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Understanding Mattress Off-Gassing

December 01, 2023 8 min read

Couple unboxing a new mattress with no off gassing.

When you purchase a new mattress, it's common to experience an initial odor known as off-gassing. This phenomenon occurs when a mattress is removed from its packaging for the first time. All mattresses, including DLX mattresses, may off-gas due to the presence of polyurethane foam and other materials in mattresses.

Duration of Off-Gassing for a New Mattress

The duration of off-gassing can vary widely among individuals and mattresses. DLX mattresses are known to have an initial smell that ranges from one to three days for most people. However, some may not notice any odor, while others may need a few weeks for it to dissipate fully. In rare cases, the smell may linger longer. Factors such as individual sensitivity to odors, room ventilation, and other factors can influence these experiences.

DLX Mattresses, like many modern mattresses, incorporate various types of foams, including polyurethane foam. While DLX Mattresses do not contain memory foam, which is often associated with a stronger off-gassing odor, any use of polyurethane foam can lead to some degree of off-gassing. The extent and duration of off-gassing can vary significantly based on several factors, including the density of the foam and the individual's sensitivity to smells.

Is the DLX mattress safe?

Safety standards can vary so we want to provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision. Our mattresses are crafted with high-quality materials, including CertiPUR-US certified polyurethane foam. Importantly, we do not use fiberglass in our mattresses.

We believe it's not only reasonable but also essential for potential buyers to ask questions about a mattress and its components if they have any concerns. We are more than happy to disclose the materials used in our mattresses to ensure transparency and your peace of mind.

Is the DLX mattress certified?

DLX Mattresses exclusively utilize CertiPUR-US certified foams and our mattresses are free of fiberglass. When a mattress incorporates CertiPUR-US certified polyfoam or memory foam, it provides a level of confidence that the initial odors do not contain potentially harmful chemicals. For more details about the CertiPUR-US Certification, you can find additional information here.

How to Address Off-Gassing Odor with a New Mattress:

If you're concerned about the new car smell or off-gassing odor in your mattress, there are several steps you can take to mitigate it:

  1. Keep Bed Unmade During the Day: Remove any bedding from the mattress during the day or allow your bed to remain unmade each day after sleeping on it. Alternatively, you can place it in a guest bedroom, keeping it unboxed and unwrapped for a couple of weeks. Avoid leaving the mattress on its side for extended periods as it may cause layer shifting.
  2. Ensure Good Air Circulation: Ensure good airflow in the room by keeping the windows open. Placing a fan on one side of the bed, directing air towards an open window on the opposite side, can also aid in dissipating odors. If needed, you can temporarily position the mattress on its side with a fan at the end to help air reach both sides. However, it's advisable to exercise caution when using this method for extended periods (days) to prevent potential shifting of the mattress layers. For optimal mattress longevity, it's generally best to store it flat for extended periods.
  3. Air Purifier: Using an air purifier equipped to absorb VOCs can be beneficial.
  4. Febreze or Odor Masking Agents: Febreze can temporarily mask the odor while it naturally dissipates over time provided you are comfortable with the scent of Febreze. However, exercise caution when using any water-based solution on the mattress to avoid staining or the potential growth of mildew. Ensure that the mattress does not become excessively damp before covering it with sheets and blankets.
  5. Control Humidity: Lowering the humidity level in the room can be effective since higher humidity can exacerbate the issue.
  6. Outdoor Ventilation: Some people choose to unbox and unwrap the mattress and leave it outside or in the garage. If you opt for this method, ensure that the garage is dry and not damp or humid. Avoid leaving the mattress outside during humid weather, rain, drizzle, or snow, as these conditions could potentially lead to mold and mildew issues.
  7. Dust Mite Cover: Using a dust mite 360 surround (6-sided) cover that can be zipped around the mattress to completely encase it can assist in minimizing the odor.

By following these steps, you can help alleviate the off-gassing odor and enjoy a more comfortable sleeping environment.

Too Long; Don't Read: (TL;DR)

What is Off-Gassing?

Off-gassing is the term used to describe the initial odor emitted by many new mattresses when they are first removed from their packaging. If you've ever opened a new product of any kind and noticed a distinct new smell, you have likely encountered off-gassing. This phenomenon is most commonly associated with brand-new products that have not had the opportunity to air out, and it may vary in intensity depending on the type of product.

Is Off-Gassing Harmful?

In general, most off-gassing is not harmful and typically does not result in long-term health concerns. However, if you have specific concerns or sensitivities related to off-gassing, we encourage you to reach out to us. We believe in transparency and will provide you with honest information. If there's a possibility that our mattress may not be suitable for individuals with specific concerns, we will provide you with straightforward guidance and recommendations.

Do Mattresses Contain Chemicals?

In the mattress industry, virtually every mattress contains some form of chemicals. Even pure water, for instance, is considered a chemical.

It's important to recognize that there is no such thing as a completely chemical-free product and achieving a 100% absence of chemicals is not feasible. Many marketers use terms like "safe," "healthy," "100% natural," and "zero VOCs" as shorthand to imply mattress safety, even though these terms lack a standardized baseline for measurement. Furthermore, the naturalness of a material does not automatically guarantee its safety.

People vary in their sensitivity to smells, with memory foam tending to emit more odor than polyurethane foam. However, it's crucial to understand that the initial smell of a material does not necessarily indicate its safety. Certain foam materials, such as latex and wool, may have an initial odor but are safe for use.

To provide clarity, it is helpful to distinguish between off-gassing, which can result in elevated VOC levels, and the "new material smell." The intensity of the smell, if detected at all, is also influenced by an individual's sensitivity to odors and the extent to which the foam or latex has been aired out. In most cases, any noticeable odor tends to diminish to levels that are imperceptible within a few days to a few weeks. However, the duration of this process can vary depending on individual scent sensitivity and the specific odor in question.

Does Latex Have Less Off-Gassing?

The extent of off-gassing associated with latex depends on the type and formulation of the latex used. Generally, Talalay latex tends to have a "sweetish" or "vanilla" type of smell, while Dunlop latex may have a "rubbery" odor. In both cases, these odors are considered normal and typically dissipate to levels that are not noticeable or bothersome for most individuals over the course of a few days to a few weeks.

It's important to note that the performance of latex in terms of off-gassing can vary from one case to another. Additionally, the term "100% Natural" in the industry typically refers to latex foam containing approximately 95% latex rubber, with the remaining 5% comprising chemicals used in the curing process to aerate and vulcanize the latex, making it suitable for mattress production.

In most instances, the smell of natural rubber gradually diminishes over time, to the point where it is either not noticed or not offensive to most people. However, variations in odor strength may occur between different batches of latex, and some individuals may be more sensitive to certain smells than others. Environmental factors, such as humidity levels, can also influence the strength of the odor.

Note: DLX mattresses do not contain latex.

Off-Gassing by Mattress Type

Mattresses are typically categorized based on the materials in their support core, which serves as the sturdy base layer. Here, we'll discuss five of the most popular mattress types and evaluate their off-gassing performance:

  1. All-Foam: All-foam mattresses typically feature a polyfoam support core along with a comfort layers made of memory foam, polyfoam, latex, or a combination of materials. These mattresses predominantly use synthetic foam, making them prone to off-gassing. They generally have the highest potential for emitting odors.
  2. Latex: Latex mattresses utilize both a support core and a comfort system composed of latex. Most models opt for natural latex, which may vary in its off-gassing depending on the type and blend of latex used. However, most individuals report experiencing less off-gassing with latex mattresses compared to all-foam ones.
  3. Innerspring: Traditional innerspring mattresses are characterized by metal springs with minimal surface padding. While this mattress type was once dominant, it has become less common. Innerspring mattresses are not prone to significant off-gassing because they use minimal to no synthetic foam and the coil system allows odors to dissipate quickly due to enhanced airflow.
  4. Hybrid: Hybrid mattresses combine a support core made of pocket coil springs with comfort layers composed of memory foam, polyfoam, latex, microcoils, or other materials. Thicker comfort systems often offer better pressure relief and motion isolation compared to traditional innerspring models. The degree of off-gassing in hybrids depends on the materials and construction. Models with multiple layers of memory foam may emit more odors, while those without such layers tend to have a milder scent. Overall, most hybrids emit fewer off-gassing odors compared to average all-foam models due to their reduced foam content and improved airflow.
  5. Airbed: Airbeds rely on air chamber support units that can be adjusted for firmness. They often include a layer of memory foam or polyfoam in the comfort system. While the air chambers, typically made of vinyl, may produce an initial odor, the off-gassing potential of an airbed primarily depends on the composition and thickness of its comfort layers and the materials used in the air chambers.

Understanding the off-gassing tendencies of different mattress types can help you make an informed choice that aligns with your preferences and sensitivities.

Common Misconceptions About Off-Gassing
  1. Bothersome Smell Equals Toxicity: It's not accurate to assume that a bothersome smell indicates toxicity. Personal sensitivities to odors can vary widely. For example, the smell of certain foods or vinegar may be unpleasant to some, but these foods are not toxic. Furthermore, many highly toxic Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) may not produce any noticeable odor, so relying solely on smell as an indicator of toxicity can be misleading.
  2. No Smell Means Safety: The absence of a smell does not necessarily equate to safety. Carbon monoxide, for instance, is an odorless gas that can be harmful to human health. Therefore, the presence or absence of odor should not be the sole criterion for assessing safety.
  3. No VOCs or Chemical-Free Claims: There is no such thing as a product that is entirely devoid of VOCs or completely chemical-free. These terms are often used by marketers as shorthand to imply safety, but they lack a standardized baseline for measurement. It's important to understand that nothing is absolutely devoid of chemicals, and the presence of certain chemicals does not inherently imply harm.
  4. Natural Materials Don't Smell: Natural materials like wool or cotton can have their own scents, and these scents can vary among individuals. Some natural materials, especially those with minimal processing, may have scents reminiscent of a farm or barnyard. The intensity of these scents can also be influenced by environmental factors, such as humidity. While these scents are generally harmless and tend to diminish over time, they can occasionally be offensive to some individuals, causing headaches or nausea, despite being derived from natural sources and free of synthetic materials.