Mattresses, Sound Sleep, Health and Safety

Not all mattresses are made equal – some contain chemicals which might pose a risk to health and safety. The experts from Cottonsafe Natural Mattress explain their approach

• What materials are usually used in mattress manufacture?

There are lots of different fibres used within mattresses, all mattresses require a support system to ensure both comfort and durability, most manufacturers will use either a coil-based support system known as a spring, foam or latex.

Sprung mattresses will be layered with soft fibres on top of the spring to create comfort, these fibres can be anything from wool and cotton to polyester or other synthetic manmade materials.

Foam mattresses are usually made entirely from foam other than the outer mattress ticking. Foam is a mouldable material and contours to the body which can be good for pressure relief and motion isolation.

Latex mattresses can be made entirely from latex or they can be layered with other materials including foams, springs or natural fibres.

Natural fibre mattresses can be made using layers of natural materials including wool, bamboo, cashmere and cotton amongst others, they will either have a latex core or spring unit to provide the support needed for a good night’s sleep.

• What health and safety risks do some chemicals used in mattresses pose?

All mattresses sold for use in the UK must pass stringent Fire Regulations. Many fibres used in mattresses, particularly foam, are highly flammable and the easiest and cheapest solution to meet the regulations is for a manufacturer to use Chemical Fire Retardants (FR’s).

UK mattresses contain the highest levels of FRs in the world: with between 1-5KG in each mattress. However, research has proven that the FR chemicals used are harmful to our health and environment. Many are carcinogenic and have been associated with adverse health impacts including poorer neurodevelopment and lower IQ, endocrine and hormone disruption, fertility problems and cancer (including thyroid and breast cancer) amongst others.

Most people assume that they aren’t at risk from toxic chemicals, but the reality is different, the FR’s migrate as dust particles from furniture into our homes to be ingested by adults, children and pets. Women in the UK have some of the world’s highest concentrations of flame retardants in their breast milk, some of which have now been banned.

There is growing evidence that shows FR’s don’t even save lives and actually produce deadly levels of smoke. When burnt the hydrogen cyanide gas produced significantly reduces the time to escape from a house fire.

Apart from the human and animal health concerns, there are also major environmental problems connected with these chemicals. Many FR’s are considered POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants) which are banned, but this means that many mattresses are now considered hazardous waste at their end of life.

• What materials are used in Cottonsafe mattresses?

Like most manufacturers we use a range of materials and fibres in our mattresses, all our mattresses are pocket sprung. In our natural range we pair the springs with comfort layers of British wool, cotton and bamboo, as well as other luxurious fibres like cashmere and silk. Our Vegan Society accredited mattresses are made with layers of cotton and bamboo as well as polished thread polyester.

We have our own patented ticking for the natural mattress covers which is made with organic cotton and wool, whilst our vegan mattresses are covered in a clever Purotex+ polyester fabric which boasts its own OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certification.

• Are they completely free of artificial chemicals and vegan friendly?

We’re emphatic about creating healthy sleeping environments for families throughout the UK and we are proud to make truly chemical free mattresses.

Our clever Cottonsafe® cover is woven using only organic cotton and natural wool, nothing else. This amazing fabric passes the UK fire regulations naturally, no need for nasty chemical fire retardants.

You won’t find any foams, chemicals, fire retardant chemicals or spray adhesives in our products.
Currently there is no natural plant-based fibre that can pass the UK fire regulations without the use of chemical flame retardants, so to produce our Vegan range of mattresses we use Polyester.

Polyester, used in mattresses, is non-toxic, highly breathable and does not contribute to plastic (microfibre) pollution, but most importantly to us – it is naturally fire resistant and with added benefits including being hypoallergenic it’s the perfect alternative to a natural product.

• How and where are they made?

We’re proud to make everything ourselves, by hand. All our products are made in our Devon workshop by our team of local craftspeople.

• Are they biodegradable?

The natural fibres within our mattresses are 100% biodegradable, as is our Cottonsafe® mattress ticking. The polyester in the mattresses is 100% recyclable, all our mattresses are Stockholm Convention compliant, which means they can be safely disposed of at their end of life, and we’ve labelled them as such.

• What styles and sizes are available?

We’ve developed our mattresses to meet the needs of all homes and families, from adult bed mattresses to children’s and babies. We also make our mattresses to fit all UK and European sized beds, and for people who have more complicated spaces we offer a bespoke service.

• Where can I see and try a Cottonsafe mattress?

We’re very lucky to work in the beautiful Devon countryside close to the East Devon coast. We have a showroom attached to our workshop, so if you come and visit us you can see our team hard at work as well.

We appreciate taking a trip to Devon isn’t achievable for a lot of people, which is why we offer our 40 nights reassurance guarantee to customers who don’t have the opportunity to visit us for a bounce before they purchase.

• What’s the story behind Cottonsafe?

Cottonsafe® Natural Mattress was born out of a desire to bring safe sleeping environments into people’s homes.

After 30 years’ experience as a reputable futon mattress manufacturer, we began working to develop our range of luxury, handcrafted bed mattresses.

In 2005 we began research into the risks associated with the use of Fire-Retardant chemicals in the UK furniture industry on people’s health and the environment, and the results were shocking.

Committed to removing these chemicals from our products we began working with some of the world’s cleverest natural resources, and with some blood, sweat and quite a few tears we developed the UKs first 100% chemical and fire-retardant free mattress which surpassed the stringent UK fire regulations.

Our mission is to bring safer sleeping environments into every home in the UK, our industry has created a toxic mattress wasteland which is unsustainable. The removal of fire-retardant chemicals from mattresses is not only vital to the future of people’s health but to the health of our planet as well.

• Where can I find out more about Cottonsafe?

We’ve actually just launched our brand new website (that took a few tears as well!), you can find out about all our products, meet our team, read our blogs about chemical free living and more online at, and if you need a bit more guidance we’re on hand to answer all your questions.

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