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Removing Smells from Your Memory Foam Mattress

Updated on November 10, 2009

Memory foam is great, because it can give you a nice, soft comfy mattress. Although foam beds themselves are popular, a foam topper placed on top of a traditional mattress can also give you many of memory foam's benefits at a fraction of the cost of a full memory foam mattress.

The problem with any memory foam product, though, is that most memory foam comes to you with a slightly "off" order. It might smell a little bit like gasoline or have a highly noxious "plastic" odor. In almost every case, this odor dissipates after just a couple of weeks, but what do you do if that's too long to wait?

Keep your mattress clean for healthy sleep habits
Keep your mattress clean for healthy sleep habits

Take it outside

You can do things like spray your foam topper or mattress with a fabric refresher, but the problem with that is you are putting more chemicals in the space you sleep on, which probably isn't going to be healthy for you. And even though the mattress topper or mattress itself will definitely air out after a couple of weeks, simply taking it outside in leaving it in the sun for a few hours is enough for most mattresses to completely rid themselves of the smell. The "off" odor is highly volatile, so it'll dissipate quickly if given half the chance. What you have to do, though, is to make sure that the day is sunny when you take the mattress/topper, etc., outside, and you also have to make sure the mattress doesn't touch anything dirty while it's airing out. So for example, you could lay your memory foam mattress product on a sheet on your deck, let it air out for a couple of hours, flip it, and let it air out for couple of hours more. That should take care of the problem. This is all you should need to get rid of most memory foam odor problems, and it's not going to cost you anything except for perhaps a bit of inconvenience.

You can also do this inside (sunlight will work to dissipate the odors from the mattress through the window, too), but when you do that you have to make sure you have proper ventilation. That's because the gases that are exuded from the memory foam can be toxic, and at the very least can be unpleasant enough to give you a headache. So if you "sun" your mattress inside, that's fine; just make sure you also open a window in addition, for proper ventilation.

An example of a portable ozone-generator. Image courtesy of
An example of a portable ozone-generator. Image courtesy of

Rent an ozone machine

A slightly more expensive option but one that's a little more convenient is to rent an ozone machine. Place the bare mattress pad on top of your bed with a sheet under it, place the ozone machine on top of that, cover everything with a blanket or bedspread, and close the door to the room the bed is in. In a few hours, the odor should be gone and the room air should be fresh and clean, too. (It's not a good idea to breathe in a lot of ozone yourself, so leave the room while the machine is doing its work.)

Wait it out

Many people have said that the unpleasant odor from their memory foam mattress pad or memory foam topper is only mild at worst and dissipates quickly; if that's your situation, it's probably fine to simply cover the mattress pad with a sheet, sleep on the bed as you normally would (using a different pillow), and change the sheet every other day. Within a couple of weeks, the smell itself should be completely gone and you shouldn't have to take any further precautions.

In short, a memory foam bed or foam topper it is a great invention that can help make your bed more comfortable so that you sleep more peacefully. A mild problem that comes from having a sometimes-unpleasant odor with new memory foam is something you can take care of quickly, so that you can enjoy your new mattress pad or mattress topper with no reservations.


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