Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Green allergen- and moisture-barrier mattress & bedding encasements

For health and comfort in bed, natural materials are the top green "Choose It" choice; plastic mattress covers and moth-, stain- and water-proofed fabrics are big time "Lost Its." PVC vinyl, a common cheap mattress pad component, will block dust mites and moisture, but will also release toxic phthalates into the air. Fabric treatments may emit formaldehyde and other toxic Volatile organic compounds (VOCs).If you're prone to sneezes and wheezes, and/or need reasonably waterproof but nontoxic bedding, for a child, a simple and affordable option is a tightly woven organic barrier cloth encasement or wool, which is naturally water-, fire- and odor-resistant.

A barrier cloth blocks allergenic dust mite droppings, pet danders and pollens that collect in bedding. They're also made into pillow and comforter covers. The main criteria is that it be:

*very tightly woven to keep microscopic particles from slipping through
*washable in hot water, which kills dust mites
*free of permanent press or stain- and water-repellant finishes, which can release toxic formaldehyde fumes or are made with Teflon- or Scotchgard- type perfluorochemicals (PFCs) that tests have connected to developmental and behavior problems in young animals.
*made of breathable natural material, preferable organic
* NOT made of PVC vinyl, which offgases toxic chemicals known as phthalates, which have been found to cause respiratory problems in children, and have also been linked in human studies to abnormal reproductive organ development in human infants and obesity in adults.

These days, it's easy to find affordable green encasements, such as the following.

* Allergy Buyers Club has certified organic cotton dust mite covers for mattresses, pillows, comforters, the works, at the most affordable prices I've seen. They're very tightly woven of unbleached, undyed, 100% organic cotton, with "pore" sizes smaller than 4 microns (10 microns is a benchmark for microparticles).

*Heart of Vermont makes sumptuous organic cotton fitted barrier sheets (easy on, zipper-free) with the same tight weave

*Gaiam has practical organic cotton, dustmite-proof comforter covers and fitted sheets. They're backed with polyurethane plastic, though, so not breathable (or natural).

*Allergy Solutions makes all-cotton very tightly woven (1.5 microns) mattress and pillow encasements, or 50/50 cotton poly backed with

Moisture resistant/waterproof mattress covers

My top pick is a mattress topper made of undyed wool, which is very comfortable, naturally hypoallergenic, moisture-absorbing, fire-retardant and provides a nice thick barrier to mites!

Natures Bedroom has mattress toppers made of wool, as well as natural latex (if you aren't allergic to it) and organic cotton.

Allergy Buyers Club sells affordable wool and wool-blend mattress pads, including
Our Home Comfort

Luna Mattress protectors bond cotton terrycloth with a permeated polyurethane membrane that the company says is waterproof and breathable. One of the most affordable options. For regular green consumer news and product updates, subscribe to our free monthly e-newsletter at GreenerPenny.com.

For more information about nontoxic, green household products and actions you can take to reduce pollution and energy waste, see Mindy's book, GreenerPenny.com.">Do One Green Thing: Saving the Earth Through Simple, Everyday Choices (St Martin's Press, 2010).

Join our One Green Thing a Day conversations on Facebook.com/GreenerPenny and follow us at Twitter.com/GreenerPenny. Thanks!


JR said...

Thanks for this info. But do these encasements protect against offgassing of toxins from (e.g.,) memory foam mattresses?

JR said...

Thanks for this info. But do these encasements protect against offgassing of toxins from memory foam mattresses? If not, are there alternatives you can recommend, short of buying a new mattress?

JR said...

Thanks for this info. But do these encasements protect against offgassing of toxins from (e.g.,) memory foam mattresses?

GreenFemme said...

Good question, JR!
A tightly wove barrier cloth encasement that surrounds a foam mattress should keep most chemicals from escaping into the air you breathe, but nothing's guaranteed. A natural mattress topper, being thicker, would help as well. http://greenerpenny.blogspot.com/2013/04/hello-green-mattress-goodbye-toxic.html

JR said...

Thanks for your response! Is there a cloth encasement that you would recommend?