Why Does My Bamboo Pillow Smell? Here Are Five Reasons Why

Why Does My Bamboo Pillow Smell? Here Are Five Reasons Why

Your perfect, carefully picked, packaged bamboo pillow arrives at your door, waiting for you to open it.

Oddly enough, the moment you take it out of the fancy box, you notice a strong chemical odor coming from it. Now, you probably ask yourself - why does my bamboo pillow smell? 

There isn’t a short answer to the question, but we’ll do everything in our power to keep it as simple as we can. So let’s get into it.

Why Does a Bamboo Pillow Smell? 

The main reason that your new bamboo pillow smells is the off-gassing process. 

At the risk of telling you something you already know, this process happens when common household products emit some sort of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. 

In this case - it’s the pillow’s memory foam. 

Depending on the production process, foams may contain VOCs in the following forms

  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
  • Methylene chloride
  • Formaldehyde
  • Vinylidene chloride
  • Toluene
  • Benzene

Do VOCs Make the Off-Gassing Process Toxic? 

Generally, no. 

There isn’t any supporting evidence about the toxicity of bamboo pillows because they only contain low levels of VOCs. 

Owing to the strong odor, however, the pillow can cause headaches or nausea in some people. Once the smell dissipates into the air, which usually happens during the first few days, these symptoms vanish too.

How Long Does This Odor Usually Last? 

The answer to that depends on the memory foam quality. 

The smell of our bamboo pillows usually evaporates within 24 hours of opening. On the other hand, purchasing a pillow of poor quality may mean that you’ll have to put up with the unpleasant smell for over a month. 

For faster results in getting rid of the smell, pillow companies suggest shaking up the foam before you go to bed to alleviate odor.

Another thing you can do is to let your pillow sit in an area with plenty of air flow (like your balcony or a room with open windows) for a few hours upon opening, to make the gasses evaporate more quickly. Once the smell is gone, it’s gone for good!

Can You Wash a New Memory Foam Pillow to Alleviate the Smell? 

It’s not recommended to wash bamboo pillows during the first six months of usage. The reason behind this is to allow yourself to enjoy the original firmness and supportiveness of the pillow for a longer period of time. 

As you can’t avoid dust mites accumulating inside your pillow, however, you’ll need to wash it eventually. Remember not to use your washing machine or too much heat while washing it as you may end up destroying the memory foam. 

If you want to learn more, you can read our complete guide on how to wash your bamboo pillow. 

Is There Any Other Way to Avoid This Chemical Odor?

Truth be told - no bamboo pillow is truly chemical-free. 

What you can do, though, is find a pillow that doesn’t contain formaldehyde, heavy metals, phthalates, or CFCs in the list of compounds. An alternative solution is to go for plant-based materials instead of petroleum.

Even though this won’t save you from the unpleasant odor the first few days, it will take one worry off your head - toxicity. 

In case this sounds like a lot of work, we decided to take the load off by suggesting that you find a pillow certified by CertiPUR-US®. They are a non-profit organization that tests foams to assure low emissions as well as high performance. 

Luckily - all of our bamboo pillows are CertiPUR-US® tested and verified, which can make your journey a walk in the park! 


Reducing your exposure to toxic chemicals should become a part of your lifestyle, not a problem you can only solve on one occasion. This is why you should carefully choose everything that surrounds you - from your toiletries to your bedding. You can start by choosing an eco-friendly detergent from a company that cares about both your health and the planet’s health. 

At the risk of sounding salesy, we strongly recommend purchasing a whole set of beddings on Ecoy as the quality is more than guaranteed! This includes a good memory foam pillow, memory foam mattresses, and bamboo sheets. 


Can I wash my bamboo cover in the washing machine? 

Definitely. In order to preserve the original shape of the cover though, use a gentle cycle with low or medium heat and add mild detergent. Remember to let it air dry instead of putting it in the dryer.

Can bamboo pillows help me deal with hot and uncomfortable sleep? 

Yes. Bamboo fiber materials are known for their moisture wicking properties, allowing hot air to escape. This means that bamboo pillows can provide a good night’s sleep by constantly keeping you fresh and dry. 

Is it true that bamboo pillows contain minimal bamboo?

As any other pillow, bamboo pillows are made of two parts: the cover and the filling. Since the bamboo pillows’ fillings are usually made of memory foam, bamboo fibers are only found in the cover.