Choices: A Mattress Without Chemicals

We now interrupt this blog to bring you an apology (sad kitten face).

sorry cat

If you typically get my blog posts by email, you’ve gotten a few doozies lately. This happens sometimes when I’ve got my ideas all lined up, but the pictures have yet to be taken or edited. What it really means is that I’m out doing something, like earning a living or caring for my family or getting a solid 8 hours of sleep… instead of editing my blog. For a couple of years I’ve been able to schedule these posts and then edit them before they go live, but things change, and that’s not working for me quite as well these days. You deserve better, and so my processes will change. Thanks for your patience. I hope we continue to inspire and inform you here through the blog. Thanks for reading!!!

And now on to today’s feature…

What’s the deal with Flame Retardants in our Mattresses???

Just before 2007, something crazy happened, and most of us snoozed right through it. In 2007, new regulations went into effect requiring all new mattresses to be flame resistant.That meant that all new US mattresses began to be sprayed with chemicals. Yes, even IKEA mattresses. We were supposed to sleep much better now that our heads wouldn’t spontaneously combust at night. Never mind the fact that these flame retardant chemicals are known neurotoxins. Holy smokes!

Why am I bringing this up now? In the process of redesigning my youngest daughter’s room to her first big girl room, I needed to move her from the crib/toddler mattress to a new twin mattress. Shopping for mattresses is still one of the most hated shopping errands of all time. It’s impossible to comparison shop, and it’s driven by personal comfort in a way that can’t be assured until you go unconscious.

I can’t think of any other product we choose while we’re asleep.

When I realized that every conventional mattress I was looking at was also flame resistant, I dug a little deeper.

But let’s get back to my baby, who isn’t such a baby anymore.

I decided not to sign up for well-meaning but frightening chemicals for my child who already coughs more than she should. I already tore up half a house full of carpet in order to battle the “stuff” that is in our environment. Besides, there’s a pretty strong documentation that the flame retardants don’t even work.

My first stop was to an organic sleep shop in my neck of the woods. They have the two main types of mattresses that are considered “naturally flame retardant”, and even though that claim may be somewhat in dispute, they aren’t required to be doused in flame retardant chemicals.

  • Wool
  • Natural latex (made of rubber from the rubber tree)

Both mattresses seemed comfortable enough, and looked pretty comparable in size, shape, and bounce to conventional mattresses. But at nearly $2K for a twin size, I couldn’t quite go there.

The hot trend in mattresses these days, of course, are memory foam mattresses. While many of them state that they don’t have any added flame retardant chemicals, their (usually) proprietary blend of memory foam is all chemicals. Who are we kidding? It’s not as if there is some magical “organic memory foam plant” that we just discovered in the Amazon forest, which is creating the newest generation of beds. I know a lot of people who love the convenience of ordering a compressed mattress online, or who genuinely find they get a great night of sleep on a memory foam mattress. I say, go with whatever works best for you.

In the meantime, join groups like MomsRising who track issues that mean the most to families and present aggregated feedback from parents to congress and the powers that be. You can read their recent call for action regarding flame retardants here.

I ended up over at Wayfair. In order to get an affordable wool mattress, I purchased a bendable mattress that is 8″ thick, comprised of layers of wool, latex, and cotton. Although this is technically a futon mattress, at 8″, this wool and latex mattress from Bio Sleep Concepts about the same thickness of the older innerspring mattress that my older daughter has now (which is not treated with these chemicals, and will do just fine with a little mattress cleaning every now and then). And, it was shipped right to my door.

wool mattress chemical free

She’s been sleeping on this mattress for a couple of weeks now, and she says it is super comfortable. Granted, a six-year-old may not have a lot of experience in this area, but she tells me that she absolutely loves the mattress and falls asleep easily. And who would doubt that face?

chemical free mattress for children

The mattress is fitted right on top of the slats in her new bed. We skipped the box spring, saving money and gaining space under the bed. She doesn’t have the joy of using her bed as a trampoline, but I think it’s a decent trade-off.

chemical-free mattress for kids

The fact that it’s made of wool means that it is also naturally repelling dust mites who, reportedly, won’t live in wool.

My allergy kid has not coughed a night since she started sleeping in her new room.

No coughing. No added chemicals. A comfortable night’s sleep.

It may not be the right answer for everyone, but this mattress looks like a good solution for this little girl.

A redesign don’t mean nuthin’ if it’s only pretty. You have to get down to the stuffing to see what a room is made of.



This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Arlene

    I have a question. My mattress is 2 years old. I can not afford a new one. If I cover it with a plastic mattress cover and then a mattress pad (to prevent sheets from slipping) would that help with the chemical fumes?

  2. Darla

    Arlene, I wish I knew the answer to your question. I would think that a mattress encasement bag, similar to those recommended for bed bugs, is a good option if you are trying to contain the mattress itself. I hope that you aren’t afflicted with actual fumes from a mattress causing reactions like some I’ve read about. Most of us aren’t prepared to throw out what we have, but I hope this information helps us be better consumers and- for heavens sake- make some noise with your representative and the Consumer Product Safety Commission about this. Thanks for reading!

  3. Mary Ann Mallory

    Thanks for the post. I was not familiar with the new chemicals placed on mattresses and I am in the market for a new one too. This will be helpful.

    1. Darla

      Hi Mary Ann, I hate to put up a post and not have a snappy answer for the problem, but this is an awful situation created by our lovely lobbyists and legislators, so it’s not an easy fix. Given what I know now, I’m hanging onto my old mattresses longer, since there is momentum from consumers to get these chemicals out of our bedding. Please call your congress rep. And then check all these alternative options, like mattress toppers and organic mattresses, before buying at a local sleep shop. Maybe even investigate receiving an older, lightly-used mattresses from a family member’s guest room. If you have a bona fide health problem, you can also get a prescription from your physician to order a standard mattress without the chemicals. That just seems ironic and wrong to me, that only certain people can get the healthy mattresses, but what do I know?

Comments are closed.