Today's mattress shopper will find a host of mattress manufacturers describing their product as natural, green, organic, or eco-. This is due to increased consumer awareness and people's desire for healthier, more sustainable products. The challenge for consumers is sorting through all the claims and labels to make a fair determination about a product. Once you get beyond the "natural mattress" hype, what is that mattress really made of? The good news is there are more healthy options for mattress shoppers today than in the past, and people's desire for better manufacturing processes is a healthy one.
Natural should mean that the product is not only derived from natural materials, but that it also has not been treated with toxic chemicals or additives during the manufacturing process. This is an important distinction because a natural material like organic cotton can be altered dramatically from the time it is harvested to its arrival in a retail store. The same goes for other natural bedding materials such as latex and wool. What if, after harvesting the cotton, the manufacturers treat it with chemicals to refine the fabric? What if the latex manufacturer doesn't wash the latex to remove vulcanizers, catalysts, and preservatives (like ammonia)? What if wool is treated with chemical strippers? Are these products still natural?
The truth is, it's asking a lot of consumers—of anyone—to be able to sort out all the nuances that go into the production of a product. But there is a factual baseline consumers should seek when gathering information about a mattress' profile.
What to Look for in a Natural Mattress
If you’re shopping for a natural mattress, look for a mattress that has an end-user certification. End-user certifications assess the state of the product at the point at which the customer comes into contact with it. At the end of the production cycle. A natural mattress is a mattress with components that have stayed natural, from start to finish. Look for a certification from an organization like Oeko-Tex, an independent European testing board that evaluates the chemical content of everything from raw fabrics and materials to finished products.
Getting a straight answer about mattress construction may require knowing the right questions to ask. If your goal is finding a natural mattress, here are some questions you might research yourself or ask a sales associate when shopping.
- Can I see what’s inside the mattress?
- What parts of the mattress are natural? What parts aren’t, and why?
- Is this latex 100% natural or is it a blend? Does it contain any additives?
- What’s the mattress cover made of?
- Does the mattress contain any fire retardants, volatile chemicals, or volatile organic compounds (VOCs)?
- Are your mattresses certified as chemical free? Which testing board do you use?
- Is the mattress glued together? If so, is the adhesive formaldehyde free?
- Does the mattress have an odor when it’s new? (A strong odor can signal the presence of chemicals)
The European Sleep Works Solution
We've been around 40 years, and we started researching, designing, and sourcing natural materials for our mattresses long before the "green" movement. We were motivated by the need we saw for healthier products. Before organic was a buzz word, we found natural materials like cotton, wool and latex provided superior performance when compared to the increasingly synthetic construction model of conventional American-made mattresses. We are committed to making our mattresses safe for you and your families to sleep on—and to feel great. European Sleep Works uses the cleanest natural materials we can find. Here's how we do it:
Washed Cotton—We use superwashed, long-staple, organic cotton woven in Germany, which boasts a Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification and Oeko-Tex certification.
Plein-Air and Merino Wool— The two kinds of wool in European Sleep Works mattresses are both processed by a German company that holds the sheep farmers in their collective to strict standards of animal husbandry. Our suppliers ensure the sheared wool is as pure as possible, harvesting from the sheeps’ backs and bellies only. To rid the wool of lanolin, the wool is washed in three separate soda baths of increasingly high temperatures, followed by a final cold rinse in pure water.
All-Natural Latex—From rubber tree to finished mattress, the latex in our mattresses stays natural. Our manufacturers in Holland and Malaysia don't use chemical cleaners and processes and don’t add clays, silicates, or vanillin (chemical fragrance) to their recipe. We use only all-natural latex that has been thoroughly washed.
- We don't use polyester batting or synthetic fabric for our covers
- We never use polyurethane foam or "memory foam" cushioning
- We never use chemical fire retardants—we use wool instead
We’re proud that European Sleep Works mattresses come with an Oeko-Tex 100 certification. That means our mattresses are non-toxic, safe enough for infant use, and contain no hazardous chemical traces.