economical than using natural organic wool but is no more effective.

How Safe is Your Mattress?

Why are these Chemicals Dangerous?

The toxins from the materials used in most mattresses build up in the body leading to an overall deterioration of one's health. Here are just a few of the side effects that can result from chemicals used in the majority of mattresses:

  • Cancer
  • Brain damage
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Learning and memory deficits
  • SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
  • Damage to the heart,lungs, and kidneys
  • Birth Defects
  • Skin rashes

A Safer Alternative

When I began my research I was pleasantly surprised to discover that wool has flame-retardant properties that are sufficient to comply with the requirements set by the Consumer Products Safety commission. Therefore, there is no need whatsoever to coat mattresses with poisonous chemicals. I then thought I would have to pay an exorbitant price or might be unable to find a place that sells mattresses that use wool. The reality is there are numerous places to choose from both online as well as within 20 minutes of my home. Because there are many options, the prices are competitive and now I simply have to visit a few stores and read reviews before selecting a mattress.

I will be returning to this toxic free mattress store in Westport,CT ready to negotiate.
I will be returning to this toxic free mattress store in Westport,CT ready to negotiate. | Source

Never assume that simply because a store claims to sell organic mattresses that they are guaranteed to be free of toxic chemicals. The term 'organic' simply means there is at least one organic material used in the mattress. You need to determine that ALL the material that the mattress is comprised of is organic and free from harmful chemicals. This was very easy to verify in the stores that sell chemical-free mattresses because they volunteered the information without being asked.

The first store I went into had many mattresses comprised of wool, cotton, and natural latex at varying price ranges.The ones at the lower end of the price range felt a little too firm but due to my budget I may have to sacrifice a little comfort. The owner was very helpful and answered all my questions. The store also sold pillows and mattress covers that are free from toxins. I sensed there was room for negotiation and I will return after visiting a few other stores and researching the online companies.

If you are unable to purchase a safe organic mattress you can improve your situation by covering your mattress in plastic to create a barrier to the leaching chemicals. The plastic cover should be comprised of polyethylene because that is the safest. Other plastics may leach chemicals. Ultimately a new safe organic mattress is the best option but a plastic cover will create a significant improvement.

When you are ready to purchase your next mattress for yourself or a family member, think about the risks associated with your purchase. Perhaps you should consider buying one that has not been soaked in chemicals that in turn have the potential to soak into your skin and cause future health problems. If the demand for chemical-free products grows, then manufacturers will be forced to make changes, benefiting the consumers who buy them. Make the effort to change your own environment one product at a time and you will reap all the health benefits.

Chemical Free Mattress Prices

Mattress Store
Matress size
Sleep etc.
Sleep etc.
King/Cal. King
Savvy Rest
Savvy Rest
Healthy Choice Organic Mattresses
Healthy Choice Organic Mattresses
King/Cal. King

Questions & Answers


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      • healthylife2 profile image

        Healthy Life 14 months ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Vladimir,

        It's amazing how many detrimental chemicals we are exposed to while just living our life. You can't avoid everything but it's good to minimize the risk when possible. Thank you so much for stopping by. Have a great weekend. Amy

      • ValKaras profile image

        Vladimir Karas 14 months ago from Canada

        Thank you for this amazing information. Who would ever think that beside all other ways we already are being poisoned...

      • healthylife2 profile image

        Healthy Life 21 months ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi rapha,

        I recommend using a temperature controlled mattress pad or temperature controlled mattress. Also add a nice organic cooling pillow. In addition make sure your environment is cool with a fan or air conditioner. Good luck and let me know how it works out!

      • profile image

        healthylife2 21 months ago

        Hi rapha,

        There are many temperature regulating mattress pads or mattress toppers.You can even buy a mattress that allows you to regulate the temperature. I also recommend an organic cooling pillow. Good luck and let me know if you have any success!

      • profile image

        rapha 21 months ago

        Hello, I moved in the US a year ago, and I was not able to sleep well ever since and the reason is that the surface of my body gets hot when I sleep and this is very much uncomfortable. I read in the journal that your body temperature should be cool to rest well.

        I am uset to sleep on my belly... At first, I thought the problem was due to the softness and memory form of the mattress which did not allow me to sleep on my belly. Long story short, I bought a stronger mattress from Sleepys. Turns out, I am still hot on my body surface and unable to sleep on my belly either...

        I am guessing that the lattex or silicon they put in the mattress is what creates the temperature to overheat.

        I am desperate after 4 mattresses in 1 year that have basically been doing this: overheating my body temperature...

        Please help me!

      • profile image

        healthylife2 23 months ago

        Hi Greg,

        I agree that you should be able to return a mattress. There is no way to really determine the comfort level without sleeping on it. It sounds like the mattresses were soaked in formaldehyde. Sometimes returning things is a hassle but I think if this happens in the future you definitely will return it. It's horrible that the industry still uses formaldehyde and I hope one day societal pressure will lead to change and make all mattresses safe.

      • profile image

        Greg Trent 23 months ago

        When a mattress is returned to a store it bought from cause a customer, says he doesn't like it, but really he or she has to move out of town, cause of his job, most likely, well I think that the mattress company, who takes back the mattress sends it to be refurbished, and that is done with formaldehyde , for my wife and I bought two new mattresses we thought, but they stunk like formaldehyde , so we was unable to sleep on them, we should have returned them, to this day I don't know why we didn't , but, my wife decided to sleep on hers anyhow after a while, I could not talk her out of it, so she slept on hers, I did not sleep on mine for another two months I believe it was

      • healthylife2 profile image

        Healthy Life 2 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Alicia,

        When I had to start to be concerned about exposure to chemicals I was also amazed that harmful toxins are everywhere. I have gradually been replacing things with a less toxic version over time. I strongly agree with you that companies should care about health as much as making a profit. This just shows how important it is to be your own advocate. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment! I hope you are enjoying your weekend:)

      • AliciaAH profile image

        Alicia Alarco-Hernandez 2 years ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

        Thanks for sharing such an important article. It sickens me that we have to worry about so many things such as a mattress. This was the last thing on my mind that's harmful to our health. I'm so tired of hearing chemicals being put on everything we use & eat. I don't understand why they would use harmful chemicals on mattresses that will cause people and children to get sick and possibly die from. Then the safe mattresses are highly expensive. These companies need to think about people's well being in every area of life not just on one part such as applying flame retardant to protect us from burning in our beds, they also need to keep in mind how those chemicals will affect our overall health. Thanks for the awareness

      • healthylife2 profile image

        Healthy Life 2 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hii pinkhawk,

        I;m so happy you found this hub useful. It's amazing that a mattress has so many toxic substances in it and that no warnings are required on products to assist the consumer in making informed choices. I guess that supports the theory that we have to really be our own advocate. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment.

      • pinkhawk profile image

        pinkhawk 2 years ago from Pearl of the Orient

        This is such a useful hub, never thought that even mattress has toxic substances dwelling with it... thank you for the information and raising our awareness about this.

      • healthylife2 profile image

        Healthy Life 2 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Erin,

        I'm so happy you found the information useful. It's amazing that toxins can be found in the so many places. It's impossible to avoid exposure to all toxins but it's a good idea to try to minimize the risk when possible. A new mattress will be in the near future for me so I will be following my own advice. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I will stop by soon to check out your hubs.

      • erinshelby profile image

        erinshelby 2 years ago from United States

        Extremely interesting information. I never, ever would have imagined that a mattress could contain chemicals that could be hazardous to a person's health. I'll definitely be researching this further. A new mattress, I'm sure, will be in my future.

      • healthylife2 profile image

        Healthy Life 2 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Susan,

        This seems to be one of many environmental issues that cause health problems in the general population. I wish I had this information when my children were babies. Toxins are everywhere in our world so it helps to replace one thing at a time with a long term goal of minimizing exposure to toxins. Thank you for your comment and it was a really nice surprise to get HOTD.

      • healthylife2 profile image

        Healthy Life 2 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Melissa,

        Thanks you so much for taking the time to read this. I will have to stop by soon to check out your hubs soon!

      • healthylife2 profile image

        Healthy Life 2 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi KristineKaren,

        People spend a high percentage of their time sleeping so a safe mattress is worth the investment. Thank you for the vote!

      • healthylife2 profile image

        Healthy Life 2 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Kristen,

        Thank you for your kind words and support. . I'm happy you found this information helpful. Nice to hear your new mattress has worked well. I love IKEA too.

      • healthylife2 profile image

        Healthy Life 2 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Millionaire Tips,

        A plastic cover is very effective. You can use the information when you get your next mattress. It was so cool to log on and find out I had HOTD for the first time. Thanks for your kind comment.

      • healthylife2 profile image

        Healthy Life 2 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi RTalloni,

        Thanks so much for coming back and thank you for the kind words! I always thought it would be so exciting to get Hub of the Day but never expected it to happen.

      • Melissa Orourke profile image

        Melissa Orourke 2 years ago from Roatán, Islas De La Bahia, Honduras

        Thank you for sharing this great information! Thumbs up!

      • SusanDeppner profile image

        Susan Deppner 2 years ago from Arkansas USA

        Very interesting topic. I've said for years that SOMETHING has to be causing many of the now-common health problems that we see in the general population, particularly in children. This makes me wonder how safe (or not) it is to put our babies on a typical crib mattress. Horrifying to think of the chemicals that could be leeching into those precious little bodies. Congratulations on HOTD and thanks for writing this. Lots to think about.

      • Millionaire Tips profile image

        Shasta Matova 2 years ago from USA

        Congratulations on HOTD. I saw this hub too late, as I recently bought a new mattress. Hopefully, I will be able to air it out and cover it with plastic to avoid the toxins.

      • RTalloni profile image

        RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

        Back to say congrats on your Hub of the Day award for this post on an important topic. Thanks again for sharing the info.

      • Kristen Howe profile image

        Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

        Congrats on HOTD! This was a powerful read about our mattresses. Very useful and interesting to know about the health risks.A year ago, I've purchased a new bed (and mattress) from IKEA to help out with my back problem. I've had no problems with it. Voted up!

      • kristinekaren profile image

        kristinekaren 2 years ago from Philippines

        Voted up! Sleeping is a serious matter so we really have to decide the best to sleep on.

      • healthylife2 profile image

        Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        That's a very good question and something I will add to my hub Rebecca. The mattress can be covered with a plastic cover but make sure it is made of polyethylene plastic because that is the safest. Other plastics will leach their own chemicals. In this economy any new mattress is expensive but in the end worth getting when economically possible. Thanks so much for the visit and taking the time to comment. I hope you stop by again. Have a great weekend!

      • Rebecca Furtado profile image

        Rebecca Furtado 4 years ago from Anderson, Indiana

        For those of us who can not afford a organic mattress; do you have any suggestions to make they less inclined to leech toxins into our bedding? Great hub.

      • healthylife2 profile image

        Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi midget38! Glad this information was useful! I was happy to find there were reasonably priced options for a mattress without all the scary chemicals. Always nice to see you:)

      • midget38 profile image

        Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

        Wow, you know, I've never thought too much about this. Thanks for sharing with us. Now I know that I will be careful when I buy my next mattress!!

      • healthylife2 profile image

        Healthy Life 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Brett! It is scary that dangerous chemicals are allowed everywhere including personal care products and cosmetics. I'm learning that we have to all do our own research in order to make informed decisions. Yeah...many people are tricked by the organic label too! I hope eventually there are many more options to eat and use products that are chemical free and much safer. Thanks so much for the share,vote, and tweet. Hope you had an awesome weekend:)

      • Brett.Tesol profile image

        Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

        This is actually quite concerning! How is this legal? It is ridiculous that it is allowed, especially when you consider how much time you spend in bed. The 'organic' definition is crazy too, it is like saying an entire meal is organic, just because it contains some organic carrot pieces.

        Up, interesting, useful, pinned, tweeted and shared.

      • healthylife2 profile image

        Healthy Life 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        I was surprised too vibesites but there are entire forums where people discuss health issues that have resulted from their mattress. Fortunately there are safe alternatives out there.Thanks so much for the comment and vote!

      • vibesites profile image

        vibesites 5 years ago from United States

        I never thought something as innocent-looking as a mattress would cause such deadly diseases! Thanks for posting. Up and useful.

      • healthylife2 profile image

        Healthy Life 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        @donnah75...I am glad you came across this at the right time and I hope you consider a mattress without harmful chemicals.I was surprised how many places sell the safer mattress. They are out there if you look. I couldn't agree more that there is nothing more valuable than health. Thank you so much for taking your time to read this and I really appreciate the vote and sharing!!

      • healthylife2 profile image

        Healthy Life 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Kasman! I have to agree this is pretty scary stuff. My husband and I both developed chronic sinus infections and are now wondering if the mattress is the culprit, We will find out and update this. Now it's time for you to find an entertaining hub that causes some serious laughter to balance out the scary ones. I really appreciate the vote and share and hope you are having an awesome weekend!

      • donnah75 profile image

        Donna Hilbrandt 5 years ago from Upstate New York

        Wow, this is eye opening. I have been thinking about replacing my bed. I came across your article at the right time. Nothing is more valuable than our health. Thank you. Voting up and sharing.

      • Kasman profile image

        Kas 5 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

        This is the second very frightening and enlightening hub I've read tonight so far. 2 in a row now, I'm on a roll. I think my wife and I need to look into a new about the fear of God. whew.....

        Voting this up and I'm sharing big time! I think I may even save this to bookmarks! Very well written.

      • healthylife2 profile image

        Healthy Life 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        @rajan...It really is scary how many stories I read about people that regained their health after returning their mattresses. I hope one day companies decide to use safer alternatives. The chemicals do eventually go right through the mattress covers and into the air and are absorbed. It's always nice to see you and thanks so much for the vote and share!

      • rajan jolly profile image

        Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

        This information is certainly interesting and useful. It never did strike me that these chemicals could affect one's health to such a degree. It is surprising how these chemicals can soak into the skin even after having a bedsheet and a bed cover over the mattress.

        Voted up, useful, interesting and sharing.

      • healthylife2 profile image

        Healthy Life 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        I'm so glad you read this before purchasing your new bed Peg! When you go shopping make sure you ask what is used for a flame retardant and if any other chemicals are used. It can be considered organic if only one organic material is used and may still contain numerous chemicals. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.Good luck with the new mattress and I hope to see you again!

      • healthylife2 profile image

        Healthy Life 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Hi Susan! I'm so glad this article inspired you to do further research and to evaluate your own safety. I also hope you take the opportunity to investigate some of the safer alternatives out there. I'm convinced I began getting chronic sinus infections when I purchases my current mattress and they became worse over time. I guess I will find out when I ultimately replace my mattress. I really appreciate the vote and share!

      • healthylife2 profile image

        Healthy Life 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Excellent point L.L. Woodard! I hope more people choose mattresses that use wool rather than toxic chemicals forcing more companies to stop using these deadly chemicals based upon supply and demand. It was also amazing to learn how many illnesses the workers in mattress companies suffered as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals. Thank you so much for the vote and share!

      • PegCole17 profile image

        Peg Cole 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

        The timing on this hub is perfect as we are in the market for a new bed after a number of years on the same one. Your research is truly enlightening. Thanks so much. I'll be looking into organic.

      • Just Ask Susan profile image

        Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

        This has sure opened my eyes and I had to go and have a look at what people were saying about the Tempurpedic mattress (which is what I have). Your article along with what I've seen on a few other sites has alerted me to a few symptoms my husband and I have been having.

        Voting +++ and sharing.

      • L.L. Woodard profile image

        L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City

        How ironic that the very requirements of the Consumer Products Safety Commission are the very ones that result in mattresses being inundated with toxic chemicals. Of course, the CFSC only specifies a certain level of flame resistance and it is the companies who choose to comply by taking the easy way out that are really the culprits.

        Thanks for bringing the important topic to our attention. Great hub; voted up and Shared.

      • healthylife2 profile image

        Healthy Life 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        RTalloni...How frustrating to find such a fabulous mattress and have to return it! However,based on my research it's a good thing you did. Although you have to go up a little in price many of the chemical free mattresses are quite comfortable. I'm not sure where you are located but I was surprised how many places that sell chemical free mattresses in my area exist. I prefer to walk into a place to test out the mattress but there are numerous online options also. Just make sure they have a good return policy. Thanks so much for adding value to this article by sharing your story!

      • RTalloni profile image

        RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

        After purchasing a Swedish origin mattress we had to return it. It was fabulously, incredibly, delightfully comfortable--oh how I wanted to sleep on it, but I could not stay in the same room with it. We were advised to air it, to walk on it with the windows open, to give it time, but the smell made me feel like throwing up. My husband managed to sleep on it for 3 nights, but it had to go back. The fumes were sickening. Long story short, we are keeping an eye out for a comfortable and healthy mattress. Thanks for this info.


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