Let's take a dive into the world of pillows and find out why the type of pillow you use might just have an affect on your health.
Are Pillows Toxic?
Unfortunately, some pillows may be off-gassing chemicals known as VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Polyurethane and memory foam pillows are the biggest culprits here.
Since we spend so much time on a pillow, it makes sense to spend a little more money and get a pillow that's certified organic. It will help you (literally) sleep better at night.
The Certifications You'll Find on Pillows
There are several different governing bodies that certify pillows. Let's take a closer look at them.
Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) - This certification addresses the criteria for natural rubber from certified organic plantations. In order for a pillow to have GOLS certification, it must have at least 95% certified raw organic materials.
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) - This certification addresses the organic fiber certification for cotton, wool and kapok. GOTS is an international standard that covers the entire start to finish process, from spinning, knitting, weaving, dying and manufacturing.
OEKO-TEX - This certification tests for a long list of chemicals, pesticides and phthalates, including VOCs (volatile organic compounds, or gasses). OEKO-Tex certification is completely voluntary and must be updated every year. While this is a great certification to have, it does not mean that the product is necessarily organic.
Responsible Down Standard (RDS) - This certification is a voluntary standard that ensures the down feathers used in pillows are not taken from live animals, or animals that are subjected to any unnecessary harm.
Organic Pillows: Cover vs. Filling
It's important to be careful when shopping for an organic pillow. Some pillows, especially from big-box stores, will offer what they call "organic" pillows that actually only have an organic cotton cover. The filling of these pillows is typically synthetic materials unless otherwise stated.
What's The Healthiest Type of Pillow?
There's not one single "healthiest" pillow. The best pillow for you really comes down to personal preference. Any certified organic pillow is a safe purchase.
Eco-Friendly Pillow Options
1. Natural Rubber (Latex)
Natural latex is a great, eco-friendly and renewable material that comes from the Hevea-Brasilienis (rubber) tree. Latex is also biodegradable.
2. Organic Buckwheat
These pillows are made from buckwheat hulls. Buckwheat-fill pillows are a good choice if you like a firm, supportive pillow. They're also great for keeping air circulating, making them a good choice if you like to stay cool through the night. Buckwheat hulls are also compostable, making them a great eco-friendly option.
3. Organic Cotton
Used in both making a breathable cover and the filling of some pillows. Look for GOTS certification to ensure a truly organic pillow. However, beware here: sometimes the "organic" only refers to the cover, not the filling.
Cotton is firm, but not overly firm.
4. Organic Wool
Organic wool is naturally resistant to dust mites and mildew. Wool pillows are the coolest pillow if you're a hot sleeper.
Kapok is a good vegan and cruelty-free alternative to a down pillow. It's a fluffy material that comes from the Ceiba tree in South America. What's great about kapok is that it's harvested without having to cut the tree down, making it a a great renewable material. It's also fully compostable and biodegradable.
Some manufacturers harvest down from live birds that are kept in horrible conditions. If buying a down pillow, make sure they use ethical down that is RDS-certified.
9 Companies Offering Excellent Organic and Natural Pillows
- Types of Pillows: Avocado Green (organic latex and kapok), Organic Mini Pillow, Organic Toddler Pillow, Organic Yoga Meditation Pillow
- Certifications: GOTS, GOLS, MADE SAFE, Climate Neutral, FSC, Greenguard Gold
- Features: Handmade in the USA, 100-night trial, free Shipping, 1-year warranty, vegan, Avocado Green Pillow has an adjustable filling.
- Where To Buy: Avocado
- Price Range: $25 - $109
Avocado was created because of the need for non-toxic and natural mattresses, pillows, and beddings that are sold at affordable prices. Their pillows, in particular, are mostly organic, certified by several organizations as made with the highest quality materials that are safe, breathable, and non-toxic. These world-class products are handmade with care in the United States.
Their primary organic pillow, the Avocado Green, is made with certified organic latex and kapok, and is customizable. You may opt to add more fill to it until you reach your desired plush-feel.
You will definitely have a good night's sleep with this soft, natural, environment-friendly pillow.
- Types of Pillows: Turiya Organic Latex Pillow (organic dunlop latex), Organic Latex Molded Pillow, Organic Shredded Latex Pillow, Organic Latex Junior PIllow, Organic Latex Body Pillow, Organic Latex Throw Pillow Insert, Organic Latex Travel Pillow
- Certifications: GOTS, GOLS
- Features: Made in Sri Lanka, sateen pillow protector has a 380-400 thread count, mold, mildew, and dust mite resistant, 30-day trial period
- Where To Buy: Coyuchi
- Price Range: $48 - $198
Coyuchi is one of the champions of organic cotton linens, having 30 years of experience under its belt. They take great care in ensuring that only 100% organic cotton goes into their linens, and no toxins come near their raw materials from harvest to production.
They offer a wide selection of pillows, ranging from standard sizes to huge body pillows, to small travel pillows. Their rebranded Turiya™ Organic Latex Pillow, however, is one of their best sellers. Made of GOLS-certified organic Dunlop latex, the shape of the pillow is maintained even after frequent use. It is perfect for back and side sleepers because it is able to offer ample support to your alignment, which relieves pressure from your head and neck.
We also love that Coyuchi pillows have a 380-400 thread count cotton sateen covering, giving you a luxe feel as you sleep. It is breathable, all-natural, and resistant to mold, mildew, and dust mites.
- Types of Pillows: Saatva Latex Pillow
- Certifications: OEKO-TEX, eco-INSTITUT, Cradle to Cradle, Rainforest Alliance
- Features: Made in the USA, 45-day trial period, free shipping, hypoallergenic
- Where To Buy: Saatva
- Price Range: $145 - $165
The Saatva Latex pillow—which is available in both queen or king size—is made of shredded Talalay latex that is naturally responsive to the pressure of your head. Because of its behavior and its consistent firmness, chiropractors and orthopedists highly recommend this for good head and neck support. This particular kind of latex is also believed to be softer and more buoyant compared to its denser counterparts.
We also love that the pillow is hypoallergenic, resistant to dust mites and mildew, and breathable.
The latex fill is not organic, but the pillow cover is made of 100% organic cotton. This means that everything that comes into contact with your skin is organic.
Boll & Branch
- Types of Pillows: Down Pillow and Down Alternative Pillow
- Certifications: OEKO-TEX
- Features: Made in the USA, 30-day trial period, free shipping, free returns, washed with environmentally-safe, Bluesign® certified detergent (Down pillow), allergy-friendly (Down alternative pillow)
- Where To Buy: Boll & Branch
- Price Range: $80 - $195
Although Boll & Branch's pillows are not entirely organic, it does come with a 100% organic cotton shell or cover. The company also employs ethical practices that help the environment and laborers.
Boll & Branch's Down pillow is washed with an environmentally-friendly detergent to ensure the cleanliness of the feathers used, while the Down alternative pillow is created with PrimaLoft™, which is an allergy-friendly synthetic fiber that feels a lot like lightweight down.
It is crafted with a three-chamber design which allows the structure to remain over time. You no longer have to worry about your pillows losing their shape or becoming too flat. Both options are available in different kinds of densities, too. You may choose from soft, medium, or firm—so you're sure to find something that perfectly meets your needs.
Under the Canopy
- Types of Pillows: Organic Cotton Euro Sham, Organic Decorative Pillow
- Certifications: OEKO-TEX, GOTS
- Features: Made in India, no GMO, vegan, shams have 300 thread count, hypoallergenic
- Where To Buy: Under the Canopy
- Price Range: $39 - $49
Under the Canopy offers several kinds of shams made with organic cotton. They are all soft and breathable and have a high thread count, thus assuring you of their quality, luxurious feel, and durability.
The organic decorative pillow is slightly smaller than the standard pillows we're used to. It's made with plush and durable polyfill, which means it's not organic. However, the outer covering is made of 100% organic cotton and is also vegan.
Although the standard pillows are not the main offering of Under the Canopy, we're pretty ecstatic that they offer us shams and a decorative pillow that come in beautiful and elegant designs, which will surely create a more stunning look to your bedroom.
It's also worth noting that the company supports causes like education and women empowerment, so investing in this pillow is absolutely worth it.
- Types of Pillows: Organic Cotton Pillow, Eco-Rest Pillow
- Certifications: GREENGUARD Gold, GOTS
- Features: Made in the USA, 100-night sleep trial, free shipping, 1-year warranty, non-toxic
- Where To Buy: Birch
- Price Range: $99 - $119
The Birch organic pillow, which comes in standard and king size, is made of eco-friendly materials that are sustainably sourced, ethically produced, and carefully handmade. Its fill is made of birch wool and latex. The wool is a premium, high-quality material that is able to regulate temperature and gives the pillow a very soft, plush feel.
The latex is Talalay that is sourced from Asia. It gives the pillow a little bit of firmness, to balance out the softness of the wool. The combination of these materials gives you much needed support and comfort. The cover, which comes into direct contact with your skin, is made of 100% organic cotton.
Probably the more interesting option to consider is the Eco-rest pillow. This comes free with the purchase of an organic mattress. The Eco-rest is filled with 100% recycled water bottle fill—how awesome is that? Not only are they helping reduce litter, but they are actually converting what has been disregarded into something useful! As if that's not great enough, this pillow also comes with a 100% organic cotton shell, that gives it a luxurious feel. The thread count is 300, which pretty much guarantees its softness, breathability, and resistance to wrinkles.
- Types of Pillows: Organic Cotton Down Pillow
- Certifications: GOTS
- Features: Made in Canada, 30-night trial, free shipping, hypoallergenic
- Where To Buy: Sol Organics
- Price Range: $119 - $149
Canada's Sol Organics is known for creating soft, luxurious beddings. They make use of 100% GOTS-certified organic cotton that is spun into long fibers that make for stronger, finer, and smoother fabric—which, of course, translates to the durability and overall feel of the pillow.
The Down pillow also comes in 3 different kinds of firmness—soft for all the stomach sleepers, medium for the back sleepers, and firm for the side sleepers. Whatever position you favor, Sol Organics has what you need. We also love that the pillows are all-natural, breathable and lightweight, and the cover becomes softer after every wash. The perfect recipe for a good night's sleep.
- Types of Pillows: Organic Wool Pillow
- Certifications: GOTS
- Features: Made in the UK, handmade (crib pillow), hypoallergenic, dust mite resistant, machine washable,
- Where To Buy: NaturalMat
- Price Range: $45 - $130
If you're a parent that's on the lookout for soft, comfortable pillows for your children, this might just be the brand for you. NaturalMat primarily offers beddings for babies, toddlers, and children. Their well-loved pillows are made of organic lamb's wool and organic cotton, which are guaranteed hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant, so you won't have to worry about triggering your child's allergies.
The pillow is breathable, temperature-regulating, and made without the use of any chemicals. It's also easily cleaned, perfect to use even during or after messy play of active kids. Just pop it in the machine for a quick wash and it will be ready in no time!
With its safe and all-natural materials, its guaranteed durability, and easy cleaning regimen, it really is, without a doubt, an ideal pillow for children.
Please note that the crib pillow should not be used with newborns. NaturalMat recommends that it be used by babies 12 months and up.
Natural Bed Company
- Types of Pillows: Organic Wool, Tencel Filled Pillow with Organic Cotton Case
- Certifications: GOTS
- Features: Made in Europe, removable cotton case, free shipping within the UK
- Where To Buy: Natural Bed Company
- Price Range: $107 - $135.50
Natural Bed Company offers two organic pillows: the Organic Wool and the Tencel pillow. Both are luxurious, soft pillows that come in a beautiful organic cotton quilted case that can be removed and washed regularly.
Worth noting about the Tencel pillow is that its fill is not organic (only the removable cover is organic). It is made of a natural fiber derived from eucalyptus wood, which is turned into cellulose and eventually into Tencel fibers through a rather elaborate process. Unfortunately, chemicals need to be used during this procedure. Despite this, we do love a few things about this pillow: its fill is very soft and has a wonderful ability to absorb moisture, it is also biodegradable, and GOTS recognized.
The Wool pillow, on the other hand, is organic and this is what we'd recommend among all their offerings. Why? Well, obviously we love that it is made of organic wool—all-natural, no chemicals. The wool is also a very supportive kind of fiber, so it's great for back and side sleepers that need ample support for their head and neck. The wool is shaped into balls and this is better than loose fleece because it gives you a soft-medium firmness.
A pleasant surprise also awaits you because it has added pine shavings incorporated with the fill. It gives you a fresh pine scent that has a wonderful calming effect. The scent is long-lasting and is subtly diffused every time you move your head. Isn't that a wonderful treat? We think so!