Just like with your mattress, the materials used in your sheets and bedding are super important. Considering how much time you spend in bed over the course of your life and the processes your body goes through during sleep (which are essential for optimal health!), non-toxic bedding and sheets are a crucial aspect of healthy sleep hygiene.
In this article, we’ll talk about why non-toxic bedding is important (and what’s wrong with conventional bedding), what to look out for, and our recommended brands you can trust.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase. We only make recommendations that are genuine and meet our ingredient/material safety standards.
Non-Toxic Bedding?! What Makes Bedding Toxic?
A lot of bedding and sheets are made using synthetic materials and chemicals that can cause serious long-term health issues. We’ll go through the different harmful materials here, but first, let’s start with one of the most common culprits found in wrinkle-resistant and anti-static sheets: formaldehyde.
Formaldehyde, The “Complete Carcinogen”
Most people are aware that formaldehyde is toxic. It is a known carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) and is classified by the EPA as a “Hazardous Air Pollutant” that can cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems. Short- and/or long-term exposure to formaldehyde can also cause things like headaches, scratchy and watery eyes, dizziness, nausea, rashes, fatigue, and insomnia.
People who are more at risk for the negative effects of formaldehyde exposure include babies and young children, elderly individuals, pregnant people, and those with conditions like asthma, respiratory illness, or chronic disease.
What you may not know is how often textiles like clothing and bedding are treated with formaldehyde. You know those labels that say things like “wrinkle-free” or “static resistant”? Those should be a red flag because there’s a good chance these fabrics have been treated with a formaldehyde-based permanent press process in an attempt to keep the wrinkles away.
Unfortunately, you can’t just wash the formaldehyde away after the fabric has been processed, either. Although washing, wearing, and airing out (“off-gassing”) the fabric can help decrease the amount of formaldehyde contained in the fabric, the chemical’s resin is a permanent part of the textile.
The worst part: there are currently NO regulations in the United States on formaldehyde in textiles.
Avoid Chemically-Treated Sheets Marketed As:
To stay away from formaldehyde in your bedding and sheets, avoid products and labels with words like:
Other Problematic Materials & Chemicals Found in Bedding and Sheets
Formaldehyde is the big one, but there are other toxic chemicals that are commonly found in conventional bedding as well. These include:
- Polyester & Friends: Many people wonder: is it okay to sleep on polyester sheets? Polyester, acrylic, and nylon are common synthetics used in bedding and sheets. But they’re petroleum products, or in other words, they’re plastic. That means they’re not good for the environment, but also might be bad for your health, too. Synthetic fabrics like these can contain phthalates, which are known endocrine disruptors and can cause a whole host of health issues.
- “Antimicrobial” and “Antibacterial” Additives: These are two more labels that should raise a flag for you. Chemicals like Triclosan are often added to textiles for their anti-microbial properties, but the chemical is a known endocrine disruptor. It was banned from hand soap by the FDA in 2017, but is still allowed in textiles.
- Stain Repellants: Many companies make their sheets stain resistant using PFAs. PFAs are terrible; they are known to cause cancer, autoimmune disease, infertility, and more. Plus, they build up in the body over time and we have no way of detoxing them. Instead of getting stain-resistant sheets with added chemicals, just use some really good non-toxic laundry detergent instead!
- Azo Dyes: Are colored sheets bad for you? A lot of textiles are conventionally colored with azo dyes, which can be carcinogenic. Look for brands that either don’t dye their bedding at all, or use non-toxic dyes instead. The OEKO-TEX and MADE SAFE certifications can help you ensure there are no azo dyes used in coloring your bedding (more on those labels below).
- Pesticides & Co: Conventional crops (like cotton) are grown using things like herbicides and pesticides, which are literally poisons. Residues from these chemicals can end up on the finished product, which can mean your jersey cotton sheets might be slowly releasing those toxicants into the air and onto your skin as you sleep. Buy organic (like GOTS certified) when possible!
Why You Should Choose The Safest, Non-Toxic Bedding
Honestly, there’s really no reason to buy synthetic and potentially toxic bedding and sheets when there are so many great alternatives. Even big box stores like Target are offering more organic and non-toxic sheets these days!
We are surrounded by environmental toxins every day, and unfortunately, a lot of those toxins can’t be avoided. That’s why we should make safer and healthier decisions about the things we do have control over—and that includes the fabric we sleep on!
Making the switch to non-toxic home goods can help to prevent long-term health concerns in the general population, as well as help sensitive populations (babies, those with autoimmune conditions, etc.) take better care of themselves.
The first thing to look for in non-toxic bedding is 100% natural, wicking, and breathable fibers. Look for fabrics like:
Next, you’ll want to look for trustworthy certifications.
Non-Toxic Certifications to Look For
Third-party certifications are a great way to ensure your non-toxic bedding and sheets have passed a specific set of standards that ensure no toxic chemicals are used before the sheets get to you. Here are some of the most common certifications to looks for:
GOTS Certified Organic
This label indicates that the material used to make the non-toxic bedding (usually cotton) is grown without the use of toxic herbicides, pesticides, and other toxic chemicals. You may find an entire product is labeled as GOTS organic (which means at least 95% of the materials used are certified organic) OR you might find that JUST the cotton (or other raw material) is certified organic.
Finished products with this certification have passed a certain set of criteria verifying that they’re free from a list of toxic chemicals, which includes formaldehyde and azo dyes.
Made Safe is a great label that’s similar to OEKO-TEX in that it investigates and certifies that certain products are made without chemicals that are known or suspected to be toxic to human and environmental health.
The Filtery’s Choice For The Best Non-Toxic Bedding & Sheet Sets
Coyuchi is definitely a leader in organic, non-toxic bed and bath products. Their bedding is made from 100% GOTS certified organic cotton and is completely free from all dyes and other potentially harmful chemicals (they’re MADE SAFE certified too). Even better, they partner with farms and mills to make sure everything is made ethically and sustainably, and are working to implement more circularity into their process. You can definitely feel good about sleeping in these sheets.
Under the Canopy is a great brand that makes non-toxic, organic, and ethically made bed and bath products that are not only beautiful and durable, but also affordable! They carry a variety of different types of sheets, whether you’re looking for flannel, sateen, percale, or jersey cotton. Made from GOTS and OEKO-TEX certified organic cotton, these sheet sets, duvet covers, and blankets come in several different colors and sizes. Plus, everything is made responsibly in Pakistan and is shipped in plastic-minimal packaging.
Buffy’s non-toxic bedding is especially great for those who run hot at night. Their eucalyptus sheets, comforters, and duvet covers are not only made from natural materials, but they’re better at regulating temperature than cotton—the fabric is literally cool to the touch! You can even try Buffy for free to see if it works for you, and send it back if it doesn’t.
Avocado is basically the gold standard when it comes to non-toxic bedding. In addition to their mattresses and pillows, they also carry a collection of organic cotton and linen sheets, duvet inserts and covers, and throw blankets. Their “eco-luxury” extra-long 1,000 thread count sheets have a super soft and satiny feel, but are also incredibly durable, so they’ll last you a long time. Avocado’s products come with a handful of third-party certifications, include GOTS organic, OEKO-TEX, and MADE SAFE.
A great option for warm sleepers, Takasa’s gorgeous, super soft, and cooling bedding is made from GOTS and Fair Trade certified organic cotton. They carry sheet sets, duvet covers, and comforters that come in calming, earthy shades. Plus, everything is carbon neutral and one tree is panted with every order!
SOL Organics’ sheets are OEKO-TEX certified and GOTS Organic, which means the cotton and linen used to make them were grown without herbicides and pesticides, and then they were manufactured without toxic chemicals as well. Not only are SOL’s products also Fair Trade Certified, but they’re more affordable for the consumer compared to some of the other brands listed here. In addition to their non-toxic sheets, they also carry duvet covers, down comforters, bedding bundles, and bath towels.
PACT started out with underwear and was one of the first companies to offer organic basics at a more accessible price point. Now, they offer affordable, non-toxic bedding as well! Their super-soft GOTS certified organic sheets are available in a variety of fun colors—and they’re Fair Trade certified too. They also have duvet covers and crib sheets.
This brand is for you if you’re looking for an organic, non-toxic duvet cover with a modern aesthetic. They are GOTS organic and Fair Trade certified made from super-soft, long-staple yarn. Hopefully their west coast inspired designs will brighten up your bedroom with hints of cool coastal airs and sunny fresh fields.
I Love My Microfiber Sheets… Are They Considered Non-Toxic Bedding?
Microfiber sheets are made from a manmade material that has thinner fibers than cotton, linen, or anything else (hence the name, “microfiber”). Most microfiber sheets are made from synthetics like polyester (a.k.a. plastic), although you might be able to find some that are made out of plant-based cellulose (wood pulp) instead.
Because most microfiber sheets are a petroleum byproduct, they unfortunately can’t be considered non-toxic. In addition to being harmful to the environment at large, these synthetics are almost always processed with toxic chemicals and can include things like phthalates, which are harmful to human health.
Even though purchasing plant-based microfiber sheets is a better choice, make sure you dig deep and ask questions from the brand. Although the original material may be natural and non-toxic, toxic chemicals are often used to turn these plants into fabric.
Are Weighted Blankets Toxic?
Weighted blankets use something called deep touch pressure (DTP), which has been shown to decrease cortisol and anxiety, and increase serotonin and melatonin in some people. With the amount of stress and anxiety so many people face today, it’s no wonder the trend has so strongly caught on!
But many people wonder: are weighted blankets harmful? Since they’re made out of much of the same materials, weighted blankets come with many of the same problems that other traditional bedding and sheets do. It’s important to take the same steps when looking for a natural, non-toxic weighted blanket: look for natural fabrics and third-party certifications that indicate safety.
The Best Non-Toxic, Natural Weighted Blanket: Bearaby
We don’t say this lightly: you are almost guaranteed to love Bearaby’s natural weighted blankets. They have several different variations of their chunky knit blanket: the Cotton Napper (which is made from long-staple, GOTS-certified organic cotton), their Tree Napper (which is made from eco-friendly TENCEL fabric), the Velvet Napper (made from upcycled velvet that comes from recycled plastic bottles), and the Nappling (which is made from organic cotton just for KIDS!).
Each of these blankets comes with several different third-party certifications, such as OEKO-TEX and Fairtrade International. They come in weights from 8 to 25 pounds, so you can get the best size for you (it’s recommended that your weighted blanket be roughly 10% of your body weight).
But do weighted blankets make you hot? Some can! But because Bearaby is hand-knit, the holes keep you from getting sweaty. If you normally tend to run hot while you sleep, we recommend getting the TENCEL blanket (the Tree Napper). The TENCEL fabric (which comes from eucalyptus trees) has a cooling effect, so the surface temperature of the blanket legitimately stays cool, even after you’ve been snuggled up with it for hours!
These blankets are gorgeous and come in lots of different colors, so you can get one that looks great thrown over your couch or on the end of your bed. They’re also vegan, hand-knit in Fairtrade certified factories, and perhaps best of all: machine washable!
Conclusion: Nothing feels better than sliding into cool, comfy, and silky sheets… until you start worrying about the chemicals, dyes, and off-gassing from toxic bedding. Clean up your act—I mean bed—and treat yourself and your loved ones to the best non-toxic bedding. Not only will you have a better night’s sleep, but you’ll have peace of mind!