Chemical Free Mattresses – The Facts

Chemical Free Mattresses – The Facts


Over time I have been asked many questions like … How can I ever find a chemical free mattresses?  With chemicals being banned all the time why don’t they list the chemicals on the mattress?  Do they only use safe chemicals in our mattress?

Here are the facts:

1. The main chemical group that are causing the most concern in UK mattresses are fire retardants.

2. Many fire retardant chemicals are closely linked to pesticides and herbicides. The chemicals are broken down into two main types:

  • Organophosphates and Chlorinated… (this group includes TCPP or TRIS)
  • Brominated… (this group includes DecaBDE)

These materials can also be mixed with Antimony Trioxide when used on cover fabrics.

3. Many flame retardant chemicals are endocrine disrupting chemicals. They enter the body as they are either skin permeable or contained in dust form that can be inhaled or digested. See: Arlene Blum, regarding children’s nightwear The dust is created when the surface fabric back-coating breaks down over time and is separated from the fabric.

4. Also, as large quantities of these chemicals are used in foam (5 – 18 % of the items weight) the foam will break down over time, also releasing the chemicals. Therefore, a 30 kilo foam mattress could contain over 4 kilos of flame retardant chemicals.

5. Why does this matter? Most people sleep in minimal clothing so skin permeability on contact can be a problem with a mattress and, with your face so close to the product, the chemical dust is an issue. For home contamination see

6. Despite Canada, the USA and Europe restricting the use of flame retardant chemicals in domestic furniture for safety issues, the UK is actually increasing their use, despite the fact that the UK used more chemicals than any other country in the first place, being applied to outer covers as well as filling. In the past the USA mainly only used them in foam fillings.

7. It is a fact that the UK has the largest percentage of fire retardants in house dust, more than any other country. For information on the worrying health and environmental effects of fire retardant chemicals see

8. When chemicals are restricted or banned due to heath issues, the chemical industry will ask for a ‘Sunset Date’. This means they can still use them 5-6 years after the restriction date and mattresses are never recalled.

9. Unfortunately, there is no UK law which states that chemical additives must be listed on your mattress (unlike food and cosmetics etc).

10. Other chemicals of concern used in mattresses are spray adhesives used in mattress construction.

11. Most of the mattress industry in the UK are aware of health issues with flame retardants but there has always been an understanding in the trade that the fire regulations are a way of stopping European imports and reducing competition from outside the UK. But at what cost!

There is no control or policing of the advertising claims of chemical free mattresses. This means a “natural” mattress can include foam, which has to be chemically treated with flame retardants.

12. But surely chemical flame retardants keep us safe from fire? This may not be the case, because Trading Standards confirmed last year that 85% of British furniture actually fails the safety tests. In addition when fire retardants burn hydrogen cyanide gas is given off. See Professor Richard Hulls research


So how do you buy a truly chemical free mattresses?

1. Make sure there are no chemicals on the outer fabric.  If manufacturers avoid the question, ask how they pass the BS7177 fire regulations.  Be aware cotton does not pass the regulations.  If wool is being used make sure it’s pure wool.

2. Make sure there is NO FOAM in the mattresses, natural or not. Foam must pass CRIB5 in the UK Fire Regulations and therefore WILL be treated with chemical flame retardants. (UK Fire Regulations demand that latex is tested as a foam).

3. Make sure they do not use any spray adhesives in the construction of the mattress.

Ask the manufacturer or retailer and insist on the accurate answer.


Here at Cottonsafe®

Cottonsafe® uses only organic cotton and natural wool in its cover, nothing else. This amazing fabric passes the UK fire regulations naturally. We use no foam in our mattresses. We use no spray adhesives in our mattresses. We construct our mattresses by using flax thread and hand stitching the fillings together. Unlike 99% of our competitors we are proud to make truly chemical free mattresses.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. What an informative break down given here, we are looking now (May 2019) for a mattress and keep seeing the famous “Organic” word being used in plush adverts … but when you dig a little deeper the Organic seems to fade away.
    Shame the company’s selling these mattress’s aren’t a little more up front in there plush adverts.
    Only when I asked for more details then they said that chemicals were used.
    Looks like we have to be so very careful before buying.

    Thanks for the information above.

    1. Thank you for your comment Derek. We are glad that you’ve found the information useful.

      When a product is called “organic” it doesn’t mean that no fire retardant chemicals are used in its production. In fact, in our experience, very few other retailers are openly transparent about this.

      As you know, all of our products are completely chemical free and we are always happy to answer any questions our customers may have.

Leave a Reply

Close Menu