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'Natural' & 'Organic' are misleading when it comes to buying a new mattress

'Off-gassing' is a thing. What you should know about those fumes and the claims of 'natural' or 'organic' mattresses.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — You know that smell that sometimes comes from a new rug or worse—a new mattress. It’s often from chemicals used in the manufacturing process. There are mattresses made without as many potentially harmful chemicals. 

"When you’re online shopping for a new mattress, you’re likely to come across the term “off-gassing.” It basically refers to that chemical smell you notice when you cut into the packaging around a new mattress. What you’re actually smelling are volatile organic compounds, or VOC's," said Paul Hope, Consumer Reports Home Editor. 

Consumer Reports says you can choose a mattress with fewer VOC'S. Begin by looking at the labeling, but don’t be fooled by a mattress that’s labeled “natural,” because there’s no formal certification for what that means. A mattress can be labeled “organic” even if it only has a small amount of organic material.

CR says a reliable label is the Global Organic Textile Standard, or GOTS. It requires the materials used in a mattress to contain a minimum amount of certified organic materials and ensures that no hazardous chemical flame retardants and polyurethane foam were used to make it.

You’ll find a similar standard for latex mattresses with the GOLS label, or Global Organic Latex Standard.

Labels don’t matter if your mattress isn’t comfortable. That’s why CR performs tests that include determining how well a mattress supports different-sized sleepers in different positions.

If you like a mattress on the firmer side, the Avocado Green for $1,600 (certified by GOLS and GOTS) does a great job keeping a sleeper’s spine aligned no matter their size.

My Green Mattress Natural Escape for $1,500 (also certified by GOTS and GOLS) is another very good option for all types and sizes of sleepers.

If you prefer a softer mattress, consider the Birch by Helix Natural Mattress for $1,299 (GOTS).

Its support is just so-so for large or tall side sleepers, but CR’s tests found it fits the bill for everyone else.