In just a few days, Spring will arrive!  Yes, there is still snow on the ground (again!), but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one looking forward to the coming of Spring.

I’m even excited about Spring Cleaning!  Yep!  I’m having a terrible time getting the teenagers of the household interested AT ALL in helping, but I’m not letting that dull my verve!  

I could go on for a while about my garage needing a good sweep and how am I going to get this pile to the dump, but this is a mattress blog, so I’ll try to remain focused.  Hmmm…. I’m not sure I even know what needs to be done… let’s learn together, shall we?

Oooh, Martha Stewart has a guide… shall we start with that?

“Turn your mattress over four times a year…”  wow, there’s a whole paragraph on how to label your bed so you know which side is up any given season.  Lucky for me, organic latex foam mattresses never need rotating or flipping!  Check it DONE – I’m liking this already!

“Vacuum mattress and box springs…” I suppose I can do that.  Only have a mattress to vacuum, probably should get those dust bunnies under the platform bed as well…

“… if possible, haul both outside for a day of fresh air”  That gives me such a wonderful mental image!  Maybe it is because my grandmother would dry clothes outside in the summer and I could run through my grandfather’s cotton dress shirts and giggle at the underwear.  

Clothes on the line *do* end up with a freshness that is wonderful, but all I can think of with a mattress is how do you keep it off the ground?? Wouldn’t it get wet?  And the POLLEN!  Many people choose organic mattresses because of the allergy benefits and putting it outside really does not sound like a good idea at all…

I am fortunate, though, my bedroom does have good sun.  I think I can strip the bed and leave it in the sun to get most of the benefits without any allergy problems.  Make sure to leave the cover on – the latex foam is plant-based and biodegradable!  The wool and cotton covers will be fine, but don’t want that latex turning brown (same natural process as the inside of an apple turning brown).

To be truthful, I hadn’t noticed my mattress needing any freshening and with SO MUCH else to handle for Spring Cleaning, I’m glad I can keep this simple.   Now where did those teenagers get to now?  We have a basement to organize!


So maybe I’m getting ahead of myself…. I should probably write a post about what this “Team Mattress Organic” thing is before jumping in with our exploits.  But the truth is, I am way behind and judging by past experience, if I wait to do it Right, that just means it never gets Done.   Let’s get it Done, shall we?

As a three generation family business, what better way to celebrate Father’s Day than a whole-family outing to the Northern Virginia Brewfest?  Held for a weekend at Morven Park  in Leesburg, Virginia, it boasted over 60 breweries in attendance, live music, food, and even entertainment for the wee one.


We arrived just as they opened.  The volunteers there were prepared with bracelets for those of us over 21 and a hand stamp for our 2.5 year old.  She is admiring the results in the photo.  Someday she will learn the true value of a hand stamp!

The Adult entry fee included a 4.75oz glass and four sampling tickets.   Evie was interested in the ciders, Rainer prefers darker brews, Kristin is a pale ale fan, and Donald enjoys wheat beer.  We strolled along the offerings, sampling and discussing the various attributes of each trial.

We avoided the popular breweries, focusing on ones we’d never seen or heard of before, so even though I do like Shocktop, we passed by the adorable mohawked VW bug  to sample libations from Highland Brewing, Abita, Baltimore-Washington Brew Works (Raven), St. George Brewery, Three Bros Brewing Co, and Evolution Craft Brewing (Evo) to name a few (?! Yes, that’s only a FEW!).

Our favorite ended up being Lost Rhino Brewing Company.  We don’t think it was the mascot, though with Rhintek, Inc. being our main company, certainly a rhino picture grabs our interest.  Rainer really liked the Woody Stout and I enjoyed both the mig (My Imaginary Girlfriend) American IPA and the Steam Punk Unfiltered Amber Lager.  Steam Punk was the lightest colored amber beer I’ve ever seen, and the unfiltered nature made it slightly… chewy?  I’m at a loss how best to describe it, but I did find it quite enjoyable.


Apparently we had a moment of “no beer.”  You can see how sad that made us.

In conclusion, Team Mattress Organic voted this trip a success and we look forward to the Fall version in November 2013.  I’m guessing we’ll see darker offerings then… Oktoberfests, Brown Ales, Dunkels… ah, tasty!

Why are there mattress edges?

Innerspring mattresses require a stiff edge in order to hold the mattress springs inside the mattress.  Over the years, mattress companies have learned to tout this fact as a “feature,” namely, as an area with extra support so you can sit on the edge of the bed.

While being able to sit on the edge of the bed is certainly useful, is an actual mattress edge such as what an innerspring mattress contains required to this purpose?  Chairs and couches, arguably even more geared towards sitting upon, do not have these special edges.

Why not have a mattress edge?

For one, edging makes the comfortable sleep area of the bed smaller.

Also, some latex foam mattress companies, in their rush to create a mattress edge, will use polyurethane foam as the stabilizer. Polyurethane foam has numerous disadvantages (perhaps the subject of a later post), but among the top is that it has only a 10 year life span.  This makes a 20 year latex foam mattress into a 10 year mattress.

True, you can use stiffer latex foam around the edge instead of polyurethane, but is there really any reason to incur the extra costs of custom foam mattress sizing and additional cutting/handling of the foam layers?

The Verdict

My organic latex foam mattress has no special treatment for the edges (the organic wool cover provides some stiffening, I suppose) and I have no trouble sitting on the edge and have yet to fall out of the bed.

You may have different sleep needs, but it sure sounds to me like having a mattress edge is something the innerspring mattress industry has promoted as something you need when in reality, it is something they need, instead.


Mattress toppers are often referred to as pillow-tops.  They are a useful remediation to a too firm mattress, whether because the users of the mattress have changed, the sleepers have decided their mattress is too firm.  A mattress topper can also be used to achieve a difference of firmness on the two sides of the bed.

Pillow tops can be purchased as part of the mattress or as a separate unit.  We generally advise against buying an attached pillow top for the following reasons:

  • toppers do not last as long as the mattress core, making the set lumpy for most of its life (the only exception to this rule is a quality latex topper, where the topper will outlive the mattress core instead) ,
  • it is much harder to clean the topper when it is attached,
  • the price of a good topper at a bedding store is very reasonable, whereas the cost increase is enormous when the topper is attached to a mattress,
  • adjusting the individual feel for two sleepers is more difficult when the topper is attached to the mattress core.
I happen to sleep on an organic latex foam mattress which is custom adjusted for my preferred firmness level, so I no longer needed the memory foam pillow top I had purchased to compensate for my previous inner-spring mattress being too firm.  I have kept the pillow top because:
  • it rolls up and stores easily
  • I can add it to the sleeper sofa and make that mattress more bearable for guests
  • the kids like to have it on the floor for watching TV and general rolling around


The word ticking originates from ancient times, when a heavy woven fabric was used to cover early mattresses (presumably thick enough to keep the straw or feathers from poking through). Today, lighter weight materials such as velour are often used.

The main purpose of the cover is to keep the insides in. With the self-supporting cores found in most contemporary mattresses, this is less important and other considerations arise. The cover is now used to provide shape, repel water, reduce the flow of allergens, look pretty, and provide a fire retardant barrier.

In an organic mattress, the ticking is usually made of organic cotton with a layer of organic wool quilted into the top cover. The wool is required to meet the government flammability requirements.

Persons with wool allergies need to get a doctor’s prescription in order to buy a mattress that does not meet the fire safety standards. Note: Most wool allergies are reactions to the chemical used on the wool rather than the wool itself. Ask for a sample of the wool being used, so you can test your sensitivity.

Mattresses consist of: a core, a covering (called ticking), and, optionally, a pillow-top.


The mattress core is the meat of the mattress, providing the foundation upon which the sleeper rests.  Mattress cores can be made of: steel springs, foam, air, water, and many other materials (cotton, wool, polyester fiber fill, feathers, straw, mud, etc.). Sometimes a core consists of several layers of various materials.

Comparison of Mattress Core Materials
Description steel springs poly- urethane memory foam latex foam
Anti-microbial and anti-fungal n n n y
Hypo-allergenic y n n y
Anti-dust mites n n n y
Warm, cool, humidity comfort y n n y
Pressure point relief support n n y y
Natural product n n n y
Lifetime in years 5-20 5-10 10-15 20+
Bio-friendly n n n y
Attracts EMFs y n n n
Makes noise y n n n
Cost low low med med

An organic latex foam mattress core consists of two or three layers of natural latex foam created from rubber trees grown organically.

  • As a plant-based product, latex foam mattresses are naturally anti-microbial, anti-fungal, hypo-allergenic, and repellent to dust mites.
  • With an open-cell foam construction allowing the mattress to “breathe,” latex foam mattresses provide warmth without being too hot, coolness without being cold, and maintain a comfortable humidity level.
  • With no metal in its core, the latex foam mattress does not carry an EMF and there’s no worries about squeaky springs attracting attention!
  •  The lifetime of organic latex foam is significant.

For these reasons, we highly recommend using organic latex foam layers as the core for your mattresses!

Next up: The Ticking…

Your mattress is one of the most important objects in your life.  It is critical to achieving restful sleep, minimizing sleep interruptions, and the support of your body while you rest.  Here are some of the reasons why an organic latex foam mattress is an excellent mattress choice:

  1. Comfort – natural latex rubber is supportive without being hard, cool without being cold, soft without being squishy.
  2. Hypo-allergenic – so many people suffer from allergies nowadays.  Organic latex is free of the allergens that plague people while they sleep.  Interestingly enough, even people with latex sensitivity are not allergic to the organic latex rubber used in an organic foam mattress.
  3. Organic – in terms of organic latex mattresses, organic means that the rubber trees used to produce the latex are grown without pesticides.  Also, the wool used in the mattress covers is organic.
  4. High Value – organic latex mattresses are initially more expensive to purchase than standard mattresses, but they have a longer lifespan.  The cost over time is less.
  5. Mobile – organic latex mattresses, while perhaps not easy to move, are nonetheless much simpler to transport than a one piece inner spring mattress and boxspring set.  The organic wool cover unzips to reveal the three organic latex foam layers, which can be individually rolled and carried.
For these reasons and more, organic latex mattresses are a wise choice.