Fiberglass has been in the mattress industry for years. However, the topic has raised multiple concerns, and people are now debating whether it’s healthy to sleep on a mattress with it.
Although fiberglass is packed inside the mattress’ layers, you could be exposed to it if the mattress cover tears. Once exposed, you’re running a risk of eye and skin irritation and more seriously, lung disease and respiratory tract issues.
Does this mean you have to throw away your mattress if it has fiberglass? We’ll tell you all about fiberglass, why manufacturers use it, and how you can tell if it’s been used in your mattress of choice.
What is Fiberglass?
Fiberglass is a composite made from reinforced plastic and glass. The material is commonly found in mattresses, but you can also find it in wall insulation and many other items like sports equipment, aircrafts, roofing, hot tubs, external door skins, and furnace filters. Fiberglass is used often because it’s durable, cheap to mass produce, and malleable enough to easily work with.
What Does Fiberglass Look Like?
Fiberglass looks like tiny pieces of thread that are generally white and shiny in appearance. However, since it’s typically woven into the mattress’ layers, you’d have to take the cover of your mattress off to actually see it. Since fiberglass is more susceptible to shedding, there’s a risk of it breaking off from where it’s woven into, making these pieces even harder to locate. This is also where it becomes hazardous since these tiny shards could get out on the mattress’ surface.
Why is there Fiberglass in Mattresses?
Companies use fiberglass in mattresses because it’s a good flame retardant in the event of a fire. Mattresses are highly flammable1, especially those made from memory foam. If one catches on fire, it will quickly burst into flames. This is where fiberglass comes in, acting as a barrier and causing a mattress to melt rather than erupt into flames. With this barrier, the fire is less likely to spread and reach other parts of your bedroom.
Is Fiberglass in Mattresses Safe?
Fiberglass can pose a health risk2 if it’s not properly contained within the mattress. Symptoms associated with fiberglass exposure include eye irritation and redness, a sore nose and throat, temporary stomach irritation, and it can aggravate asthma and bronchitis.
According to research3, children and infants are particularly at-risk if exposed to fiberglass. The reason for this is that they more vulnerable if exposed and are more likely to play or jump on mattresses, which could cause fiberglass to break through.
If you notice your mattress cover is torn or damaged in any way, you should get rid of the entire bed immediately before you’re exposed to fiberglass.
How to Tell if There is Fiberglass in a Mattress
Fiberglass is cheap to mass produce as a fire barrier in a mattress. For this reason, beds that have this material as a flame retardant are typically cheaper than mattresses with natural materials like wool. It’s hard to tell the exact price point, but this is where you should use your best judgment. A general rule of thumb is that a Queen size bed under 600 dollars is considered cheap and more likely to contain fiberglass.
Ask the Mattress Company
Most companies disclose the materials they use, so you don’t have to wonder what’s inside their mattresses. However, if you can’t find that information, you should always ask the company directly. You can either email or call them to ask about fiberglass, or you can use the live chat on the company’s website. Most companies will be truthful, but it’s best to look elsewhere if you don’t get a clear answer.
Learn More: Best Mattresses Without Fiberglass
Read the Label
All mattresses come with a label, so make sure to read it to ensure the bed has no fiberglass. As mentioned, most companies disclose the materials they use, so look out for fiberglass but also terms like glass fiber, glass wool, and other similar terms. They all mean the same.
Check Where It’s Made
USA-made mattresses are less likely to have fiberglass, whereas beds made in China are more likely to have this as a flame retardant. Although this isn’t a general rule, internationally made beds usually have fiberglass due to different safety standards.
Tips for Protecting Against Fiberglass in Mattresses
- Do not open or remove mattress cover: If your mattress does contain fiberglass, it will be underneath the mattress’ cover. As such, you should avoid opening or removing the cover to prevent exposure, even if the cover comes with a zipper. Check the label or contact the company directly if you’re not sure whether the bed has fiberglass in it.
- Invest in a mattress protector: Investing in a mattress protector can help safeguard you against fiberglass exposure because it provides an extra barrier between you and the mattress. If fiberglass reaches the mattress’ cover, it would still be contained with the protector.
- Shop organic: An organic mattress is one that is built with more organic and non-toxic materials. Many organic mattresses use wool as a flame retardant rather than fiberglass. So, if you’re looking to avoid fiberglass exposure altogether, consider a more eco-friendly bed that uses wool instead.
Last Word of Advice on Fiberglass
Although fiberglass itself isn’t harmful when packed inside a mattress, it can be dangerous if it finds its way to the other side of the mattress cover. For this reason, some people like to avoid it altogether. If you’re one of those people looking for an alternative, you may want to focus on a more organic mattress without fiberglass. These beds usually use natural materials like wool, which acts as a retardant much like fiberglass but without the risk.
If you already have a bed you’re happy with but think it may contain fiberglass, that’s not an immediate cause for concern. You should be safe as long as your bed is in good condition with a cover that’s not damaged in any way.
-  “Mattress Flammability Standard Is a Lifesaver, NIST Report Finds”. National Institute of Standards and Technology. 2020.
-  “Fiberglass”. Illinois Department of Public Health. Webpage accessed April 10, 2023.
-  Wagner, Jeff., Fowles, Jefferson., Barreau, Tracy. “Fiberglass and Other Flame-Resistant Fibers in Mattress Covers”. National Library of Medicine. 2022.
Olivera is a content writer for Sleep Advisor and is enthusiastic about sleep. She firmly believes in the benefits of daytime naps on top of getting a full 8-hour sleep at night.
She started writing in 2016 and never looked back. What she appreciates the most is her flexible working hours and the ability to work with people worldwide.
In her free time, Olivera enjoys reading Spanish literature, taking pilates classes, and trying out new cocktails with friends.