When we lie down to sleep on our nice comfortable mattress, we are entitled to believe that the mattress we have chosen features only safe, healthy materials. We expect that the manufacturer has used comfortable materials that fit our form and enable us to get a great night’s sleep, but that are also non-toxic and harmless to health.
But we could be wrong, so very wrong!
Recently, there has been a great deal of concern among consumers about a commonly found substance in mattresses. A substance that sounds entirely innocent on the face of it and that, in fact, is encouraged by law to be included in our beds. Yet it can, and does, cause skin irritation, respiratory problems, and pollution of the home to such an extent that only professional cleaning can get rid of it.
What is This Material? This Material is Fiberglass.
Most mattresses contain fiberglass – a substance that can lead to irritation of the skin and lungs, with sometimes quite serious consequences. So why on earth would we find it in a mattress of all places, where we have the closest and most intimate contact? We expect to be safe when we buy products, especially those closely connected with our health.
Fiberglass is a substance that no one would readily associate with mattress-making. In fact, we rather expect that a mattress manufacturer will keep even the suggestion of hazardous material out of our bedding. However, manufacturers do have occasion to include fiberglass in their mattresses. This is undoubtedly a cause for growing concern among many consumers.
Today we want to explore the use of this rather worrying material in our mattresses. We want to determine why it’s used and the potential for harming us, the innocent sleepers. We want to find out what we can do to protect ourselves from the possible consequences of fiberglass in mattresses.
The critical question is, “Is fiberglass a dangerous substance to place inside a mattress?” Even if it isn’t, we need to know why manufacturers are putting it in our mattresses in the first place. Let’s explore the issue so we can make an informed decision.
What Exactly Is Fiberglass?
Let’s start from the beginning. The first question that needs answering is a fundamental one – what is precisely is fiberglass?
Fiberglass is a light but strong material used to make items like tent poles, surfboards, and other things made from solid plastic sheets. It is sheeting with glass shards through it. Although the fragments are tiny, they allow for better interconnectivity between the fibers of plastic. They can hurt you when the fibers come loose.
The fiberglass used in mattresses comes as a fabric that can be cut and sewn pretty much like any material. It is easy to use, lightweight, non-toxic in itself, and cheap – and that is why manufacturers choose to use it.
Typically, fiberglass fibers don’t come loose. However, if you are using it as insulation in your home and moving it around a lot, for example, if you are cutting up fiberglass sheeting, the tiny bits of glass can get into the air and thus into the air airways. Suppose you have ever insulated water pipes or an attic space with fiberglass wadding or repaired a boat. In that case, you will be familiar with how fiberglass shards can get into your skin, causing discomfort and irritation.
Safety is more easily assured in other solid forms since the fibers are too densely wrapped to be of danger. Consider the surfboard example. Unless snapped, those particles aren’t going to get into the air. But if you were to saw it in half, then, of course, those tiny shards of glass would be everywhere.
Why Is Fiberglass Put Into Mattresses?
Believe it or not, mattress makers put fiberglass into their mattresses because it is a safety feature. In a house fire, flames spread quickly. If you happen to be asleep, it is unlikely that you will wake in time before you succumb to the smoke.
If that fire starts in your bedroom, you only have a short time before your mattress catches fire. Fiberglass placed around the edges of the bed will melt instead of burning. This could be enough to keep you safe and protected until help arrives.
A prevalent cause of fires that start in bedrooms is people smoking in bed. In fact, smoking in bed is the leading cause of fire deaths in the USA. (https://www.jbsa.mil/News/News/Article/2322093/smoking-in-bed-is-the-leading-cause-of-fire-deaths/) . So mattresses must be flame resistant. That is simply common sense. Yet, the material chosen by many manufacturers-fiberglass- can be damaging to our health.
In the USA, all mattresses must lawfully contain a flame retardant. One of the easiest and cheapest ways to comply with this law is to place fiberglass in the outside areas of the mattress. This both avoids the use of harmful chemicals and does the job it was designed to do.
So, while it may seem like your mattress maker is being a little remiss in adding fiberglass to your mattress, they are actually doing it for your safety. However, there are other, more natural ways of retarding fire. For example, materials such as wool can be treated safely to be very resistant to a fire started by cigarettes.
How Is Fiberglass Used to Make Mattresses?
Mattresses feature layers of material for support, ventilation, softness, and comfort. Fiberglass generally sits in one of the outermost layers of the bed; obviously, this is the most helpful place for a fire-retardant material.
How Can We Benefit from Fiberglass While Staying Safe?
Naturally, we are all wondering the same thing by now- am I going to get shards of fiberglass in my skin as I sleep? Thankfully, the placement of the fiberglass inside the mattress should prevent this from happening. Mattress manufacturers usually place
fiberglass layers strategically to minimize the chance of shards escaping. Generally, a brand-new bed containing fiberglass should be safe to sleep on.
In fact, as we mentioned earlier, fiberglass keeps you safe from fire, as opposed to putting you in danger. However, that’s not the end of the tale. Fiberglass used in mattresses has hazards of its own that one cannot ignore
Why Fiberglass in Mattresses Is Potentially Dangerous
There are a few situations where you might find that fiberglass in your mattress is potentially dangerous – for you and your family. Here are some of them:
1 . Fiberglass working its way to the surface over time
If you have an old fiberglass mattress, you might find that it starts to itch and chafe your skin over time. This is because the tiny glass particles can work their way out of the mattress and up to the sleeping surface. If your bed is giving you an itchy rash, it quite probably contains fiberglass, and it is definitely time to think about replacing it.
2 . Fiberglass Particles Getting into the Air
If your mattress is old and worn, those fibers have the potential to get into the air every time you try to clean or air your mattress. Take off the removable cover, and you just might find yourself with a room full of almost invisible but irritating fiberglass particles.
When airborne in this way, fiberglass particles are hazardous to those with breathing difficulties. Asthma and bronchial disorders will flare up, as will the symptoms of allergies. This is because those fibers will get into your nose and throat, and even your eyes. If they manage to get into the air conditioning system, you will shortly find that they are spread throughout the entire house, leaving you with a massive clean-up headache.
3 . Itchy Skin
If fiberglass is loose in your home, expect to deal with the consequences. It will cause itching skin and rashes, disturb the airways, nose, and eyes, and even clog up your washing machine if you attempt to wash things coated with fiberglass. It will also stick in your vacuum cleaner – it’s amazing the damage that these tiny particles can do to your household appliances. Even your pets can suffer!
How To Get Rid Of Fiberglass In The Bedroom
If you suspect that your mattress is shedding fiberglass, you are well-advised to invest in a new fiberglass free mattress . But that leaves you with the problem of fiberglass particles that remain in your sleeping environment – a problem that isn’t easily solved.
You can, of course, give the affected areas a deep clean yourself, but it’s probably advisable to bring in a professional cleaning service. They will have the right equipment and cleaning products to get into every nook and cranny of your furniture, carpets, drapes, light fittings, soft furnishings, and even walls, ceilings, and floors, getting rid of all those nasty little fibers.
However, be warned – a bad case of fiberglass contamination can cost thousands of dollars to resolve.
Which Brands Use Fiberglass in Mattresses?
Memory Foam mattresses frequently use fiberglass, as do many highly reputable conventional brands. In fact, 80% of beds contain fiberglass – but of course, the good news is that 20% of them don’t.
Here are some brands that do offer mattresses with fiberglass:
- Tuft and Needle
- Spa Sensation
- Olee Sleep
- DHP Furniture
- Wayfair Sleep
Also check: 10 Best Mattresses Without Fiberglass
How To Spot Mattresses with Fiberglass Inside
Manufacturers must, by law, disclose that there is fiberglass in a mattress and the percentage that it contains. Look for the words “glass fiber” as well as fiberglass. Give that label a good read! And of course, if you are buying online, you should be given the same information about the construction of the mattress that you are thinking about buying. If you can’t find the information – then just walk on by!
How To Avoid Fiberglass Issues
Make sure that you never remove or damage the outer cover of your mattress. This is a surefire way to release fiberglass into the air. A mattress can contain as much as 65% or more fiberglass in its construction. If your bed starts to make your skin feel itchy, especially if it is a few years old, then it’s time to get a nice new one!
Whatever you do, please don’t think that you can renovate a mattress containing fiberglass yourself. The brutal truth is that you can’t, and you are likely to land yourself in a big mess, with tiny, glittery, irritating pieces of fiberglass everywhere that you just can’t get rid of.
Some mattresses containing fiberglass have zips that suggest that you can safely remove the cover. Just don’t do it unless you are 100% sure that your bed is fiberglass-free.
A good tip is always to ensure that your mattress has a good support base. This will prevent wearing and rubbing the mattress covering and, of course, give you an excellent basis for a comfortable night’s sleep. We spend so much of our lives asleep or lying in bed that it’s worth investing in a proper foundation.
Whenever you are handling a mattress that you suspect is leaking fiberglass, please wear a mask and protective goggles, and protect your skin as much as possible. A disposable Tyvac suit of the kind worn by painters and decorators works well, and of course, don’t forget those elbow-length rubber gloves. Toss your protective clothing once it has been used, and have a really good shower – or two – to get rid of any stray bits of irritating material.
If you do have to dispose of a mattress, ensure that it is gotten rid of appropriately. You don’t want to pass your problem on to some other person. At a minimum, have it hauled away by a professional.
What Does It Cost to Remove Fiberglass?
Costs will vary from place to place. Our advice is to ask your cleaning contractor to take the mattress away when you have your bedroom deep cleaned. Some local municipalities will haul away mattresses free of charge or for a modest fee – it’s a good idea to check this option.
If you need a complete bedroom or even house clean due to fiberglass contamination, the costs can be very steep. We’ve heard of costs in the tens of thousands of dollars in some severe cases. You and your family and pets will probably need to move out while the cleaning takes place, so you need to add that cost in as well.
Make sure when you hire a cleaning company that they are experts in removing fiberglass. A regular cleaning, however thorough, just isn’t going to be able to address this problem. Of course, experts don’t come cheap. However, you want a proper job and for your home to be safe once you can move back in.
FAQs about Fiberglass in Mattresses
In this section, we have tried to cover some of the most frequently asked questions about mattresses containing fiberglass.
Q: How do you know if your mattress has fiberglass inside it?
A: You can check the label or consult with the manufacturer. You can find the details of most mattresses online. If you can’t find out what a mattress contains, it’s safest to assume that it includes fiberglass, as most mattresses do – around 80%.
Q: Why do they put fiberglass in mattresses?
A: Federal law requires that manufacturers protect mattresses against fire. If they do this using chemicals, clients are concerned about the possibility of dangerous fumes escaping while they sleep. If manufacturers place fiberglass in the outside layers of the mattress, this allows full compliance while being a cheaper option.
Q: Are all memory foam mattresses made using fiberglass?
A: No! Some memory foam mattresses use fire-retardant sprays, while some use silica blended with wool instead.
Conclusion: Is Fiberglass a Safe Mattress Material?
We have to conclude that although fiberglass is added as a safety barrier to prevent fire from spreading, it is not a healthy alternative to chemical sprays. (We are no fans of chemical sprays either!) There is an equal risk that you will eventually breathe in fibers that will trigger a reaction similar to allergies caused by chemicals – and fiberglass is a LOT more difficult to get rid of. If you have people with breathing disorders or skin issues, elders, young children, and babies in your home, this risk is particularly worthy of your concern.
There are many good alternatives to fiberglass in mattresses that are safe, comfortable, and affordable. We would steer you away from buying a fiberglass mattress and urge you to consider other, healthier, more natural options instead. There are many fiberglass-free mattress options on the market, and isn’t it good to know that you can rest easy at night with a comfortable, naturally made mattress that is safe from fire and won’t damage your health.