Have you bought a brand new foam mattress recently? If yes, did you notice a distinct foul smell after unpacking it? Many consumers receive the shock of their lives the first time they encounter this smell after splashing out on their favorite memory foam mattress.
With the popularity of memory foam surging by the day, potential first-time buyers must learn about this drawback. This can help them figure out ways to speed up the off-gassing process so they can enjoy sleeping on the new purchase as soon as possible.
What is Mattress Off-gassing?
Off-gassing is the release of industrial chemicals from mattresses into the air after arrival in your home. Memory foam mattress makers rely on various petroleum-based chemicals in the manufacturing process.
These chemicals typically release fumes that can linger on mattresses for extended periods. Thus, finding ways to eliminate these fumes can enhance the comfort available from a brand new mattress.
How Long do Mattresses Take to Off-gas?
If you’re thinking about ordering a brand new memory foam mattress, it is only right to question how long it can take to off-gas. The truth is there’s no one-size-fits-all answer as each brand uses different component materials in varying quantities.
That being said, the majority of mattresses take 3-7 days to off-gas sufficiently enough to offer a good night of sleep. However, the total dissipation of traces of these industrial chemicals can take at least 1 month.
Are New Mattress Fumes Toxic?
The answer is no. While the fumes from a brand new foam mattress may be extremely uncomfortable especially for children and those with respiratory problems, they’re far from being toxic.
There have been no recorded incidents of anyone suffering serious complications from lying down on a brand new memory foam mattress immediately it arrives in the home.
Side Effects of Mattress Off-gassing
While the pungent smell from new memory mattresses may not directly lead to life-threatening complications, consumers can experience a wide range of side effects including:
Headaches: Waking up to debilitating headaches is common among those who begin sleeping on new mattresses which are yet to sufficiently off-gas. Even spending 15 minutes in a poorly ventilated room with a mattress that has only begun releasing its pungent fumes can also lead to migraines.
Allergies: Off-gassing mattresses can trigger allergies in a lot of people. If you have any history of hypersensitivity to certain scents, staying away from a room with a brand new mattress smell can save you a great deal of trouble.
Breathing Difficulties: Have you been diagnosed with asthma or a related medical condition? Staying away from off-gassing mattresses can be a smart decision because the strong industrial chemical smell can make it difficult to breathe.
Dizziness: It is not uncommon for consumers to feel light-headed after lying down or staying in a poorly ventilated room with an off-gassing mattress. Sometimes, this can also lead to nausea and vomiting.
Skin Irritations: People with ultra-sensitive skin may experience rashes and other irritations from brand new, yet-to-off-gas foam mattresses. This is especially common among those who prefer sleeping on bare mattresses without sheets.
Gives the Newness Away: A memory foam mattress only gives off such a strong scent when it is brand new. Thus, if you have guests arriving, the pungent smell can be a strong giveaway that you may not have been ready to receive them.
Do Latex Mattresses Off-Gas?
Latex is another popular type of foam used by mattress makers and has legions of committed fans all over the world. One of the common questions on the minds of consumers is whether latex mattresses off-gas.
Do latex mattresses off-gas? The answer is it depends. Latex comes in 2 main types i.e. synthetic and natural latex. Natural latex foam models do not give off any pungent smells and can be slept on the same day they arrive. Synthetic latex models on the other hand off-gas just as much as memory foam.
Thus, they may require a few days for the strong fumes to dissipate before becoming available for comfortable sleeping.
Do Innerspring Mattresses Off-Gas?
Innerspring mattresses still off-gas even if not as much as memory foam and synthetic latex models. While the coiled springs may make up a higher percentage of its components, the springs are typically insulated with polyurethane foams.
The comfort layers at the top of the mattress also usually feature one type of polyurethane foam or the other. Since these foams are made from petroleum-based chemicals, consumers should expect a degree of the strong “new mattress smell” after buying an innerspring mattress.
Read the Manufacturer’s Off-Gassing Recommendations
The best method for off-gassing a specific mattress model is following what the manufacturer recommends. The good news is that many brands include instructions for the process in the packaging that ships to consumers after purchase.
All you have to do is to read those instructions and follow them. This should get your new mattress ready for sleeping in no time. Even if the manufacturer does not include off-gassing instructions, you can always contact customer support for clarity on what to do.
A visit to the brand’s website may also provide a ton of information on how to rid the mattress of the pungent industrial chemical smell.
How to Speed Up The Mattress Off-Gassing Process
We all wish there was a magic wand that could be waved to get rid of the fumes that emanate from new polyurethane foam mattresses. However, since that may be just wishful thinking, here are a couple of ways to speed up the mattress off-gassing process.
1. Let it Air Out for Days
This is the default method consumers rely on to eliminate the new mattress smell from polyurethane foam-based models. You can simply remove the mattress from its packaging and lay it bare on the floor or bed.
Then turn on the fan and set it at the highest speed to promote proper ventilation in the room. The fumes from the mattress should be considerably less after 3-4 days. However, if you’re not in a rush, letting it continue to air out for a few more days can lead to pleasant results.
By the time you’re ready to sleep on the mattress, you’ll be amazed at the minimal traces of industrial chemical smell, if any at all.
2. Leave it in the Spare Bedroom
Have you just ordered a brand new mattress and cannot stand the strong smell after unpacking? Just leave it in the spare bedroom for the stench to cool off if you have the luxury of a multi-room home or apartment.
You can forget about it and remember to pick it up after several days or weeks when it is likely to have off-gassed properly. In the meantime, sleeping on the old mattress or switching out the new arrival with the guest bedroom mattress temporarily until it is ready for the main bedroom can be a good idea.
In the absence of a spare bedroom mattress, crashing on the sofa for a few days won’t be the end of the world.
3. Let it dry Out in the Sun in the Backyard
The sun can be a blessing when you need to off-gas a brand new mattress quickly. Whether you have a new partner moving in or overnight guests who failed to give enough prior notice, letting it dry out in the sun can be rewarding.
This can be even more convenient for residents in the suburbs with large backyards. But if you live in an apartment that gets direct sunlight, just place the new mattress in the path of the sunlight during the day and watch how quickly it can off-gas.
4. The White Sock Treatment
Have you received a brand new polyurethane foam that is off-gassing too slow for your liking? How about giving it the white sock treatment?
This involves jumping and bouncing across every inch of the mattress with your partner and kids if possible. This can quicken the time it takes for the locked-in gases to dissipate, ensuring that the mattress can be ready for sleep in no time.
However, make sure to leave the room after jumping around it for no more than 10 minutes. If possible, wear face masks during the process to avoid inhaling the strong fumes.
The good news is that this procedure can also speed up the breaking-in period for new mattresses which can be lifesaving for new models that feel too firm.
5. Sprinkle Baking Soda
Baking soda is renowned for the ability to eliminate the most pungent smells from not only mattresses but furniture and other upholstered household items. It contains powerful properties that can remove Volatile Organic Compounds emitted by mattresses such as Formaldehyde, Benzene, and Naphthalene.
If you need to sleep on a brand new foam mattress soon after it arrives, the powerful kitchen ingredient can come in handy.
The steps for off-gassing a brand new memory foam mattress with baking soda are as follows:
- Sprinkle baking soda across the length and breadth of the mattress
- Leave it for an hour or so to absorb the off-gassing fumes
- Vacuum the mattress afterward
6. HEPA Air Purifiers
Air purifiers can clean the air and remove even the most pungent smells from a room. They feature internal fans that trap bad odors, sanitize, and circulate the improved air in enclosed spaces.
If you’ve just purchased a brand new polyurethane foam mattress, switching on the air purifier can significantly quicken the length of time it takes to remove the odors.
Just make sure to choose HEPA-certified models as they’re usually more effective and efficient at stench removal.
7. Place a Mattress Cover
Plastic mattress covers can offer a way out when you need to sleep on a brand new mattress that has just arrived. Placing a cover on the mattress can trap the pungent smell to enable comfortable sleeping.
However, we advise that you only rely on this method as a temporary measure as the cover can only entrap the pungent gases instead of complete dissipation. Finding a convenient time at a later date to off-gas the mattress using any of the methods stipulated above can be ideal.
Have you read the article we wrote on finding The Best Mattress Protector for Memory Foam? Click the link for a comprehensive buying guide and the top-rated models available today.
How to Avoid The Hassle of Mattress Off-Gassing
While memory foam, synthetic latex, and coiled spring mattresses give off that pungent new mattress stench, the degree of the fumes can vary depending on the manufacturer and model. Here are a few ways to avoid mattresses that need off-gassing in the first place:
1. Buy Organic Mattresses
The most surefire way to avoid a mattress that requires off-gassing is to buy organic. These models are devoid of polyurethane foams and industrial chemicals that may release Volatile Organic Compounds once unpacked.
Instead, organic mattresses comprise of natural components such as wool, organic bamboo, natural cotton, and organic latex. These mattresses are also made with world-class eco-friendly processes and manufactured entirely in the United States to ensure minimal environmental footprints.
However, be aware that organic mattresses can be quite expensive compared to those that feature regular polyurethane foams. But the minimal exposure to potentially harmful chemicals coupled with the superior comfort they provide to sleepers can make them a worthy investment.
I love my Sunrising Bedding 8-inch Natural Latex Organic Mattress from Amazon. It features organic latex foams that require no off-gassing, provides amazing comfort, and offer natural protection against bedbugs, molds, and allergens.
2. Buy a Slightly Used Mattress
Mattresses can be as personal as they come and this is why many of us cringe at the thought of buying a used mattress. However, one of the positives of going down that route is that you can be sure that the model you end up with has sufficiently off-gassed.
A quick search on websites such as Craigslist can reveal slightly used options that look like brand new without the pungent off-gassing smell. And the good news is that you can always ask the buyer whether the mattress on sale has off-gassed sufficiently or not.
Have you read the article we wrote on How to Clean a Used Mattress? Click the link to uncover some Ninja-cleaning techniques you wish you had known earlier.
3. CertiPUR-US Certification
Are you buying a mattress online or in a brick and mortar showroom? Either way, choosing a model with a CertiPUR-US certification should be non-negotiable.
This certification guarantees that a specific mattress model comprises foams of the highest quality. Additionally, foams certified by this not-for-profit organization have been independently tested in laboratories and found to contain properties such as:
- Low Volatile Organic Compound emissions for quality indoor air
- No ozone depleters
- No heavy metals such as mercury and lead
- Zero phthalates
- Zero Formaldehydes
- Zero flame retardants
Thus, CertiPUR-US certified polyurethane foam mattresses contain minimal pungent smells in the worst-case scenario. This means they typically off-gas with speed compared to rival models.
4. Read Online Reviews
Online product reviews can offer deep insights into what to expect when buying one product or the other. If you’re in the market for a brand new mattress, reading independent reviews from verified buyers on retailers such as Amazon can be smart.
Remember, if multiple consumers complain about a certain characteristic then you can expect a similar experience when you invest in a particular mattress. This can help you stay away from models that off-gas excessively.
5. Zero-Fragrance Mattresses
Fragrant mattresses should be a big no-no when you want to avoid models that off-gas. Remember, the fragrance may contain several chemicals that can be toxic or at least uncomfortable to inhale.
If you’re mattress shopping in a store, taking the time to smell the floor models can give you an idea of the off-gassing properties of a specific model. If your favorite model is still emanating a strong new mattress smell after being allowed to air out in the showroom for months, then that can be a bad sign.
Can You Return an Off-Gassed Mattress?
The answer is yes. The majority of mattress-in-a-box brands offer sleep trials ranging from 100 to 365 days. These trials offer complete use of the mattress meaning it can be unpacked fully and placed on box springs or slatted beds.
Even if a mattress is completely off-gassed, returning it should not be a problem as long as the sleep trial period has not elapsed. However, make sure to read the trial blueprint completely to avoid any actions that may lead to the inability to return the mattress.
10 Common Household Items That Off-Gas
Allowing a mattress some time to breathe to get rid of pungent fumes can be a smart idea. However, other household items may require off-gassing to eliminate the risk of exposure to potentially toxic chemicals.
Shall we take a look at a couple of them:
- Sofas and couches
- Electronic gadgets
- Fresh paint
- Nail polish remover
Speeding up the off-gassing of a mattress is an art that can be mastered by anyone. From airing it out in the open sun to leaving it in a well-ventilated room for days, several options are available for getting rid of industrial chemical odors that ship with brand new polyurethane foam mattresses.
However, if you want to avoid the off-gassing struggles entirely, buying organic can be the way to go. Sure, they may be relatively more expensive than regular models but the superior health and safety properties they offer can be worthwhile.