Latex vs. Cotton Innerspring

Thanks to the recommendation on this forum, I just spoke with Jim at Oklahoma Mattress. There are types of 2 mattresses that he particularly likes:

  1. 100% all natural latex (they will customize the firmness). One suggestion he made was to build it with a base of firm latex with 2" of soft latex at the top of the mattress. (My husband and I are both side sleepers).

  2. A cotton innerspring mattress with box springs and a latex mattress topper. Jim says he likes cotton because it won’t break down.

We are strongly leaning toward the latex, but would like input. Are there benefits to a cotton mattress with a latex topper, other than price, that we should consider? Thanks! Victoria

Hi Victoria,

Cotton is not a material you commonly see in mattress stuffing any more but it does have some advantages and a few disadvantages as well. Jim can probably tell you more than I can since he’s worked with it for so long but here’s a brief synopsis.

It’s very breathable and in combination with springs wicks moisture and controls temperature very well (better than latex).

Cotton doesn’t break down but it can pack down or get lumpy over springs. This isn’t an issue though if there is a good insulator over the springs and the cotton is pre-compressed and tufted.

Cotton is a very non toxic and friendly material to the body if it isn’t grown or treated with chemicals and is hypoallergenic.

On the other side … cotton is more prone to dust mites over time then either wool or latex.

Because the cotton is pre-compressed and doesn’t absorb pressure like foam … the springs below it will be doing more of the work so it’s important that they are good quality because lower quality springs can take a set more easily with compressed cotton over them than with foam (which will absorb more of the mechanical compression forces).

As you mentioned … an innerspring and cotton is lower cost than latex.

They have a more “traditional” feel and response which some people prefer over an all foam mattress.

With a latex comfort layer they can be very pressure relieving, supportive, and durable but of course PPP (Pressure relief, Posture and alignment, and Personal preferences) depends on the specifics of the mattress and the person on it.

Innerspring/cotton mattresses tend to be firmer than an all latex mattress but with a latex comfort layer you would have the pressure relief and surface softness of the latex.

Overall they can make a very good quality/value and durable mattress.

Of course like everything else your own preferences and how each one feels to you compared to the other is an important part of your choice between them because either way you will be sleeping on it for a long time!

Great question :slight_smile:


Thanks so much, Phoenix!

I appreciate your thorough and knowledgeable response!

I spoke with Jim at Oklahoma Mattress and am confident that his cotton would be well packed and tufted and that the springs would be of a high quality.

I really thought I was prepared to order a latex mattress, but am still very intrigued by the cotton innerspring with a latex topper idea. Jim spoke very positively about the longevity of cotton and the idea of having the option of being able to change the pressure relief by just changing the topper is appealing.

That brings up a few more questions:

  1. There are breathable mattress protectors on the market that claim to prevent dust mites from getting in the mattress. Would one of those inhibit the moisture wicking and temperature features of the cotton mattress and/or the latex topper?

  2. Along the same line, if we put a latex topper on the mattress, would we lose all the moisture wicking and temperature control properties the cotton offers and just have the sleep properties of the latex ( with a firmer more traditional feel underneath)?

  3. Which has a greater potential to shorten the lifespan of the mattress? The potential for the latex to dry out or break down or dust mites in a cotton mattress?

Thanks again for such a great site! I have already recommended you to friends :slight_smile:


Hi Vitoria,

I think if I was in your shoes I would lean towards a mattress protector (for the top) and not an encasement that protects on all 6 sides against dust mites and bedbugs. Dust mites need to eat and they feed primarily off dead skin cells and if you have a protector you deprive them of their main food source and dust mites would not be a real concern … at least for me. If a mattress encasement has small enough pores to protect against dust mites … then it would also affect ventilation and breathability. This would be particularly true with the membrane type of “waterproof” protectors or encasements which are vapor permeable but not really breathable to the same degree as the other two types of protectors that you can see in post #89 here. While the sleeping temperature of a mattress depends on many factors (see post #2 here) and it’s not likely that just one of these factors (a mattress protector) would lead to sleeping hot on a cotton mattress … I would personally tend towards either a cotton or a wool protector depending on the degree of water resistance you were looking for and would lean towards a thinner wool mattress protector like the St Dormeir because wool is naturally resistant to dust mites and holds moisture rather than allowing it to go through and would also help prevent moisture from going through into the mattress and deprive any dust mites from the other essential they need to survive which is relatively high humidity levels in the mattress.

All of it no but but some of it yes. Again … the breathability and temperature control of a mattress depends on many factors but there is no doubt that cotton or any natural fiber would breathe better than any foam including latex and the layers closer to the top and how you sink into them have a greater effect on sleeping temperature than deeper layers. Having said that … latex is the most breathable of the foam materials and having the cotton and springs underneath would be a cooling factor compared to having more foam underneath (such as an all latex mattress) so once again it’s a matter of degree and perspective and it’s probably fair to say that most people don’t sleep warm on latex (unless it is softer and thicker and possibly with a less breathable cover, mattress protector or sheets or with other factors involved).

Quite frankly … I wouldn’t be particularly concerned about either one. Dust mites wouldn’t be an issue for me with a mattress protector that could be washed and I also wouldn’t be concerned about the latex becoming crusty which only happens over many many years if you have a cover on the latex (see this 40+ year old latex mattress in the video here which only has minimal crusting). The crustiness of very old latex mattresses is a result of oxidation as it interacts with ozone and ultraviolet light primarily not dehydration. The latex will soften to some degree over a longer timeframe but not dehydrate (and of course with a topper you have the option to replace it if necessary or even change it if your comfort needs change). Having said all that … you are asking something that I don’t really know and I haven’t seen any information that has compared these two factors directly (even though neither would be a concern for me) and since Jim has worked with both for many years … I would defer to his knowledge and/or experience on this one.

Hope this helps :slight_smile: