non-chemical-smelling mattress cover
February 19, 2018 8:27 AM   Subscribe

I need to cover this mattress to contain the old detergent odor. Found a $20 barrier at Bed Bath & Beyond, but the antimicrobial or plastic fumes are not good for me. Looking for alternatives.

Seriously, there were hallucinations with this thing. Scary hallucinations. Anyway, it smells like plastic and I'm pretty sure I don't want that.

I need to avoid:

- The incredible detergent odor on the mattress. Seriously, you would not believe that the old sheets could leave behind so much odor, but I think the owner has been using the cheapest possible standard detergent, via untrained housekeepers, in a washing machine designed for high-efficiency fancy detergent, for years. I've had to wrap up all the linens in plastic bags. And yes, I seem to be exceptionally sensitive, but it's bad, guys.

- Strongly-scented plastic itself;

- Coatings/treatments/antifungal stuff. I think that's what part of what got me last night: the barrier I found is designed for people with medical issues and keeping microbes down is obviously an issue in those circumstances.

- "Allergy" barriers tend to be "breathable" - they are designed to contain _particles_ (dust, mites, pollen, mold spores). That's not my issue right now, at all, and in fact the "breathable" aspect will probably allow detergent odor through. However, if you know that a fluffy breathable barrier will mitigate the detergent odor enough, I'm all ears.

I'm thinking maybe a polyethylene painter's drop cloth? But that's a huge pain for not much guarantee of success, and maybe that would have an odor?

The barrier I got at BBB was pretty OK in other respects. It's fairly easy to slip it over the whole (queen) mattress, and then you zip it and the mattress is completely encased. The obnoxious super-floral-chemical detergent odor was gone instantly, and things were good until it sat there for a while and my head was too close to the mattress surface.

Sorry if this is not a good question. I've had almost no sleep.

Oh, also, laundering this would be an option, but would make things a lot harder. They just started another load of perfume soap in the machine and it will take a bit to get that out, plus I still have to acquire whatever-it-is and then apply it.

I'm in Chicago. There seem to be a lot of stores around (but that Bed Bath & Beyond was chaotic, small, and didn't have a lot of what I needed).
posted by amtho to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
It’s unclear from your question but is this a mattress of yours or someone who you have to consider the feelings of? I would probably wipe down the plastic cover thing you got and leave that out on the line to off gas for a while. It seems like your best bet.

Another option may be to get a steam cleaner (like a rug doctor thing) and use that with just water (maybe water and vineager?).

How much money do you want to throw at this?
posted by raccoon409 at 8:34 AM on February 19, 2018

Something along these lines? It is still "breathable" but it is made of natural materials and will perhaps block some of the odors. Also try sprinkling Baking Soda on the mattress, leave it for several hours and vacuum up. Repeat until odor is removed. Perhaps some combo of baking soda/natural material cover.

Sorry--fake scents bug me so much, you have my sympathy.
posted by agatha_magatha at 8:38 AM on February 19, 2018

hmm. I think laundering the cover you have might be a good option, because most new covers that are non-permeable enough to prevent the migration of scent are going to be plastic and have some offgassing/manufacturing scent. If the detergent smell is an issue, I might just rinse it in the bathtub or a large bucket with a couple of cups of white vinegar and then fresh water and then hang dry.

Also, re the mattress, I might also consider getting a misting bottle and misting the whole thing with rubbing alcohol and then blotting it with a clean towel. That could help absorb some of the smell that's currently penetrating through.
posted by mercredi at 8:39 AM on February 19, 2018

- This isn't just about annoying odor. This is medical. my eyes are bothering me, and I've been waking up with significant pain in my sinuses that are likely to lead to migraine with vomiting -- every day. So, I'll spend some money.

- The current cover is a thin plastic that says specifically _not_ to launder it. I ran it through the dryer, against instructions, and it started to melt a little (still basically whole, but couldn't wash it).

- The chemical "barrier" on the plastic is serious enough that I doubt a simple wipe-down would help.

- Ordering on Amazon isn't that helpful since I need this to work tonight. Thanks for the idea, but that's designed to protect the mattress, not me :)
posted by amtho at 9:16 AM on February 19, 2018

A polyethylene dropcloth from Home Depot or equivalent will indeed block vapors and odors near-perfectly, and much better than the allergy barrier, particularly if you tuck it in at the sides-- that's what I've seen recommended to protect babies against phthalate and mold offgassing from mattresses. Poly doesn't contain plasticizers IIRC, so there shouldn't be any odor from the plastic itself.

Be sure to get the thick kind, 5 mil or more, so it doesn't crack or tear under pressure, and double-check that it's made of polyethylene not any sort of vinyl. If your BBB allergy barrier is itself vinyl, that's a likely source for the chemical odors, so consider putting the polyethylene on top of that.
It'll also likely be noisy and sweaty to sleep on, so layer a comforter under a fitted sheet on top.
posted by Bardolph at 9:29 AM on February 19, 2018

I think a painter's dropcloth might give you the same problem you're having from the cover, unfortunately; polyethylene often needs a few days of offgassing for the scent to go away. This is going to sound weird, and literally tin-foil-hat-esque, but you actually might be able to build a temporary solution out of those mylar emergency/space blankets (available at camping stores like REI and similar). People with MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity) have in the past reported that this can be more tolerable. It is kind of rustly/crinkly, unfortunately, and you may want a fan to keep yourself from getting too warm.

You could try taping together several blankets to seal up the mattress entirely (you may want to test to ensure the adhesive on the tape doesn't bother you first), or just use one on top of the mattress cover you have, so that the cover blocks the detergent smell and the mylar blocks the cover smell.
posted by halation at 9:29 AM on February 19, 2018

I am also very sensitive to cleaning products and based on your description I would buy a cheap air mattress, new linens, and sleep as far away from that mattress as possible.

I assume this is just a temporary situation like an AirBnB or...? If not, get a new mattress and get that thing out of there ASAP. Fumes are the worst. :(
posted by Jacqueline at 7:15 PM on February 19, 2018

« Older Advise me on a home wireless speaker system   |   instant pot recipes, with literally no prep Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.