Toxin-Free Bedroom

How to Create a Toxin-Free Bedroom for Healthier Sleep (2024)

The Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) warns that the air pollutants found within our homes can surpass outdoor levels, a concerning fact considering that people typically spend around 90 percent of their time indoors. This indoor pollution primarily results from everyday household products, central heating systems, and furniture.

These pollutants have been associated with a wide range of health concerns, including irritation, headaches, and even more serious issues like liver and kidney damage, and potentially cancer. 

In this article, we will explore essential steps and tips to create a toxin-free bedroom with clean and non-toxic air, ensuring your well-being and peace of mind.

To know more about non-toxic furniture, read our articles about Pillows Without Chemicals, or Non-Toxic Furniture.

The Conscious Insider is reader supported. When you buy something we recommend, we might earn an affiliate commission at no extra charge for you.

infographic sustainable labels and certifications

Is My Bedroom Furniture Releasing Harmful Chemicals? 

Unfortunately, the answer to the question, “Is my bedroom furniture releasing harmful chemicals?” is most likely a resounding yes.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has consistently highlighted the concerning levels of indoor air pollutants in homes. These pollutants often originate from everyday household items, including bedroom furniture. As you sleep, you could unknowingly be exposed to a cocktail of chemicals emanating from your bed, dresser, nightstands, and more.

But which bedroom furniture poses potential health hazards?

1. Mattresses

Hazardous Chemicals Found In Mattresses

Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs are emitted by various components of mattresses, including foam, adhesives, and flame retardants. They can contribute to indoor air pollution and have been associated with health problems.


Here’s a list of hazardous chemicals and materials commonly found in mattresses:

  • Polyurethane Foam (Polyfoam): Polyurethane foam is the most common filling material in mattresses. It’s a synthetic material derived from petrochemicals, and requires chemical flame retardants due to its flammability. Toluene and methylene diphenyl diisocyanate, used in its production, are carcinogens. Polyfoam is prone to moisture buildup, leading to mold and mildew issues, and waterproof covers often contain harmful substances like phthalates.

  • Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers: PBDEs were widely used as flame retardant chemicals in mattresses. The Environmental Protection Agency banned PBDEs from commercial use in 2009. Unfortunately, recent studies show that PBDE are still present in breast milk.

  • Styrene: Styrene is a VOC found in polyfoam mattresses. It is considered a neurotoxin.

  • Benzene and Propylene Oxide: These chemicals are also VOCs found in polyfoam mattresses, and they are known carcinogens.

  • Dibutylin (DBT): Dibutylin is used as a catalyst in the manufacture of polyfoam. It has been found to cross the placenta in mammals and accumulate in the brain, where it acts as a neurotoxin.

  • Antimony: Antimony is a flame retardant chemical sometimes used in mattresses. It can cause eye, heart, and lung problems.

  • Boric Acid: Boric acid is another flame retardant chemical that may be used in mattresses. It can cause eye and respiratory irritation.

  • Phthalates: Phthalates are chemicals that have been used in some mattresses, particularly crib mattresses, to make them waterproof. They are associated with reproductive and developmental health concerns.

  • Vinyl (Polyvinyl Chloride or PVC): Vinyl is used in some mattress covers, especially in crib mattresses. It can release harmful chemicals as it breaks down over time.

Organic Mattresses for a Toxin-Free Bedroom

Here are some brands for non-toxic mattress alternatives that prioritize both your health and environmental sustainability.

1. AVOCADO

What sets the Avocado Green mattress apart is its commitment to non-toxic materials. Crafted from organic latex, organic wool, and organic cotton, it stands free from polyurethane, fire retardants, memory foam, or chemical adhesives, ensuring a safe and healthy sleep environment.

Handmade in California, it earned the #1 Consumer Reports rating. It impressively combines softness and firmness, accommodating different preferences without compromising quality.

Avocado offers a one-year trial, a generous 25-year warranty, and convenient free shipping for all their mattresses. The mattress arrives compressed, making setup a breeze.

SHOP AVOCADO

2. AWARA

Awara offers a top-notch, non-toxic mattress designed for both comfort and eco-friendliness. Their organic latex hybrid mattress provides a medium-firm feel, making it ideal for hot sleepers. It’s made with certified organic latex, organic cotton, and organic New Zealand wool, all of which are certified by OEKO-TEX and GreenGuard Gold for their non-toxic properties.

Awara goes the extra mile by offering a 365-night trial and a lifetime warranty, showcasing their confidence in the mattress’s quality. The nine-inch contouring support core ensures pressure relief, and its exceptional breathability keeps hot sleepers cool. Plus, it arrives conveniently in a compact box for easy setup.

SHOP AWARA

Here are more brands for organic and non-toxic mattresses:

2. Pillows

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are also emitted by some materials in pillows. 

Hazardous Chemicals Found In Pillows

  • Ethylene Glycol: Found in polyester pillows, it can off-gas and be inhaled during sleep, causing skin and eye irritation, damage to the nervous system and kidneys, and respiratory irritation.

  • Formaldehyde: Present in polyurethane and memory foam pillows, it is released as a volatile organic compound (VOC) and can be harmful to the environment, and human health. According to the EPA, “Formaldehyde can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat. High levels of exposure may cause some types of cancers.”

  • Benzene: Another chemical found in polyurethane and memory foam pillows, it is detrimental to the environment, and human health. According to the American Cancer Society, “exposure to benzene has been linked with a higher risk of cancer, particularly leukemia and other cancers of blood cells.”

  • Styrene and Butadiene: These volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are present in synthetic latex pillows and can have harmful effects on the central nervous system, respiratory health, and even increase the risk of cancer.

  • Polyethylene Terephthalate Pellets (PETs): Used in some types of pillows, these plastic pellets have a significant carbon footprint, emit greenhouse gases, and can release toxic inputs like ethylene glycol, phthalates, and antimony trioxide.

  • Brominated Flame Retardants: Found in recycled plastic pillows, they can be harmful to health, and some, like DecaBDE, are listed for global elimination under the Stockholm Convention.

  • Phthalates: These are present in recycled plastic pillows and can be harmful, especially to reproductive health and development.

  • Antimony Trioxide: Another toxic chemical used in the production of PET pellets and microbeads.

  • Chlorine: Used in conventional cotton pillows and pillowcases for bleaching, it can lead to the production of dioxins, which are known carcinogens.

  • Pesticides and Chemical Residues: Conventional cotton pillows may contain traces of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and dyes, which can remain in the cotton and potentially end up in your bedding.

Organic Pillows for a Toxin-Free Bedroom

Here are some brands for non-toxic pillows alternatives that prioritize both your health and environmental sustainability.

1.AVOCADO

The Avocado Green Pillow is a beloved all-natural pillow that’s handmade in Los Angeles, offering customizable comfort and excellent support for all sleeping positions. Made with organic cotton, certified organic latex, and kapok, it’s free of harmful chemicals and toxins, hypoallergenic, dust mite resistant, and antimicrobial. With a 100-night trial and a 1-year warranty, it’s a worthwhile investment for those seeking a sustainable and comfortable sleep solution, and is widely regarded as one of the best organic pillows available.

The Avocado Green Pillow has amassed more than 5,000 five-star reviews.

SHOP AVOCADO

2. SAATVA

The Saatva pillow is an eco-friendly and comfortable option made from organic cotton and natural latex. This hypoallergenic pillow is free from harsh chemicals and is recommended for head and neck support. It comes in Queen and King sizes, and is dust mite and mildew resistant.

The pillow is machine-washable and comes with a 1-year warranty and a 45-day return policy. The production takes place in the USA, making it a great choice for those looking for domestically made sustainable products.

SHOP SAATVA

3. Bedding 

Hazardous Chemicals Found In Bedding

  • Formaldehyde: Often present in sheets marketed as ‘easy care’ or ‘wrinkle-free,’ formaldehyde can be a cancer-causing chemical and is undesirable on bedsheets.

  • Pesticide Residue: Some bedsheets may retain traces of pesticides used on the crops used in their production, particularly in non-organic cotton sheets.

  • Chlorine Bleach: Sheets may be whitened using chlorine bleach, which can leave behind harmful chemical residues.

  • Phthalates: Commonly found in waterproof bedsheets, phthalates are synthetic compounds added to plastics to enhance flexibility.

  • Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPEs): These harsh surfactants are used in various household items, including bedsheets, and can have adverse effects on health.

  • Azo Dyes and Color Fasteners: Some brightly colored or patterned bedsheets achieve their appearance with toxic dyes and color fasteners, which can be harmful.

  • Flame Retardants: Certain bedding items, like mattresses, may be treated with Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) to meet flame retardant regulations, potentially leading to neurodevelopmental issues.

Organic Bedding for a Toxin-Free Bedroom

4. Carpets & Rugs

Hazardous Chemicals Found In Carpets & Rugs

  • Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS): PFAS chemicals are linked to cancer, hormone disruption, obesity, developmental disorders, and other health issues, according to the EPA.

  • Phthalates: Phthalates are often used in PVC carpet backing and can migrate into the air, causing hormone disruption and adverse developmental effects, particularly in children.

  • 4-Nonylphenol: This chemical is a hormone-disrupting chemical and a developmental and reproductive toxicant.

  • DNOP: DNOP is a toxic phthalate associated with hormone disruption, developmental problems in children, and asthma.

Natural Rugs for a Toxin-Free Bedroom

5. Paint and wallpaper

Paint contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs), with benzene being one such VOC found in some paints. Prolonged or high-level exposure to benzene can pose health risks. Pregnant women, young children, and the elderly are considered vulnerable groups to these chemicals.

Water-based low- or zero-VOC paints are considered safer, but even they emit chemical gases, so proper ventilation is essential when painting. Storing paint in homes, especially in closed containers, can also release harmful fumes over time, making it advisable to store paint elsewhere.

Non-Toxic Paints for a Toxin-Free Bedroom

6. Old furniture

Vintage or second-hand furniture may have been treated with lead-based paint or other toxic materials. Ensure proper testing and refurbishing if using old furniture.

Trusted Sustainable Certifications & Labels

Labels To Help You Find Certified Non-Toxic Furnitures

Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS): This certification ensures that at least 95% of the natural latex in your mattress is certified organic. It also focuses on social and environmental responsibility and restricts the use of harmful substances like phthalates, heavy metals, chemical flame retardants, formaldehyde, VOCs, and polyurethane foam. 

Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): GOTS is a leading standard for organic fibers in textiles, and it ensures that your mattress products contain a minimum of 95% organic fibers. It also prohibits the use of harmful substances and chemicals similar to GOLS. 

OEKO-TEX Standard 100: While not specifically for organic materials, this standard focuses on testing textiles and components for harmful substances, ensuring they don’t pose risks to human health. It examines various components of textiles, including threads, buttons, zippers, etc. 

Greenguard/Greenguard GOLD: Greenguard certification means that a mattress has been tested for specific chemical emission limits, including phthalates, flame retardants, formaldehyde, and other VOCs. Greenguard Gold has more stringent limits and includes health-based criteria. It doesn’t guarantee the absence of nonvolatile contaminants like lead or cadmium. 

MADE SAFE: This certification ensures that a mattress avoids or constrains over 6,500 banned or restricted substances, making it free of toxic chemicals and treatments. It requires transparency in manufacturing and substance disclosure. 

CertiPUR-US: CertiPUR-US focuses on polyurethane foam and ensures it’s made without certain harmful substances like flame retardants, formaldehyde, lead, and other heavy metals. However, it only certifies the foam inside the mattress and doesn’t cover the entire mattress. 

EWG: Founded in 1993, EWG certification means that a product went through the strictest checks for human health and was found safe to use and free from hazardous chemicals.The EWG label is an important clean beauty certification guaranteeing the safety of your makeup or skincare products.

How To Purify Your Bedroom Air? 

Aside from choosing non-toxic furniture to ensure a healthier indoor environment, there are additional steps you can take to purify and clean the air in your home and create a toxin-free bedroom.

1. Install Air Quality Sensors

Consider installing air quality sensors in key areas of your home. These sensors can continuously monitor the air for various pollutants, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulate matter, and more. By having real-time data at your fingertips, you can gain insights into the air quality in different parts of your home. If pollutant levels rise, you’ll be alerted promptly, allowing you to take action to improve the air quality. It’s ideal to create a toxin-free bedroom.

  1. SAF Aranet4 Home

According to the Wirecutter, the SAF Aranet 4 is one of the most accurate CO2 monitors available, and its measurements can act as an indicator of your indoor air quality.

Shop SAF Aranet 4

2. Temtop M10 Air Quality Monitor

The 4-in-1 Multifunctional Monitor by Temtop accurately assesses indoor air quality by measuring PM2.5, AQI, HCHO, and TVOC, thanks to its advanced technology and user-friendly interface.

The monitor benefits from a comprehensive customer support and a 12-month warranty.

Shop Temtop Air Quality Monitor

2. Skip Air Fresheners – Prefer Candles

Researchers have found toxic chemicals in some plug-in air fresheners such as Benzene, Formaldehyde, Phthalates, Toluene, Xylene, and Volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

To infuse pleasant fragrances into your bedroom, opt for these natural, non-toxic alternatives instead.

You can also use scented candles. Contrary to popular beliefs, scented candles are safe to use. Scented candles can release various vapors and particles into the air when burned, but research suggests that they are generally safe for personal use. 

Studies have shown that the levels of potentially harmful chemicals released by scented candles, such as benzene and formaldehyde, are well below recommended indoor air-quality limits set by the World Health Organization, even after four hours of continuous burning.

3. Adopt Plants

NASA research has identified at least 15 common indoor plants that can help filter airborne pollutants like benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde, which are found in various household products. 

Some of the most effective air-cleaning plants include devil’s ivy, peace lilies, Pleomele, gerbera daisies, Sansevieria trifasciata (snake plant), ficus, and Japanese aralia. The general recommendation is to have one plant for approximately every 100 square feet of living space. These plants offer a natural way to improve indoor air quality by gradually removing pollutants and therefore create a toxin-free bedroom.

4. Open Your Windows

Researchers strongly recommend to air out your house several minutes per day to enhance the cleanliness and freshness of the air inside your living spaces. This simple yet impactful action facilitates the exchange of indoor and outdoor air, allowing pollutants and stale air to be expelled while ushering in revitalizing, outdoor freshness.

5. Add A Filter To You HVAC Systems 

In order to efficiently capture pathogens, allergens, and pollutants, experts suggest installing filtration systems with a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) of 13 or higher in centralized HVAC systems.

For portable devices, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are highly recommended, as they meet Department of Energy standards and have a well-established track record of effectiveness, supported by extensive research spanning several decades.

6. Use Air Purifiers

Air purifiers work by employing various mechanisms to clean the air. They use mechanical filters, such as HEPA filters, to trap particles like dust and allergens. Activated carbon filters remove odors and gases, while ionization technology charges and collects particles.

UV-C light can kill bacteria and viruses. Air purifiers help improve indoor air quality by reducing pollutants and allergens, creating a healthier and more comfortable living environment.

Air purifiers will help you create a toxin-free bedroom.

7. Switch To Non-Toxic Cleaning Products

Household cleaning supplies and everyday products may contain VOCs and other toxic substances, such as aerosol sprays, air fresheners, bleach, detergents, dry cleaning chemicals, rug and upholstery cleaners, furniture and floor polish, and oven cleaners, among others.

Use natural and non-toxic alternatives for a toxin-free bedroom.

8. Fireplace

According to the EPA, the smoke generated by an improperly burned wood in a fireplace contains numerous chemical substances, which are deemed harmful. These substances include hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), fine particulate matter (ash), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

This occurs because incomplete combustion of wood in a fireplace can lead to the release of these chemicals into the air, contributing to poor air quality and potential health risks.

Read their Burn Wise Guide to avoid pollutants when using your fireplace.

9. Pest Control

Pest control methods often involve the application of chemical pesticides. These chemicals can be released into the environment during application and may persist as residues, potentially contaminating soil and water through runoff.

For a toxin-free bedroom, it’s better to stay clear of pest control harmful products.

FAQ

What should you avoid in the bedroom?

To create a toxin-free bedroom, you should avoid:

Toxic Furniture & Deco: that are not certified safe for human health such as mattresses, pillows, beddings and rugs made with synthetic materials like Polyfoam, PBDEs, Phthalates, Formaldehyde, Benzene, or Flame Retardants.

Excess Clutter: Keep the bedroom clutter-free to prevent dust accumulation and make cleaning easier.

Heavy Curtains: Avoid heavy curtains that can trap dust and allergens. Opt for washable, lightweight curtains instead.

Synthetic Fragrances: Steer clear of synthetic air fresheners and strongly scented products, as they may contain harmful chemicals.


All photos credits belong to respective brands

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