How to Air Out Your Mattress for Healthier Air in Your Bedroom

When you lay down for bed, you should be able to breathe deeply, relax, and drift off to sleep. However, bringing a new mattress home can often bring new smells with it, and usually, they aren’t pleasant. Often, there are odors left over from the manufacturing process as well as odors that come from the plastic in which the mattress was wrapped. You definitely want to get rid of any strange smells before you bringing the new mattress into your bedroom.

Why Air It Out?

Some odors are due to manufacturing processes and the plastic wrapping, but others may come from more harmful substances. Mattresses are required to meet legal flammability standards, which some manufacturers meet by using chemical flame retardants.

The use of chemical flame retardants as well as other chemicals that may be used during some manufacturing processes can lead to the off-gassing of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). These substances can cause headaches, nausea, and vomiting as well as skin, eye, nose, and throat irritation, especially to those who may be chemically sensitive.

For the health and safety of you and your family, you want to eliminate as many harmful emissions as possible.

How to Air Out a Mattress

Airing out a mattress is a simple process. You need somewhere outside your house with good ventilation where the mattress can rest unwrapped. That may be a garage, shop, or covered outdoor space. Make sure the mattress is positioned so that both sides get ventilation. While the Sleep Products Safety Council recommends 24 hours for a mattress to air out, your nose is the best gauge. If the mattress still has a bit of an odor, let it air out longer.

Airing out a mattress doesn't end once it's in your room. Once a week, let it air out by leaving the covers off of the bed for several hours. Because many new homes are quite airtight, it’s also a good idea to periodically open the windows and circulate the air through your home.

Find a Healthier New Mattress

No matter what kind of mattress you buy, it should be aired out before use. However, if you’re looking to cut down on the number of chemical emissions you're exposed to, there are independent organizations that test and monitor mattresses for off-gassing.

The GREENGUARD certification, for example, is only given to products with low VOC emissions. There are other certifications like the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 that monitor emissions along with other chemicals that pose a health risk. You can find organizations that monitor and certify mattresses for everything from environmental impact to humane working conditions during manufacturing. It’s a matter of doing a little research to know what you’re looking for before you buy.

Buying an eco-friendly mattress is another way to keep emissions and chemicals out of your home. Organic mattresses made with as many natural products and components as possible reduce chemical exposure and off-gassing. Plant-based foams, organic cotton and wool, and natural latex are the kinds of materials that are used to make organic mattresses.

By knowing what’s in your mattress, you can protect yourself and your family from hidden dangers.

Samantha (Sam) Kent is a researcher for Her favorite writing topic is how getting enough sleep can improve your life. Currently residing in Boise, Idaho, she sleeps in a California King bed, often with a cat on her face.