How to Reduce Mattress Topper Smells – Tips and Tricks to Speed Up Off-Gassing

When you get a new car or book, they can have a smell that’s a little unpleasant. The same thing can happen when you buy a brand new mattress topper. In this article we will discuss how to reduce mattress topper smells that emanate from new mattress toppers. 

To reduce mattress topper smells, leave the mattress topper in a properly ventilated area, sprinkle baking soda over the mattress topper, and place vinegar in a small bowl close to the mattress topper to remove the odor naturally.

To reduce mattress topper smells when you take it out of its packaging, leave it in a well ventilated area for the VOC’s to be released. Memory foam mattress toppers like these have an unpleasant smell due to “off-gassing”. Image source: Wayfair.

In order to reduce mattress topper smell, it’s important to understand where it comes from and why. That ‘brand new’ and somewhat unpleasant smell is the result of a common process known as ‘off-gassing’. Off-gassing refers to the release of airborne chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and it occurs in many household products such as air fresheners, paint, furniture, and carpets.

A memory foam mattress topper like this, is made up of layers of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including visco-elastic polyurethane. While in its packaging, the VOCs begin to break down into gases. When the item is opened for the first time, the gases are released, resulting in an unpleasant odor.

Mattress topper smells are the result of a process referred to as “off-gassing”. New mattresses might smell due to off-gassing of volatile organic compounds used in their manufacturing process. Image source:

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To get rid of this unpleasant smell, follow the steps provided below and you’re sure to have a good night’s sleep: 

Step 1. Provide Proper Ventilation for the Mattress Topper

Remove the plastic wrapping immediately. This enables the memory foam’s VOCs to escape. Next, place the mattress topper outside in a dry, non-humid environment for at least 24 hours. This will provide your mattress topper with proper ventilation and will prevent your house from smelling. Essentia, a mattress manufacturer, discusses this process as well. 

For complete expansion, as recommended by the Sleep Product Safety Council (SPSC), leave the mattress topper outside for 24 hours. If placing the mattress topper outside is not possible, lean it against a wall near an open window. This will expose it to fresh air and help get rid of bad smells. If you have a ceiling fan, turn it on! This will help the air circulate better and drastically improve the rate at which the smell is reduced.

Step 2. Use Baking Soda for Odor Removal

Sprinkle some baking soda on your mattress topper and let it set for a couple of hours or, for the best result, leave the baking soda on for the whole night. Then use a vacuum cleaner or a soft fabric brush to remove the baking soda. Make sure you clean every inch of the mattress topper to ensure all of the baking soda has been removed. This process can remove odors from anything as explained in this article from CentriPur, an organization that certifies mattress safety.

Step 3. Place Vinegar in a Small Bowl Close To the Mattress to Neutralize Odours

While you are airing your mattress topper out, there are certain steps you can take to make the smell disappear faster. Place some white vinegar in a bowl and leave it in the same room as the mattress topper, as explained in this article from The Sierra Mattress Company. The vinegar absorbs all of the odors caused by off-gassing. If you don’t want to use vinegar, you can use this bamboo charcoal product. It will help reduce the unpleasant smell and improve the air quality of the room. Bamboo charcoal captures all VOCs, trapping and absorbing them while keeping the room fresh. 

How Long Does It Take To Air Out A Mattress Topper?

Air out a mattress topper for at least 24 hours to reduce the amount of VOCs which cause the “new mattress smell”. Make sure to provide ventilation for the mattress either outside or in an area with plenty of air circulation. 

The first step to getting rid of any unpleasant smells is to place your new mattress topper outside, or in a ventilated area, for it to air out properly. The SPSC recommends airing your memory foam mattress topper out for 24 hours. Do not place it on the floor, instead, lean part of it against a wall. This will expose both sides to the fresh air it needs for proper ventilation. It will also speed up the off-gassing process and help you get rid of the unwanted smell faster.

Why Does Memory Foam Smell Bad?

The unpleasant odor of memory foam comes from the off-gassing of the different chemicals that are used to make memory foam products. 

Memory foam contains VOCs such as polyurethane, formaldehyde, benzyne, methylene chloride, naphthalene, and perfluorocarbons, to name just a few! Polyurethane and other VOCs are found in many products, but some contain more than others. For example, you can experience off-gassing in a much more noticeable way with paint than you can with clothes. Houston Natural Mattress explains the process and the science behind off-gassing. 

Are There Mattress Toppers That Don’t Smell? 

Mattress toppers that are made from natural materials like cotton, latex, or wool will not smell since their manufacturing processes do not utilize VOCs.

Some examples include these cotton mattress pads, which enhance comfort, are safe and non-toxic, and provide extra protection to your mattress. There are also 100% organic latex mattress toppers like these, which give great support, contour the body, and enhance the longevity of the mattress. If it’s 100% organic and contains only natural latex, it will not produce any off-gassing. 

Lastly, we have wool mattress toppers like these, that are known to be hypoallergenic. Wool linen can control your body temperature, keeping it warm during cold nights and cool during summer nights as explained in our article that discusses whether wool mattress pads keep you cool in summer. The table below contains three examples of alternative mattress toppers that do not smell. Check out our article to help you decide whether you need a mattress topper, and whether you should or shouldn’t buy one.

Mattress Topper  Material It Is Made Of Why it Doesn’t Smell Price
Downright Cotton  Natural cotton – no VOCs ~$80.00
Naturepedic 2 Inch Latex Mattress Topper Organic Cotton and Latex Certified organic materials – guaranteed to be chemical free ~$500.00
Chemical Free Wool Mattress Topper Organic Cotton and natural wool Natural materials – guaranteed to be chemical free ~$250.00

You might also find interest in how to choose a mattress topper for a lumpy mattress. Be sure to check out our related article to find out. Additionally, you might be interested in learning if you can use a mattress pad to make a bed firmer. Be sure to read that article as well.

How To Clean A Mattress Topper That Smells of Sweat

Mattress toppers can often trap unpleasant odors such as sweat and urine. Even if you change the sheets or use a mattress protector, smells can still accumulate. 

To clean a mattress topper that smells of sweat, first vacuum both sides of the mattress topper and then spot clean with a solution of hydrogen peroxide and dish soap, A few other easy tricks are to use baking soda with water, vinegar mixed with water, and rubbing the mattress topper down with a cut lemon, to clean it.

Read our article if you want to learn more about how to protect your mattress topper or mattress pad, Here we provide the steps to clean your mattress topper:

Step 1. Vacuum Both Sides of the Mattress Topper

According to CentriPUR, a safety standard for mattresses, first clean the head of your vacuum cleaner’s upholstery attachment to get rid of any dust or dirt. Once you have done this, vacuum both sides of the mattress topper with this handy vacuum cleaner, making sure all the dust, hair, and dirt have been removed.

Step 2. Spot Clean with a Solution of Two Parts Hydrogen Peroxide to One Part Dish Soap

Purple, a mattress manufacturer, says that if you have any spots or stains to clean, mix two parts of hydrogen peroxide like this, to one part of non-bleach dish soap, like this, in a plastic container. Next, with a rag, dab the solution directly onto the dirty spot, being careful not to over-wet the area. Leave it on for 20 minutes, then clean the treated spots with a clean rag dipped in cold water. 

Step 3. Get Rid of All The Odors with a Few Easy Tricks

To get rid of any lingering smells, spray some water on the memory foam mattress topper and spread some baking soda like this over it. Leave it on for a couple of hours. Then, vacuum the mattress topper and wipe it down with a damp rag. Next, mix a ¾ cup warm of water and a ¼ cup of white vinegar like this together, soak a piece of cloth in the solution, and use it to wipe the mattress topper down. Then, dab the treated areas with paper towels like these until it is dry. 

There is no need to worry about the smell of the vinegar as it will vanish in a few hours. 

Lastly, cut a lemon in half, and rub it on the mattress topper. Some of the lemon juice will be absorbed, but don’t worry, it will not damage anything. Lemon is a natural bleach and has antibiotic properties. This article from The Old Farmer’s Almanac, lists some surprising things that lemons can be used for. Once you have applied the lemon, leave it to dry before vacuuming. Now you will have a fresh and clean memory foam mattress topper.

Speeding Up The ‘Off Gassing’ Process

To speed up the off-gassing process, ventilate the mattress topper either outside or in an area with substantial air movement and circulation, and use baking soda and vinegar to remove the odor.

The process of off-gassing can take up to two months, but the good news is there are steps you can take to speed up this process and reduce the smell so it won’t be as noticeable. Some people suggest using odor-neutralizing products for the first two months of use. For people who are highly sensitive or allergic to chemical odors, this bamboo charcoal is an excellent alternative. Remember that providing your mattress topper with good ventilation is essential when trying to reduce the smell of off-gassing. Once your mattress topper is ready to use, place it on the bed. It may be a good idea to read our article that explains how to install a mattress topper, to get the most out of your new bed linen.

Eliminate your mattress topper’s smells by cleaning it with a solution of vinegar and water. You can pour your solution of water and vinegar into a spray bottle for easy application to clean your mattress topper. Source: MemoryFoamTalk.

Now that your mattress topper is dry, fresh, and clean, make up the bed so that it is ready to sleep in, or pack it away. Read our article if you would like some tips on how to store a latex mattress topper to protect it.