Your bed is the most important piece of furniture in your home and what you put on your bed is just as important. Making sure that your bed and bedding are made of the safest possible materials will be one of the most significant changes you can make that results in reducing your exposure to toxic chemicals. A safe bed is made of all natural materials with no synthetics, is free of harmful chemicals and is metal free – no metal springs in the box springs or mattress and no metal in the bed frame. (Metal in the bed can become magnetized and can induce high frequency fields.)
If you are healthy, then all the bedding and bed selections below are options for you. If you are chemically sensitive then it is recommended that you have samples sent of each material you are considering. Much of the information below is geared towards those who have been chemically injured.
Steps To Take Before Buying A Bed or Bedding if you are Chemically Sensitive
- Order a sample of all materials that the bed and bedding will be made with. If possible order a pillow made of the materials used in the particular bed you are interested in.
- Ask them to send the sample or pillow wrapped in foil.
- When you receive the sample or pillow, open the box outside and let it air out before you expose yourself to it. (Many times people forget this step, but it is important.)
- After it has aired out a couple of days, bring in the house and keep it in a room with you during the day.
- If no reaction, try taking a nap during the day with the sample or sample pillow.
- If no reaction, try sleeping at night with the sample or sample pillow.
100% Cotton Barrier Cloths for Mattresses and Pillows
Dust mites thrive by the million in typical mattresses. Dust mites can cause serious allergic reaction to those who are sensitive to them. Asthma, allergies, rhinitis, sneezing, can all be due to dust mites. Finely woven cotton fabric called a barrier cloth provides enough density to keep dust mites, dust, germs, and synthetic residues from coming through the material into the mattress. They are fully washable and dryable. Natural color. Cover mattress, box springs, and pillows in barrier cloths.
- OMI Pillow Barrier Cover
- Furnature (www.furnature.com: 617-926-0111)
- Heart of Vermont (www.heartofvermont.com: 1-800-639-4123)
- Janices (www.janices.com: 1-800-526-4237) – Available in yards. Width is 58/60″
100% Organic Cotton Mattress Pads
- OMI Organic Cotton Flannel Mattress Pad – Soft absorbent pat that protects the mattress – machine washable.
- Janices (www.janices.com: 1-800-526-4237) – Quilted mattress pad that comes with anchor straps.
Wool Mattress Pads
- OMI Premium Eco-Wool Moisture Pad – Soft absorbent pad that protects the mattress.
- Organic Wool Washable Mattress Protector – by Shepherd’s Dream (www.shepherdsdream.com: 1-800-966-5540) Carries discounted protectors that are slightly flawed.
- Janices (www.janices.com: 1-800-526-4237) – Quilted
Wool Topper Mattress Pads
The use of a mattress pad protects the mattress from being soiled and can increase the comfort of the mattress even more. The following companies make wonderful wool mattress pads that are quite thick and make the bed very comfortable (Especially recommended on top of mattress if you have chronic pain or fibromyalgia). These mattress pads resist mold and wick moisture away from the body.
- OMI Organic Pillow Tops Uses the purest of wools and regularly tests products for chemical residues, etc. 1 ½ or 3 inch Mattress Toppers are filled with Eco-Wool and are hand-tufted to an organic cotton sateen fabric. These toppers add extra comfort, temperature regulation and moisture wicking properties to any mattress.
- Shepherd’s Dream (www.shepherdsdream.com: 1-800-966-5540)
Latex Topper – Eggcrate Like
- OMI Sonoma 4” Topper –Four inches of 100% natural latex that is quilted over just like the mattress. It is very helpful for people with chronic pain and sensitive pressure points. The bottom is covered in organic fabric. A topper adds extra comfort, temperature regulation and moisture wicking properties to any mattress.
Look for untreated certified organic cotton sheets. The following are some sources:
- Furnature (www.furnature.com: 617-926-0111)
- Heart of Vermont (www.heartofvermont.com: 1-800-639-4123)
- Coyuchi (www.coyuchi.com: 1-888-418-8847) – Very high quality. No dyes.
- Janices (www.janices.com: 1-800-526-4237)
- EcoBaby Organics (www.ecobabyorganicsusa.com: 1-888-ECOBABY)
- Building for Health Materials Center (www.buildingforhealth.com: 1-800-292-4838)
- Bed Bath and Beyond
Note: Three Branches recommends 100% Certified Organic Cotton for bedding if you have tested a sample of it. Sometimes chemically sensitive people have trouble with decontaminating organic cotton as much as conventional cotton. Each individual product must be decontaminated until there is no hint of fragrance or scent. Whether you buy 100% Certified Organic Cotton or conventional cotton sheets, wash them with the washing/decontamination procedure found in “Detoxifying Clothes and Bedding”. Make sure that if you buy quilts, sheets, or sleepwear from a catalog or store that they do not fumigate their warehouse or carry the new clothesline that is treated with permithrins (one brand for example is BUZZ OFF Apparel).
Pillows can be organic cotton, wool, natural rubber or latex, made of kapok, or hypodown (which is down with goose down allergens that are trapped). Place in dryer on high heat for 20 – 30 minutes to help eliminate the new smell and hang outside in the sun in an uncontaminated area. Cover all pillows with organic barrier pillowcase. If you are chemically sensitive, please make sure that you test by requesting sample materials.
- OMI pillows
- 100% Certified Organic Cotton Pillows – for those who want a firmer, flatter pillow. Available in 2 weights – medium and full. Cotton pillows compress about one-half over time.
- 100% Eco Wool Pillow – soft and springy, doesn’t compact like cotton and resists dust mites. Available in 2 weights – medium and full. Wool pillows compress approximately 1/3 over time.
- 100% Wool-Wrapped Buckwheat-Hull Pillow – dual chambered pillow – outer chamber filled with Eco Wool, the inner chamber is filled with organic buckwheat hulls.
- 100% Wool-Wrapped 100% Natural Shredded Rubber Pillow – dual-chambered pillow with a center chamber of shredded pure latex surrounded by outer chamber of Eco-wool.
- 100% Natural Rubber Latex Pillow – double covered (cotton mesh and removable cotton fabric cover)
- Molded Pillow – for back and side sleepers
- Contour Pillow – for back or stomach sleepers
- Ogallala Down Company (www.ogallalacomfortcompany.com:1-800-658-4370) – Hypodown pillows. Many people love these pillows because they do not breakdown and become hard like the cotton pillows. Must request no formaldehyde in materials
- Erlander’s Natural Products (626-797-7004). Kapok pillows
Buy 100% cotton quilts and bedspreads. Polyester and synthetic bedspreads emit toxic chemicals (some even emit formaldehyde as they break down).
- OMI Eco-Wool Comforter – Consider using as your bedspread
- Janices (www.janices.com: 1-800-526-4237)
- JC Penny’s Catalog (1-800-222-6161)
- Department Stores
Barrier Cloth Sleepsack for Traveling
- Janices (www.janices.com: 1-800-526-4237) – When traveling you can use this to avoid synthetic sheets washed in harsh detergents. Large wrap around pillow flap holds any size pillow securely. The sleepsack opens on both sides so it can be used on either side of the bed. It has an extra large top flap that folds down over blanket for additional protection. Folds up small to fit in its own barrier cloth drawstring bag. 88″ long and 56″ wide. See “Travel Protection: Bedding, Carpet, and Air”
Summary of Metal Free Bed Options
See below for more detailed descriptions
- Option 1: Natural Latex Beds. This is the recommended bed option for the general public. (If chemically sensitive see below.) If you feel like you need a latex bed because you have chronic pain and cotton mattresses have been too hard, then you should test carefully. If you have chronic pain, but are extremely sensitive then covering or containing the non-toxic latex bed is a possibility. See “Non-Toxic Mattresses: Containment of Natural Odors (for the Chemically Sensitive)” and do all the containment steps described with a pillow sample to see if you still detect the latex odor.
- Option 2: Special Order Organic Cotton Mattress From OMI. If you have chemical sensitivity, we recommend that you special order an organic cotton mattress from OMI.
- Option 3: Cotton, Wool, or Latex Futon Placed on a Platform or Bed Frame. This option can be made more comfortable with the addition of toppers listed below.
- Option 4: Inflatable Bed with a Futon. This is a temporary (or permanent) less expensive option that consists of an inflatable mattress that can be placed directly on the floor, on a bed frame, or on a platform to replace a box spring. A cotton or natural latex futon can be placed on top and then covered with a cotton or wool mattress pad. For added comfort, a wool mattress topper or latex mattress topper may be used depending on sensitivities. This option provides a softer, more comfortable chemical free alternative to a futon placed on a platform.
- Option 5: Emergency Bed. If your current bed is making you sick and you are waiting to get suitable bedding, implement this option. It consists of folding up layers of blankets and/or towels to make a mattress.
Note: Even when a safe bed is purchased, there is a period of time that the new materials may need to be outgassed. Placing the bed, etc. in the sun, if possible, is the best option and will help to release the “new smell” odor. If that is not an option then you can shield the bed from the new smell if necessary until bed clears of shipping and manufacturing odors. See “Non-Toxic Mattresses:Containment of Natural Odors (for the Chemically Sensitive)”
Detailed Metal Free Bed Options
Option 1: 100% Natural Latex Bed
Three Branches only recommends natural latex beds from Organicpedic by OMI. OMI uses the finest Talalay latex, wool, and cotton and is in a dedicated facility.
Latex conforms to the body as it supports you. It is breathable, comfortable and provides reduced pressure on the body. It has natural anti-bacterial qualities and inhibits dust mites, mold, and moisture.
Latex provides a sumptuous feel: the body receives gentle but firm support, even for those with back problems. This is the preferred bed for those with chronic illness, pain, or fibromyalgia. Beds can be custom made for specific conditions.
Natural latex is processed in two ways: the Talalay process and the Dunlop process. The major difference between the two processes is what happens in the mold just prior to the initial latex curing stage. In the Talalay process only a small amount of latex compound is poured into the mold. Air is extracted to perfectly distribute the foamed liquid inside the mold and to create a consistent round, open cell structure. The mattress core is flash frozen to lock the cell structure in place and to prevent the particles from settling. This allows the core to breathe. In the Dunlop process, the molds are filled to the rim, air is not extracted, and there is no freeze stage. Therefore, the latex cell structure is less “airy”. Gravity takes over and particles settle creating a denser product than Talalay latex.
Note: Many companies claim to sell pure latex mattresses, but most latex is processed with chemicals and is not suitable. Three Branches is proud to offer beds by OMI.
Option 2: Special Order Organic Cotton Mattress From OMI
If you are trying to recover from chemical sensitivity, then an organic cotton mattress is the way to go. It is important that you eliminate even natural fragrances as much as possible while healing. This is because when a person is extremely sensitive even natural fragrances such as a rose, etc. can trigger an immune response. As the immune system heals sensitivity to natural fragrances becomes less and less of an issue.
Option 3: Cotton, Wool, or Latex Futon Placed on a Platform or Bed Frame
The following platforms or mock box springs can be used with a futon (see sources below) instead of the traditional box spring that contains metal. (This option can be made more comfortable with the addition of toppers – see wool toppers or natural latex topper above.)
Platforms/Mock Box Springs
- OMI Upholstered Wood Slat Foundation – Can be used with futons, organic cotton mattress and latex mattresses. Wood slat foundations are constructed with 2″ thick boards of cabinet-grade, kiln dried untreated wood. The wood is covered with a layer of durable organic canvas, then padded with certified organic cotton batting, then finally covered with a custom-woven certified organic cotton fabric. This is an ideal foundation for natural rubber mattresses or futons. It lets the mattress breathe. Air circulates under the mattress and dissipates body heat and moisture. The foundation also provides fabric-to-fabric contact between the mattress and foundation, which significantly lengthens the life of the mattress by preventing premature wear and tear of the mattress cover fabric.
- Bunkie Board Foundation – Available at The Organic Mattress Store. This can be used with futons, organic cotton mattress and latex mattresses. Make sure that solid wood foundations or platforms are metal free before purchasing. (Check with all manufacturers referenced in this report.) These are made for bunk beds, but can be used on the floor with the futon on top.
- The Organic Mattress Store carries a variety of all wood platforms.
- Home made platform – See “How to Make a Bed Frame or Platform”
Use an existing tolerated wooden bed frame, purchase a wooden bed frame, or see “How to Make a Bed Frame or Platform” to make a less expensive option. The companies below and throughout this report offer a variety of the materials presented.
- Charles Bailey (1-877-453-5433) –Non-toxic furniture and cabinetmaker. He will design or make to your design.
- Furnature (www.furnature.com ; 617-926-0111) – Carries unfinished maple beds with or without headboards. Maple is the most inert wood and many chemically sensitive people do not need a vapor barrier seal over it.
- Heart of Vermont (www.heartofvermont.com: 1-800-639-4123) – Makes oak or maple bed frames.
Option 4: Inflatable Bed with a Futon
This is an option for the chemically sensitive that can’t tolerate a conventional bed or a non-toxic latex bed.
Futons are often used without a box spring and are placed directly on a slatted bed frame, which is not comfortable for many people especially if they have chronic pain or fibromyalgia. An inflatable mattress offers a relatively inexpensive metal-free box spring substitute to help remedy this. It provides a comfortable bed and resembles a conventional mattress when the bed is made
Note: Inflatable beds are made of PVC vinyl (a synthetic) which contains both VOC’s and SVOC’s so the bed must first be outgassed in the sun to remove the majority of VOC’s and then should be covered with a vapor barrier to block any remaining VOC’s and the SVOC’s (plasticizers) from the vinyl that continue to outgas the life of the product.
- AeroBed (www.thinkaero.com:1-888-462-4468 ) – Available at Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, Costco, Sears, and more. This is an inflatable (inflates in 60 seconds) mattress, which offers adjustable firmness, which can be used instead of traditional box springs, on futon frames, on platform beds and on the floor. Get the AeroBed with the material cover on all three sides.
- EZ Basic Portable Bed by EZ Bed – Available at Bed Bath and Beyond. Google EZ Bed for more sources. This bed doesn’t seem to take as long to outgas as the AeroBed above.
- Any inflatable bed that is outgassed.
NOTE: The inflatable bed for the temporary option can be placed on the floor if cost is an issue, but it is better to be sleeping at least 20 inches above a concrete slab, if possible. Energy is drained from the body when on a concrete slab with rebar – body should ideally be at least 20 inches above concrete slab. There are inflatable beds that are doubled and offer the height of a bed with a platform or box springs. This would be preferred if not using a platform.
Outgassing Inflatable Beds
The inflatable bed is a temporary option that is affordable for people until they can get a safe bed. The bed must be totally contained as described below to block the plasticizers.The AeroBed, EZ Bed or any other inflatable bed must be outgassed in the sun until it no longer smells. This could take some time depending upon the time of year and temperature.
- Inflate bed.
- Find a sunny place outside to sun bed. Put down large cardboard boxes to put bed on so that bed will not be damaged or punctured by stickers in the grass, etc.
- Place out in direct sun. Turn periodically.
- Leave out all day – bring in every night and when it rains.
- Continue this process every day until bed outgasses. (Could be weeks or months)
Containment of the Inflatable Bed
- Buy Reynolds Wrap Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil – 1 ml thick from a local grocery store. Wrap blown up bed like a package in double wrap aluminum foil. Leave a little give in the foil so that it won’t rip when futon is placed on top. Overlap seams at least 5 inches and then tape all seams completely with Aluminum Foil Tape. Use Shurtape Aluminum Foil Tape AF 973 (comes in 2 or 3 inch wide rolls – 46 meters long (approx. 150 ft.). 2.0 ml thick.) available from E.L. Foust (www.foustco.com: 1-800-225-9549) to create a vapor barrier around the bed. The chemically sensitive should not be involved in the process of covering bed with tape so there is no exposure to the adhesive side of the aluminum foil tape.
- Then encase bed in a barrier cloth. See sources above. Give height, width, and length of bed so barrier cloth can be custom made.
- When cover the Aerobed (already wrapped in foil) with barrier cloth, zip it up and cover zipper with 3 inch Shurtape Aluminum Foil Tape. Note: Will need to leave a hole so that air can be added to bed when needed.
- Placing a cotton mattress pad on top of the foil contained Aerobed with a barrier cloth makes it less likely that the foil will rip.
- Place a futon on top of the inflatable bed. See futons below
Cotton, Wool, and Latex Futons
A futon over the inflatable bed provides a very comfortable bed, which is comparable to conventional mattresses. A futon on a platform or a bed frame is not as comfortable, but toppers can be added to aid in comfort. If you are very sensitive – an organic cotton futon wrapped with organic wool and cotton cover is recommended – or a cotton futon with a wool topper mattress pad – see below. Organic cotton futons are not treated with a fire-retardant and will require a doctor’s prescription before purchase. Natural untreated wool wrapped around a cotton futon provides dust mite protection, wicks moisture away from the body making body warmer in winter and cooler in summer, and is a natural flame retardant (this futon does not require a doctor’s prescription). If allergic to wool, it is covered with cotton plus a cotton barrier cloth so that the wool usually does not present a problem. Call the following companies to compare prices and to get samples of materials used. All futons will need to be aired out and sunned if possible. If a futon is not an affordable option, several cotton blankets layered on top of the inflatable bed can provide a comfortable bed. The following companies carry futons:
- OMI – special order organic cotton futon
- OMI – special order latex futon
- Heart of Vermont(www.heartofvermont.com:1-800-639-4123) – Organic Cotton futons
- Shepherd’s Dream(www.shepherdsdream.com: 1-800-966-5540) Wool futons
NOTE: If you are chemically sensitive, request that futon be shipped wrapped in foil or in a foil-lined box with seams taped with aluminum foil tape on the inside and outside to keep bed from being contaminated when shipped.
Option 5: Emergency Bed Option for the Very Chemically Sensitive
If your current bed is making you sick and you are waiting to get suitable bedding, fold up layers of blankets, and/or towels to make a mattress.
- If possible sleep in a room that has ceramic tile or wood floors.
- Fold up cotton mattress pads and place on the floor
- Use as many layers of cotton mattresses as you can
- Use cotton towels also for layers to create a cushion for sleeping.
- Top with sheets and blankets.