One of the best things about living in the modern world is the huge number of advances that have been made in materials technology. These days consumers have a vast range of choice between different products made from different materials (that have very different properties).

While some of these materials are completely harmless, most of them are not. You’re going to be in close contact with your mattress every single night, your mouth and nose will be inches away from it and your semi-naked body will be lying on it for at least 7 hours.

Needless to say, this isn’t going to be great for your health.

With that in mind, today we are going to take a look at what makes a mattress toxic and show you a few chemicals and compounds to watch out for. We’re going to conclude with what we think are the top 5 non-toxic mattresses on the market right now in our non-toxic mattress review section.

Let’s get started.

What Makes A Mattress Toxic?

Mattresses can be made from a wide variety of different materials, it’s very unusual to find a mattress these days that is made from a single material. The various properties of materials like memory foam, latex, and comfort foam are often combined in layers to create a final product that contains all the strengths of the various materials combined.

Some materials that are used in mattresses have exceptional properties that provide a brilliant night’s sleep, but they are also often toxic. This is a trade-off that some people are happy with making (and others are not). If any of the various materials inside a mattress are considered to be toxic, then the entire product is classified as a toxic mattress.

Common Toxic Chemicals found in Mattresses

With the huge amount of materials and compounds that are used throughout the mattress industry, it would be a gargantuan task for us to try and list all the toxic compounds you’ll be likely to encounter. However, here are a few that are particularly common:


Foam is perhaps the biggest culprit of toxicity in the mattress world. It can be surprising at first for many people when they learn just how nasty the chemicals involved in the manufacturing process of foam can be. All kinds of synthetic foam contain toxic chemicals, but memory foam is by far the worst.

  • Propylene Oxide – Causes mammary tumors
  • Toluene – A neurotoxin
  • Hydrogen Cyanide – Lethal in high doses

Synthetic Latex

Synthetic latex is another common offender in the world of toxicity. It’s made by mixing two main chemicals together (Tyrene and Butadiene), both of which are classed as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They’re pretty nasty, with some serious health risks.

  • Tyrene – Causes headaches, weakness, fatigue, and hearing loss
  • Butadiene – Causes skin irritation, harms the nervous system, and has been linked to cancer

Chemical Flame Retardants

Mattresses that wish to be sold anywhere in the western world need to conform to very strict health and safety standards – one of which is fire resistance. Quite ironically the chemicals used in mattresses to make us safer from fire are also one of the most toxic parts of the entire product.

There are a few variations of chemical flame retardant you’ll find in mattresses, and none of them are particularly pleasant.

  • Antimony – Causes heart, eye, and lung issues
  • Boric Acid – Causes respiratory issues
  • Halogenated Flame Retardants – Causes impotence, delays puberty, causes thyroid issues

3 Tips For Finding a Non-Toxic Mattress

We suspect that many of you are quite surprised by this point in the article, it can be shocking to learn the extent of the toxicity present in something you spend 7 hours (or more) lying down on each night.

If you want to avoid these chemicals (and the issues that they cause), here are 3 tips you can use to try and avoid as many of them as possible.

Go Natural

There’s no better way to ensure that your mattress is going to be as safe as possible than by going with a product that is made from entirely natural materials.

The market for completely natural mattresses is surprisingly small (perhaps because mattress toxicity is a little-known issue). Due to this, you’ll find very few hybrid mattresses made from layers of different materials that are completely natural on the market (although some do exist).

The vast majority of natural mattresses are single material (more often than not, latex). Either way, they’re a surefire way to ensure safety.

Chemical Fire Retardants

Until very recently it was almost impossible to find a product that met the strict fire safety standards of the western world without using chemical flame retardants. However, as the toxicity of mattresses has started to become a more pressing issue for many consumers – the market has adapted and delivered.

These days there are organic, natural flame retardants that are able to protect you while you sleep without a cocktail of toxic chemicals. They’re far from universal, and only a few specialist products utilize them because they’re much more expensive than their chemical cousins. Keep an eye out for the TB117-2013 label which ensures no toxic chemical flame retardants have been used.


If you’re not in the market for a product that is 100% non-toxic but still want to try and do something about the issue, then going for a CertiPUR certified mattress is a very good compromise. When CertiPUR certifies a mattress it means that the foams used in its design emit a very low amount of VOCs compared to other non CertiPUR certified foams.

What this means in practice is that your mattress is still technically made from materials that are considered toxic. However, a much lower (almost negligible) amount of gasses will be emitted and inhaled from the mattress – keeping you much safer than if you were sleeping on a normal mattress.

5 Best Non Toxic Mattresses

So by now, we know all about the nasty toxic chemical cocktails that are present in the vast majority of mattresses on the market, and we also know what to look out for in a non-toxic (or less toxic) product. Below we are going to list what we think are the top 5 products currently on the market for people who are concerned about the levels of toxins in their mattress.

Nest Bedding – Alexander Signature Series Mattress Buy It

When it comes to all organic, non-toxic products there are few companies in the world (if any) that can even claim to compete with Nest. They are a loved and respected ground-breaking brand who go above and beyond to make products that rival modern mattresses without the levels of high toxicity.

It’s a hybrid product that combines various materials to create one of the best sleeping surfaces on the planet. The top layer is a non-toxic organic cotton quilted cover that ensures none of your body comes into contact with the foam layers below.

The 4 layers that make up the bulk of the mattress are a combination of cooling gel memory foam, Visco memory foam, a ventilated comfort foam, and dense support foam. All of these foam layers are exceptionally low in VOCs. This means that they are still technically toxic (like all foams), but as you’re only in contact with the cotton top layer and they emit very little gas – they’re super safe.

Pros And Cons

  • Pro – Low In VOCs
  • Pro – Cotton layer ensures no contact with toxic foam
  • Pro – Exceptionally comfortable
  • Pro – Stays cool
  • Con – Technically contains toxic materials

Happsy Organic Mattress Buy It

The Happsy organic mattress is the first 100% non-toxic product on our list, and it’s an amazing product from an amazing brand. Happsy has gone out of their way to ensure that this is a mattress that anyone concerned about toxicity will sleep easy on.

Like the Nest product above, the Happsy has a 100% organic cotton plush top covering layer that surrounds the entirety of the mattress. Underneath the cotton layer is a thick, luxurious layer of natural latex which provides contouring properties that are similar to memory foam without the overheating issues. The bulk of the support of the mattress is provided by stainless steel individually wrapped coils (which are again, non-toxic).

The sides and covering layer are all padded with 100% natural organic cotton which adds more luxuriousness and comfort for the sleeper. We strongly recommend you consider the organic pillowtop optional extra which makes it one of the most luxurious night’s sleep on the planet.

Pros And Cons

  • Pro – 100% Organic
  • Pro – 100% Non-toxic
  • Pro – Stays cool
  • Pro – Environmentally friendly
  • Con – Could be a little cheaper

Loom And Leaf Mattress Buy It

The Loom And Leaf mattress is another highly popular product for people concerned about the toxicity of their mattress (despite it containing toxic materials). Like the other foam based products on this list, the top layer of this mattress is made from 100% organic cotton to ensure that no contact is made with the toxic layers below.

Underneath the top layer is a thick layer of cooling gel foam which provides exceptional spinal support while keeping the sleeper cool and comfortable throughout the night. The next layer down is an even thicker wedge of eco-friendly support foam.

These foams are about as environmentally friendly as foam gets thanks to the manufacturing processes and compounds that are used. It’s also completely free from off-gassing, which means you’re not going to be inhaling any toxic chemicals throughout the night.

Pros And Cons

  • Pro – Organic cotton top layer
  • Pro – Cooling gel
  • Pro – Spinal support
  • Pro – No harmful off-gassing
  • Con – Technically contains toxic materials

Purple Mattress Buy It

The purple mattress is currently taking the world by storm thanks to the huge amount of money being spent on TV advertisements promoting the product. It has been described as the memory foam killer, and for a good reason too. It provides the contouring properties of memory foam without any of the negative side effects (like overheating and most importantly, toxicity).

The bulk of the purple mattress is made from a 100% non-toxic hyperelastic polymer that is arranged in a grid-like pattern (called the comfort grid). The combination of the material’s properties and the product’s innovative design pattern provide one of the best night’s sleep you’ll ever have. It sleeps cool, it removes pressure points, and it’s one of the most durable mattresses on the market.

The top layer again is made from organic non-toxic cotton and the bulk of support is made from eco-friendly individually wrapped coils. The only issue with this product is that it’s not exactly cheap – but if you’ve got the budget for it, the Purple is a great choice.

Pros And Cons

  • Pro – One of the most comfortable mattresses in the world
  • Pro – Remains cool throughout the night
  • Pro – Non-toxic
  • Pro – Reasonably eco-friendly
  • Con – Not exactly cheap

Live And Sleep Mattress Buy It

The final product we are recommending today is from the world renowned brand Live And Sleep. They have developed a reputation for providing some of the most comfortable and durable mattresses on the planet (at a very affordable price point).

This is another foam-based product that has an organic cotton cover (to ensure no contact is made with toxic materials). The 2 layers of memory foam that make up the bulk of this mattress are both CentiPUR certified which means they emit negligible amounts of gas that would otherwise cause harm. The first layer is a standard thick chunk of responsive memory foam, and the second layer has been infused with cooling gel to ensure overheating issues are negated almost entirely.

Pros And Cons

  • Pro – CentiPUR certified memory foam
  • Pro – Organic cotton top layer
  • Pro – Very well priced
  • Pro – Exceptional brand
  • Pro – Medium firmness
  • Con – Technically contains toxic materials


So there you have it, all you ever needed to know about the world of toxic mattresses (and how to avoid them). It can be tempting to go for a 100% organic non-toxic product, and if you’ve got the budget for one we highly recommend you do.

But if you’ve got a limited amount you’re prepared to spend then the low VOC foam products are infinitely better than a standard mattress and you’re unlikely to notice any health issues if you opt for one.

As such, all of the products above are more than worthy of your consideration.

Sweet dreams!

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