The Importance of Knowing Where Your Mattress Comes From
Thinking of buying a new mattress during this summer's Amazon Prime Day event? Don't hand over your credit card just yet. Before you make a purchase, it's important to look into where and how any mattress you're thinking of buying is made. Just last year, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall of thousands of mattresses sold on Amazon for failing to meet federal flammability standards. In fact, it was the second mattress recall in as many weeks.
Most people keep a mattress 10 years or more—that’s a long time to be sleeping with a stranger. How can you make sure you’re not bringing something into your home that will compromise your family’s health and safety? Start with a few simple questions.
Where is the mattress made?
Mattresses made in the U.S.A. must meet strict health, safety, and environmental standards. The U.S. and the E.U have the toughest regulations, but other countries may not offer the same protections. The mattresses in the most recent recall, for example, were manufactured in China.
Are the materials safe?
Organic cotton and wool, natural flame retardants, and nontoxic foams assure a mattress is safe to use. But even if you’re not a stickler (or don’t have the budget) for 100% organic, you can still insist on foams that are completely stable before manufacture—and thus won’t off-gas or cause problems with odors in your home—and products made without dangerous chemicals like formaldehyde, PBDE, phthalates, or heavy metals. One easy way is to look for third-party certifications, such as Certi-PUR for foam and Oeko-Tex for fibers, which mean the materials are free of harmful chemicals.
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Is the manufacturing process healthy for the environment and the workers?
Unless you know where a mattress is coming from, you can’t be sure that the manufacturer adheres to guidelines that protect workers from danger and exploitation, such as labor regulations and minimum-wage laws. Reputable mattresses manufacturers also work to minimize environmental impact by incorporating low-carbon-footprint processes and recycled materials into their products.
Does the manufacturer stand behind what it sells?
With some off-brand mattresses, once you buy it, you’re stuck with it. Not all manufacturers fully warranty their mattresses, and many have hidden fees in the event of a warranty claim. Make sure to read and understand the fine print of any warranty before buying.
What condition will the mattress arrive in?
Mattresses that hang around warehouses and are shipped from faraway ports have a higher risk of exposure to pests and vermin. Better mattresses come wrapped in high-tech materials designed keep out pests but allow the mattress to breathe so no mold can form.
Buying a mattress today is easier than ever, with manufacturers offering affordable prices on high-quality products direct to customers online. That convenience has a flip side, though, which is that sellers of inferior—or, as the recalls show, even unsafe—mattresses have unprecedented access to consumers. A little upfront knowledge is all it takes to keep from losing sleep, or more, over your next mattress purchase.