IMG_5787New carpets are known for off-gassing formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, benzene, toluene and perchloroethylene which are all toxic chemicals known to negatively impact your health, especially your liver. New mattresses, new carpets and new cars off-gass toxic gasses continually potentially causing damaging conditions for people and especially children.

Volatile organic compounds are known as VOCs and can cause problems for babies, children, pets and adults. If you are planning to buy new furniture there is one simple easy solution that can help absorb some of your toxic VOCs.

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Environmental Science & Technology analyzed 20 different mattresses from 10 different manufacturing companies. They found, “More than 30 VOCs, including phenol neodecanoic acid and linalool. Limonene, a compound that provides a lemon scent to some products, was abundant in the mattresses.”

Most surprisingly was the impact from crib mattresses. “The research team reported that VOC levels were significantly higher in the sleeping infant’s breathing zone when compared with bulk room air.  In other words, an infant is exposed to about twice the VOC levels as individuals standing in the same room.  Moreover, because infants take in higher air volumes per body weight than adults and sleep longer, they experience about 10 times more inhalation exposure.”

The new car smell is comprised scientifically of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

There are over 60 VOCs detected in a new car. Compound Interest is an organization run by a chemistry teacher that analyzes chemical compounds and reports his findings for educational use. They say 20% of the VOCs dissipate each week from a new car however, some factors amplify the off-gassing.

To read more on the dangers of a new car smell click here.

Air & Waste Management Association says, “The carpet with a polyvinyl chloride backing emitted formaldehyde, vinyl acetate, isooctane, 1,2-propanediol, and 2-ethyl- 1-hexanol. Of these, vinyl acetate and propanediol had the highest concentrations and emission rates. The carpet with a polyurethane backing primarily emitted butylated hydroxytoluene.”

They go on to say, “The most is known about the toxicity and irritancy of formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a strong sensory irritant. A recent epidemiology study of mobile-home occupants showed that significant irritant effects (burning/tearing eyes) occurred at exposure levels as low as 7 ppm-hour.”

For situations like these, specifically with the carpet VOCs, two-thirds of all the health complaints were experienced immediately or began within a few days of installation. The greatest emissions were found from latex adhesives as well as fire retardant.

The most effective method in eradicating VOCs is a quality air cleaner. This one is ranked the highest, however, remember when the VOC content is high filters need to be replaced more frequently. This air cleaner is ranked second highest in quality, yet is half the cost.

Removing these smells, toxic chemicals and VOCs is a challenge indeed. The easiest and cheapest way to do this is using sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda, bicarbonate of soda, sodium hydrogen carbonate, or sodium acid carbonate.

Baking soda is amphoteric which means it reacts with a strong acid or a base pH. Baking soda absorbs to hydrogen ions. There are no current studies showing the benefits of using baking soda to absorb VOCs, yet, those sensitive can attest to some relief. says, “Sodium bicarbonate is a base that reacts when it comes into contact with acids. This reaction produces carbon dioxide

photo courtesy of by jk1991

photo courtesy of by jk1991

(CO2). When baking soda comes into contact with an acid, it pretty much reacts immediately.”

How Products Are Made says, “Its crystalline structure provides a gentle abrasion that helps to remove dirt. Its mild alkalinity works to turn up fatty acids contained in dirt and grease into a form of soap that can be dissolved in water.”

They further say, “Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, comes from soda ash obtained either through the Solvay process or from trona ore, a hard, crystalline material. Trona dates back 50 million years, to when the land surrounding Green River, Wyoming, was covered by a 600-square-mile (1,554-square-kilometer) lake. As it evaporated over time, this lake left a 200-billion-ton deposit of pure trona between layers of sandstone and shale. The deposit at the Green River Basin is large enough to meet the entire world’s needs for soda ash and sodium bicarbonate for thousands of years.”

Wise Geek says, “Its neutralizing action on acidic scent molecules makes it an effective deodorizer.”

photo courtesy of stockimages @

photo courtesy of stockimages @

Using baking soda to remove potential harmful toxins is most effective by sprinkling the powder liberally on the carpet or mattress. Set the vacuum to use the  hose so that the suction of the machine is redirected but the beater brush works the baking soda into the carpet or mattress. Not all vacuums do this – another option is brushing the baking soda into the fibers with a dry brush. Allow the product to sit, the longer the better. Vacuum the mattress or carpet to sweep up the baking soda and repeat to process if you have time.

Click here for the baking soda most frequently used. 

Houseplants have been found highly effective in absorbing VOCs. A study at The University of Georgia found, “To reduce the VOC levels in your home, UGA researchers recommend adding a cross-section of plants, one per 100 square feet of living space.”

Researchers found,”Purple waffle plant (Hemigraphis alternata) best removed VOCs from the air. Other species with superior filtering abilities were English ivy (like this one), purple heart (like this one), foxtail fern (like this one) and wax plant.”

*Nourishing Plot is written by Becky Plotner, ND, traditional naturopath, GAPS who sees clients in Rossville, Georgia. She works as a Certified GAPS Practitioner who sees clients in her office, Skype and phone. Since her son was delivered from the effects of autism (Asperger’s syndrome), ADHD, bipolar disorder/manic depression, hypoglycemia and dyslexia through food she continued her education specializing in Leaky Gut and parasitology through Duke University, finishing with distinction. This is not a news article published by a paper trying to make money. This blog is put out by a mom who sees first hand the effects of nourishing food vs food-ish items. No company pays her for writing these blogs, she considers this a form of missionary work. It is her desire to scream it from the rooftops so that others don’t suffer from the damaging effect of today’s “food”.

“GAPS™ and Gut and Psychology Syndrome™ are the trademark and copyright of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. The right of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Patent and Designs Act 1988.”  




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23 Responses to 3 Easy Steps To Removing VOCs From New Furniture And Mattresses Naturally

  1. Melissa Jaggears says:

    found your blog helpful….
    just finished renovating an old beach house in FL panhandle and now can’t sleep there
    because of the heavy VOC smells….my skin feels like its burning….
    it’s going to take me a while to make it livable….

  2. alyssareid2016 says:

    I was given a mattress to trial for pain…We ended up giving away our extremely has-been old mattress (read, given away, to the dump!). I cannot get the toxic smell out of the new mattress and have been sleeping on the couch! My husband can’t smell it, which makes it even worse (as he thinks I am being overly sensitive and making a big deal out of it!). I have just sprinkled a ton of baking soda on it and I am airing it. Again. Can’t afford an organic mattress…and have no other mattress to use! Aaarrrggghh!

    • Becky Plotner says:

      I actually fear I will be in the same position some day. My husband isn’t sensitive either. Best of luck to you! Baking soda is a powerful tool!

  3. Holly says:

    This is the best article that I have ever read on this subject. I just want to say thank you very much because this can be a very touchy subject. It has taken me 3 long suffering years to finally get someone to understand exactly what I was talking about. The problem with that is it took all four of my family members getting sick. I live in Louisiana where it is very humid and very hot. We had new carpet put down in three rooms in our home. The crazy thing is when it starts it is like a chain reaction. I started noticing a pungent Oder coming from the plastic bags that our groceries were bagged in. I stopped going to any stores where when I walked in they were located in the front of the store. It was making me so very sick with nausea, pain in my stomach and very bad headaches. Which eventually turned into ulcers in my stomach. The next problem I started having was plastic water bottles and then it was me emptying and throwing out anything that smelled of poison especially in the laundry room. All of this has caused me to become hypersensitive to everything. I know that at times I have driven my husband and 2 children crazy but they have always tried to help. I have gone to so many Doctors and been prescribed all kinds of meds. The worst is when you start to feel like you are crazy because when you ask anyone what is that smell? Do you smell that? No one else ever does and then you are start to panic it feels like your throat is closing and your heart is beating so fast so hard that you are going to die, you can feel your ears start to turn red then begin to burn but still no one can smell what that poisonous smell is. It has been the longest three years of my life and I can say now that through all of this the only things that worked for me were baking soda in the carpet, Zantac, Zyrtec, having an air purifier, lots of fans and a whole lot of praying. I am now in the process of moving out of that home and out of that horribly humid state. I can sincerly say that I will never put carpet in my home ever again.

    • Becky Plotner says:

      Holly, I’m so sorry for your struggle – it is surely real! Rebuilding the microbiome is the attack, the decline is the root cause. Stay strong, it can definitely be rebuilt. I was in your position years ago.

    • lullabyman says:

      Holly, You now have MCS – Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. It’s caused by a number of factors mainly due to this incident, but probably exacerbated by other conditions that have put you at risk. Build up your immunity. People in this condition tend to withdraw from society as a defense mechanism because that’s where you find the odors that make you sick. This might be necessary to some degree, but I would do everything you can to build up your immunity and that involves eating the right foods, supplements, and working out regularly … as in every day. You’ll have horrible migraines, but when they are diminished get your heart rate up, because that’s part of building your immunity. You might have a bacterial infections you’ve been fighting for years if not dozens of years … get that taken care of. Get as alkaline of a body as possible. You may need to move somewhere with dry clean air.

  4. PE says:

    Any help I can get will be useful. I purchased a leather LRS from Rooms to Go in September, I waited and waited for the new smell to go away. After six months of waiting I called management, they sent a serviceman who only stayed in the room for a minute before he called in for replacement. The replacement LRS is made from fabric.
    The smell is not as bad, but after 2 months I still cannot enter the LR without having a reaction to the smell. I’ve tried baking soda, plants, charcoal, a Hepha Filter air purifier and a VOC air purifier. How much baking soda should I use and when the smell goes away are all the toxins gone?

    • Becky Plotner says:

      A debacle indeed, I’m so sorry. I would put several box fans in front of the couch with hepa filters attached to their back – as the fan is on it’ll suck the hepa filter to it. I would keep doing the baking soda, a lot, frequently. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. It’s maddening!

    • Cecilia Fields says:

      I bought a leather sofa and loveseat
      From Rooms to Go a little over a month ago. I got sick burning eyes, nose and horrible taste in my mouth. I called and they were going to
      replace with same maker leather sofa. While waiting for the replacement the smell dissipated.
      I realize now that it got cold outside and our heat was staying on. Now it warmed up and humid and I’m dying over it . My chest even hurts. Help
      Please! I also though this furniture was
      Made in North Carolina but on delivery boxes
      All said,

  5. Cathlin Torrence says:

    Hello, we laid down Berber nylon carpet in the bedrooms in order to prep our home to sell it and will continue to live in the house until it sells in another 1-2 months. I purchased a Winix 5300-2 Air Purifier with True HEPA, PlasmaWave and Odor Reducing Carbon Filter after I read your article. Should I return it and purchase one of the purifiers on your list to get the most benefit? Thanks much for your great information.

    • Becky Plotner says:

      The choice is yours. Using the best possible product would be beneficial. I have seen, many times, where inferior products prove to the be a waste of money and time. I am not familiar with the ratings of the products you mentioned as I studies the higher performing ones listed.

  6. Carolyn says:

    What about furniture? My sons new bed has an odor–would I wash it down with a baking soda solution? Thank you!

  7. Hi Becky,

    Im so happy to find your blog! My family and I have been on the gaps going on 4 years, it gets lonely!!!

    Any suggestions on how to use baking soda to remove fumes from wooden bunkbed sets? My kids have been sleeping in the living room since we got them… I’m reluctant to use a baking soda solution with water for fear it will ruin the finish (although I realize that the finish is certainly the problem!!!)


    • Becky Plotner says:

      This is a big question, depending on the wood and how it was treated. I’m so sorry the kids can’t even sleep in their room. I would probably place the furniture outside, if the weather is fitting. Then I would do air filters in the room, hepa filters behind a box fan. I’m curious to see what other here folks say.

  8. daducuo says:

    Thanks, it helped me a lot!

  9. Amber says:

    Would an ozone machine work to neutralize voc’s?

    • Becky Plotner says:

      Ozone machines show great results for many folks for many issues including curing plastics, bromides, molds, you name it.

  10. steve smilen says:

    just baking sodaed a couch to see if asthmatic systems subside. Will use it over and over until they do. thanks

  11. Marie Chapman says:

    Becky, my husband, a doctor who is very much into complementary medicine is suffering terribly from severe headaches. We have lived in an old Beach house for 10 years with no issues. Almost 5 years ago we opened our own practice. Still no issues, until about 3 months ago. They are debilitating! We are going to lose our livelihood of we can’t get to the bottom of it, not to mention his sanity! He has no headache at home, only after being at the office for 3 hours or so. There is no carpet in either place, and nothing has changed to bring this on. We’ve bought a ton of plants, heppa filters, and ionizer… But still no relief! Help???

    • Smell Detection Specialist says:

      Bring in an expert to determine cause. It could be anything.
      Workers left can of paint and thinner open from their last paint job.
      Cleaning supply spilled.
      Your ventilation system fans has failed. Check your supply and exhaust suction using a tissue. Or place a tinsel fringe thingy.
      The fibreglass insulation in your ducting has deteriorated and contaminating the air.
      Your ventilation supply intake could be directly taking fumes/chemical exhaust from your neighbours/surrounding.
      Any kind of leak or mold in basement can cause gas build-up.
      Sometimes even old building paint and varnish can start to “break down” giving off VOCs.
      Any combination of the above.
      Try an Ozone generator.

  12. Cheap Furniture Guy says:

    I have had to deal with these furniture off-gassing a couple of times; as a result of buying cheap inferior furniture.
    Here my 2 cents, get better made furnitures; solid woods produced less VOC than plywood/MDF(chemically processed). Consider getting used, second-hand furniture, as they already did their off-gassing.
    For natural solutions, if possible use cross-wind ventilation, strategically opening windows and doors to work with wind direction. Otherwise exhaust fan for mechanical ventilation.
    Baking soda works well, apply, lathered onto items, and let sit overnight, vacuum afterwards. Spraying vinegar mixed with water works too. Avoid air freshener as they will add even more VOC.
    Setting it out to “dry” under the sun will work too by “cooking” it out.
    For requiring equipment kind of solution, get an air purifier, get plants, activated charcoal and whatnot.
    Get Ozone generator; is most powerful but do not be around when the machine does it work.

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