is it safe to sleep in a room with new carpet?
Questions And Answers

Should You Sleep in A Room with A New Carpet?

(Last Updated On: December 6, 2022)

Anybody should wait three days before sleeping in a room with a new carpet. Pregnant women, the elderly, and anyone immunocompromised should wait longer. Wait a week before letting a baby or toddler sleep in a freshly carpeted bedroom. 

A new carpet, like fresh paint or wallpaper, contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These are chemicals used when manufacturing the carpet; VOCs evaporate upon contact with the air and leave a residue. This is known as 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 these VOCs have evaporated.

All carpets will give off fumes once fitted, but some will release more VOCs than others. When shopping for a bedroom carpet, look for a green label assigned by the Carpet and Rug Institute, as this label is only given to materials with minimal off-gassing.

Some steps can be taken to offset carpet fumes. If the weather allows, unroll a carpet for around a week outside before installing it. Ventilate a room by leaving windows and doors 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 that a freshly-carpeted room is safe to spend time in or sleep in.

The carpet you have laid on your bedroom floor will have been made with the help of 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.

Carpet contains low levels of VOCs, especially compared to paint or wallpaper, but common chemicals found within include 4-phenylcylohexene and styrene. Formaldehyde, a confirmed carcinogen, was formerly used in carpet construction but is now outlawed.

The risks of inhaling VOCs vary according to your age and sensitivity. Off-gassing can lead to the following symptoms.

  • Headaches
  • Feelings of nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Struggling for breath
  • Streaming eyes

Prolonged exposure to some VOCs has also been linked to ‘brain fog,’ loss of hearing, kidney problems, and even the development of cancer and leukemia in VOCs that are suspected carcinogens.

how long does carpet off gassing last?

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 is most prominent for the first 2-3 days, which is why a new carpet smells so strong for this period.

After the initial period of off-gassing, you’ll not notice the aroma. This suggests that it is safe to spend time in the room again, though anybody at higher risk of side effects of VOCs should still play it safe.

When Can I Sleep in a Room That Has Been Recarpeted?

A  healthy adult should wait at least two days before sleeping in a newly-carpeted room, allowing sufficient time for the worst of the off-gassing to pass. After 48 hours, you may still detect a little lingering odor from the carpet, but it will be safer to take deep breaths.

If you have asthma, COPD, or any other condition that can lead to restricted breathing or have carpeted the bedroom of a baby or toddler, wait longer.

Around a week is advisable. The slightest amount of VOCs can harm underdeveloped or compromised lungs. As we breathe deeply and take lungfuls of air while we sleep, there’s nothing to gain by taking chances.

Pregnant women also need to be careful. As per Pediatric Research, inhalation of VOCs can impact the growth of prenatal babies, so these chemicals must be avoided.

Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology connect 4-phenylcylohexene to ovarian toxicity, making carpets a concern.

VOCs can also harm pets. If you allow your dog to sleep on the bed or plan to keep other animals in the bedroom, allow no less than a week to pass before they enter the room.

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 is always safer to wait at least two days, ideally three, before sleeping in a room that has seen a new carpet laid, there are steps you can take to speed up the availability of your bedroom.

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 two decades as an advance on the CRI’s previous Green Label program.

The Environmental Protection Agency recognizes GLP as an assurance that your potential 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, unattached to any manufacturer of carpets, to ensure complete impartiality. Any product submitted undergoes a rigorous 14-day testing period in which emission levels of all potential VOCs are measured.

Purchasing a carpet that comes with GLP certification doesn’t mean that you can forget everything we have said so far and sleep in a freshly carpeted room immediately. It just minimizes any risk of doing so after a day or two.

Let the Carpet Breathe Before Installation

Most carpet is sold in large rolls, packed as tightly as possible to conserve space in a warehouse. This means the carpet isn’t permitted to breathe until installed, and all VOCs are trapped within the roll.

If your installer 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 installed in your home.

Some installers won’t agree to this due to health and safety concerns or a lack of space. If that’s the case, consider leaving the carpet unrolled outside your home for a few days.

Of course, this is risky, as adverse weather conditions could ruin your carpet before it is installed. Before attempting this, ensure that sunshine is as guaranteed as possible, and consider whether wild animals will scratch or befoul the carpet.

Ventilate the Room

As soon as the carpet has been installed, open as many windows and doors surrounding the bedroom as possible. Consider the safety implications, installing baby gates to keep pets or toddlers out of the room if necessary.

If the air outside is warm, this will go a long way toward airing out the room and speeding up the time you can sleep there. By opening windows, the VOCs have an escape route and will not become trapped within the same small space.

Keeping windows open will also reduce CO2 levels in the bedroom, which will benefit you further when the time comes to sleep in there again. As per a study published in Indoor Air, an open window or silent fan enhances sleep quality and daytime alertness.

do new carpets give off fumes?

Clean the Carpet

You can mask the smells associated with the off-gassing of a new carpet. This won’t eradicate the risks of VOCs but will give your bedroom a more appealing aroma while the carpet settles into place.

Avoid purchasing specialist carpet cleaning solutions, as these will also contain VOCs. A new carpet should also not need such an intense cleaning. Instead, take a DIY approach.

Liberally sprinkle baking soda over the carpet, allow this time to settle into the fibers for around 24 hours, then vacuum it up. This will absorb some of the scent associated with new carpets and leave your new installation looking and feeling fresh.

Alternatively, you could steam clean your new carpet. Rent or buy a steam cleaner from a DIY store, or hire a professional to complete the task. If you choose the latter, explain that the carpet is new and has not been in place for more than a day or two.

Cleaning a carpet won’t make it safe to inhale VOCs. To this end, open all windows while cleaning the carpet, and consider wearing a face mask to protect your respiratory tract while you work.

Improve Air Quality

If you’re recarpeting a bedroom, you’ll have removed all furniture before tackling this task. This means you could 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 confirm that indoor plants extract pollutants from the atmosphere, in addition to decreasing temperature in the bedroom.

Consider the following for maximum efficiency and aesthetic splendor:

  • Spider plants
  • Money plants
  • Ferns
  • Aloe vera
  • English ivy
  • Dragon plants
  • Snake plants

You could consider an air purifier if you don’t want to keep plants in a bedroom. These electrical appliances are available in various shapes, sizes, and price points.

A new carpet can make a bedroom feel more comfortable and welcoming, but 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.