Memory Foam Smell Guide

Last Updated: August 2017

When you get a new memory foam mattress, it is sometimes accompanied by a smell that you didn’t expect. The good news is that the smell you encounter is likely normal. Off gassing, also known as out gassing, is the process of a mattress giving off an odor due to its packaging or composition. The chemicals in mattresses expel volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which create the odor.

Although most mattresses that exhibit off gassing eventually lose their smell in a matter of hours, days or weeks, some buyers prefer to purchase mattresses that are known for being low-VOC and not smelling too strongly. Depending on the materials used to create the mattress, it may have a higher or lower level of odor. You can use customer reviews that include reports of odors to determine whether or not the mattress you wish to buy is known for its out gassing.

Looking for the best memory foam mattress? Read our buyers guide right here.

Low Levels Off Gassing

Less than 10% of customers report experiencing off gassing in several types of mattresses that contain little to no memory foam. Air mattresses have very low reports of the smell, with mostly airbeds containing memory foam or latex exhibiting a strong smell. While latex mattresses may smell of rubber, they usually do not give off the off gassing odor. Innerspring mattresses with a thick comfort memory foam layer can give off an out gassing odor. Up to 10% of customers do experience the smell when the foam is thicker due more materials used.

Medium Levels of Off Gassing

In futon mattresses, 10 to 15% of customers say that they do experience a smell, but that smell is very unlike the typical off gassing odor. Instead, it seems musty instead of chemical-like, making it simply smell old. Hybrid mattresses that are composed of both memory foam and springs can have an off gassing smell that can be stronger when the foam is thicker. Models with two inches of foam have a much stronger odor than thinner layered mattresses. Up to 15% of customers report experiencing a smell when they first open their hybrid mattresses.

Higher Levels of Off Gassing

Water and full memory foam mattresses are known to have the strongest odors. While over 15% of customers experience some kind of odor when they purchase waterbeds, the smell is usually due to the vinyl used to create the product. Thicker memory foam mattresses have more layers, accounting for a greater release of off gassing. The thicker and denser a memory foam mattress is, the greater its out gassing is likely to be.

Although these statistics establish a baseline for mattress odor expectations, they are not steady across the board. Off gassing can vary from mattress to mattress, varying by mattress brand or model. Two mattresses of the same model can even give off very different levels of odor depending on packaging, whether or not instructions are followed to open the mattresses and a variety of other factors. Buyers should expect the possibility of a smell with any model.

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