Last Updated on: 1st October 2023, 12:49 pm
We should all wait at least 2-3 days before sleeping in a room with a new carpet.
Pregnant women, the elderly, and immunocompromised people should wait longer. Wait 7 days before letting a baby or toddler sleep in a newly carpeted bedroom.
A new carpet, like fresh paint and wallpaper, contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
VOCs are chemicals used when manufacturing carpet that evaporates upon contact with the air and leaves a residue. This is called off-gassing.
As well as creating a distinctive odor, VOCs can harm the respiratory system and internal organs.
Some VOCs are suspected carcinogens, so you shouldn’t sleep in a newly carpeted room for safety reasons until they’ve evaporated.
All carpets will give off fumes once fitted, but some release more VOCs than others.
When shopping for a bedroom carpet, look for a green label assigned by the Carpet and Rug Institute because this label is only given to materials with minimal off-gassing.
Unroll a carpet in a used space about 7 days before it’s fitted. Also, ventilate the room by leaving windows open, and improve air quality with house plants or an air purifier.
Do New Carpets Give Off Fumes?
For some people, the distinct aroma of a new carpet is a welcome smell that suggests a new or improved home. This doesn’t mean a newly carpeted room is safe to spend time or sleep in.
The carpet on your bedroom floor will contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These chemicals are unavoidable and are found in common household and decorative items.
VOCs take their name from the fact that they evaporate at room temperature. When this occurs, it leaves a chemical residue, considered a gas, in the air, creating an unmistakable aroma.
Formaldehyde, a carcinogen, was formerly used in carpet construction but is now against the law.
The risks of inhaling VOCs vary based on age and sensitivity. Off-gassing has the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath.
- Streaming eyes.
Prolonged exposure has also been linked to brain fog, loss of hearing, kidney problems, and even the development of cancer and leukemia (in VOCs with suspected carcinogens).
How Long Does Carpet Off-Gassing Last?
Off-gassing is a near-constant process that’ll likely last for the duration of the carpet’s lifespan. However, it’s most prominent for the first 2-3 days, hence why a new carpet smells so strong.
After the initial period of off-gassing, you won’t notice the aroma. This suggests it’s safe for young and healthy people to spend time in the room.
When Can I Sleep in a Room That Has Been Recarpeted?
Wait 2-3 days before sleeping in a newly carpeted room, allowing sufficient time for the off-gassing to pass. After 72 hours, you may still detect lingering odor from the carpet, but conditions will be safer.
If you have asthma, COPD, or another condition that can lead to restricted breathing or have carpeted the bedroom of a baby or toddler, wait longer. Waiting for around 7 days is advisable.
The smallest amount of VOCs can harm underdeveloped or compromised lungs. We breathe deeply and take in lungfuls of air while we sleep.
Pregnant women must also be careful. According to Pediatric Research, the inhalation of VOCs can impact the growth of prenatal babies, so these chemicals must be avoided.
Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology connected 4-phenylcylohexene to ovarian toxicity.
How To Minimize The Risk of New Carpet Fumes
It’s not always feasible to avoid sleeping in a room that has been recarpeted for too long.
If your home has limited space, you may not have enough alternative locations to spend the night. Alternatively, you may have already started recarpeting other rooms.
While it’s always safer to wait at least 2-3 days before sleeping in a room with a new carpet, you can take steps to speed up a bedroom’s availability.
These actions will reduce the impact of VOCs and off-gassing:
Green Label Carpeting
When shopping for a new carpet, look out for enrolment in the Green Label Plus (GLP) program run by the Carpet and Rug Institute.
This has been in place for almost 2 decades as an advance on the CRI’s previous Green Label program.
The Environmental Protection Agency recognizes GLP as an assurance that a carpet has been created with the lowest possible VOC emission, using materials least likely to cause harmful effects from off-gassing.
The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) works as an independent body, unconnected to any carpet manufacturers, to ensure impartiality.
Each product undergoes a 14-day testing period where emission levels of all VOCs are measured.
Buying a carpet with GLP certification doesn’t mean you can sleep in a newly carpeted room immediately. It just means the risk is reduced after 1-2 days.
Let the Carpet Breathe Before Installation
Most carpet is sold in large rolls, packed tightly to conserve warehouse space. This means the carpet can’t breathe until installed, and all VOCs are trapped within the roll.
If a fitter agrees, ask them to unroll the carpet for around a week before installation.
This will allow the initial burst of VOCs to escape the carpet, making it safer and less likely to cause off-gassing once fitted in the home.
Some installers won’t agree due to health and safety concerns or a lack of space. If so, leave the carpet unrolled in a room you seldom use for a few days.
Ventilate the Room
As soon as the carpet has been fitted, open windows (if safe) and doors in the bedroom. Take safety precautions by installing baby gates to keep pets or toddlers out of the room.
The VOCs won’t become trapped in a small space if you have open windows.
Keeping windows open will also reduce CO2 levels in the bedroom. According to a study in Indoor Air, an open window or silent fan enhances sleep quality and daytime alertness.
Clean the Carpet
You can mask the odor associated with off-gassing a new carpet. This won’t eradicate the risks of VOCs.
Carpet cleaning solutions also contain substances with VOCs. A new carpet will seldom need vigorous cleaning. Instead, take a DIY approach.
Sprinkle baking soda over the carpet, allow 24 hours to settle into the fibers, and vacuum it up. This will absorb the new carpet smell and leave them smelling fresh.
Alternatively, you could steam clean a new carpet.
Rent or buy a steam cleaner, or hire a professional to complete the task. If you choose the latter, explain that the carpet is new and hasn’t been in place for more than 2-3 days.
Cleaning a carpet won’t make it safe to inhale VOCs. To this end, open all windows while cleaning the carpet and wear a face mask to protect the respiratory system while you work.
Improve Air Quality
If you’re recarpeting a bedroom, you’ll have removed all furniture. This means you can consider a redesign. In doing so, consider adding some houseplants.
In addition to offering a decorative touch, plants can improve air quality.
Environmental Science and Pollution Research stated that indoor plants extract pollutants from the atmosphere and decrease bedroom temperature.
Here are some houseplants to consider:
- Spider plants.
- Money plants.
- Aloe vera.
- English ivy.
- Dragon plants.
- Snake plants.
You could get an air purifier if you don’t want to keep plants in a bedroom.
A new carpet can make a bedroom feel more comfortable and welcoming. However, laying the carpet isn’t without risk. Make arrangements to rest elsewhere before you recarpet a bedroom, ensuring the space has sufficient time to become safe to sleep in.