Review: Tuft & Needle, Affordable Ethical Mattresses

Everyone needs a mattress – box springs might be negotiable, and I once dated a man who elected to sleep on the floor and insisted it was better for his back (he also didn’t wear shoes – on principle. Bless you, Elliot!). I asked one of my best friends, Zoe Hayden, to gush about her new, affordable mattress by Tuft & Needle, a Made-in-USA, ethical and budget-friendly mattress company. I’ve wanted one ever since she received hers and oozed daily about how much she loved it. If you’re going to make me jealous, you might as well right a review!

Tuft & Needle Budget Mattress Review

My boyfriend found Tuft & Needle by Googling the phrase “Warby Parker for mattresses”. I’m not sure what led him to do this, but when you see their website it totally makes sense. I guess he was looking for some sort of buyers guide on the best mattress available. So, Tuft & Needle had a clean and beautiful web design, low prices–and, if you check their Amazon pages, one of the best-reviewed products out there. A Tuft & Needle mattress became part of our “dream apartment” that we’d have someday–a realistic goal, since the price is right. According to the founders, the reason most mattresses you see in stores are so expensive is because markup occurs at multiple levels to maximize profits, even though the mattress itself costs under $300 to make. Tuft & Needle’s alternative is direct purchase. Every mattress they make comes directly from their factory to your door, and they’re made in the USA with USA-manufactured textiles. Tuft & Needle also donates to provide beds to American foster children who don’t have their own.

I ended up needing a mattress much sooner than I thought. My old mattress was a queen-sized IKEA foam number I’d inherited from previous tenants of my first big-girl apartment. I’m not sure of the thickness of my old mattress, but it was pretty thin–probably 3.75 inches at most, and may have retailed for about $200 (IKEA is also well-known for their budget foam mattresses). It served me relatively well for the four years that I owned it, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to call it comfortable. I had to drag it out with the trash after returning from a vacation to find that while my roommate had diligently fed my cat and changed her litter, he hadn’t noticed or prevented her peeing on the mattress at least five times in my absence. After checking to make sure my kitty didn’t have a UTI and getting ready to move to my new apartment, it was time to buy my first mattress–and Tuft & Needle seemed the way to go.

I went with the 5 inch queen, for $400. (Tuft & Needle has 5 inch mattresses starting at $200 in standard sizes. They also make a 10 inch mattress.) You can get an IKEA foam mattress of similar thickness and size for just $249, but I was willing to pay a little more for something that is made in the USA.

Tuft & Needle Reviwe: Mattress Texture

I still didn’t want to buy a bed of any kind. Most mattresses are meant to be on top of a platform–this increases the lifespan of the mattress by protecting it from the elements and keeping it ventilated, according to Tuft & Needle. It’s also more comfortable, or so they tell you. I’d spent the last year or so with my IKEA mattress on the floor and had no complaints. But I did want to take steps to protect my new mattress that wouldn’t involve me spending an additional several hundred dollars and acquiring yet another piece of furniture to hassle me the next time I move apartments. (I’m saving a bed purchase for when I finally settle in my “forever home.”) So, I hit and bought the following:

  • SafeRest Queen Size Hypoallergenic Waterproof Mattress Cover, $29.95 on Amazon Prime – a fitted-sheet-style mattress cover to prevent ruining my new mattress with future kitty accidents, or the spilling of celebratory drinks. Also, dust mites feed on dead skin, so owning a mattress protector is a good way to keep your mattress clean and mite-free. It’s a smart idea even if you don’t have an over-emotional cat or tend to drink your wine in bed.
  • Anji Mountain Pearl River Bamboo Area Rug, 5×8, $107.66 on Amazon Prime* – This bamboo mat with PVC backing was just as wide as my new mattress and a little bit longer. I figured it would be perfect to keep my mattress off of the floor at my new apartment so that it would stay clean on the bottom. According to Tuft & Needle’s FAQ, mattresses kept on natural fiber surfaces without ventilation should be aired to prevent the buildup of moisture/mildew. I decided this extra care step was worth it to avoid the cost of a factory-made polyester rug or a bed frame. (A traditional, new area rug of this size can easily run over $300.) *Price has changed since I bought my bamboo mat.

My Tuft & Needle mattress left the factory within 12 hours of my purchase according to my receipt, but they take about 5 business days to reach the East Coast from California. So I bookmarked my FedEx tracking page and got excited. Sleeping in a blanket nest on the floor is definitely better than sleeping on a mattress soaked in cat pee that has been thoroughly baked in summer heat for 2 weeks, but it still kinda sucks.

The result?

Honestly, I laid down on this thing and slept for twelve hours straight. After 30 restless days of apartment moving and road tripping, I needed it . The mattress is really comfortable, though. Truly. It has a solid feeling to it that my IKEA foam mattress never had–it actually supports me while I’m sleeping. The back pain and knee pain I’d developed sleeping on the floor were both gone after a good night’s sleep on my new mattress.

My bamboo rug has also done a great job of keeping the bottom of the mattress in good condition. We changed the sheets this weekend and propped the mattress up against the wall, blowing a fan on it to circulate the air. It was still perfectly clean, white, and dry. And the bamboo looks nice, too.

The mattress protector has proved to be an invaluable purchase and has already protected the bed from cat-related accidents and a spilled drink. It just went through the wash at my local laundromat like a champ and dried properly in the dryer. The waterproof coating is resilient as hell, and true to the Amazon reviews, it doesn’t make your bed sound funny or plasticky. I’m confident it’ll keep my mattress almost like new for some time.

An IKEA mattress might be cheaper, but after having slept on the IKEA equivalent of this mattress for four years, I wouldn’t go back. This is definitely worth the extra money if you’re looking for a high-quality mattress that really seems like it will last, not just something to throw on the curb next time you move. With that, and the company ethics, Tuft & Needle is really making a product that is hard to fault. I had always assumed that my first bed purchase in adulthood would involve spending $1500 and negotiating with a salesperson at a Sleepy’s. I’m glad I was wrong.

Zoe sold me on these mattresses as soon as she sent me to the website, but after hearing how high-quality they are, I can’t wait to get one! Their mattresses are made completely in the USA, cutting out the retail middlemen and preventing markups by selling exclusively through their website. The fibers used are grown and sustainably harvested in America and the foams used are 100% recyclable. These are the mattresses that dreams are made of (and made by).  Visit Zoe’s Tumblr here. 

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