Memory Foam Off Gassing - Why it Happens and What to Do about it

Memory foam mattresses are popular with customers because they are so comfortable and durable, and meet consumer needs and standards. However, despite the clamour, there is only one downside – that distinctive memory foam smell. The offensive smell comes from the materials used to manufacture the mattress, and in some cases, it persists for weeks.

However, there are mattress manufacturers who have come up with ways using ingredients that either minimise or remove the smell of memory foam altogether. This article hopes to help you to make sure that the next memory foam mattress you purchase is odour-free.

What Causes that Memory Foam Smell?

“Off-gassing” is a term used to describe the reaction that causes that memory foam smell. This is similar to the smell emitted by fresh paint, dry cleaning, or the inside of a new car.

Off-gassing occurs in new foams and other various products that are manufactured when what is called “volatile organic compounds” or VOCs undergo chemical decomposition. Because they are unstable, these “volatile” mixtures form gasses while breaking apart, and off-gassing happens.

VOCs in mattresses can be found in the foam itself and any adhesives used in them. The compounds may include chloroflourocarbons or CFCs, formaldehyde, benzene, methylene chloride, toluene, trichloroethane, naphthalene, and perflourocarbons.

Is Off-Gassing from Memory Foam Toxic or Dangerous?

The good news is off-gassing is not toxic or dangerous. The odour from mattress off-gassing may be unpleasant, but it is not dangerous for most individuals. Although a handful of people experience difficulty in breathing, headaches, nausea, eye and throat irritation, and asthma, their symptoms cease as soon as they are not near the mattress and disappear altogether once the off-gassing dissipates.

Moreover, there is no proof that says memory foam is toxic or causes cancer even though the chemicals that cause mattress off-gassing are known as carcinogens or potential carcinogens. However, many would still prefer to minimise their exposure to the chemicals and would rather choose mattresses that are chemical-free.

Memory Foam Off Gassing non toxic chemical

How Can I Avoid Memory Foam Off-Gassing and Smells?

Each memory foam mattress manufacturer employs its own components and processes to make its products. Thus, problems encountered by these brands regarding off-gassing also vary in degree and number from others.

Only 18-20% of the leading national companies producing memory foam mattresses have received customer dissatisfaction due to mattress off-gassing. Studies also reveal a connection between higher density foams and increased rates of complaint due to the smell. So, thicker mattresses weighing over 6.0lbs smell worse.

However, most companies choose not to reveal all the components that they use in their products, under the guise of protecting their trade secrets. This then makes it difficult for clients to be assured that the brand they chose is free of harmful and/or smelly chemicals.

There is actually no mattress that is completely chemical-free. The only way a consumer can restrict exposure to the harmful chemicals is to watch out for phthalates, CFCs, heavy metals, formaldehyde and PBDEs. Customers can instead opt for memory foam made from plant-based materials and not from petroleum. Before using it, they can also let the mattress air out for about 3-7 days in a well-ventilated room, garage or outdoors. This allows memory foam off-gassing to occur in a safe area to eliminate exposure.