New mattress smell and how to prevent it?

Last Updated on August 3, 2021

Are you tired of your old and uncomfortable bed? You are not alone in thinking about buying a new mattress. A growing number of people are choosing online retailers that offer the chance to get a new mattress quickly and efficiently delivered right to their doorstep.

The only thing you have to do is open the box, sit back and watch as your mattress expands. However, before purchasing one, you should learn more about the new mattress smell you can expect when you layout your new bed. As well as whether or not you should be concerned about its effect on your home’s indoor air quality.

That’s why we’ve created today’s guide on ‘New mattress smell and how to prevent it?’ in which we’ll discuss the following:

  • What causes the smell?
  • What are VOCs and SVOCs?
  • How long will it off-gas?
  • How do you get rid of the smell?
  • How can you speed up the off-gassing process?
  • Is off-gassing harmful?
New mattress smell and how to prevent it?

What causes that new-mattress smell?

There are volatile organic compounds in the packaging that keeps your mattress tucked in. There is a technical explanation for off-gassing called “volatile organic compounds,” also known as VOCs, when new products go through that causes the “new” smell. These compounds are gaseous byproducts that occur during the manufacturing process that largely dissipate over time. This is an occurring issue with memory foam mattresses, and the foam itself is most likely to cause off-gassing.

With that said, resins, adhesives, and other materials used to make a bed can also be the cause of off-gassing, just like flame retardants that are often applied to your purchase to meet government-mandated standards in the event of a fire.

The same materials and components can be found in conventional mattresses, as well as upholstered furniture. Generally speaking, most bed-in-a-box products are vacuumed and compressed in a super-tight plastic wrapping that prevents the item from prematurely expanding and busting out of its packaging on its way to you.

Kevin Stewart is the director of environmental health at the American Lung Association. He has talked about that if you put a mattress in air-tight packaging, it can cause VOCs to remain trapped. The Environmental Protection Agency has set standards for indoor air quality based on levels of certain chemicals. The EPA estimates that about 90% of all homes have detectable amounts of these pollutants—which include benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and others—in their indoor environments.

What causes that new-mattress smell?

What are VOCs and SVOCs?

Volatile organic compounds (also known as VOCs) are molecules that volatilize, evaporate and disperse, into the air at room temperature. However, K. Stewart talks about how not all VOCs are inherently harmful, and some are even human-made. 

The sub-group of VOCs called semi-volatile organic compounds (or SVOCs) can be released by mattresses and other furniture that has foam components. SVOCs are characterized by a higher boiling point, which means they take more heat to evaporate.

Generally, SVOCs are byproducts of flame retardants added to the foam or bed fabric to meet requirements set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The two main types of flame retardants are additive and reactive.

Additive retardants are added in a way that is more likely to cause them to degrade. In comparison, reactive flame retardants are thrown in at the end of the manufacturing process and usually aren’t chemically bonded to the base material. The higher boiling point makes them more prone to easy release.

What are VOCs and SVOCs?

How long will a mattress off-gas?

Before the mattress is packaged and shipped, some manufacturers may take steps to make sure off-gassing doesn’t happen when you receive your purchase. Your bed will still off-gas even if the bulk of the off-gassing occurs outside of your home.

The amount of off-gassing and its longevity depends on several things. They can include the type of mattress, the density of the foam, the chemicals used in the manufacturing process and even the way that your purchase was packaged. According to most major manufacturers, the strongest off-gassing smell will be gone within a few days. However, it is possible that you can still smell faint sent for longer.

How long will a mattress off-gas?

How do you get rid of the new mattress smell?

There are a few steps you can take to get rid of the off-gassing odour on your foam mattress. The first thing you should do after you open your mattress is to let it breathe and air out. Most of the VOCs will be released in the first hour after opening it, but they can continue to be released for a while.

Within a few hours to a few days, the smell should go away. If you want to speed up the process, you might want to open the windows. Plus, a well-ventilated area with a cross breeze is the best place to put your new purchase. However, if you want to avoid inhaling off-gas, open the package outside and let it breathe for at least a couple of days. 

Another thing to consider is certifications, and more specifically, products that have been independently tested by CertiPUR-US. CertiPUR-US is a non-profit organization that inspects memory foam to make sure it meets certain environmental and health standards.

Keep in mind that when a mattress is labelled as CertiPUR-US certified, it means that just the foam in it meets the requirements and health standards we’ve mentioned. If you have any concerns about the other materials used to create a bed, it might be a good idea to contact the manufacturer’s customer service. 

How do you get rid of the new mattress smell?

How can you speed up the off-gassing process of a new mattress?

If you’re looking for the best mattress on the market, make sure to pay attention to the volatile organic compounds used in the manufacturing process. If you can’t get a straight answer from the manufacturer about the chemical compounds in their product, we strongly advise you to look at other brands. You have a right to know whether or not your bedroom is emitting chemical emissions. There are some helpful tips that you can use to speed up the off-gassing process, and they are the following:

  • Take your mattress out of the house and put it in a well-ventilated area with a cross breeze.
  • If you can’t prevent the off-gassing inside of your home, you should open your windows and increase air circulation. Fans and air filters can help improve the indoor environment.
  • If you have a spare room, it is advisable to leave your new purchase in there for a few days before putting it in your bedroom.
  • In order to speed up the off-gassing process, some manufacturers also recommend pouring baking soda on top of the bed.
  • If you want to use the new bed but the off-gassing smell is still present, you can add a mattress cover. However, you will smell the off-gassing odour again if you remove the cover to wash it.

The health effects of off-gassing are still being studied, which is why it’s always a good idea to protect yourself from exposure. If you follow the simple steps above, you can enjoy a good night’s sleep knowing that you are protecting your indoor air quality.

How can you speed up the off-gassing process of a new mattress?

Is mattress off-gassing harmful?

It can be unnerving to think about sleeping on a mattress that is made with harmful chemicals. However, according to experts, the low emission levels of these compounds make it possible for us to breathe. Most major mattress brands also try to ensure your safety by working with an organization that keeps an eye on the VOC emission levels that we’ve discussed above, called CertiPUR-US.

The discussion about health risks and the use of VOCs in the manufacturing business is a hot topic. There aren’t any proven health risks associated with the chemicals used in the creation of your bed. However, air pollution and indoor air quality can be adversely affected by the emissions of volatile organic compounds.

The Minnesota Department of Health says that breathing low levels of VOCs for long periods of time may increase some people’s risk of health problems. According to several studies, exposure to VOCs may make symptoms worse for people with asthma or who are particularly sensitive to chemicals.

Bottom line

Toady online bed-in-a-box brands make it easy to purchase a new bed. The mattresses are compressed and rolled in a box that is delivered right to your door. The only thing you have to do is unpackage it and watch it expand.

When memory foam mattresses are opened, off-gassing occurs. It causes a smell that can be unpleasant and frightening for most people. Even though no health risks have been linked to off-gassing and volatile organic compounds, it’s a good idea to research what chemicals lay in your bed.

Overall, if you end up experiencing off-gassing, make sure you air your mattress out as long as possible in the most well-ventilated area inside or outside of your home. Now it’s our turn to hear from you if any questions regarding the subject were left unanswered. If you want to share some information, we would gladly hear about it in the comments below.

Isabelle Harris
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