Many people when doing research on memory foam mattresses find out for the first time about ‘off gassing’, or they know people who own such beds and have heard them talk about off gassing. To some there is major concern with a mattress that has a strong smell. Some people are sensitive to strong odors – so their concern is well justified. New mattress off gassing can be an issue, but usually only for a few days after purchase.
In this article I will take a closer look at off gassing in memory foam mattresses. There are a lot of myths out there, some are in fact being circulated by larger brand name bed manufacturers (the ones that sell the really expensive beds), and some are just hearsay that people got wrong because they presumed something was a fact without really doing the research.
New Mattress Off Gassing – What Is It?
If you have ever smelled fresh paint or even the smell from the inside of a new car, what you are smelling is a process called off gassing. Memory foam mattresses also go through the process of off gassing when you first unpack them.
Basically what you are smelling is something called “volatile organic compounds” (VOCs) breaking down. In memory foam mattresses off gassing from VOCs is from parts of the foam and adhesives used in making the bed breaking apart, which forms gasses, and where the term off gassing comes from.
As mentioned above, in memory foam beds VOCs are commonly found in the foam and adhesive construction of the mattress. Chemical compounds such as chlorofluorocarbons, benzene, perfluorocarbons, methylene chloride, and toluene to name a few, are usually the root cause of off gassing.
Is New Mattress Off Gassing Dangerous Or Toxic?
I know what you are thinking, especially after reading that short list of chemical compounds listed above. You are wondering if new mattress off gassing is safe or not.
The short answer is no, it is not dangerous or toxic. There is no study that shows that off gassing from memory foam mattresses is dangerous or causes cancer. However, some people do report headaches and nausea. Usually the percentage of people who are affected by the smell is small.
How To Limit Exposure To Strong Off Gassing
Each memory foam mattress manufacturer, and even spring loaded mattress, are going to have off gassing. However, it is more noticeable with memory foam beds and cannot be completely avoided when buying a new one.
With that said, you can limit some exposure to stronger smelling mattress off gassing by looking for manufacturers that are certified ‘Certi-PUR’. Certi-PUR does independent testing to verify which foam bed manufacturers use few or less harmful VOCs. Look for their seal of approval. When you see if you will know that the bed you are purchasing is going to have less obtrusive off gassing.
Also keep in mind that manufacturers that use more plant based material in their memory foam mattresses construction are also going to have less new mattress off gassing.
All of the memory foam mattresses that are reviewed and recommended here on Cloud Sleeping are Certi-PUR Certified. My wife and I own four memory foam mattresses between our primary residence and our cottage.
How Long Before The Off Gassing Goes Away?
When buying a new memory foam mattress, that new mattress off gassing smell usually takes anywhere from two to several days to mostly go away. There may be a slight lingering smell for as long as four weeks. Typically if you place the new bed in a well ventilated room for a week the bed will air out quickly.
Whenever my wife and I have purchased a memory foam bed we set it up in the room we plan to use it in, then open some windows and close the door and let it air out for a few days before using it. Some may see this as an inconvenience, but it’s really not an issue.
So while the off gassing can be annoying it usually does not last long and eventually goes away in about a week. I don’t recall any of our beds having off gassing go past that time frame.
New Mattress Off Gassing – Conclusion
If you are thinking about getting a memory foam mattress and are concerned about off gassing, look for mattresses that are certified Certi-PUR. It also helps to have a game plan in place for when that new mattress arrives. If you suspect you may have an issues with the off gassing odor, plan on allowing your new bed to air out for a few days in a well ventilated room with good air flow.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a new memory foam mattress. I review some of the beds my wife and I own on this website, and check out my memory foam mattress reviews here.
Looking for more information pertaining to memory foam beds in general, check out my foam mattress info page here.