1st September 2009
Green Products

Vegan Mattress – No Wool Plz. THX

vegan mattresses

A Vegan Mattress does not contain any animal products or by-products. That means no wool, horse hair and any other animal hair.

All our mattresses are Vegan and here’s why.

Vegans will be glad to know that, ethics aside, animal fibers should not be used in a mattress unless you’re prepared to take the wool or horse hair out each spring and wash it.

Here’s Why Animal Fibers Should NOT be Used

1) They’re a Nesting Ground for Critters.
Wool sheds particles that are eaten by other insects. Dust mites thrive in wool.

2) Bacteria Build Up.
Animal fibers made of protein are particularly sensitive to bacterial attack.

3 options are available for Wool:
1) Organic
2) Virgin
3) Chemically treated

Sheep are typically treated with pesticide chemicals to reduce lice and bow fly infestation. Once the wool is taken from the sheep and washed these chemicals end up polluting the waterways. Pesticide residue always remains on the wool. To reduce these chemicals there’s talk about “genetically improving sheep” to resist pests.

Organic (wool or horse hair) really should be cleaned at least once a year as it is not chemically treated to ward off pests and bacteria. Would you wear the same wool sweater every night for a year without washing it? Most people don’t think about this before buying a wool covered mattress. Most mattress companies don’t talk about it either 😉

Little anecdote. My Italian friend used to sleep on a wool mattress. Every spring his grandmother would take all the wool out, clean it by hand, let it dry and re-work it into its sleeve. Gatta love the Nona’s.

Why is Wool even found in Mattresses?
Wool has a great story. It’s natural and can be certified organic…better than synthetic without a doubt. It wicks away moisture…people love the word “wick”… oooo it wicks! It’s the only readily available natural option to soften up a sleep surface. It also does do a good job at regulating temperature too.

Wool is a natural fire retardant however it does NOT pass fire retardant regulations. Unless compressed to a thick cardboard-like state wool does not pass United States FR laws. It does not withstand a 2 foot wide blowtorch open flame for 70 seconds. Wools used in mattresses are always backed with a fire retardant in the US.

Bottom line, Vegans have it all right.

This article has 10 comments

  1. Julia

    What would you suggest as good warm bedding to compliment my new essentia mattress? Keeping dust mite issues in mind? I had been thinking of a natural wool blanket thus far because I was under the impression that dust mites didn’t like wool’s “drying” ability. I don’t want another polyester duvet but I need something to keep me warm through a cold Canadian winter!

  2. Jason

    I like organic fabrics, whether it be wool, cotton, or bamboo .

    We’ll always have dust mites. Reducing the quantity is what matters. As long as you wash your blankets you’ll be fine.

    I have nothing against wool. If it’s on my mattress it better be removable/washable. 😉

  3. Angela

    I have a special dust mite cover on my mattress because I am allergic to them; I wash my pillows often because I don’t find covers on the pillows to be comfortable. Organic material dust mite covers are available, I am ashamed to say mine is not but I’m hoping to change that one day!

  4. Colette

    Wool without chemical flame retardants DOES pass USA flame tests as described above. Simply ask the seller of your organic mattress to produce the test result and you will see it is possible. When considering the overall impact on our ecosystem, I’d take organic wool from a well treated sheep over carcinogenic, monsanto-produced chemical flame retardants any day!

  5. Jason

    Mike, thanks for the feedback.

    In the United States, all mattresses by law have to pass an open flame test. This is a 2 foot wide bow torch for 70 seconds. The chemical companies lobbied the government to make sure that law passed. I think we can all agree it’s insane!

    Luckily in Canada companies are not required to add any fire retardant. Some do so make sure to ask before you buy 😉

  6. Richard

    As a large supplier of New Zealand wool to Canada, I would like to use this forum to give a more balanced argument on the merits of wool in bedding.

    Wool is thoroughly scoured to remove lanolin and dirt, it does not shed particles that are eaten by insects, it is the dander( epidermis) that is shed by humans that nourish the dust mite.

    As Julie, 2nd September 2009,touched on, the drier environment that wool creates by wicking moisture away, is actual a natural dust mite repellent.

    • Catherine

      Thank you, Richard. You are right on all counts! I know your wool is from New Zealand, but there are US alternatives for organic wool. Yes, wool used in place of a fire barrier is possible, but expensive! There’s not much profit in organic wool, so you won’t find mass manufacturers interested in using it in their products! With thousands of years of use in many cultures around the world, wool is time-tested! Ask your grandparents!

  7. Richard

    Animal fibres made of protein are not senstive to bacterial attack.Wool actually acts as a natural bacteriacide. Around the world yacht, crews are able to wear the same damp wool under garments for long periods, and they don’t smell bad as the wool counters the body odour bacteria.

  8. Jason

    Wool is only slightly antibacterial IF it contains lanolin (wool wax or wool grease). Odor control is also the result of lanolin. If there is no lanolin, whatever anti bacterial and odor control qualities wool had no longer exists.

    The fact is wool does shed particles that are eaten by insects.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wool

    http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/resources/dustmites311.shtml

    http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/bk-2001-0792.ch016

    I like wool, don’t get me wrong, but it does require maintenance. I’ll choose natural over synthetic any day.

  9. Trish

    Thank you for your information! This explains the problems we encountered after purchasing expensive Organic wool Blankets.

    Seems every little critter carried in by the kitties and dog absolutely love these blankets, too! We’re constantly picking little black things out of them.

    I wash them quite often, if not weekly, and sprinkle everything liberally with diatomaceous earth. This helps tremendously; however, the blankets are not meant to be washed so often and have lost their softness and shrunk. (Also, Diatomaceous Earth is extremely drying to our skin and sinuses. It does work on the little buggers by drying them out as well!!

    It’s quite a different matter to wash blankets and pillows vs. thoroughly washing a mattress!!!
    Even if you steam it once a year, how will it dry?

    Thanks again for the information.

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