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Does My New Mattress Release VOCs?

Is your mattress past its service life? Switching out your old coil mattress for memory foam is the way to go, and many people are making the change. When the delivery guy arrives at your house, they'll have your mattress in a box.

The manufacturer compresses the mattress and rolls it up before sending it out for delivery. When you receive it, you place it on your bed frame, cut open the plastic, and the mattress starts to expand from the compressed state.

Watching the mattress expand is entertaining, and you'll find that it reaches its full uncompressed state within 24-hours after opening it. During that time, you might notice that a funny smell starts to develop in your bedroom.

It's kind of like that "new car smell," only a bit different. What causes this odor, and is it harmful to your health? This post unpacks everything you need to know about your new mattress and Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs).

What Causes that "New Mattress Smell?"

So, what's causing that smell in the room after unrolling and decompressing the new mattress? Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs) are a group of compounds that change state rapidly from liquid to gas. VOCs exist in paint and in the adhesives the manufacturer uses in the construction of your mattress.

VOCs go through a period of "gassing-off," where the residues from the glue dry and emit VOCs into the air. Fortunately, most manufacturers ensure that they gas off the mattress before packing it for delivery. However, some manufacturers don't gas off the bed enough, or some might not bother with the process at all.

If you're ordering an expensive brand, you can bet that the manufacturer will gas off the mattress before packaging. However, if you order a lesser-known brand, make sure you pay attention to the VOC smell when unpacking it in your bedroom.

Typically, the gassing-off process lasts anywhere from 24 to 48-hours, depending on the adhesives used by the manufacturer. After the VOCs finish gassing off, it won't release anymore, and it's safe to sleep on it.

What VOCs Release During the Off-Gassing Process?

During the gassing-off process, VOCs emit from the adhesives into the air. As a result, you'll smell them in the room. Manufacturers don't all use the same glues and solvents, and some use VOC-free formulations, while others don't care about VOC emissions from their mattresses.

Therefore, before purchasing your new mattress, it's a good idea to browse around on forums like Reddit to see what people are saying about the brand and model you're interested in buying.

However, some of the common chemicals found in adhesives that release during the gassing-off phase include the following three compounds.

  • Toluene chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
  • Benzene.
  • Formaldehyde.

These three chemicals are toxic to humans, resulting in several bad reactions in the body. When ordering your mattress from a reputable brand, check their website. The manufacturer will list the types of VOCs emitted by the bed on opening and decompression.

Manufacturers that meet no-VOC emission standards adhere to the best practice and manufacturing guidelines set out by the regulating authorities like GreenGuard Gold, Certi-PUR US, and Standard 100. If your mattress has these certifications, then it either emits low VOCs or no VOCs on opening.

Are VOCs Harmful to My Health?

VOCs are present in a variety of consumer and household products, including paint, kitchen cleaners like bleach, floor and furniture products, and more. Typically, apart from the three VOCs listed above, most of the compounds don't have any detrimental effect on human health.

However, breathing in toluene, benzene, and formaldehyde is dangerous and could lead to several health complications. Mild exposure to VOCs can create problems like headaches and dizziness, as well as nausea and blurred vision. However, you'll need a prolonged exposure to high quantities of these chemicals to receive an immediate reaction.

People that have allergies will find that they have an allergic response to the inhalation of VOCs. These chemicals are aggressive irritants to the respiratory system, And choking and coughing are common in sensitive individuals exposed to VOCs.

Inhalation of large quantities of VOCs may lead to organ problems like kidney failure, as well as damage to the central nervous system (CNS). Long-term exposure to harmful VOCs like benzene can lead to the development of cancer.

However, the exposure length and the concentration of the VOCs in the air in the room play the biggest role in determining unfavorable health outcomes. For instance, squirting a blast of air freshener as you leave the bathroom probably isn't going to do you any harm.

However, sitting in the bathroom and emptying half the can, then breathing it in for five minutes will create a severe reaction to the VOCs in the freshener.

How Long Does the Off-Gassing Process Last?

The gassing-off process varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. As mentioned, the leading mattress brands use adhesives that don't emit any VOCs. However, the manufacturer may leave the mattress to gas off for around 24-hours before decompression and packing.

If you notice your new mattress has VOC emissions, the bulk of them should fade in 24 to 48-hours. You might still have some floating around the room for up to a week after unpacking your mattress. However, after the first few days, the smell will be barely noticeable.

Do All Mattresses Gas-Off VOCs?

As mentioned, not all mattresses manufacturers use resins and adhesives containing VOCs. Choosing a high-level brand like Tuft and Needle, Purple, Helix, or Tempur ensures that you get a top-quality product that won't emit any VOC emissions.

Certi-PUR-US, Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX, and the GreenGuard Gold certifications are critical to look for when purchasing your new mattress. Manufacturers complying with these standards deliver VOC-free products. However, some manufacturers might still have a lingering smell of VOCs on the bed that fades in a few days.

Tips for Gassing-Off Your New Mattress

If you're purchasing a new mattress, check the manufacturer's guidelines for opening the product and gassing off the VOCs. Many of them have instructions available on their website.

Some brands recommend that you unroll the mattress in a spare room or the garage and wait for a week before bringing it into the bedroom.

However, most top brands state that you can unroll the mattress directly onto your bed and sleep on it the first night without any health concerns. Make sure you read through the gassing-off guidelines from the manufacturer before finalizing your purchase.

We recommend you use your nose to judge the condition of the air quality in the room. If the room has a strong odor, like a new car smell, give it some time to gas off completely before moving it to the bedroom.

Tips for Gassing-Off New Mattresses

Instead of opening your mattress indoors, take it into the garage and open it there. You get protection from the rain and plenty of space to let the VOCs dissipate into the air.

Leave the mattress in the garage for a week before bringing it indoors.

Alternatively, use a spare room in the home if you don't have a garage. However, make sure the room has plenty of ventilation, and don't spend more than a few minutes in the room at a time during the gassing-off process.

If you're gassing off the mattress in a room indoors, make sure you place fans in the room to improve ventilation.

According to some forums, sprinkling baking soda on the mattress during the gassing-off phase helps absorb the VOCs and remove them from the air.

If you still smell VOCs but want to sleep on the mattress, use a mattress cover to minimize the amount of smell the bed produces at night.

If you decide to use a cover, you may notice the smell of VOCs on it after removing it from the bed. Make sure you wash the cover before fitting it to the bed again. Wash the cover every day until the VOC smell is no longer present on the mattress, the cover, or in the room.

The tips in this guide should help you navigate the complexities of gassing off your new mattress. However, the best advice we can give you is to pick a manufacturer that uses VOC-free adhesives in the manufacturing process.

Get an Air Quality Check of Your Home with MI&T

If you're concerned about VOCs in your home, contact MI&T. We specialize in providing consumers with air quality checks in their homes. We use the latest technology to check on VOC levels, and we'll also be able to detect the presence of mold spores in the air that you might not realize are steadily infesting your home.

Contact our service team and book your air inspection. If we find mold in your home, we can suggest the proper practices for removing it. However, we can't recommend any mold removal company. As an independent air-quality testing service, we remain impartial to the cleanup process.

As a result, you know that you're getting a 100% accurate reading, with no incentive to hire a mold removal company.