Commonly Available Cotton Sheets and Bedding May Be a Severe Health Risk

by Mark Sweiger

My mother used to tell me, “There are two things in life for
which you should spare no expense, your bed and your shoes.” Her
reasoning was that if you are not in your bed, then you must be
in your shoes, and your health and quality of life is greatly
affected by either one. In this article I will discuss the first
half of this equation, the health of your bed, which affects all
aspects of your physical and mental performance.

I have written other articles on the importance of using an
organic mattress, but it is equally important to use organic
sheets, pillowcases and blankets on top of your bed because your
bedding makes direct contact with your body for 8 hours every
night. Just as using a natural mattress protects you from the
toxic effects of petrochemical foams and polyester in
conventional mattresses, organic bedding protects you from
harmful chemicals present in most commercial bedding.

I am sure you are thinking, “My current bedding is fine, it
can’t harm me, especially if I would wash it and change it more
often.” While I can’t help you wash and change your bed more
often, you need to know that most commercially available sheets
and pillowcases are made from a 50/50 blend of conventionally
grown cotton and polyester, which is not safe. Let me explain

Cotton is a very useful fiber that has many good qualities: It
is hypoallergenic, it wicks away moisture well for a nice dry
feel, it is relatively soft, and it washes and dries well. But
cotton is also the most heavily sprayed crop on earth and 25% of
the world’s pesticides are used for cotton production. These
pesticide residues build up in cotton as it grows, and they can
be transferred directly to your bedding when it is made from
non-organic cotton. Once you sleep on this contaminated cotton,
pesticide residue can pass through your skin and into your body.

Non-organic cotton is bad enough, but the polyester, which
comprises the other 50% of your 50/50 blend bedding, is made
from petrochemicals that shouldn’t be anywhere near your body.
Polyester contains chemicals called phthalates, which are used
to make the fibers more flexible, and these chemicals mimic the
female hormone estrogen in the human body. Constant exposure to
phthalates and other plasticizers in food containers,
dinnerware, polyester upholstery and other sources, has been
linked to cancers and the dramatic drop in male fertility that
has happened during the last 60 years. Polyester also traps
water vapor, which causes night sweats, jock itch and athlete’s
foot. It is included in sheets because it is inexpensive and
makes sheets more durable and wrinkle-free. But is this worth
the potential health consequences?

The solution to this problem is to use organic cotton sheets and
pillowcases on your bed. As the concern has grown over the
pesticides in conventionally grown cotton and the phthalates in
polyester, organic cotton bedding has become more widely
available. Organic grown cotton is now being produced worldwide,
from Texas to India. The organic cotton is woven into sheets and
pillowcases that look and feel like commercially available
bedding, without the pesticides and the polyester. I also find
these sheets to be much more comfortable for sleeping because
they don’t trap moisture like 50/50 cotton/polyester blends.

Better organic sheets are pre-shrunk using steam and are totally
machine washable and dryable. They have just a few more wrinkles
out of the dryer than the 50/50 blends, but that is a small
price to pay for a healthy bed. We can all live with some
wrinkles, but we may not be able to live with cancer.

Manufacturers of organic cotton bedding include:

-Coyuchi, located in Point Reyes Station, California, which
imports organic cotton bedding and bath linens from India.
-EcoDownUnder, which is located in Sydney, Australia, which
imports organic cotton bedding and bath linens to the United
-Native Organic, located in El Segundo, California,
which makes organic cotton bedding and bath linens from
Texas-grown organic cotton.
-Under the Canopy, located in Boca Raton, Florida, which makes organic cotton sheets and towels that are imported from Brazil, as well as organic cotton clothing.

Organic cotton sheets, pillowcases, mattress pads, and blankets
from these manufacturers are now being sold across the United
States through local retailers that specialize in natural fiber
bedding. There are also a number of nationwide Internet
retailers for organic cotton sheets and bedding, and one of the
largest is Dax Stores.

Organic cotton sheets and bedding cost a little more than
conventional bedding, but, like my mother said, you shouldn’t be
afraid to spare some expense your bedding because it will repay
you with better health. I think your health is worth that extra
expense, and so would my Mom, bless her heart.

About the author:
Mark Sweiger is a freelance reporter on home and garden topics and ecological news. He is a definite believer in the value of using
flannel sheets and organic bedding .

More Information on Organic Bedding and Mattresses