How to Care for Your Organic Mattress?

Is there one answer about how to care for your organic mattress? Not necessarily: I went to several San Francisco Bay Area bedding showrooms and was offered different advice.

I found on two occasions that the natural latex mattress I was inquiring about didn’t require any special care, like flipping.

The reason being, according to owner Leonard Laxamana of Ergo Sleep Systems in Berkeley, CA is because “latex is durable.”  I found the same information upon visiting Latex International’s website.

Well that’s good news for the busy consumer…

But opinions differ – especially about specifics on how to care for something. When I visited my third showroom – A Happy Planet, in San Francisco – the owner, Kevin Kirby, said special care like flipping would help me get the most value out of my investment.

Here are some other suggestions he made which you may find useful:

  • (1) Flip and rotate your mattress – from head to foot. Annually
  • (2) If you have innerspring use both sides (unless it’s non-reversible) – this will help you get the most out it
  • (3) Put it on the right surface –  a slatted foundation is key for ventilation
  • (4) Protect it – when you change the sheets on the weekend, don’t put the sheets right back on.  Allow the natural fibers in your mattress to breathe
  • (5) Mattress cover – re: organic cotton with wool blend. If you have a removable, zippered cover, take it off and place it in the sun for a couple of hours. This will air it out and get rid of any odors. FYI: The sun is nature’s disinfectant and will kill smell causing bacteria

At A Happy Planet, the care-approach for the organic mattresses in his showroom is admittedly European… it’s all about opening it up, flipping it, and airing it in the sun. This old world approach is simple and reflects two goals (1) to evenly wear the mattress surface and (2) to air out the natural fibers and latex, all of which need to breathe.  

For the sake of natural latex, a slatted foundation allows this living material to breathe and, therefore, last longer. For Kevin, the customer can buy a healthy comfortable mattress that will last for years.  Buying for value not just price is what it’s all about. He wants to see his customers get 20 years out of their mattress. And, according to Latex International, a latex mattresses should easily last that long!

How do I Trust that my Mattress is Organic?

Misleading marketers make it difficult to trust that you are buying what they say. This is also the case today with misleading “eco labeling.” Buying an organic mattress is a challenge because you have to know how to distinguish the false claims from the true claims. We hope this won’t be the case much longer; the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently revised its Guides for the use of environmental marketing. Hopefully, this should make green claims more credible and shopping for an organic mattress less of a workout. For now, here’s how to move forward.

Verify 100% Natural Latex

USDA Organic Logo

If you are buying an organic latex mattress check and make sure that it is 100% natural latex. According to Walter Bader, author of Toxic Bedrooms, you might want to go so far as to get written assurance if you are in doubt. Why? Currently the label law doesn’t require manufacturers to disclose the percentages of synthetic latex (petroleum based) or natural latex (plant based, from Hevea brasiliensis) within a latex mattress. Therefore, a manufacturer can call the latex mattress “natural” when most of the mattress is in fact made of synthetic latex. Call the manufacturer to verify!


Verify Certified Organic Wool and Cotton:

Most organic mattresses are made with similar materials. These include certified organic wool, certified organic cotton, 100% natural latex and innersprings. To learn more about what’s in your organic mattress, read this blog post.

Keep in mind that you want the manufacturer using “certified organic” materials, not just organic or natural or eco or green. If it doesn’t say certified organic wool, (sometimes it will say pure wool, which is ….) if it doesn’t say certified organic cotton, again instead uses words like 100 percent natural cotton, undyed and unbleached cotton it’s not certified organic cotton without chemicals, so stay away. These are misleading marketing words designed to make you think that you are getting a chemical free mattress and you’re not.

Verification: Certified Organic Look for National Organic Program Certification

Just so you know, by way of third party certification a manufacturer can prove the claim that his product is made with certified organic fibers. This is a voluntary (often expensive annual) certification and numerous organic mattress makers choose to do this because it substantiates the claim that the mattress is made with certified organic cotton and wool.

Here are several of the certifying agents you might see: Oregon Tilth, CCOF Certification Services, and Organic Certifiers. If you are interested, take a look at the list of USDA-accredited organic certifying agents on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website.

What is an Organic Mattress Made Of?

an example of an organic mattess
An example of an organic mattress by OMI

When you think of an organic mattress, think of goodness. That’s because the ingredient list is so simple that there is no need for a mattress-load of toxic chemicals.


Makers of organic mattresses share in their usage of 5 or so materials. However, the way they use or combine these materials, and which ones they use, is much like a chef making a dish. A chef wouldn’t combine ingredients without a plan, neither does a mattress manufacturer.

In fact, you may not be aware, but most modern mattresses are made with certain components that allow the end product to be supportive and comfortable; this includes organic mattresses.

The overall mattress composition includes:  (1) the core – which offers support; (2) padding layers – which offer insulation, support and structure; and (3) covering/ticking – offers support and insulation. Often made of many layers; the outer covering fabric is closest to your skin.

Generally in an organic mattress: (1) the core is made of natural latex, innerspring and/or a combination of both.  (2) Padding layers are made with all organic cotton, all organic wool, or both.  (3) covering/ticking is made with organic cotton and organic wool.  To meet state and federal flammability standards organic mattresses primarily use wool beneath the top cover fabric.

The 4 key materials used in an organic mattress:

  • 100% Natural Latex
  • Certified Organic Wool
  • Certified Organic Cotton
  • Coils/Innerspring


Notice the above list includes “certified organic” and “100% natural latex” If buying an organic mattress, make sure that you are getting 100% certified organic ingredients, read our article to learn more.

Imagining Tomorrow’s Adjustable Bed

The Prodigy App for the iPhone

Adjustable bed features are growing and so are the marketing efforts to get young consumers NOT to associate adjustable beds with hospital beds — which apparently they do, according to this article in the Wall Street Journal. To do this, mattress manufacturers are replacing the term “adjustable” with “power” and hope that this works.

If things go their way, then the hip new bed of tomorrow will be a departure from the flat bed experience, making way for the modern lifestyle power bed.

If you go to a local mattress or bedding showroom, you will see at least one adjustable bed (a.k.a. power foundation). Two popular ones are Tempur-pedic’s Ergo base and one of the many models made by Leggett and Platt.

Leggett and Platt’s latest model “the Prodigy,” may be representative of one of the company’s future customers. The profile is young, maybe even high tech. Recently, I spoke with a sales representative at a Sleep Train mattress store in Emeryville, California, who said that Prodigy power foundation was selling well with the younger crowd.

And if you’re wondering what some of the high tech features are — on Prodigy, they include a sleep timer, snore feature, gentle wake up alarm (massage and audio), and dual full body massage with wave. You can use their wireless remote with integrated clock, or if you prefer, use your iPhone or iPodtouch as your remote.

If local bedding and mattress retailers continue to display adjustable bed bases in their showrooms and the market continues to grow, it’s a safe bet that more and more people will not only have flexible mattresses, but also flexible adjustable bed frames.