(Last Update: 04/04/2024)


Have you ever unboxed a brand-new mattress and immediately noticed a peculiar chemical smell?

This scent, often sharp and overpowering, is the result of a process known as off-gassing. Mattresses and other materials can react with the air, releasing certain compounds, some of which can be concerning.

Understanding off-gassing becomes essential if you cherish the essence of a fresh bedroom and prioritize healthful sleep. After all, a good night’s sleep shouldn't come with unwanted surprises.

You can read on to delve deeper into what off-gassing means, its health implications, and, most importantly, how to reduce exposure.



The Science Behind Off-Gassing: Analysis

Scientifically known as volatile organic compound (VOC) emission, off-gassing occurs when certain chemicals vaporize at room temperatures.

Mattresses, particularly those made with synthetic materials, often contain VOCs introduced during manufacturing. The synthetic foam manufacturing process involves mixing specific chemicals, triggering polymer reactions, and expanding the blend into foam.

Over time, especially when exposed to warmth and airflow, these compounds transition from a solid or liquid state into gases that release into the surrounding air.

Newer products can accelerate this process, explaining why a bed in a box or freshly unboxed mattress often has a pronounced chemical smell.

While some VOCs are harmless, others can be detrimental to health and the environment, making understanding and addressing off-gassing crucial for informed consumers.

So, understand mattress off-gassing before your purchase!

Common Materials Responsible for Off-Gassing

In the world of mattresses, several materials are notorious for off-gassing. Memory foam, often lauded for its comfort and support, is a prime culprit due to its reliance on petrochemicals.

Polyurethane foam, a common core material in many mattresses, can release VOCs like toluene diisocyanate.

Additionally, certain adhesives used to bond mattress layers contain formaldehyde, a known respiratory irritant. Flame retardants can release brominated compounds into the air to meet safety standards.

Lastly, synthetic latex often contains styrene, another VOC, unlike its natural counterpart.

Health Concerns Associated with Mattress With Off-Gassing

Mattress off-gassing concerns many new buyers. A mattress with severe off-gassing isn't merely an issue of unpleasant odors; it can have tangible health implications.

Mattress manufacturers use CertiPUR-US certified foams, low-VOC materials, and natural fibers to reduce off-gassing in mattresses.

How is the mattress off-gassing dangerous? People with asthma or other respiratory conditions may be more sensitive to the effects of VOCs, which can make them sicker.

Short-term exposure to VOCs from mattresses might lead to symptoms like dizziness, headaches, throat or eye irritation, and worsening of asthma symptoms.

Health concerns associated with mattresses with off-gassing include difficulty breathing and irritation from chemical compounds.

The polyfoam support core and comfort padding release odors that can be off-putting, impacting things sleep-related. These effects, stemming from the comfort materials, typically diminish within a few weeks.

Signs Your Mattress May Be Off-Gassing

  • Unpleasant Odor: A new mattress may release a distinct chemical-like smell, especially after unpacking.
  • Allergic Reactions: Unexpected sneezing, skin irritations, or respiratory discomfort without any other apparent triggers.
  • Increased Asthma Symptoms: Those with asthma might experience aggravated symptoms such as coughing or wheezing.
  • Sleep Disruptions: You might wake up feeling unrefreshed, or experience interrupted sleep due to the off-gassing chemicals.
  • Eye or Throat Irritation: Sensations of burning, itching, or dryness without known environmental allergens.

Headaches or Dizziness: Onset of unexplained headaches or light-headedness, especially after getting a new mattress.

The Avocado Green is Excellent for its minimal off-gassing

How Long Does Off-Gassing Last?

Off-gassing is not a permanent phenomenon. Typically, the initial phase effects of off-gassing, where most volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are released, occur within the first few hours to days after unboxing a new mattress. This period witnesses the most intense and noticeable off-gassing odors.

As days become weeks, the intensity and frequency of the odors gradually diminish. By the end of the first month, most mattresses will have completed a significant portion of the off-gassing process.

However, the complete off-gassing process might take several months, especially for mattresses with high concentrations of synthetic materials. The duration can vary based on the specific mattress materials and the room's ventilation.

Methods to Minimize Off-Gassing at Home

How is mattress off-gassing dangerous? It is due to toxic chemicals from mattress manufacturing, illuminating these odors' harmful effects.

  • Ventilate Your Space: Regularly open windows and doors to allow fresh air, facilitating the dispersal of off-gassing fumes.
  • Air Out New Products: Before using new mattresses or furniture, allow them to air in a well-ventilated room for several days.
  • Use Air Purifiers: Invest in a quality air purifier that can capture VOCs and other harmful compounds.
  • Opt for Low-VOC or VOC-Free Products: Look for labels indicating lower VOC content or green certifications when purchasing.
  • Houseplants for Cleaner Air: Some houseplants, like spider plants and peace lilies, are known to help absorb certain VOCs, improving indoor air quality.

The high QUality Features of Saavta Classic (Credit: Saatva)

Proper Ventilation: A Solution Against New Mattress Smell

Proper ventilation reduces mattress off-gassing effects. The essence of healthy indoor living often boils down to one simple practice: adequate ventilation.

  • Ensuring a consistent fresh air flow within our homes can significantly dilute and disperse off-gassed chemicals, promoting cleaner, safer air.
  • While new mattresses or furniture might introduce more VOCs, routinely opening windows and using fans can hasten the dispersion of these compounds.

This is especially vital during the initial days following a new product's introduction.

Remember, the balance between comfort and health often hinges on the purity of our indoor air, making ventilation a paramount concern.

The Role of Mattress Covers and Protectors

Mattress covers and protectors serve a dual purpose: guarding against physical damage and acting as a barrier to off-gassing chemicals.

  • These products envelop the mattress, capturing and reducing the release of harmful VOCs into the room.
  • A quality mattress cover made from non-porous materials can be particularly effective.
  • They protect the sleeper from direct contact with outgassing materials and extend the mattress's lifespan by preventing spills, dust, and allergens from seeping in.

In choosing a protector, opt for one that’s breathable to ensure comfort isn’t compromised. Doing so combines protection with peace of mind, ensuring a healthier sleep environment.

Choosing a Low Mattress Off-Gassing

Many people are sensitive to mattress off-gassing. When in the market for a new mattress, prioritizing one with minimal outgassing potential is an eco-friendly and health-conscious choice.

  • Start by researching certifications. Look for mattresses with certifications such as CertiPUR-US or GreenGuard Gold, which ensure the products have low VOC emissions.
  • Another tip is to gravitate towards natural and organic materials. Latex, for example, especially when 100% natural, tends to have reduced off-gassing compared to synthetic material alternatives.
  • Reading consumer reviews can be insightful. Users often share their personal experiences regarding more off-gassing odors with a particular mattress.

Certifications to Look For When Shopping For Mattress With Low Volatile Organic Compounds

It would be best if you always looked for certifications about mattress off-gassing. Here are a few of them.

  • CertiPUR-US: Ensures the polyurethane foam used in mattresses is free from harmful chemicals and has low VOC emissions, often due to using the same chemicals in their construction.
  • GreenGuard Gold: A certification that guarantees a product meets strict criteria for low chemical emissions, promoting healthier indoor air quality.
  • Organic Content Standard (OCS): Ensures the organic status of textiles and materials.
  • OEKO-TEX Standard 100: Confirms that every product component has been tested for harmful substances.
  • Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS): Assures that a latex product is made of organic raw materials.
  • Headaches or Dizziness: Onset of unexplained headaches or light-headedness, especially after getting a new mattress.

Best Mattresses to Reduce Off-Gassing

Mattress off-gassing can vary by brand. So are a few suggestions to use when buying a mattress:

  • Mattresses with metal springs combined with polyurethane-based foam can intensify off-gassing. It's crucial to ensure a non-toxic mattress composition.
  • Avoid mattresses with heavy metals. Non-toxic organic compounds, often sourced from rubber trees, provide a safer sleeping environment without the unpleasant smell.
  • Opt for mattresses promoting enhanced airflow. A bouncy core and good air circulation reduce chemicals released, making breathing easier.
  • Off-gassing depends on the mattress's thickness and its plastic wrap. Ensure your mattress fully airs out before use.

Under $500.00

Tuft & Needle Original Mattress

The Tuft & Needle Original is a memory foam mattress known for its comfort and affordability. It is also made with CertiPUR-US-certified memory foam throughout, which means it is low in VOCs.

Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam Mattress

The Zinus Green Tea Foam bed is another affordable option with low VOCs. It is also infused with green tea extract, which is said to have antibacterial and off-gassing odor-resistant properties.

Sweetnight Natural Latex Mattress

The Sweetnight 6-inch 100% Natural Latex bed is another affordable option for a natural latex mattress.

  • The bed is made with 100% natural latex and infused with green tea extract, which is said to have antibacterial and odor-resistant properties.
  • There's no synthetic fiber or plastic packaging aroma.

AmazonBasics Memory Foam Mattress

The AmazonBasics Foam Mattress is another great value for the price. The new memory foam mattress is low in VOCs. It also comes with a 10-year warranty.

Ashley Sleep Aspire Memory Foam Mattresses

The Ashley Sleep Aspire all Foam Mattress is a good option for those looking for a budget-friendly new mattress with low VOCs. It is also made with CertiPUR-US-certified foam.


Under $1000.00

Avocado Green Mattress

The Avocado Green Mattress is a luxury organic mattress made with natural materials like latex and coconut coir.

  • It is also low in VOCs and has a GOLS organic latex certification.
  • It is a gem among natural latex mattresses.

Unlike many prone to off-gassing from their manufacturing processes, this mattress offers fresh air without the car smell from plastic packaging.

Nectar Premier Hybrid Mattress

The Nectar hybrid mattresses are a foam bed known for their pressure relief and comfort. It is also low in VOCs and has a CertiPUR-US certified foam certification.

DreamCloud Mattress

The DreamCloud Mattress is a hybrid mattress that is made with a combination of coils and foam. It is also low in VOCs and has a CertiPUR-US certified foam certification.

Luxury Mattresses Over $1000.00

Saatva Classic Mattress

many innerspring mattresses, like the Saatva Classic, are great examples of low of-gassing. This innerspring mattress with coils and foam. The innerspring mattresses are also low in VOCs and have a CertiPUR-US certified foam certification.

WinkBed Mattress

The WinkBed organic Mattresses are a luxury mattress made with coils and foam. It is also low in VOCs and has a CertiPUR-US certified foam certification.

Birch Luxe Mattress

The Birch Luxe Mattress is a luxury mattress made with all-natural materials, such as latex and organic cotton.

  • It is also low in VOCs and has a GOLS organic latex certification.
  • Birch Luxe, combining metal springs and latex, minimizes outgassing.

This hybrid bypasses the typical synthetic fibers and emphasizes natural elements, reducing the need for baking soda or air fresheners post-purchase.

Nolah Evolution 15 Mattress

The Nolah Evolution 15 Mattress is a luxury mattress with latex and foam. Its synthetic foam is also low in VOCs and has a CertiPUR-US certified synthetic foam certification.

  • Nolah Evolution 15 redefines the mattress industry. Although vacuum sealed, its unique manufacturing process curtails the mattresses’ off-gas effect.
  • With minimized synthetic materials, there's a shorter off-gassing period.

Conclusion

In the vast landscape of mattresses, knowledge truly is power.

Understanding off-gassing equips consumers to make healthier choices and fosters a safer sleeping environment.

VOCs and other off-gassing elements can affect our well-being, making selecting mattresses that prioritize low emissions crucial.

Individuals can significantly reduce exposure risks by emphasizing certifications, proper ventilation, and protective measures.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take a mattress to Offgas?

Mattress off-gassing is a temporary phenomenon. Its durations vary, but most mattresses finish off-gassing within a week. However, some might take longer, depending on materials and environmental factors. Proper ventilation accelerates the process, ensuring a fresher sleeping environment.

What are the symptoms of an off-gassing mattress?

Off-gassing mattresses can cause symptoms like headaches, dizziness, respiratory issues, skin irritation, and a pungent chemical odor. Prolonged exposure might exacerbate these effects, so recognizing and addressing them is crucial for health and comfort.

Are mattress VOCs toxic?

Mattress VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) can be harmful. While not all VOCs are toxic, prolonged exposure to certain VOCs from mattresses may pose health risks, including respiratory issues, headaches, and skin irritations. Always research and choose wisely.

Do foam mattresses give off gas?

Yes, memory foam mattresses can be off-gas. Particularly, memory foam mattresses release Volatile Organic materials initially. The off-gassing often results in a distinct odor, which diminishes after a few days with proper ventilation.

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