Natural Mattresses Buying Guide

We’ve collated everything we know about natural mattresses to provide you with everything you could need when buying your very own. 

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Buying a Natural Mattress

We believe that the perfect night’s sleep begins with the best possible materials, which is why all Winstons Beds mattresses contain the most exquisite natural fillings, many of which are home-grown in Great Britain. The quality of a natural mattress is unbeatable, and the benefits of natural mattresses are endless. Not only are they highly breathable, but they’re also responsive and outlast their synthetic competitors.

This guide will help you through the world of natural fillings. It will help you distinguish between the marketing gimmicks and give you the facts you need to get the best value natural mattress on the market.

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The problem with syntethic mattresses

First, let’s discuss what’s wrong with most mattresses you’ll find on the market today.

Today, most mattresses are constructed with petroleum-based foam, treated with flame retardants full of chemicals and encased in PVC vinyl. Unfortunately, toxic formaldehyde is also found in the adhesives used to make foam mattresses which means that your mattress discharges toxic fumes while you sleep.

These off-gassing fumes, known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), have been linked with many health ailments, including reproductive, behavioural problems, thyroid and cancer. It’s difficult to rest peacefully knowing you are resting in a mattress full of toxic substances – mainly since we sleep for roughly 1/3 of our lives.

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What is a natural mattress?

A natural mattress is made from organic materials which are free from synthetic fibres. Natural mattresses are luxurious and highly comfortable.

Types of natural mattresses include wool, bamboo, hemp, egyptian cotton, Latex and much more. Each mattress is made from non-toxic materials and is a popular choice for the environmentally conscious.

Typically, a natural mattress will retain heat during the winter and regulate air during the warmer months. This responsiveness to temperature makes it the mattress of choice for those who overheat while sleeping.

 Here are things to look for in a non-toxic natural mattress:

  • Zero chemical flame retardants
  • Made with certified natural materials including wool, cotton, horsehair, alpaca, bamboo, mohair and Latex, certified by GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard)
  • If you want Latex, be sure it is 100% natural latex, not synthetic
  • Certifications like GOTS, Oeko-Tex or GOLS (learn more about certifications below)

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Natural mattress certifications

In a category as confusing as natural mattresses, certifications are an essential guide to the mattress’s quality, safety and eco-friendly properties.

Let’s take a look at the certifications:

GOTS – Global Organic Textile Standard
  • Internationally recognized organic standards for textiles, including fabric and fillings used in mattresses. GOTS ensures the natural status of textiles from harvesting raw materials to processing, labelling, and manufacturing of finished products.
GOLS – Global Organic Latex Standard
  • GOLS monitors the natural rubber used to make Latex and ensures that everything from the rubber plantation to the final product manufacturing complies with their standards.
Oeko-Tex
  • A third-party certification program that tests for more than a hundred toxic substances, including formaldehyde, heavy metals and banned colourants.

wool natural mattress filling

Choosing natural mattresses

Buying a natural mattress can be a minefield, with many retailers deceiving the buyer, so let’s get to the truth.

To understand natural mattresses, it is essential to separate the mattress into three parts:
  • The Outer Cover: The material that covers the outside of the mattress.
  • The Fillings : The comfort layer in between the cover and the spring core.
  • The Spring Core: The mattress structure, whether it be memory foam, Latex or pocket sprung.
Covers

The outer cover is the most essential layer, as it is closest to your skin and the barrier between your skin and the fillings. So your first question should be: Does the cover have chemical fire retardants applied? Unfortunately, many environmental certification schemes ban only the most toxic fire retardant chemicals and can mislead buyers by indicating fire retardants are somehow natural. At Winstons Beds, we call this Greenwash’, making something appear eco-friendly when in reality it is not. Nonetheless – some natural products can pass the UK Fire Regulations without the use of chemicals. For example, natural mattresses covers can be made chemical-free from the following materials:

Wool & Cotton
  • Wool and cotton covers can be pricey, but when dense enough will naturally pass the BS7177 fire test. Top-quality wool and cotton covers are always best as they are robust and thick.
Fillings

A natural mattress should have natural fillings. It is always best to have either a layer of wool, cotton, alpaca, bamboo, horsehair, latex or mohair under your cover fabric for ventilation and fire safety. The fillings under the mattress cover should never be constructed using adhesives unless the adhesive is a natural product. It’s best if the fillings are stitched or hand teased.

Foam
  • Synthetic foams should not be utilized in a natural mattress. This is because apart from the chemicals used in its manufacture, it is also treated with chemical fire retardants to meet UK Fire Regulations.
Latex
  • Latex can be used as long as it is treated with mineral graphite to make it fire retardant. Although natural Latex seems promising, it is flammable and does not pass UK Fire Regulations as a material.
Wool
  • Wool is used for its springy texture as well as being naturally fire retardant. It is also resistant to bed bugs and highly breathable.
Cotton
  • Cotton has been known for settling over time, leading to decreased ventilation and increased moisture. The mattress manufacturer can get around this by blending the cotton with polyester, which prevents the fibres from sagging and improves ventilation. It is essential to make sure you have a high GSM of cotton filling. This layer is usually placed above the bottom layer, which is spread over the pocket springs to stop the cotton from sinking.
Coir Fibre
  • Coir Fibre is soaked in Latex to create a firmer feel to your mattress. It is a natural alternative to foam.
The Mattress Core

The mattress core is the support system, and if high-quality fillings are used, this area should be deep inside the mattress.

Pocket Springs
  • Some retailers argue metal springs are not natural; that’s disputable. We all want a great night’s sleep, so the support and comfort of a pocket spring unit surpass the concerns for many buyers. We recommend that you make sure you have plenty of natural fillings on top of the springs (Anything below 2000gsm of fillings above or below the spring is not a luxury mattress). The pocket springs can be covered in a cotton (calico springs) or polyester cover (spun bound springs); the cotton (calico spring) is more natural but will not last as long as the polyester (spun bound spring).
Latex
  • Latex natural material, but it is flammable. It burns fast and clings to anything it touches if it caught fire. Under UK Fire Regulations, Latex is treated as a foam and must pass the foam test before it can be used inside a mattress. In addition, Latex requires to be chemically treated in the same way as other foams, or it can be mixed with the mineral graphite. If Latex is to be utilized in a natural mattress, then graphite is by far the lesser, the more natural choice.

natural mattress fibres

Why pick a natural mattress?

One of the most significant rewards of choosing a natural mattress is that it is ideal for people who suffer from allergies. Unfortunately, the use of toxic flame-retardant chemicals on synthetic mattresses has been connected to many health issues. Natural mattresses apply silicon dioxide as a flame retardant. Silicon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical with no known adverse side effects; wool can also ensure mattresses are safe, fully compliant and as natural as possible.

latex mattress

How long do natural mattresses last?

Natural mattresses from Winstons Beds will last longer than a synthetic mattress which is on average 8 years, whereas a Winstons Beds mattress will last 30 years (Hence the 30-year guarantee we offer on all our natural mattresses). Natural mattresses can also incorporate the same construction techniques and designs as any other standard synthetic mattress. For example, you can get natural mattresses that are pocket sprung and even those incorporating foam into their construction. In addition, you can use mattress toppers on natural mattresses in the same way you do with standard mattresses.

wool mattress

The cost of natural fibres

Here’s what you can expect from the prices of natural fibres:

  • Alpaca – Very expensive (low supply chain)
  • Bamboo – Average price (good supply chain)
  • Camel – Very expensive (low supply chain)
  • Cashmere – Expensive (good supply chain)
  • Cattle Hair – Average price (good supply chain)
  • Coir – Average price (good supply chain)
  • Cotton – Very expensive (good supply chain)
  • Flax – Average price (good supply chain)
  • Hemp – Average price (good supply chain)
  • Horsetail – Very expensive (low supply chain)
  • Horsehair – Less expensive (good supply chain)
  • Mohair – Expensive (low supply chain)
  • Silk – Very expensive (low supply chain)
  • Vicuna – Very Expensive (Most expensive natural fibre in the world)
  • Wool – Moderate to expensive (good supply chain)

The above list is the majority of fillings that you will find in a mattress. They will come in different combinations and will range from low end to high-end quality mattresses. When purchasing your new mattress, you need to look at the GSM of each filling for you to understand the value for money.

The most expensive and luxurious fillings are most commonly animal fibres, and this is due to the process involved in harvesting the wool. Therefore, they carry the premium price compared to plant fibres which are more widely available and come at a more affordable price.

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What are the benefits of using natural materials in mattresses?

While cheap synthetic mattresses frequently dominate the mattress market, traditional mattress-makers like Winstons Beds continue to build long-lasting natural mattresses. This means we still make mattresses one at a time by hand that are double-sided and comprised of natural materials such as cotton, wool, alpaca, bamboo, cashmere, silk, mohair, horse hair and Latex. Fortunately, discerning consumers continue to invest in the durability, comfort and health benefits offered by our time-honoured practices.

The Benefits of Natural Materials:

Wool & Cotton

  • Naturally fire retardant
  • Anti-microbial & Hypoallergenic
  • Temperature regulating
  • Moisture wicking
  • Supportive
  • Breathable

Natural Latex

  • Regulates body temperature
  • Contours to joints to minimize stress on joints
  • Comfortable
  • Luxurious

Horsehair

  • Has a unique molecular formation that wicks away moisture while also implementing anti-microbial benefits and temperature regulation.

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Who benefits from a natural mattress?

While the case can easily be made that everyone requires a natural mattress, there are people whose health would be significantly improved by using a natural mattress. People of all ages who struggle with asthma, respiratory conditions or allergies are particularly vulnerable to the chemicals found in a non-natural mattress. These conditions have been connected to the chemicals found in non-natural mattresses.

Adults sleep up to 8 hours a day. While they sleep, their brains recharge by connecting synapses, repairing and nourishing cells, moving memories from short-term to long-term memory. Now picture how the chemicals from a non-natural mattress can impact that process. One of the most prominent offenders in a non-natural mattress is flame retardants. These chemicals are highly toxic. For example, research shows that exposure to certain fire retardants found in mattresses results in glucose sensitivity and weight gain.

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What are the benefits of natural mattresses?

Besides being incredibly comfortable, there are direct benefits of sleeping on a natural mattress.

Here are just some of the benefits of a natural mattress:
  • Adding natural fillings to mattresses significantly improves their quality in terms of comfort and longevity. The benefits of natural fillings far outweigh synthetic fillings in several ways.
  • Firstly, they’re more breathable, meaning they allow for a cooler night’s sleep. They are also significantly more resilient than synthetics fibres like polyester. Therefore, a durable natural mattress will last longer, giving you more value for your money in the long run.
  • Unlike memory foam mattresses, which are layers of foam that either come as a bed in a box or vacuum packed, natural mattresses offer an authentic mattress experience. Layers upon layers of natural fillings allow for the best support for your body. This is especially pertinent regarding our natural Winston’s mattresses.
  • These high-quality bed mattresses use the patented 3D springs, which also have a 7 zoned support system. This ensures pressure points do not build up in the arms, neck, legs, etc. Therefore, they are adept at reducing the chances of aches and pains.
  • Natural mattresses are also sought after due to their organic materials. The eco-friendly design is perfect for those creating an environmentally-friendly bedroom while also being hypoallergenic.

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Where can I get the best natural mattress UK?

At Winstons Beds, we’ve designed the 6 best natural mattresses that are certified, customer tested, and represent genuine value for money. They offer the highest level of support and superior comfort and more gsm of luxurious natural fillings as the most expensive mattresses globally, from extra firm to soft. If you’ve never purchased a natural mattress before and want to know more, have a look through our range, or chat with one of our mattress experts, who will be happy to tell you all about them.

Natural Mattresses

Frequently Asked Questions

Our top 3 picks will be:

Winstons No1 13500 Pocket Spring Mattress

Vispring Regal Superb

John Lewis Ultimate Collection Cashmere
No as this mattress contains -67% Polyester on its sleep surface and
25% Polypropylene in its side border.
Myers use a Belgian damask outer cover. They do not state whether or not this cover is 100% chemical free. We would advise you to ask Myers to confirm if this mattress is naturally fire retardent.
The Maple Superb mattress only features natural fillings inside the mattress. Hypnos use a Belgian damask outer cover for this mattress; they do not state whether or not this cover is 100% chemical-free. Therefore, we would advise you to ask Hypnos to confirm if this mattress is naturally fire retardent.
The Hypnos Aspen Supreme Mattress only features natural fillings inside the mattress. Hypnos use a Belgian damask outer cover for this mattress; they do not state whether or not this cover is 100% chemical-free. Therefore, we would advise you to ask Hypnos to confirm if this mattress is naturally fire retardent.
* No more aches and pains. The gentle cushioning and superior support of latex mattresses are beneficial for sleepers with back and joint pain.
* Hypoallergenic
* Eco-friendly
* Highly Breathable
* Durable
Hands downs the Winstons Ultimate Hybrid Latex mattress. Not only is this the highest spec and most luxurious latex mattress in the UK but also the world.
This will be a close call between the Winstons No1 13500 Pocket Spring Mattress, which is the worlds first and only 7-row hand-stitched mattress and has 14 layers of the most luxurious natural fillings totalling 6350gsm.

The next mattress will be the Vispring Magnificence mattress which features 5 rows of hand-stitching and 3710gsm of natural fillings.
The Winstons Ultimate Hybrid Latex mattress in kingsize is priced at £2799.99.
boric acid, antimony trioxide, decabromodiphenyl oxide, melamine and vinylidene chloride
If your Latex mattress contains graphite which is a natural mineral which gives fire retardancy without chemical use then yes it is safe.
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Published: 28th October 2020 (Updated: 1st August 2021) | Graham