Updated March 12, 2021If you’ve spent any time shopping for a new mattress, you’ve probably run across the terms, “GOTS certified” or “GOLS certified.” But what do GOTS and GOLS stand for? What do these certifications even mean? Do they really make an organic mattress better? Below, we’ll answer these and more of your burning questions about organic-certified products.What’s Organic?The word “organic” can have two basic meanings. In the world of science, organic means “relating to, or derived from living organisms.” In this sense, organic fibers would be any fiber derived from naturally occurring living things like cotton, wool, or hemp. That means all organic-certified fabrics have to be made of organic materials (as opposed to synthetic), but not all organic materials are organic-certifiable.When it comes to actually certifying something as organic, the standards get a lot higher. Usually, fabrics certified organic need to be raised and processed without toxic chemicals like pesticides, growth hormones, antimicrobials, synthetic fertilizers, and other potentially harmful substances.GOTS CertifiedThe Global Organic Textile Standard is the gold standard for products made of organic fibers. The internationally recognized GOTS certification was introduced in 2006, and it applies rigorous quality and purity standards to everything that goes into producing organic textile products—from the factory floor to the shipping warehouse, including processing, manufacturing, packaging, labeling, trading, and distribution.To get a GOTS label of “organic,” a product must be made of a minimum of 95 percent certified organic fibers (such as organic wool or organic cotton), and all chemical inputs during the manufacturing process must meet high standards on toxicity and biodegradability. GOTS also entirely bans heavy metals, aromatic solvents, GMOs, and formaldehyde.This certification is offered by third-party organizations such as Oregon Tilth and Control Union Certifications.GOLS CertifiedThe Global Organic Latex Standard is designed to regulate the quality and chemical content of natural latex farming and latex products. Landing a GOLS certification means a manufacturer has used organic growing and harvesting methods while raising their rubber trees, and their final product is made of at least 95 percent certified organic raw material.This certification is also managed by Control Union, an independent quality assurance organization. Both the GOLS and GOTS certifications ban the use of substances like PVC, nickel, chrome, functional nanoparticles, synthetic sizing agents, GMOs, formaldehyde, aromatic solvents, and carcinogenic dyes.Other Certification TypesOEKO-TEXThe OEKO-TEX standard regulates the toxic chemical content of textile products, including both the final product and its components. OEKO-TEX offers several certifications, including the Standard 100, STeP, and LEATHER Standard.In the case of mattresses, the Standard 100 is the certification that’s normally sought. The Standard 100 subjects applicants to stringent laboratory tests for a number of different hazardous chemicals and other harmful substances that could pose a health risk, including heavy metals, pesticides, formaldehyde, and azo dyes.GreenGuardGreenGuard has two certifications: the standard GreenGuard and the much stricter GreenGuard Gold. Both test mattress materials and finished products for volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. VOCs are contaminants (often human-made) that result from the manufacturing process of common household items, including furniture. They are emitted as gasses from certain products and are normally found in much higher concentrations indoors.In order to obtain a GreenGuard or GreenGuard Gold certification, manufacturers must adhere to stringent limits on hazardous chemicals. The amount of formaldehyde, fuel oxygenates, industrial solvents, and other VOCs has to be low enough to be safe for human use—usually much lower than the legal limit on these toxins.For instance, to get a Greenguard certification, products must emit 50 parts per billion (ppb) or less in formaldehyde. The standards for GreenGuard Gold are even higher: permitting only 7.3ppb, much lower than the EPA’s limitations of 50 to 130ppb for pressed wood products.FAQsAre all certifications the same?Short answer: no. Certifications can be classified into three types—first, second, and third-party.First-party certifications are issued by the manufacturer of the product being certified. They’re basically the manufacturer’s promise they adhered to safe and ethical production practices, making them little better than an advertisement.Second-party certificates are a bit more trustworthy, since they’re issued by an association in which the company is a member. But even though the certification is coming from an outside entity, there’s still plenty of potential for conflict of interest. For instance, the certifying body could be biased because they’re dependent on financial contributions from the manufacturer being certified.The most trustworthy certifications are third-party, meaning they’re issued by independent organizations with expertise in their regulatory area. With a third-party cert, you can feel confident responsible manufacturing standards were enforced.Is having a certified/organic mattress all that important?You definitely don’t want the thing you sleep on every night to have a bunch of carcinogens and toxic compounds in it. Thus, if you want peace of mind your mattress is free of dangerous chemicals, organic certifications can go a long way towards giving you that assurance.Regulations against false advertising are loose enough that manufacturers can disguise corner-cutting and low quality with fancy ads and first-party certs. If you buy a mattress that boasts an independent third-party certification, you know they’ve lived up to strict standards of quality control.An organic latex bed will also have minimal off-gassing when brought in order, making them an ideal mattress for those with allergies.Which is better, GOTS or GOLS?Neither GOTS or GOLS is “better” than the other. They regulate different kinds of materials and thus can’t really compete with each other. GOTS tracks textiles made with organic natural fibers like wool, silk, cotton, etc. Meanwhile, GOLS only deals with products made of refined rubber. That means whether you need a GOTS or GOLS certified mattress is going to depend on whether you’re buying a natural latex foam mattress or some other kind of organic material.Does memory foam have certifications?Since memory foam is made of synthetic polyurethane rather than natural fibers, it can’t be certified organic. However, there are still certifications that cover memory foam mattresses. CertiPUR® is one cert that deals specifically with flexible polyurethane foam. Offered by CertiPUR-US®, this certification is only awarded to mattresses that adhere to stringent limits on things like chemical flame retardants and ozone depleters.Is latex foam or memory foam better?Both memory foam and latex mattresses have their advantages and drawbacks. Memory foam mattresses are affordable, easier to move, and does a better job of isolating motion. But it’s slow to respond, not as durable, and retains a lot of heat. It’s also an entirely synthetic foam, meaning it won’t cut it if you’re looking for natural materials.Meanwhile, latex is a natural substance that comes from rubber trees, so if you’re looking for a non-synthetic mattress, it’s the way to go. Latex will also last longer than memory foam and sleep cooler, but it costs much more and is heavy and hard to move.Bottom LineThere are, of course, laws in place to regulate the safety and quality of consumer products. But these laws are often laxer than they should be, and it’s also possible to get around them sometimes. Certification programs are an important tool for ensuring your mattress goes above and beyond minimal legal standards. If you’re sleeping on a GOTS or GOLS certified mattress, you can rest assured you’re sleeping on a quality and safe product.About the author Kiera PritchardKiera Pritchard’s curiosity around dreams and dreaming sparked her passion for sleep science. In addition to freelancing for eachnight, Kiera is also a physical trainer and strives to help others lead healthy lives while asleep and awake. Since joining our team, Kiera has compiled multiple sleep health guides offering our readers advice on how to improve their days and evenings. Find more articles by Kiera Comments Cancel replyLeave a CommentYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Comment Name Email I agree to the Terms and Conditions of this website.