Memory Foam Mattress Nightmare: How to Remove Fiberglass From It
UPDATE: May 4, 2022 If you've ever taken the cover off a memory foam mattress and found yourself struggling to figure out how to clean up the fiberglass that has inevitably spread throughout your home or apartment, you are NOT alone. To me, that is.
My nightmare experience with a fiberglass mattress is detailed below, but in brief:
- Yes, fiberglass is used in the manufacturing of some low-cost memory foam mattresses in the role of a fire retardant.
- Even if the cover has a zipper (a stupid design choice), you should never open it.
- The good news is that there are risk-free methods of disposal.
I Was a Victim of It My Bad Experience With A Fiberglass Mattress
I had recently relocated to a new city in March 2021 and thought I had found the ideal place to call home. It was in a fantastic location, had an excellent landlord, and (as an added bonus) could be rented fully furnished, all of which made me very excited.
Apartment furnishings included a sofa, table, chairs, lamps, a nightstand, and a bed with a memory foam mattress when I took a look around.
Within three days of touring the area, I had filled out an application, been approved, and signed a lease. The landlord asked if I wanted the apartment furnished or unfurnished, and I said it was fine with me if he kept the furniture inside. Terrible oversight
I gave that memory foam mattress some thought right before I moved in. Although the prospect of sleeping on someone else's mattress gives me the creeps, I considered asking him to remove it so that I could bring in my own.
Then I had this epiphany: Leaving the mattress there and making use of it will save you a ton of money. You can use the one you have instead of purchasing a replacement. Once more, major blunder
When I finally moved in two weeks later, I examined the memory foam mattress more closely. It had a large gash in the side and a large, unpleasant stain in the middle, which was very unfortunate. Yuck
I mentioned to the landlord that the bed was looking "worse for wear" and requested permission to replace it. His response was, "Sure, I could just put it in the backyard storage shed."
Well, before I did that, I looked into cleaning the mattress first. A zipper around its perimeter indicated that the fabric covering was detachable.
I paused and pondered this for a moment. I think I can just remove the cover and wash the mattress. ”
Luckily, I thought to look at the label first to see if there were any washing instructions for the mattress.
So, here's a puzzle: the label instructing you how to care for your mattress was INSIDE the cover. So, I had to undo the cover's zipper and inspect the inside for a label.
When I checked the label, I was shocked to see that it gave no instructions for washing the cover or warned against taking it off. However, the mattress's "inner cover" was labelled as having "62% fiberglass." ”
It seemed like a bad idea to me. No way would they use fiberglass in a mattress, I reasoned. ”
Since there were no washing instructions on the label, I zipped up the exterior and continued getting my apartment ready for my move.
As time went on, I became increasingly intrigued by the fact that the mattress's label stated it contained fiberglass.
As a result, I looked up "Do memory foam mattresses contain fiberglass?" ”
The findings actually gave me chills. As I dug deeper, I came across horror story after horror story about families who were forced to relocate after washing their memory foam mattress cover and consequently contaminating their entire home, including the floors, the clothes, the furniture, the washing machines, and even the air ducts in the HVAC system.
At this point, I was trembling so badly that I decided to follow the advice I'd read online and grab a flashlight to check my apartment for fiberglass contamination.
And sure enough, there it was—long, straight, shiny strands of fiberglass all over my bedroom floor, my mattress, and my clothes.
I Freaked Out
Because of my asthma, I always wear a respirator when cleaning with bleach, and this time was no exception. After donning protective gear like goggles and gloves, I threw that puppy on.
My ductless mini-split air conditioner was recirculating air throughout my apartment, which in turn was blowing fiberglass all over the place, so I had to shut it off.
I purchased a Shop Vac outfitted with a HEPA filter and meticulously vacuumed my entire apartment.
When I finally gave up on trying to clean the fiberglass, it was because I was too tired and it was too hot in the house (it was spring in Florida, so there was no air conditioning).
In the meantime, I was able to reserve an Airbnb for a week. Both my eyes and my hands were covered in fiberglass. Thankfully, I had some emergency eye wash on hand and was able to get it out of my eyes. However, the sensation of splinters in my hands persisted for a good two months.
The fact that fiberglass can be as small as 1 micron made me nervous that it was still floating around in the air even though my naked eye couldn't detect it.
In the end, I went back to the apartment to give cleaning another shot, and this time I was better prepared. These are the tools I used to defend myself
Material I Used to Remove Fiberglass from My Memory Foam Mattress
Turn off all heating and cooling systems, including window units, mini splits, and the central AC, before cleaning up any fiberglass in your home. Because the air is being recycled, the fiberglass will be dispersed.
You will get hot because the air conditioning will be off and you will be wearing a Tyvek suit for protection. The cleaning process is multi-step and requires careful planning and breaks. In any other case, you run the risk of having a heat stroke. PLEASE exercise caution
While you're cleaning up, I suggest staying at an Airbnb or with friends or family for a week.
Filters that remove particles down to 0.3 microns
Particles of fiberglass can be as small as 1 micron, and the only air purifier that will remove them from the air (and keep them out of your lungs) is a HEPA filter. (High Efficiency Particulate Arrestor) To remove fiberglass from the air in your home, invest in a model equipped with a HEPA filter and keep it running constantly.
In fact, I have three HEPA air purifiers, but this one is my favorite.
If your home is large, you should definitely invest in multiple air purifiers. They are constructed to accommodate a specific number of square feet, which varies with their size.
This is the one I use for larger spaces.
When I was cleaning the fiberglass in my 350-square-foot apartment, I had to run TWO HEPA air purifiers virtually around the clock.
Mattress encasement with a vinyl zipper
By encasing the mattress at the outset, you can prevent fiberglass from reaching the mattress. Take the bed out of there I have written a post detailing the top memory foam mattresses that do not contain any fiberglass for your convenience.
P100 Filtered Full Face Mask Respirator
There are cheaper options, such as goggles and a half-face respirator, but if you value your eyes and lungs above all else, and you hate it when your goggles fog up, then you need a full face mask respirator. These are the tools of the trade for men who do work in attics. (Check out the video down below)
Invest in P100 particulate filters immediately. You can use them with fiberglass with no problems.
Donning a Tyvek Suit AND Booties!
Obtaining a Tyvek suit is essential. Glass fibers won't be able to harm your skin or clothing. It's the standard tool of the trade
Those with built-in shoes are the best option. In any other case, the dirt and grime on the ground will inevitably find its way into your shoes, making cleanup a hassle.
Exactly the same as the suit I wore today
Duct tape is for closing the openings in the suit sleeves. Don't risk fiberglass seeping in.
Gloves made from Nitrile
Two pairs of gloves are required. This is your foundational piece. It's for when you've finished working and want to take off your Tyvek suit and second pair of gloves without getting any fiberglass on your hands.
Grippy Kitchen Gloves
Protect your hands from the elements with these durable dish gloves.
Genuine HEPA Filter Vacuum Cleaner
You'll need a powerful shop vac that can really shake those fibers loose before sucking them up. Having a HEPA filter installed in the shop vac is also essential, as without one, the vacuum will simply release the tiny fiberglass particles back into the air.
**UPDATE* May 4, 2022: **In my newly furnished apartment, I once again encountered a fiberglass incident, and this time I bought a dedicated fiberglass vacuum cleaner. It is much more effective than a Shop Vac because it has a sealed canister and a genuine HEPA filter, and it is designed to clean up hazardous materials like fiberglass and even asbestos. Since the fiberglass is contained within the vacuum's sealed container, I can now use it as my regular vacuum without worry.
The exact model I purchased is as follows:
The filter included with the aforementioned shop vac is NOT a HEPA filter. If you don't have this HEPA filter, fiberglass will fly out of the vacuum. Fiberglass can be captured by HEPA filters.
Sweep the floor with a lint roller
This lint roller for the floor will take care of any stray fiberglass fibers. Sometimes multiple rolls are necessary to collect everything.
Here Are the Exact Methods I Used to Remove Contamination From Fiberglass at Home
The first step is to suit up in Tyvek and accessorize with a mask, goggles, and gloves. Cover any holes with duct tape to make sure they stay covered.
Two, vinyl-encase the mattress and remove it from your home.
Third, if any of your clothes became stained with fiberglass, toss them.
Fourth, turn on your HEPA air purifiers and make sure they are properly installed.
Fifth, use the HEPA-filtered Shop Vac to vacuum the entire area (instead of a regular vacuum).
To complete the process, move on to Step 6 and lint roll the remnants.
The seventh action is to thoroughly clean the air conditioning ducts and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) unit.
Washing machine and dryer cleaning is the eighth step.
Remove the Tyvek Suit with Minimal Contact to the Fiberglass
1 Take a step into the fresh air
Second, remove as much as you can by shaking.
Third, remove the Tyvek jacket by unzipping the top and rolling it backward as you peel down the sleeves.
Fourth, put the discarded Tyvek suit in a trash bag by rolling it up.
Fifth, the suit and outer dish gloves should be discarded. Nitrile gloves should be worn over clean ones. Consequently, you may now remove your protective gear.
Step 6: Pack up your protective eyewear and set a reminder to give it a quick rinse in case any fiberglass dust got on it during Step 5!
How Risky Is It to Work with Fiberglass?
A logical follow-up question is, "How dangerous is fiberglass?" Assuming you have a working definition of "dangerous," To that end, I present the following information I gathered about fiberglass:
- The primary use of fiberglass is in thermal insulation. Asbestos was widely used as insulation before fiberglass became popular, and it is now known to cause diseases like cancer. Fiberglass, on the other hand, is much less dangerous than asbestos.
- Health officials in Illinois have reported:
There is no proof that fiberglass exposure causes cancer in humans. The method by which animal studies showing an increased risk of cancer when fiberglass fibers were implanted in the lung tissue of rats was conducted is controversial. Animal studies have led the International Agency for Research on Cancer to label certain fiberglass fibers as possible human carcinogens. ”
- Glass fibers can cause irritation to the respiratory tract, skin, eyes, and nose when inhaled. Expect some itching, sneezing, and coughing. Getting fiberglass in your skin, from what I've experienced, feels like you have a splinter, only you can't see it. It took about three weeks for the splintery feeling to fade from one of my hands after the first time I got fiberglass from the fiberglass mattress. Not that it hurt like hell, but it was certainly inconvenient.
Though I haven't opened or washed the cover of my memory foam mattress, I should be fine, right?
I'm sorry to be the one to break this to you, but There are countless reports of people whose memory foam mattresses leaked fiberglass even though they never opened the cover. How to check for fiberglass seepage in a memory foam mattress:
Grab a flashlight. Lights out, slowly move the flashlight back and forth across the surface of the mattress. Can you make out long, gleaming strands of sparklers? You could be forgiven for thinking it's glitter We can identify that as fiberglass.
Do I Need to Leave Due to the Fiberglass Pollution?
Moving out is less of a hassle when renting than when owning a home. In any case, I think it's best to alert the landlord to the fiberglass problem, since it could be dangerous or annoying to future occupants.
I found it particularly amusing that my landlord, and not I, had put the mattress in question there. In addition, it already had a cut through which fiberglass was leaking, making my landlord more responsible than if I had purchased and brought in the mattress myself. Rather than cleaning it myself, some friends suggested I request that the landlord have it professionally cleaned. Nonetheless, I couldn't bring myself to do that, and I also had more faith in my own cleaning skills than I did in the expertise of outsiders with no emotional investment in the building.
I've heard tales of people who got fiberglass in their home from a memory foam mattress, cleaned it up themselves, and went on to live a perfectly normal life. It's therefore plausible
Though I had removed all visible traces of fiberglass from the area, the thought that the fibers might still be present haunted me.
All depends on what you decide.
Is It Time for Me to Get a Memory Foam Mattress?
Read this and you might be scared away from memory foam mattresses forever. I feel you However, you should know that not all memory foam mattresses include fiberglass. Just the cheap ones from Wal-Mart, Wayfair, and Amazon.com.
Get one of these non-fiberglass memory foam mattresses if you're in the market for a new bed.
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