5 Practical Ways To Decrease VOCs And Off-Gassing In Your Home

5 Practical Ways To Decrease VOCs And Off-Gassing In Your Home | Growing Up Herbal | VOCs can negatively impact your health. However, if you're not ready to drastically change your lifestyle, but you want to decrease VOCs and off-gassing in your home, I have 5 practical tips on how to do just that!

It all started when I was REALLY pregnant with my third child. Our old mattress was hurting my back, and I could not get comfortable enough to sleep well. We thought about purchasing a new mattress, but unfortunately, we just couldn’t afford it at the time (and an organic one wasn’t even an option) so my mother-in-law surprised us one evening with a top-of-the-line foam-top mattress pad.

I knew a little bit about toxins in mattresses so I assumed that the mattress pad was very much the same, however, the only thing I knew to do at the time was to let it air out. Unfortunately, it was supposed to pour rain that night so our only option was to let it air out indoors. And, to make matters worse, the only place we had to lay this beast of a mattress pad was over our treadmill… which was in our bedroom. 

I opened all the windows so the air could circulate, but when it was time for bed, we shut them so the rain didn’t come in. Within minutes, our room smelled of chemicals. I remember being a bit concerned, but Dean didn’t think it smelled too strong, so we left it there and slept. 

Over the course of the night, I woke up time and time again. Each time, I felt sick, I was having crazy dreams, my head hurt, or I felt like I couldn’t breathe. And there beside me, my husband slept soundly like nothing was bothering him at all. So, I’d just roll over and try to go back to sleep, just waiting till morning so we could get that thing out of our room.

The next morning I woke up with a terrible headache as well a very sick stomach, but Dean felt just fine. Thankfully, at that point, he moved the mattress pad out to the porch so it could air out outside in the sun for the rest of the day, and the kids and I wouldn’t have to be exposed to it any longer.

Looking back, I realize how little I knew about toxins. I was PREGNANT, and I slept in the same room as that mattress pad off-gassing a ton of its VOCs right into our room — the very air we were breathing that night.

Aye-aye-aye, y’all. Live and learn. I definitely learned, and so did my husband.

Now, we’re much more careful about putting brand new things into our homes right away and exposing ourselves to their toxins. No, we don’t buy all organic products. Of course, that would be nice, but we still can’t afford to do that, at least not 100% of the time. No, we don’t buy everything used (although we do buy some things used). And no, we aren’t going to move out of our home and live in a rustic cabin (although, that does sort of sound like fun at times) either.

Instead, we do other things to decrease VOCs and off-gassing in our home, and if you’re in a similar situation, you can do these same things too. Not only are these things a bit more practical than ditching all your furniture, never buying new clothes, and opting for natural wood as opposed to paint, but they’re altogether good for you. Now, before I get into my tips on how to decrease VOCs and off-gassing, let me first tell you about them and why you should care about decreasing them in your home.

What Are VOCs And Off-Gassing Anyway?

5 Practical Ways To Decrease VOCs And Off-Gassing In Your Home | Growing Up Herbal | VOCs can negatively impact your health. However, if you're not ready to drastically change your lifestyle, but you want to decrease VOCs and off-gassing in your home, I have 5 practical tips on how to do just that!

“VOC” stands for volatile organic compounds. These are mixtures of organic elements that come together to form a compound. These compounds are referred to as “volatile” because they evaporate rather quickly at normal temperatures.

VOCs are found in all kinds of products from household cleaners and indoor pesticides to glue, furniture varnish, paint, cosmetics, hair spray, etc. Now, because VOCs in these common products evaporate and turn to gas quickly, they are said to “off-gas” into the air in your home.

Off-gassing is something that’s continually happening although it happens at a faster pace when something is drying (such as glue or paint) or when temperatures are increased (think of the plastics, leather bonding chemicals, and carpet from a new car that’s been sitting in the sun). It’s this off-gassing that is referred to when products are slowly releasing their VOCs into the air, and the whole off-gassing process can take quite a while (some say years) before it completely stops. Thankfully, though, the amount of off-gassing does lessen over time.

How VOCs Can Negatively Impact Your Health

VOCs are linked to a lot of different health issues, and like drugs and herbs, they have a synergistic effect when combined, making them even stronger (Janssen et al., n.d.).

Dr. Alan Christianson, an naturopathic endocrinologist, calls these kinds of toxins “flirty toxins,” as these come and go in the body quickly. These are the toxins that are metabolized by the liver and kidneys before being passed out of the body, not the kinds of toxins that embed in the tissues of the body (like heavy metals) for long periods of time (Christianson, n.d.).

Common symptoms of exposure to VOCs and off-gassing are headaches, nausea, dizziness, trouble breathing, and eye, nose, and throat irritation. More serious effects can be damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system, and some VOCs have been linked to cancers in animals and suspected cancers in humans. 

The seriousness of the symptoms a person experiences usually has to do with the amount of VOCs they’re exposed to and the amount of time they were exposed (Volatile Organic Compounds’ Impact on Indoor Air Quality, 2016).

How To Decrease VOCs And Off-Gassing In Your Home

Now that you know what VOCs and off-gassing are as well as why you should do your best to avoid these things, let’s look at some practical ways to decrease VOCs and off-gassing in your home.

1. Avoid Toxins

Now, I mentioned earlier that this isn’t always possible, but it does pay off to try to decrease VOCs and off-gassing as much as possible. Buying organic, using natural products with names you can pronounce, staying away from synthetic things (like plastics and fragrances), going with green, eco-friendly options, buying used (or floor model products), and even making as many things from scratch (or purchasing them from others who make them from scratch) will all help you to decrease VOCs and off-gassing in your home.

But let’s say you do opt for the toxins because that’s all you can do at the moment. What are some other ways you can help yourself decrease VOCs and off-gassing?

5 Practical Ways To Decrease VOCs And Off-Gassing In Your Home | Growing Up Herbal | VOCs can negatively impact your health. However, if you're not ready to drastically change your lifestyle, but you want to decrease VOCs and off-gassing in your home, I have 5 practical tips on how to do just that!

2. Go No or Low-VOC

Nowadays, as there’s more awareness around chemicals and their negative effects on our health, many companies are offering no or low-VOC options for paints, stains, and glues as well as furniture finishes. If you look at the label and you see GREENGUARD, Scientific Certification Systems, or SGS Group approval, then the product is a sustainable and no to low-emitting product. If you’re looking to remodel or build a new home or to purchase new furniture, do a quick Goolge search for “low-VOC” followed by whatever you’re thinking about buying. Tons of results will come up, helping you be more informed about your options.

Another low-cost option that can potentially help you decrease VOCs and off-gassing in your home is to try to neutralize VOCs using baking soda. This doesn’t really work for furniture or paints, but it will work for mattresses and carpets or rugs. Baking soda is alkaline, and when it comes into contact with an acid (like most VOCs), it reacts and binds the acid which helps to neutralize the smell. 

3. Purify Your Air

One of the best things you can do to decrease VOCs and off-gassing in your home is to purify your air. That can be as simple as opening the windows or turning on some fans so the air circulates, moving the VOCs out, and bringing fresh clean air in, or it can be that you purchase air purifiers for your home. There are a variety of air purifiers on the market today, and all seem to be designed to do different things. Some are inexpensive, some purify larger spaces, and some are quiet. No matter what you’re looking for with an air purifier, if you want it to decrease the VOCs in your air, be sure you choose one that has a charcoal filter.

Another way to decrease VOCs and off-gassing is to increase the number of indoor plants you have in your home. All plants purify the air, but some do it quicker than others. Lifehacker has a cool NASA infographic that details specific plants and the chemicals that they are known to filter from the air. Below is a list of these plants, but some are known to be toxic to pets if they eat them so if you’re a pet owner, do some extra research about each plant before you put it in your home.

Air-Filtering Houseplants

  • Dwarf Date Palm
  • Boston Fern
  • Kimberly Queen Fern
  • Spider Plant
  • Chinese Evergreen
  • Bamboo Palm
  • Weeping Fig
  • Devil’s Ivy
  • Flamingo Lily
  • Lily Turf
  • Broadleaf Lady Palm
  • Barberton Daisy
  • Cornstalk Dracaena
  • English Ivy
  • Verigated Snake Plant
  • Red-Edged Dracaena
  • Peace Lily
  • Florist’s Chrysanthemum 

(Pinola, 2015)

4. Take It Outside

You can also decrease VOCs and off-gassing in your home by letting new products air out before bringing them indoors. Concentration is key here so this should be done in a large, open space if possible. If you have time and can let something sit out outside or in a garage for a week before bringing it into your home, it will reduce your exposure to VOCs quite a bit. This is why floor models are good options when purchasing new appliances or furniture. Not only are they typically cheaper, but they’ve had a lot more time to off-gas in the store.

Another option to help decrease VOCs and off-gassing is to expose new things to heat as heat increases the evaporation rate of VOCs. Think about a new car that sits in the sun all day. As soon as you open the doors that “new car smell” comes pouring out. Part of that is because the heat has built up inside the car and increased the off-gassing from the carpet, plastic, and glue inside the car. If you can let new products sit out in the sun when you’re airing them out, it can help speed up the off-gassing process. As far as new cars go, be sure to open the doors or roll the windows down so the car can air out before getting in or putting your kids in.

5 Practical Ways To Decrease VOCs And Off-Gassing In Your Home | Growing Up Herbal | VOCs can negatively impact your health. However, if you're not ready to drastically change your lifestyle, but you want to decrease VOCs and off-gassing in your home, I have 5 practical tips on how to do just that!

5. Detox Your Body

Lastly, the more you can keep your elimination pathways open and support your body’s natural detoxing processes, the better. That means, drink plenty of water to keep your kidneys flushed and eat fiber or take natural fiber supplements to keep bowels moving. Get outside and breathe fresh air. Do some indoor or outdoor work to promote sweating in order to release toxins (working out and sitting in a sauna works too). Again, the goal is to keep your elimination pathways open (Horne, 2007).

You can also take herbal liver cleansers (see here and here) to help support and nourish your liver so it can do its job metabolizing the chemicals that do come into your body. 

So there you go. VOCs are best avoided if you can, but sometimes that simply isn’t possible or convenient in our modern worlds. Instead, do what you can to minimize your exposure to VOCs and off-gassing, and perhaps, as time goes on and situations change, you’ll have better options or be able to make better decisions next time around.

Do you have any other tips on how to decrease VOCs and off-gassing in the home? If so, I’d love it if you shared them with me in the comments below!


  • Christianson, A. (n.d.). Toxins. Retrieved February 17, 2017, from http://drchristianson.com/toxins/
  • Horne, S. H. (2007). The ABC Herbal: A simplified guide to natural health care for children. Warsaw, IN: Whitman Publications.
  • Janssen, S., Solomon, G., & Schettler, T. (n.d.). About the Toxicant and Disease Database. Retrieved February 17, 2017, from https://www.healthandenvironment.org/what-we-do/toxicant-and-disease-database/about-the-toxicant-and-disease-database
  • Pinola, M. (2015, May 20). This Graphic Shows the Best Air-Cleaning Plants, According to NASA. Retrieved February 16, 2017, from http://lifehacker.com/this-graphic-shows-the-best-air-cleaning-plants-accord-1705307836
  • Volatile Organic Compounds’ Impact on Indoor Air Quality. (2016, December 05). Retrieved February 16, 2017, from https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/volatile-organic-compounds-impact-indoor-air-quality
  1. R says:

    This has been a hot topic in our home recently. My husband recently attended a huge conference for mold remediation/chemical sensitivity and they were told that low voc paints are actually worse because of the things they use in place of the usual chemicals. I had never heard this and being the “health nut” of the family I’ve been really eager to research this very topic. Have you ever heard that? Also, I’ve seen it suggested to add certain EOs to a gallon of paint to help with the affects and smell. Have you tried that? I’m wondering if it works and whether it affects the paint application. Thanks,

    • Meagan says:

      I have not heard of low-VOC products being worse, but I’ll have to look into it. Thanks for letting me know. As far as the EOs go, I have heard of people doing that, but not to minimize the VOCs. They’re still there, but I think the EOs cover up the stinky scent a bit. As far as causing issues with paint application, I doubt it would cause any problems, but I’m not an expert there so you may wanna check with an aromatherapist or someone who knows paints well. Thanks again, and I hope this helps some!

    • Melanie says:

      Also dealing with mold toxcity here but before we knew we were dealing with mold toxcity, I learned low voc didn’t give me a headache, make me feel light headed while the reg paints did. I didn’t even know the word VOC. All I knew was BEHR paint I did better with. Valspar made me feel like crud. I’m a health nut but VOCs were not on my radar. I just knew chemicals were problematic. So from personal experience, I call this is nonsense. The smell from high VOCs paints make me want to vomit. And I’m so sensitive from the mold, EO bother me now. My daughter is chemical sensitive and just walking by pumpkin spice candles in the dollar store made her throw up in the store. The low VOC and the no voc paint doesn’t effect us like that. I can’t even go into hobby lobby without symptoms coming on from all the MDF boards in the home decor. And forget walking down the chemical aisles. Hubs starts itching, I feel really wierd, Brian fog, can’t think, cortisol goes up (I have CIRS), youngest gets a headache, oldest gets queasy. So yeah, we are all chemical sensitive from the mold. Not as bad as MCS but we are def sensitive.

  2. Sheila Courtney says:

    I bought a piece of furniture that I believe is offgassing! We have tried everything to remove the smell. We have burning eyes and terrible headaches! Airing it out outdoors isn’t an option as we live in sn apartment. What can we do?

    • Meagan Visser says:

      Depending on your situation, you could move it into an unused room for a few weeks so it can offgas in there. You can also put a fan in the window that draws the air out of the room and outside to decrease the vapors in the room. You could also put an air purifier with a high-quality filter in the room as well. Hope that helps!

    • Coro says:

      Return it with the threat of contacting an attorney. I just did that same thing with a company thru an Amazon sofa purchase. They said the sofa was too expensive to ship back(cost prohibitive)and they would only give me back 1/2 the purchase price. That’s when I came out loaded for bear and threatened them with a lawsuit as their furniture was making me sick. It cam from China. I have a degree in interior design so I know what VOC’s are all about and told them so. I had it all wrapped up after spending a lot of $ on products to make smell go away to no avail. They finally said keep it, here is your money back. I’m happy, but now have a sofa, brand new, that smells like chemicals out in my garage. They said to put it in the sun, which it is what I am doing…for days. But since you are in an apartment, you need to get that back to the manufacturer. It will be a pain in the a$$ but your health is worth it. They sold you a dangerous product. Do not take no for an answer. Get your money back and get it out of your home. Best of luck, be firm.

  3. Anonymous says:


  4. V says:

    Moved into a new apartment last summer. Used the air conditioning in summer and when it got cooler out, rarely used the heat all winter (due to our southwestern exposure and the sun heating the place.) Two months ago, started having headaches/nausea/eye burning. The smell is hard to describe (at the beginning it smelled like a bad bathroom incident/dead animal, sometimes a sharp smell, and sometimes a chemical smell) and it’s fairly constant now–but we’re having to sleep with our windows open at night (20 degrees out–is a cold type of camping!) and vent the place several times a day to get the smell out, bring in fresh air, and turn the heat on (which is going to end up in a big heat bill as we rarely used the heat before.) Could the flooring/carpet be off-gassing when the place is only 70 degrees? The worst smell is in the bathroom that doesn’t get any sun. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

    • Meagan Visser says:

      That doesn’t sound like off-gassing to me, especially since you’ve lived in the apartment and the smell started two months ago. And while off-gassing is a continual process, it happens faster at higher temperatures. Seventy degrees doesn’t seem high enough to speed that process up much. If it were me, I’d contact your landlord or whoever you’re renting the apartment from and have them check things out. Best of luck!

  5. LJ says:

    I had new carpet put in a year ago. I’m almost positive that what I have is off gassing of the new carpet. I bought it from a large well known carpet dealer. I have a smell that I cannot identify and have finally resolved that it is the new carpet off-gassing. I got very sick over this past year with coughing that I had a hard time curing and much congestion in my chest. I still have what I thought was bad allergies and sinus problems. My question is this. Will the dealer that sold this product to me make this good and help me get rid of the still present smell? I know that I must ask before I really know. I really couldn’t afford the carpet at the time, but put money down on it and took 1 year to pay off without interest. I was so happy to get new carpet, but it has been a nightmare with it giving me health problems, etc. I think it should be the company’s responsibility to try to help me get rid of the smell. I don’t know if it is in the carpet itself or the glue that it is put down before carpet is laid. I do remember the awful smell as they were putting down glue. I had no idea that I would become ill. I fear that it has affected my lungs and overall health…and I have a little chihuahua dog that is down there on the floor and coughs quite a bit. I have got to do something. Help.

    • Meagan Visser says:

      I can’t say for sure, LJ, but there is a good chance that it is the carpet off-gassing. New carpet is commonly known to release chemical vapors into the air. However, there’s probably nothing the carpet company can or will do for you. When you signed papers when purchasing your carpet from them, the smell issue was possibility stated in the fine print. I’ve never bought carpet so I can’t say for sure, but this is my guess. The only thing you can really do at this point is to keep your home cool and to increase air circulation or have the carpet removed. You can also see a clinical herbalist or a naturopathic doctor (or a nutrition response therapist… they’re great) to help you with detoxing from any chemicals you’ve been exposed to. They can also give you herbs to help strengthen your respiratory system as well. Best of luck, and I hope you feel better soon.

  6. Eileen says:

    My problem is a TV set in black plastic. I wondered if cleaning it with something would help remove the smell quicker. It’s two months now and it still sits on the floor of my bathroom offgasing. I cover it with a towel when showering. I am sensitive to many things which set off asthma.

    • Meagan Visser says:

      I’m not sure that you can clean something to help it off-gas more quickly. Off-gassing is something that slowly happens over time, and there’s really no getting around it. As time goes on, the smells do lessen, though. Since there’s really nothing you can do about off-gassing from the plastic, and chances are you want to use your new TV soon, your best bet is to purify the air in the room where the TV will be used. Best of luck!!

    • Discouraged Painer says:

      I recently bought a small house. It came with varieties of free exterior paint that I used indoors. The paint glided on like a dream, and I had my respirator on while working with it. I was excited about it, thinking it will seal nicely. Then, as I was heading towards the end, i started getting sick a lot. My progress got slower, but I continued anyway. I thought it’s gonna air out as I move in. After moving in the real
      nightmare began. All though I kept windows open with fans running at all times(for 4 months), the offgassing still continues. Sadly, most of my house is painted with it, even all ceilings(with Devflex interior/exterior)which still smells very sickening,and worst smell is the one used on trimmings, which i started to remove with citristrip, but that thing makes me sick too. So over
      all, the only thing that is painted in interior is bedroom walls, and the bottom wall part of the bathroom, rest is exterior, including floors. On heavily rained days I closed the windows (with fans on of course) and i literally couldn’t breathe. I’m nauseated with constant headache, burning eyes and bitter taste, and started having serious trouble breathing. I’ve painted before and used exterior in small amounts before, but I was never aware and never heard of VOCs until this happened. Now I don’t know how i’m gonna spend the winter with windows closed and how will I remove all of this paint especially from the ceiling.

      • Meagan Visser says:

        Oh, no! I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I do believe you can buy a paint primer that seals previous coats of paint. I know it’s not ideal, but you may need to prime and repaint the entire house using a low-VOC interior paint. Exterior paint is very different from interior paint because it has to be designed to withstand the elements. It contains more chemicals, and I’m sure the off-gassing lasts longer. Anyway, I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, and I wish you the best of luck moving forward!

  7. Diane Popolizio says:

    Best products to purchase our floor models of furniture, televisions, rugs, curtains etc. things that have already been opened out of the package and in the store where they have off gased already

    • Meagan Visser says:

      Yes! If the store will let you purchase the display model that would be a great way to decrease VOC exposure. Great point. Not only that, but they’re usually less expensive, too!

  8. Anonymous says:


  9. Jeremy F says:

    Unfortunately, while HEPA filters are fantastic for filtering bacteria, pollen, smoke, and other particulates, they do not reduce or filter VOCs at all.

    VOCs are vapor, not particles. You need an extra carbon/charcoal filter in order to filter VOCs and other fumes such as NOx. The Austin Healthmate air filters are essentially the only option – with 14 pounds of activated charcoal in a single filter. Most “charcoal” filters are so small and thin that they are effectively just marketing gimmicks.

    Hope this helps!

    • Meagan Visser says:

      Thanks, Jeremy. That really does help. I’ll add this info to the blog post. Thanks again!

    • Jenny Kirkpatrick says:

      I’ve read about the Austin purifiers, have you used one personally? Just curious how well they work for off gassing VOCs of a new home?

  10. DebI says:

    Hi Megan,
    I live in South Florida. I just had my AC vents cleaned. After they were done they sprayed a disinfectant in the vents and in the bedroom. I have a one bedroom apartment. I am not even in the apartment for 15 minutes and my mouth starts burning and I get a headache. I don’t even want to be in their. Can you advise?

    • Meagan Visser says:

      What a bummer, Debi! I wonder if you could turn the fan setting on your AC on and let it run for an entire day while you are out of the house with your windows cracked to see if that helps get rid of the smell. If that doesn’t work, I’d call the company that cleaned your AC vents and ask them what they recommend. You may also be able to wash the vents with soap and water to remove any of the disinfectant that’s there. I’m not sure if either of those ideas will work, but I wish you luck and hope the situation is remedied soon!

  11. Derek says:

    a friend recommended I use a ozone machine in my old trailer house. the offgassing was so bad I had to move and dispose of the trailer . I left the majority of my stuff behind but filled my shed with boxes I wanted to keep. This made my shed so bad I couldn’t hardly go in there. when I moved I sorted those boxes and through the cardboard away and half that stuff. when I put what was leftover in my new shed now I taste it right away in my new shed not so mush a smell but it goes right to my head. I keep the doors and window open when its not raining and dont go out there unless I really have to. when will it end . feel like im going crazy.

  12. Kylee says:

    Hi! I’m glad I found you article… We moved into a house with pet damaged carpet in bedrooms, so we ripped up the carpet, put down Kilz & just today installed new carpet. (Now I’m thinking we should’ve splurged & replaced sub boards rather than putting down Kilz.)

    My question is… We have a 1 year old. How long should the carpet off-gas before he can sleep in his bedroom? We were going to give it 3.5 days but wondering if this is enough time? Right now, windows are open & fan is on, but it’s supposed to rain the other days so we’ll likely have to close the windows.

    • Meagan Visser says:

      Hi, Kylee. I’m not sure I have a definite answer for this since so many factors are involved in off-gassing times, such as the number of chemicals in a product, how volatile they are, temperature, etc. I’ve heard that there are some products that can even off-gas for years — it’s just that you notice it more when the product is new. I’d say the best thing to do would be to increase the temperature in that room as much as possible. This will encourage volatile gasses to be released more quickly. With the windows open, that can help them to be removed from the room. Once you move in, I’d keep baby out of that room until you don’t smell that “new carpet” smell when you walk in. From there, you may want to get an air filter that has a really good carbon/charcoal filter in it which will help to filter VOCs from the air, especially if baby needs to be in the room. Hope that’s helpful!

  13. John La Greca says:

    I had new windows/entire exterior wall , which is actually my lanai. It’s either the vinyl on the installation, putting out an odor. This has been since October 2020. We have tried everything to get rid of it. I’ve washed down the concrete floor with bleach, removed all outside furniture from the room, washed all the vinyl with clorox, no help. next I tried baking soda power all over the vinyl and epoxy used in sealing it. Finally I’m trying vinegar over the vinyl. All everything seems to do is mask one odor over the other. I open all windows and turn on the overhead fan. It all clears out, but once I close up it returns.

    • Meagan Visser says:

      Yes, it can take a long time for the chemical smell of certain objects to dissipate. Heat and time help as does fresh air or air purifiers. Best of luck!

  14. alice says:

    hi. I am on this site to seek solutions but I am so physically sick from moving into an RV yesterday that I can barely read these comments or your words. I apologize ahead of time if this is not an appropriate place to ask questions. I have tried for a week to get this ‘mothball gaseous residue’ out of the this RV. I realize now that, had I heat prior to moving in – it would have helped. I used an ionizer, scrubbed the place down, kept all windows open…and while it got better, once I put the heat on, it’s awful. I have nowhere to live, my car is in the shop, and the owners of the RV Park are not affected by such things so they are totally unsympathetic. I just purchased activated charcoal bags and hung them up. Any thoughts as to what to do? I would prefer not to be poisoned by this stuff. thank you, Alice

    • Meagan Visser says:

      Hi Alice, I’m sorry for the experience you’re dealing with. If you have nowhere to go, my advice would be to keep air circulating while you’re in the RV and then to try to stay out of it as much as possible. When you’re out, you can run heat (if possible) and leave the windows cracked. It can also be helpful to use an air filter as well. Best of luck!

  15. SUSAN BASKETT says:

    Your article is really useful, but I haven`t bought any thing new for years, but I have painted 3 rooms recently, I used various types of paint some old stuff and some new, also some anti mould and new water based gloss, because the smell of the oil based gives me a headache and bad for my pets, however I did use some by mistake, so had to use brush cleaner, this was about 3 weeks ago, Last week I called vthe emergency gas help line and a man came out with a test meter to check for mains leak but it was a negative, .It`s been so0 strong coming from floor, have all windows open, can still smell it ,worse at the end of a hot day, just put the spider plant out for summer perhaps I`1ll bring it back in, must be paint and solvents causing it , hope it wont be forever.

    • Meagan Visser says:

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with that, Susan. Hopefully, you can keep some air circulating in your home until the smell goes away. Best of luck!

  16. Cathy says:

    After 5 years of daily debilitating morning headaches and sick stomach, last year during stay-at-home orders due to the pandemic, I realized that my health issues have been caused by the memory foam mattress that we purchased 5 years ago. It’s awful, for the last year I haven’t even been able to sleep in the same bed as my husband and I’ve been sleeping on an old couch. I haven’t bought a new mattress because I’m afraid I might have the same issues with a new one. I’ve been researching online other solutions such as an air purifier but the ones that filter out VOC’s are pricey. My husband likes to sleep with a fan on and a few days ago I happen to replace our fan with a stronger blowing fan. I have also slept on my memory foam mattress for 3 nights now and so far haven’t had any morning headaches or stomach issues. I’m thinking the new fan might be the trick. I am hopeful but we shall see!

    • Meagan Visser says:

      Oh, I’m so sorry for the troubles you’re experiencing, Cathy. I’d assume that 5 years would have been enough for the mattress to off-gas, but I suppose it could take longer. Plus, everyone responds differently to things, so you could be more sensitive to the chemicals used. I know there are some great organic mattresses out there where VOCs are less of an issue. However, they’re also quite pricy — more so than an air purifier. I’m glad the fan is helping though. My guess is that it’s keeping the air circulating and preventing you from inhaling so many of the gasses coming from the mattress. Another thing you could try looking into is a mattress bag designed to completely cover and seal the mattress. Perhaps that could minimize the chemical scent coming from the mattress. Best of luck, and let me know how things go for you!

  17. Arlene Thompson says:

    I moved into a brand new house a year ago. As the weather started turning cold, I got asthma symptoms. I thought at first it was because I was walking out in the cold every morning for exercise. This year I avoided doing that, but still got the asthma. After wracking my brain, consulting others, and even muscle-testing questions (I got that yes, the asthma was seasonal!)–I woke up this morning realizing it was from the VOCs from the new house! It’s worse in the cold weather because the windows aren’t open and I spend more time indoors (I live in Idaho and it gets quite cold here). I have an air filter as part of the HVAC system but I guess I need an air purifier too. Do you think I’m on the right track here? Any suggestions about air purifiers? Thanks Meagan!

    • Meagan Visser says:

      Hey there, Arlene! I’m sorry you’re dealing with this seasonal mess. I think whole house air filters are a great idea if you can afford them, and that may give you the quickest relief if it is actually the off-gassing of the house that’s causing your asthma. It sounds like you’re already doing a lot of good things to counter the issue, though. 

      Another thing I’ve heard some people do when they get new furniture or rugs is to put them out where they go, leave the house overnight but turn the heat way up before leaving to help facilitate the new furniture to off-gas a bit more. After 24 hours, turn the heat off and open as many windows as possible to let the house air out (or turn the fan part of your HVAC on). In another 24 hours, they will move back in. 

      Now, that doesn’t help the furniture to completely off-gas. I believe things like that can take YEARS to completely rid themselves of releasing chemical gasses. However, it does help to release a good bit of chemicals all at one time. 

      For most people who aren’t painting their entire house with low-VOC paints and filling them with organic furniture, materials, or used items that have already off-gassed, a high-quality air filter is the best bet. Hope this helps!

      • Judy says:

        I just spent $1399 for one of those all natural,( almost ) no VOC mattresses and it still offgasses. Apparently there is no such thing as no VOC. We are sleeping in recliners in another room foe who knows how long. Will try putting heaters in the room and opening windows to speed up the process. I do suspect I have MCS and am more sensitive than many. The mattress does have a warranty, which is good, but we really need a new mattress due to backaches.

        • Meagan Visser says:

          Yeah, I think many companies advertise low-VOC as some chemicals are required to make modern mattresses, so they would definitely benefit from some time to off-gas before moving them into your home, especially if you are more sensitive to them. Heaters and good airflow can definitely help! Here’s hoping the off-gassing is quick since they’re already low-VOC, and you can get back to sleeping in a bed!

  18. emily says:

    Hi I hope you can help. I moved a few months ago and got new vinyl blinds for the bedroom windows but the smell was so bad and after researching how bad vinyl is I returned them and purchased cellular shades which I assumed were safe. They did have a slight smell but I put them in the garage for several days and it dissipated. The shades were installed today but am having a panic attack as I read that the polyester they are made from is full of chemicals! They really don’t seem to have a smell now but as the weather is cold can only leave the windows open for a short time. I do not have an air cleaner with charcoal base just a Honeywell but am running it. I have filled the room with spider plants and snake plants (6 total). Of course I have to sleep in the room. Do you think the cellular shades are safe even tho made of polyester altho no idea what to replace them with that would be safer, seems most window treatments inc curtains are made from polyester 🙁 TIA emily

    • Meagan Visser says:

      If you don’t smell anything, you’re running an air purifier, you have air-purifying plants in the room, and you’re not experiencing any new symptoms that something is off, chances are you’re fine and doing all you can. Come summer, if it heats up in your house, and you notice a smell coming from them, at least then you can open the windows a bit to keep the air circulating. Hope that answers your question or at least puts you more at ease. If you’re still unhappy with them, you could always make the switch to curtains!

  19. Colleen says:

    Hi, I moved into a new build apartment until we find an house and it has vinyl floors and cheap carpet. I’m reacting so badly I’m sleeping on the balcony. We’ve tried to off-gas it for a night with the heat up and then opened windows but that didn’t get the smell all the way out. Would an ozone machine help? We also are running multiple carbon air filters. Also while looking for a new house, with one with engineering wood floors instead of vinyl be better?

    • Meagan Visser says:

      Hey Colleen! I’m so sorry you’re having to go through all that trouble. Off-gassing takes some time, and while heat helps in the long run, it will take more than a day. I’d say your best bet while you’re living in the apartment is to keep the temperature cool (to prevent the volatile compounds from evaporating so quickly), do your best to keep the air circulating in your house, and use your air filters as much as you can. If you were going to be gone for the weekend or something, you could probably crank up the heat to speed up off-gassing and then air the apartment out well when you get home. As far as floors for your new home, I would go with engineered wood flooring before vinal. Of course, that’s just my opinion. Definitely do your research to see which has more VOCs. Hope this is helpful!

  20. Ben says:

    Hi Colleen…I am at my wits end trying to eliminate odors from my home. I’ll spare you & the faithful followers of your blog what I did, but what I haven’t done yet is heating up my house to the point where everything gets pretty warm (guessing 80F?) then flooding it with fresh, ventilated air for enough time to get 1-2 full air cycles. Would you please let me know if I’m on the right track? I’ve vented my house pretty well for 2 weeks straight (I’m in New England so it’s super cold) as much as I can. But I’ve kept my house, which I haven’t lived in for 2 months, pretty cold just to save money while I’m sorting this out. In hindsight, perhaps that only made the odor more stubborn to get out?

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