5 Tips to Green your Mattress
Mattresses are big investments for many people, and when you spend as much time and money on a mattress as most people do, you want to be sure you aren’t wasting your money or endangering your health.
✔ Buy an eco-friendly mattress – Conventional mattresses are constructed of man-made, petrochemical-derived materials and fire retardants that are nonrenewable and may have potential health effects. Choosing a mattress made of natural materials removes toxins from your bedroom and reduces the demand for oil-based products. Below are some of the most popular eco-friendly mattress materials:
- Wool – Wool is naturally fire and dust-mite resistant. Wool also breathes very well, so you can sleep comfortably in both summer and winter. Make sure the wool is untreated. Treated wool may no longer be fire and dust mite resistant. Look for ‘organic’ wool or ‘Pure Grow Wool’ to make sure it was obtained from humanely and organically raised sheep.
- Organic Cotton – Organic cotton is used as both a wrapping material and as batting. While being just as eco-friendly as wool, it is not inherently fire-resistant. Untreated organic cotton mattresses (meaning those without flame-retardant compounds applied) don’t comply with Consumer Product Safety Commission flammability standards. Before these can be purchased, many states require a doctor’s prescription verifying that a customer has chemical sensitivities.
- Natural Latex – Mattress cores can be made with either springs or foam. Your choice between the two should be based on comfort and personal preference, but if you prefer a foam core, natural latex, derived from rubber trees, is a better choice than petroleum-based polyurethane. Natural rubber is harvested by tapping the milk (sap) of Hevea brasiliensis (the common rubber tree), which grow in Indonesia and Malaysia.
✔ Recycle your old mattress – A typical mattress should last around 10 years. When it is time to get a new one, instead of sending your old mattress to a landfill, recycle it. Recycling your mattress not only conserves natural resources, it also keeps another mattress from ending up in a landfill. Before giving your mattress to a home furnishing store or a mattress outlet for recycling, be sure they indeed recycle them. Many stores will send the mattress to a landfill. A recycling factory should be able to reuse 90% of the mattress. The cotton and cloth get turned into clothes. The springs and the foam get recycled, and the wood gets turned into chips.
✔ Donate your old mattress – If you can’t find a place to recycle your mattress, consider donating it to a charity. You will have to check the laws in your state because mattress donation is not allowed in all states.
✔ Prolong the life of your mattress – Proper maintenance is the key to mattress longevity. Most manufacturers recommend your mattress be flipped or turned once per month for the first three months and every three months thereafter. Pillowtop and latex mattresses should be turned once a month. It’s also important to vacuum your mattress regularly to help remove dust, dirt, dust mites, dried skin, and pet dander from your mattress. Vacuuming is the best way to remove many of the allergens that seem to settle inside of mattresses.
✔ Clean stains on your mattress with nontoxic methods – If you spill something on your mattress, there are nontoxic ways to clean it. Avoid using over-the-counter upholstery cleaners which contain toxic chemicals. Since you will be sleeping on top of this area, extra care should be given to finding a nontoxic method. For a fresh stain, try applying baking soda onto the spill or stain as soon as you can. Let it sit until the liquid has been absorbed and then vacuum. If the stain is set in, you can clean it using a mixture of mild eco- friendly dishwashing detergent and a little water. Before making the bed again, it’s important that you allow the mattress to completely dry to avoid the formation of mold or mildew.