Why Do Feather Mattress Toppers Smell?

Topic Description
Cause of Smell Chemicals used in the manufacturing process, such as polyurethane and flame-retardants, emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that can smell.
Effects of Packaging A sealed and rolled mattress topper can have a buildup of VOCs, increasing the likelihood of an odor when first unboxed.
Mitigation Techniques Airing it out, shaking regularly, cleaning with a vinegar-water solution, using baking soda, changing bed sheets, and room scenting can help reduce the smell.

Have you ever unboxed a brand new feather mattress topper only to be greeted with a peculiar odour? If you're wondering "why do feather mattress toppers smell?", you've landed at the right place.

Feather mattress toppers can occasionally emit a distinct scent when you first unwrap them, which can be disconcerting. However, don't fret – this odour is due to the manufacturing process and materials used, and it can be mitigated effectively.

Did you know? Feather toppers are known for their softness and luxury, providing a cloud-like comfort to your bed.

Top Tips To Reduce Feather Mattress Topper Odour

Not to worry though! There are several tried and tested strategies to help reduce the smell of your new feather mattress topper:

  1. Air it out: Upon unboxing, consider taking the mattress topper outside to let it air out. Sun and fresh air can work wonders in refreshing your new purchase.

  2. Shake it regularly: Regularly shaking your feather bed helps prevent humidity and sweat from causing wear and tear. It also redistributes the feathers for optimal comfort. For more tips, visit our article on “How to Stop Feathers Coming Out of Mattress Topper”.

  3. Clean it: Use a solution of vinegar and water to clean the topper and eliminate the smell. For a step-by-step guide on cleaning your topper, refer to our article on “How to Clean a Mattress Topper”.

  4. Use Baking Soda: A simple sprinkle of baking soda on your topper can absorb the smell. Leave it on for a few hours and then vacuum it off.

  5. Change your Bed Sheet: Another simple way to reduce the smell is by using a fresh bed sheet to cover the topper. For more on this, refer to our guide “How Long Do Feather Mattress Toppers Last?”.

  6. Try Scenting: If the smell persists, consider using house plants or other natural scents to help neutralise the smell.

A pair of hands placing a mattress topper on top of a mattress

What Causes the Smell in Feather Mattress Toppers?

As a professional in the bedding and mattress industry, I’ve encountered many questions from customers about the unusual smell in their new feather mattress toppers. There’s actually a variety of factors that contribute to this, and understanding them can help us figure out how to effectively get rid of the odour.

Chemicals Used in Manufacturing

The peculiar scent that new feather mattress toppers often emit is largely due to the chemicals used during their manufacture. For instance, the polyurethane used in their production and the flame-retardants employed to comply with federal flammability standards are known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). These can produce a noticeable smell, especially when the topper has been sealed and rolled up for a long time, allowing the VOCs to accumulate.

Sweat and Dead Skin Cells

But it’s not just the manufacturing process that can cause your mattress topper to smell. Over time, natural biological factors like sweat and dead skin cells can accumulate on the topper. Other debris, such as urine, dust mites, blood, vomit, and leftover food crumbs, can also contribute to the scent.

Dust, Dirt, and Allergens

The regular accumulation of dust, dirt, and allergens in the topper over time can attract bacteria and mould. This can then lead to a musty smell that might be unpleasant to sleep on.

Humidity and Sweat

Humidity and sweat can gradually wear down a feather bed mattress topper. This can lead to a damp smell, especially if the topper is not regularly aired out or cleaned.

Chemical Products and Spilled Liquids

Finally, the odour can also come from chemical products used for cleaning, the composition of the foam itself, or the novelty of the product. Dust mites, spilled liquids, and other factors can also contribute to the smell of a feather mattress topper.

A quick summary of what we covered

Chemicals Used in ManufacturingSubstances like polyurethane and flame-retardants used in the production process release VOCs, which can smell.
Sweat and Dead Skin CellsBiological factors like sweat, dead skin cells, and other debris can accumulate and create an odour.
Dust, Dirt, and AllergensOver time, these can accumulate within the topper, attracting bacteria and mould, leading to a musty smell.
Humidity and SweatCan wear down a feather bed mattress topper, leading to a damp smell.
Chemical Products and Spilled LiquidsCan also contribute to the smell of a feather mattress topper.

How Often Should You Air Out Feather Mattress Toppers?

Maintaining the freshness of your feather mattress topper is integral to its longevity. One crucial step in the upkeep process is airing it out, which helps prevent odour buildup and ensures that it stays in good condition.

Airing Out Frequency

As a rule of thumb, it’s generally recommended to air out your feather mattress topper every 6 months. This period allows for adequate ventilation and prevents the accumulation of odours. However, depending on your preferences or environment, you may opt to air it out more frequently. This could be especially helpful if you reside in a humid climate or notice persistent smells.

Making the Most of Sunlight

When airing out your feather mattress topper, take advantage of bright sunlight. The sun’s rays can naturally help kill bacteria and freshen up the topper. But, remember to monitor it closely to prevent any potential discolouration or damage caused by excessive exposure.

Use a Flat Sheet

For protection during the airing out process, use a flat sheet as a barrier between your topper and the ground or other surfaces. Simply place the sheet on a table and put the entire mattress topper on top of it.

Rotate and Flip

Rotating and flipping your topper while it airs out is a smart move. This ensures even exposure to sunlight and allows for consistent airflow, which can help eliminate any lingering smells effectively.

What we covered at a quick glance

Airing Out StepsGuidelines
FrequencyEvery 6 months as a general rule, more frequently if needed.
Use of SunlightPlace the topper in bright sunlight to help kill bacteria and freshen it up.
Flat SheetUse a flat sheet to protect the topper while airing it out.
Rotate and FlipRotate and flip the topper occasionally to ensure even exposure to sunlight and airflow.

Can You Air Out Feather Mattress Toppers Too Often?

While airing out your feather mattress topper is a key aspect of maintenance, the saying ‘too much of a good thing can be bad’ holds true here. Excessive airing out may not always be necessary and could lead to some unintended drawbacks.

Overexposure to Sunlight

While airing out in bright sunlight can help kill bacteria and freshen up your topper, prolonged exposure to direct sunlight may harm the feathers. Over time, they may become brittle or discoloured. Therefore, it’s recommended to stick to the guideline of airing out your topper every 4-6 months to strike a balance.

Loss of Loftiness

Feather mattress toppers require regular fluffing and shaking to maintain their loft and prevent the feathers from clumping. If you air out the topper excessively without taking the time to fluff and shake it, you may find the feathers losing their fluffiness and becoming compressed.

Environmental Factors

The frequency at which you air out your feather mattress topper can depend on your environment. For instance, if you live in a particularly humid climate or if you’ve noticed a persistent odour, more frequent airing out may be necessary.

A little summary about what we covered

Overexposure to SunlightProlonged exposure to direct sunlight may make the feathers brittle or cause discolouration.
Loss of LoftinessExcessive airing out without proper maintenance may lead to the feathers losing their fluffiness.
Environmental FactorsDepending on humidity levels and the presence of odours in the area, more frequent airing out may be needed.


Why does my mattress topper smell weird?

Your mattress topper may smell odd due to the chemicals used in manufacturing. These substances, like polyurethane and flame-retardants, emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that can build up and produce a smell.

How do you get the smell out of a mattress topper?

To reduce the smell from a mattress topper, air it out regularly, shake it to prevent humidity buildup, clean it with a vinegar-water solution, use baking soda to absorb odours, change bed sheets, and use room scents.

How do you clean a feather bed topper?

To clean a feather bed topper, vacuum it to remove dust and debris, then spot clean stains with a mild detergent and warm water. Let it air dry, shaking it occasionally to prevent feather clumping.

Which mattress toppers do not smell?

Latex and wool mattress toppers are less likely to emit smells compared to memory foam or feather toppers, mainly due to their natural materials and manufacturing processes that typically involve fewer chemicals.

Is my mattress topper making me sweat?

Yes, certain mattress toppers, particularly those made from memory foam, can trap heat, causing you to sweat. Opt for breathable materials like latex or wool for a cooler sleep experience.

Wrapping Up

As we’ve explored in this in-depth article, feather mattress toppers, while being a popular bedding choice, can occasionally emit an unusual smell. This odour arises mainly due to the chemicals used in manufacturing, but other factors like sweat, dust, dirt, and allergens can contribute too. Understanding these causes helps us devise effective solutions like regular airing out, proper cleaning, and mindful usage.

We’ve also discussed the implications of over-airing the toppers and how it can lead to drawbacks like feather brittleness or loss of fluffiness. Furthermore, we covered key maintenance tips to keep your topper fresh and in prime condition. The information has been supplemented with insightful FAQs to answer some common concerns about mattress toppers. Key areas of discussion included:

For more in-depth information on feather bed toppers, refer to external resources like Sleepopolis and Pacific Coast. Remember, as a mattress and bedding expert, it’s your comfort and well-being that matters most to us.

– Article by Lewis Hugh

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