(Warning: this is a dry read unless you are actually interested in learning about beds and bedding. Or maybe you are doing a study on the effects of manic research and myopia and you want to use me as an example and warning to your children? In that case, welcome and enjoy.)
In part 1 I covered the mattress portion of finding non-toxic bedding at a reasonable price. In part 3 I will reveal the bed overhaul in all its glory. Part 2 is now, and here I will tell you what I have learned about bedding itself.
Let’s start with the comforter. Until recently we have been sleeping with an Eddie Bauer down comforter. It was a hand-me-down and I can’t tell you much about it other than after a few years the only down that is left can be found only on the very edges. I did a lot of research on whether or not we even wanted down. I was open to wool, or silk, or even down alternative if it wasn’t toxic, but pretty much all down alternative comforters are toxic, and silk is spendy-and not lofty enough for me. Wool is just too flat, and I have Pendleton blankets I can use if I want wool. I want light and airy and lofty. I want to sleep in a cloud, people.
So I had to find cruelty-free down. This is not an easy task unless you want to spend over 10,000 dollars on a comforter. Ikea has started sourcing their down and feathers from companies who ensure a cruelty-free harvesting process, but I’m looking for higher quality than Ikea for my bedding. Love Ikea for some things, but not this. There is Eiderdown, which is harvested from the nests of mature birds in Iceland and causes no harm whatsoever to the birds or babies living in the nests. The beauty of this down is that since it is from mature birds, you are getting the highest quality down with the greatest fill power possible. Normally down is live-harvested and the birds are left bleeding and cold and in pain and they harvest over and over every few weeks. It’s a horrendous process and in my opinion should be punished (remember I said that for later in this post).
I found a company in Washington state that confirmed their use of cruelty-free down and even promised that they visit the factory yearly to ensure their standards are being met. Pacific Coast seems legit, but I kept finding questionable reviews regarding the loft, or the shifting of down and it is really important to me that I make a smart purchase that I’m not going to regret.
Regarding down I’m gonna break a few things down for you really fast:
-Fill power is determined by the amount of space the down occupies when lofted and so the larger the down when lofted the higher the fill power (the reason fill power is so important is because the beauty of a good comforter is that it is incredibly warm without being heavy. Higher fill power means they have to use less down to achieve a certain level of warmth).
-When purchasing a down comforter you want to ensure that the fill power is at least 500, preferably around 700. THAT is a good quality comforter.
-Can’t forget to look at the oz of down in the comforter.
-Almost more important than the fill power is the baffle box construction to ensure there is no shifting of down, leaving you with a comforter that does anything but keep you warm.
-Very important to have a high thread count sateen cotton to ensure the down doesn’t escape through it’s cover.
-Goose down is warmer than duck down, but grey goose down is exactly the same quality as white goose down and they charge less for it. People want white because it doesn’t show through the comforter. People should be using a cover anyway.
-Lastly, there should be double gusseted piping around the edges to allow for the full loft effect.
And just as a side note, don’t machine wash your down comforter. They say you can. Don’t do it. Put a nice comforter cover on it and wash that. Every 4-5 years dry clean your down comforter. Chemicals are bad, but so is wasting hundreds of dollars by damaging a good product.
Okay, all that said, I’m about to tell you something that is really embarrassing. I was overwhelmed trying to find a cruelty-free down comforter that was affordable (apparently it is more common to sell a new Rolls Royce than it is to harvest enough Icelandic Eiderdown to fill a king size comforter). I stopped searching by terms and decided to think of a company that makes a good product, that I trust, and that is here in the U.S. L.L. Bean is where I ended up and in all my reading and searching I couldn’t find a bad review of their luxury white goose down comforter. I called and emailed the company to confirm their down was cruelty free. I couldn’t get a good answer. They weren’t avoiding, but the person I talked to just didn’t know. After a few days of trying to figure it out I did the unthinkable. I bit the bullet and just did it. For the first time in my research I settled for “happy with the product reviews, with the quality, and the non-toxic nature of down” and I just did it. I still don’t know how this down was harvested and I pray to JESUS birds weren’t tortured in the making of my comforter, but something happened in my brain and I just had to stop. I think I was on information overload at that point.
Here is where we got our comforter. Judge me, it’s fine. I judge myself-and I don’t even know if I did something wrong. I do know however, that my comforter is amazing. AH-mazing.
Moving right along.
As far as non-toxic pillows go, latex, wool, and buckwheat seem to be the best as far as being naturally dust mite resistant. I cannot attest to the comfort of these pillows, but I have found the companies I would buy from if I were to purchase. For wool I would buy from HERE.
For buckwheat I would buy from HERE.
For latex I would buy from HERE.
Someday I will try out all of these pillows in every conceivable combination. Right now my dream pillow is buckwheat hulls in the center wrapped with wool batting encased in an organic cotton cover with a stonewashed linen pillowcase. Or shredded talalay latex wrapped with solid talalay latex encased in organic cotton with a linen pillowcase. For now, I am unhappy with every.single.pillow I have and am sleeping on a 16×16 ikea insert filled with polyfoam in protest.
Now for the Pièce de résistance!
You guys, I didn’t know. I didn’t know until I read THIS article that the answer to all my bedding dreams lie in the material I chose for sheets. I have always slept on Beech sheets. They are a softer form of jersey. You can get them from Bed Bath and Beyond for $69(?) for a queen set. I used to think that was expensive. It has been just over a year since we were gifted a brand new set and already there are small holes.
A HUGE selling point of 100% linen is that if you buy truly good quality (and no I don’t mean Restoration Hardware or larger companies that probably cut corners and tend to wear much faster, not to mention they never seem to soften properly) your linen sheets could possibly be passed down to your children. That is the way they used to do it. That pleases the thrifty Bee that started this whole search. (I mean, I’m good with paying more $ upfront if it means I get a superior product. We are Mac people.)
As it turns out, 100% linen sheets are heaven. If you don’t yet know about them, visit Rough Linen and read some of the reviews. I know that Tricia would be the person to buy from if I had more money, but I had to find comparable linens for less money. I did a lot of research and I had to take a few risks, but so far I’m thrilled with my choices.
For sheeting, I took Tricia’s advice and ordered a flat sheet for my bottom sheet. It made sense that if properly tucked with hospital corners (as was done in the old days) the sheets wouldn’t shift, and since there isn’t any elastic to come undone the sheet would last for much longer. The shifting portion has proven to be correct. We couldn’t buy a top sheet and a bottom sheet at once so for now have just the bottom sheet and the duvet, but my duvet cover is on it’s way (custom made from an etsy seller which I will review once it arrives) and I will order a top sheet in the next few months.
I ordered my sheets and pillow cases from THIS etsy seller. It was a gamble for me, since it is sent from China, but the sheet was about $80-$100 less than what I knew to be the top-quality places, but I felt it was worth the risk since they say the actual linen is French not Chinese. I read all the reviews, and I liked what I saw. Glad I took the leap because there are not words for how blissed out I am when I lie on them.
For the actual mattress, we chose THIS. When purchasing a latex mattress online you need to educate yourself on all the different terminology, mostly ILD which means impression load deflection. Essentially, this will give you an idea of how soft or firm the mattress is. Allowing for variation between mattress companies is important though. We have been sleeping on something very firm. I knew that, but I didn’t know how firm until we received and tried out our latex mattress. To give you some idea, we ordered a 6 inch 32 ILD core with a 2 inch 22 ILD topper. It cradles us and is soft. 32 is suppose to be medium-firm. I’m sure it is, but after what we have been sleeping on it felt very soft at first. However, although I worried it would be too soft it is perfect. It is pressure point relieving and I’ve had no back issues and for the first time in YEARS I can sleep on my stomach comfortably (yes I’m pregnant, but not so pregnant that I can’t sleep on my stomach). I sleep on my side and no longer wake up with my arm having fallen asleep. I sleep on my back and I keep pinching myself that this bed is mine.
Talalay latex will last you 20-30 years, you never have to flip it, and if you place it on a proper surface it will stay in incredibly good shape. In trying out different firmnesses at a local mattress company here in town I was told that talalay latex should be placed on a platform surface to avoid sinking. This is very bad advice and is a testament to the lack of education that mattress sales people have. This woman was actually selling talalay latex beds. A bed of this kind should breathe, therefore should be placed on slats that are elevated and no more than 2.5-3 inches apart. We ordered a KD foundation from Arizona Premium Mattress Company when we ordered our bed. It was easy (for Jae) to put together and we left the cover off, preferring the raw look of the wood base.
There you have it. I will give you the name of the shop and the type of comforter cover I purchased once I receive it. If I would have purchased this exact bed at the local store where I tried out the different mattresses I would have paid $3,500. We paid a fraction of that by buying factory direct. Not only can we feel good about the immediate savings, we know this bed will last for the next few decades and still be supportive. And on top of all of it? We are not breathing in toxins as we sleep and when I spend the first few weeks in bed with my newborn baby this summer I can feel really good about the air she/he is breathing.
Next up, Part 3 and the bed reveal. Also, a post on why we chose to be okay with a couple of ultrasounds. Also, it’s that time of year again…MEXICO.