You’ve probably heard the term off-gassing mattress or experienced it when opening a new mattress. Off-gassing is the smell that comes out of the new mattress when opening it for the first time. The off-gassing usually dissipates after a few months or so. Another type of off-gassing is a new car smell. And while we might love the new car smell or the smell of paint, it’s just the scent of chemically manufactured material.
When we breathe normally, with the respiration of oxygen infused with heavy metals from car and plane exhaust. We are bombarded with chemicals and in poor building environments, breathing in mold and mycotoxins. Off-gassing can come from any manufactured material. But with mattresses, it is typically associated with polyurethane foam and memory foam.
If you open a mattress for the first time and a strong chemical smell is released, you have just experienced inhaling off-gas from the mattress.
However, some mattresses do not off-gas. The off-gassing comes from spray chemical fire retardants, toxic polyurethane foams, and memory foam used in the mattress.
What are the types of mattresses that do not off-gas?
Any mattress can off-gas if constructed using any synthetic material. However, the most off-gassing mattresses are memory foam, synthetic latex, and hybrid mattresses.
Memory foam mattresses are the worst for off-gassing—these mattresses are made of petroleum-based chemicals that off-gas. Latex mattresses are typically less toxic and do less off-gassing except for organic mattresses that consist of 100% natural latex. Organic mattresses don’t contain any fire retardant chemicals either.
Hybrid mattresses can off-gas. They are typically constructed of a base layer of polyurethane foam or pocketed coils, topped with synthetic latex, gel, or memory foam.
However, there are organic hybrid mattresses. They are built with organic cotton, wool, pocketed coils, and 100% GOLS-certified organic latex. Organic hybrid mattresses are typically constructed of a base layer of polyurethane foam or pocketed coils, topped with synthetic latex, gel, or memory foam.
A conventional innerspring mattress will minimally off-gas compared to memory foam, latex, or a hybrid mattress. Innerspring mattresses are constructed with a spring or coil unit. Therefore, they don’t off-gas as much.
That being said, an innerspring mattress can still off-gas. Off-gassing occurs in a conventional mattress, typically from memory foam or synthetic latex being quilted into the top panel or “the pillow-top.”
How to speed up the off-gassing of a mattress?
- Air it out in a ventilated spare room or the garage with fans running.
- Jump on the bed to press chemical air gas out of the mattress and bring in new air.
- Sun it, however, you need to be careful here as some mattresses can oxidate in the sun.
- You can put baking soda on each side of the mattress and then, after it sits for an hour or 2, vacuum it off.
- Circulate the air with an air purifier in the bedroom with the mattress.
- You can put a mattress cover around the mattress to block the fumes.
How long does it take for a mattress to off-gas completely?
It usually takes 1 – 3 months for a mattress to off-gas.
Are the fumes from off-gassing toxic?
Yes, absolutely. A lot of people like the smell of gas and paint. Unfortunately, these are not healthy to smell or breath as they contain toxic chemicals. Off-gassing from gas, paint, and mattresses contains VOCs, heavy metals, phthalates and formaldehyde. Off-gassing is chemical air toxicity.
What are the side effects of an off-gassing mattress?
Off-gassing from a new mattress can cause headaches, allergies, rashes, dizziness, breathing problems and other health problems.
What are some other household items that off-gas?
- Nail Polish
Do latex mattresses off-gas?
Yes, synthetic latex mattresses off-gas. Certified organic latex mattresses do not. It’s important to note that all mattresses will have some smell. There is no such thing as an odor-free mattress. The organic mattresses will smell like organic cotton, wool, and rubber.
Do innerspring mattresses off-gas?
Lower-end conventional mattresses will have a glue smell from gluing the quilting to the spring unit.
How to avoid buying an off-gassing mattress?
Buy an organic mattress. Or make sure the mattress has no synthetic materials. And watch out for fire retardant chemicals.
What do I do if I buy a mattress, open it, and it’s off-gassing?
Most mattress companies will take a return or do an exchange on the mattress. Ensure you review the Returns and Exchanges information on the mattress before purchasing.
If you decide to keep it, you can refer to the other section in this article about ways to speed up off-gassing.