When you buy a “bed-in-a-box” memory foam sleep essential like a mattress, and unbox it, the first thing that you might come across is a strange smell stemming from it. This is often referred as off-gassing. This smell can be very irritating and can persist for some time.
The question here is-Should you be concerned about its effects on you and your home’s indoor air quality?
Let us explore what causes the foam to smell and how long do you have to endure this smell. We will also discuss the ways of getting rid of this unpleasant odor at the earliest.
Why Does Memory Foam Smell?
This ‘off-gassing’ of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is an inherent property of memory foam that has been well-documented. These chemicals during the manufacturing process remain trapped inside the memory foam.
When the new memory foam mattress or pillows are unboxed and laid out to expand, the VOC components start to break down. These components are then released as a gas, causing the discrete off-gassing smell.
You must have experienced an odor in a freshly painted room.
Well! The odor of a new memory foam mattress or pillow can be likened to that. As all manufacturers have their own ‘recipe’ of memory foam, the degree of smell may vary with different brands.
The off-gassing will vary according to the quantity of VOCs used in the manufacturing process.
Is Memory Foam Smell Toxic?
It’s not only memory foam that emits toxic components in the air. A wide range of household products that we use (cleaning products, paints, furniture, etc) also exposes us to these harmful VOCs elements.
The exposure might have severe health effects such as damage to the kidneys, central nervous system, liver or sometimes act as carcinogens.
Memory foam is a kind of polyurethane foam to which certain VOC chemicals are added. The specific chemical ingredients vary from company to company.
The traditional memory foam had some potential but relatively low level of toxic substances that irritates the mouth, eyes, and nose. Experts say that once the mattress has been aired out, these health symptoms do vanish.
However, mattress manufacturers are moving away from using these toxic elements completely. They are looking for alternative methods with new & advanced technology that shed away the harmful effect of chemicals used in processing.
Although the specific ingredients are not divulged, they ensure that the mattresses are harmless and fairly stable.
The best option is to go for a certified mattress that conforms to certain standards laid down by the competent authorities. This way you will ensure a sound sleep for yourself and your loved ones.
How Long Until Memory Foam Stops Smelling?
A brand-new memory foam mattress is enclosed in airtight packing which leads to a build-up of low-level gases due to compression. When you take out the mattress from its packing, it reforms, and the gases are released, producing an off-gassing effect.
Most manufacturers offer guidelines as to how long you should wait for the mattress to fully reform and the off-gassing effect to subside.
Some mattress manufacturers may take precautionary steps to off-gas the mattress before packaging and shipping it to the customer. However, the mattress will still produce an odor due to off-gassing when you take it out from the packaging.
The amount of off-gassing depends on the type of memory foam product you buy and the density of the foam inside it.
The odor also depends on the additives and chemicals used in the manufacturing process of the mattress and the way the mattress has been packaged. The good news about this is that you may not have to endure this odor for long.
Many existing memory foam users have reported that the smell subsided within a few hours to three days of unboxing the mattress.
The strongest off-gassing smell usually takes a few days to a couple of weeks to subside. However, you may notice a faint smell for a longer time.
How To Get Rid of The Memory Foam Smell?
Any smell usually subsides gradually on its own. However, if it is bothering you, try out these simple steps to minimize the effects of off-gassing, thereby reducing the odor.
1. Ensure proper ventilation
This is probably the easiest and the most inexpensive way of getting rid of the unpleasant odor of your mattress. Keep the mattress in a room that has adequate ventilation.
Make sure you keep all the windows open, especially those near your bed to improve air circulation. Aiming your bedroom fan towards the exit door will ensure that a cross-breeze circulates inside the room.
2. Air it out
Remove the plastic cover on the new foam mattress as soon as you bring it home. Switch on the ceiling fan and leave it uncovered for some time. Also, place it outside for at least a few hours on a dry sunny day at least once a month.
The longer and more frequently you air it out, the odor will be less noticeable. As you use them regularly, the mattress and bedding absorb sweat.
While you can wash the bed linen and pillow covers, it is not possible to put the mattress inside the washing machine! The best alternative is to air it out in the open.
3. Use Baking Soda
Baking soda is an effective way of removing foul smells from your mattress. Sprinkle a liberal amount of baking soda on the mattress and leave it overnight.
Use a handheld vacuum cleaner in the morning to suck up the baking soda. You can use the soft brush attachment to ensure proper cleaning of the mattress.
4. Use Vinegar
Vinegar is made up of acetic acid that helps neutralize unpleasant odors. Fill white vinegar in a spray bottle and spray it on your mattress. Leave it for a few hours to let it dry. Use a vacuum cleaner to thoroughly remove all the residue and traces from the mattress.
5. Use Vodka-water solution
Vodka is very useful in removing unwanted odors. Opt for an unflavored version of vodka and fill it in a bottle. You can dilute it with some water or use it as is. Spray it on your mattress and feel the odor disappear after some time.
6. Use Enzyme sprays
Enzyme sprays are used for nasty smells and can be used to remove the foul smell of memory foam too. All you need to do is to spray it on your mattress and leave it to dry. You will notice that the smell is gradually reduced.
7. Install special air filters
A variety of air filters are available in the market today. Put the air purifier in the room and let it run nonstop for two to three days to purify the air inside the room. It not only purifies the air but removes the unpleasant, sometimes offensive smell too.
8. Use activated charcoal
Activated charcoal is tasteless and odorless and is known to improve the air quality by absorbing pungent odors and reducing humidity. It has millions of tiny pores that trap all harmful chemicals and toxic VOCs released by your memory foam mattress.
It is a simple and affordable option. You simply need to put it in a corner of your room and leave it for a few days to a month. You will see that the foul smell has considerably reduced.
9. Use House plants
House plants not only reduce foul odors, but they also look trendy and welcoming too. If you want to enjoy healthier air, plant different types of indoor plants that absorb VOCs and other pungent smells.
Peace lilies, spider plants, Aloe vera, Chrysanthemums, etc, are easy to maintain and add a touch of class to your interiors.
Memory Foam Mattresses/Toppers/Pillows Without Smell
A non-toxic mattress, pillows, or toppers contain few or no chemicals that release a foul smell.
Usually, the manufacturers use various chemicals in the production of memory foam products such as mattresses and cushions, but non-toxic mattress manufacturers avoid the use of these aggressive chemicals, thereby reducing the VOCs.
While it is necessary toad certain chemicals during the manufacture of memory foam, you can reduce the unpleasant smell of the VOCs by finding a mattress certified by CertiPUR-US® and Greenguard.
- CertiPUR-US: This certification bans the use of certain toxic chemicals and flame retardants in memory foam mattresses.
- Greenguard: This certification ensures that the emissions from the mattresses are below a certain level.
Best Selling Mattresses Without Smell and Have Above Certifications
Polyurethane or memory foam mattress as it is commonly called is becoming increasingly popular in the market today. While it has a wide array of advantages, the unpleasant odor associated with it can be very annoying.
The smell that you experience the moment you take the memory foam pillow or mattress out of the box need not act as a deterrent. This problem can be resolved with time.
Fortunately, with a few simple DIYs methods and some patience, the issue of off-gassing will vanish, within a few days. Buying certified memory foam mattresses such as the ones shared above can also help reduce exposure to VOCs.