Fiberglass is a common type of plastic material which is reinforced with glass fibers. As a material it is strong and lightweight as well as being incredibly flexible, however breathing in fiberglass can have negative effects on your health.
Determining whether your mattress contains fiberglass can be challenging because manufacturers often use it as a fire retardant in the fabric covering rather than the core material. Fiberglass is woven into the mattress cover to create a fire barrier.
Fiberglass in a mattress can pose serious health risks like lung issues or skin irritation if exposed over long periods. Inhaling airborne fibers is especially dangerous. Since it's very difficult to clean up once released, the safest choice is to dispose of any mattress that contains fiberglass.
How to tell if your mattress has fiberglass?
It can be challenging to determine if your mattress contains fiberglass just by looking at it, as fiberglass is often used as a fire retardant in the fabric covering or as a reinforcement layer within the mattress. However, here are a few tips to help you identify if your mattress might contain fiberglass:
Check manufacturer information
According to building biologist Corinne Segura, the first step you should take when working out if your mattress has fiberglass is by reviewing the mattress' manufacturer information.
Check if the company claims they are using silica as a flame retardant layer. While silica is not synonymous with fiberglass, it is a part of its makeup. This is one way that companies are using greenwashing to avoid saying there is fiberglass in the mattress.
Corinne Segura is a building biologist practitioner and the founder of My Chemical-Free House, where she tests and writes about green building materials. She has 8 years of experience as a green materials specifier, for new builds and renovations.
Inspect the cover and label
The easiest way to determine if your mattress contains fiberglass is to check the label. Manufacturers are required to list all of the materials used to make mattresses – including the interior contents and outer cover – on the label. If your mattress's label lists glass fibers as one of the materials, your mattress contains fiberglass. Other terms to look out for are 'glass wool' or 'glass fibers'.
Carefully inspect the mattress cover. If you notice any small, shiny fibers or particles protruding from the mattress cover or seams, it could indicate the presence of fiberglass. Be cautious when handling the cover as fiberglass particles can become airborne and pose respiratory hazards.
Read product reviews
If you are unable to see if your mattress has fiberglass based on the manufacturer’s information, you can turn to product reviews.
‘Look for reviews or testimonials from other customers who have purchased the same mattress make and model,’ says cleaning specialist Janille Mangat. They may share their experiences and provide insights into the mattress's composition.
Usually people will share their reviews, especially if they are negatively focussed on certain products, and considering the health implications of fiberglass, people will likely state if a certain mattress contains fiberglass even if it isn’t shared by the manufacturer.
Janille Mangat has been working as a cleaning specialist at VMAP services for more than 2 years and has extensive experience with residential and cleaning services.
Consult cleaning specialists
If you suspect fiberglass contamination due to damage or wear, consult with professional mattress cleaning specialists. They can assess the situation and provide guidance on safe cleaning practices.
In extreme cases, if you are uncertain and concerned about the presence of fiberglass, Parveen Garg, manager at Ola Clean, suggests you hire a professional mattress inspector. Professional mattress inspectors can assess the mattress composition thoroughly and test if fiberglass is present.
Parveen Garg is a dedicated and experienced Manager in the cleaning business, specializing in leveraging my extensive knowledge of cleaning practices and products to ensure exceptional cleanliness solutions. With 4 years of experience, he possesses a deep understanding of the industry and excels at leading teams to deliver outstanding results.
Cleaning up fiberglass
Should you find fiberglass, use a HEPA filter vacuum, such as the Dyson V15 Detect Absolute to clean the bed and surrounding area, as our tests found that it can capture particles as small as 0.3 microns.
Fiberglass dust is hazardous to your health, so it is very important to remove it from your immediate environment as soon as you can. Use a dust mask respirator such as the 3M Half Facepiece Reusable Respirator 6100 from Amazon. Remember, this is a temporary fix, and the ultimate solution is to dispose of the mattress.
How often should you change your mattress?
On average, you should change your mattress every six to eight years as the average lifespan of a mattress is roughly seven years. However if your mattress is negatively affecting your sleep or is noticeably saggy in certain areas, those may be indications that your mattress should be changed sooner.
When it's time for a new mattress, read labels and research to avoid fiberglass. Many alternatives, especially outside of memory foam options, are fiberglass-free such as the Avocado Green. However, it's important to note that not all mattresses contain fiberglass, and the use of fiberglass in mattresses may be regulated in some regions. For example, in California, the use of textile fiberglass in certain products, including mattresses, has been banned.
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Seraphina is a contributing editor at Homes & Gardens, writing Solved features on organizing and storage. She loves to decorate and also grow her own produce from her home in London. Her previous experience includes working at Women's Health and Fabulous Magazine.
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