Non-Toxic Furniture, Couches & Rugs

Updated Spring 2019

Table of Contents

1) Sofas and couches
2) Furniture 
3) Less conventional furniture/alternatives to wood
4) Rugs

For mattresses and bed frames see my post on mattresses and bedding

I recommend all of these products, some of which are affiliates and some of which are not. 

1. Non-Toxic Sofas and Couches


For upholstered furniture you want to look for:



  • Natural cushion fill such as natural latex, cotton, down and wool (See my warning about natural latex here. The concerns may be more related to beds, but I can't say for sure). 
  • No chemical treatments on the fabric (such as stain and water resistant coatings)
  • Some of these brands offer leather which some folks may prefer due to the ability to wipe it down. Leather needs to be looked at closely in terms of the treatments.
  • Solid woods 
  • Zero or low-VOC glues, stains and varnishes
  • No flame retardants 


Many of the companies below also offer non-toxic sofa beds/sleeper sofas. You will have to choose between polyurethane or natural latex for that option. 

Here is a short video I made about the components of a non-toxic sofa. 



Urban Natural: Start at $1900

They carry Cisco Inside Green and Essentials collection, see section below on Cisco. Another line they carry is Younger + Co which is a more or less a standard sofa.











Medley: Start at $1500

Medley sofas are made with either polyurethane or natural latex, 0 VOC glues, no flame retardants, fabric options that are all natural, organic, or both, solid alder frames, organic cotton internal frame lining.  You can use code MyChemFreeHouse10 for 10% off.










Cisco Brothers: Start at $2300

Locations throughout the US and Canada. Any of their sofas can be made with the Inside Green option. The Inside Green option contains natural latex or wool, down, certified solid woods, organic fabrics with no toxic treatments, WOCA natural stains, no flame retardants. The more affordable green line is called Essentials Collection which contains hardwood (no plywood) typically alder or maple, polyurethane with soy, cushion with goose feathers & down, water-based wood stains from WOCA. Fabrics are also washed to remove any residual dust or chemicals. (Check to see which WOCA stains they are using if super sensitive, as there is a discrepancy between what Cisco is saying and the SDS sheets, some people react).

You can also order online from some of the sellers. Urbangreenfurniture: Start at $3400 carries Cisco's sofas made with the "Inside Green" option.



EcoBalanza: Starts at $3800

These handmade, customised sofas are high quality and made with traditional methods (and that means less glue and more options for customization). They use organic wool, organic cotton, and organic-certified natural Dunlop, GOTS certified fabrics with no flame retardants used anywhere. Kapok and down are offered in some configurations. They use non-toxic 0 VOC glues, and Rubio Monocoat stains. They can use a different finish if the customer is sensitive to Monocoat, or leave it unfinished. They can also accommodate a latex allergy by completely leaving out and replacing the latex. Solid wood frames made are made of alder and beech and, usually ash for the legs. This is the most customizable option. The Essential Collection is more of option than a collection, and is a more affordable option.




Pottery Barn Eco Sofa - $2200-$3000

You choose between polyester and down. The down blend is 50% polyester fiber, 45% duck feather, 5% duck down. They don't contain flame retardants and they have organic cotton covers. What's inside may still bother sensitive people such as glues. There is some solid and some engineered wood in here. After emailing the company it sounds like there is no foam in here, but I would double check. For someone wanting to avoid both latex and polyurethane, and still looking for something affordable, this would be one of the best options.


Couch - Start at $1700

Made with solid alder, low VOC wood glue, water-based stains. Made with polyurethane or latex. The latex is either 100% natural or 70% natural /30% lab made rubber with no flame retardants. Very few of the fabrics are treated with flame retardants. Polyester batting can be swapped out for wool batting.


Savvy Rest Couch - $3800

Made with solid maple, no plywood or particle board. GOTS-certified organic upholstery (hemp and or cotton), natural latex, option of natural finishes or unfinished. No flame retardants.






PURE - Start at $2900
Natural latex with feather and down wrap, solid maple wood, eco-friendly wool, GOTS organic cotton. Greenguard certified water-based glue. Rubio Monocoat on legs.









Alternative Sofa Options: Simple and Affordable 


Amazon Daybed

DIY 

If you want a simple wooden sofa bench see my custom made sofa here

Daybeds and Futons

If you are too sensitive for wood, or typical sofa materials, you could try a metal daybed from Walmart, IKEA or Amazon (link to daybed on left) and put a non-toxic mattress of your choosing on it. This Zinus Daybed will accommodate a MondoKing Thermarest. This is also the cheapest, most affordable option.

IKEA makes a futon and simple metal based sofa which contain polyurethane but this option cuts back on other toxic materials. A simple sofa with a washable cover can be an asset to those very sensitive who need to launder items often.
IKEA Hammarn

An even simpler option from IKEA is the Hammarn little futon pictured for $129. This has a metal frame, and only a small amount of polyurethane. IKEA has stopped using flame retardants. A simple option like this can be quite non-toxic, especially after a little airing out. The more polyurethane, the more you have to offgas. The more components inside a typical sofa, the more you will have pressed wood product offgassing, and glues. Futons cut down on the glues, stains and pressed wood.

If you want a proper futon made of truly safe or natural materials check out my post on mattresses where I outline a number of options in this category.

Outdoor Furniture
Amazon wood furniture

You could also look at outdoor furniture to be used inside. The benefit there would be the simplicity of the design. Metal, plastic or solid wood as the base and cushions that can be left outside to offgas or replaced with a cushion of your choice. Cushions are polyurethane and the covers can have waterproofing on them, but because of the ability to remove them and offgas them, this could be a simple, affordable and tolerable option for many. Here are three options from Amazon: solid wood outdoor sofa, metal based outdoor sofa, and a plastic based outdoor sofa.






2. Non-Toxic Furniture

Non-Toxic Tables and Chairs
Urban Natural

For chairs and tables look for solid wood (with zero-VOC stains and varnishes) and zero or low-VOC adhesives. For some people, the terpenes in wood might not be tolerable. Low odour woods are preferable for most sensitive people. Avoid laminated wood, plywood and MDF board.

Many of the same companies above offer green furniture. For example:

Urban Natural uses either natural oils and a beeswax finish or a zero-VOC water-based catalysed varnish finish. The glues vary by manufacturer. One brand uses a Cradle-to-Cradle certified (toxicity level yellow) glue. 

Urbangreenfurniture Their wood furniture is treated with low-VOC stains. They use non-toxic, low-VOC glues.



Viesso - Uses ECOS 0-VOC finishes on non upholstered items, or natural oil and wax finishes. 0-VOC glues.

Medley - Has some beautiful solid wood furniture, sealed with Wood Shield and made with 0 VOC glues. Code MyChemFreeHouse10 for 10% off.

Vintage or reclaimed wooden furniture might be tolerable for some if you are sure it hasn't been refinished recently with conventional products, and it has not been exposed to chemical cleaning products, smoke, mould, or other chemical substances.


If you can't find what you are looking for in the eco stores or in big box stores, try Amish furniture making companies. 



Non-Toxic Desks
Urban Green
Here are a few ideas for desks:

Solid wood desk (pictured) with a low-VOC finish from Urbangreenfurniture, Vermont Woods also makes solid wood desks with a very low VOC lacquer. Solid wood desks from specialty stores tend to be pricey.

Solid wood, unfinished - Standard glue, but very little used. 






Bedroom Furniture

Romina

Pacific Rim Woodworking - This company makes beds and dressers out of solid wood, Purebond Plywood and has options for natural and 0 VOC finishes. 

Romina Furniture - Makes furniture for the bedroom for babies, kids and teens. They use solid wood only, organic natural glues, and a variety of non-toxic finishes. 

Baby Eco Trends - Makes furniture for babies and children. Solid wood, Amish made, with a choice of finishes. 

Green Cradle - This company makes solid wood bedroom furniture for adults and kids, either unfinished or finished with linseed oil. 


Medley - Makes bedroom furniture our of solid wood and bamboo, with all natural finishes. Code MyChemFreeHouse10 for 10% off.

Zin Home - Makes bedroom furniture, much of it out of reclaimed wood, and some with natural finishes. 

Vermont Woods - Solid wood bedroom furniture (some pieces have veneer), with very low VOC lacquer). 

TY Furniture - A focus on non-toxic furniture, this company uses solid woods, non-toxic natural oils and wax finishes and non-toxic glues. 



3. Alternatives to Wooden Furniture

Solid wood furniture from specialty stores tends to be expensive. Here are some alternatives. These would suite those perusing mold avoidance especially well. Non-porous, low toxin furniture that can easily be wiped down with a number of cleaning products is a huge advantage for those avoiding mold. Many of these options are also less expensive which is well suited to those first leaving a moldy or toxic house. 

Glass, Metal, & Plastic

Glass and metal are generally the safest options. Metal may need to be washed down in order to remove factory oils; powder coated metal is the best option, but all metal finishes become inert quite quickly. Hard plastics are fairly safe and are tolerable for most people. With marble tables keep in mind that a resin is used to fill in the fissures and a sealer is often used as well. There is no data on the VOC levels of those sealants.



You can find metal furniture at Target, IKEA, Amazon, Walmart and other stores. Home Depot sells basic furniture made of Sterilite which is highly tolerable. 



Pictured:

Bertoia style chairsGold and glass tableFaux marble and metal table 
Plastic drawersGlass and metal cartEames style white plastic and metal chairs
Plastic rattan loveseat, White plastic chairMetal mesh drawers

Rattan/Seagrass/Wicker/Banana

You might also want to consider furniture made of rattan and seagrass - it may be made for indoor or outdoor. The outdoor "rattan" is usually plastic. IKEA and Amazon always have a selection of seagrass and rattan furniture, rugs and baskets. 


 

Pictured:

IKEA rocking chairSeagrass chair with ottomanSeagrass pouf
Seagrass coffee table, IKEA rattan living room set, Wicker chair
Bamboo & seagrass chair, Rattan hamper, Banana fiber/rattan chair

4. Non-Toxic Eco Rugs 

There are only a few companies who have gone the extra mile to fully disclose what is in their rugs. These companies are the "greenest" and safest I could find. The most sensitive should use rugs that have not been treated with detergents, or dyed (even eco dyes), and should confirm no moth treatments (on wool) or other treatments if it's not explicit. For the less sensitive, eco or vegetable dyes might work. Wool won't contain flame retardants.

Hook and Loom - My top choice for rugs because of how forthcoming they are, and the fact that they used untreated wool. They used undyed natural wool, no detergents, no pesticides, no flame retardants and no latex.

Earth Weave - Rugs made out of wool, with no moth proofing and no other chemical treatments to the rugs. Dyes are organic. The rugs do contain natural latex. Custom sizes are possible.

DMI - Makes rugs out of their carpet material. These are seagrass rugs with no dyes, insecticide or chemical treatments. They do contain natural latex in the backing. They also make wool rugs.

Viesso - Carries, silk, wool, and polyester rugs that claim to be eco but they could not provide further details.

Urban Natural - Carries rugs that are 100% wool, wool/silk, hemp, cotton, and wool/viscose. They use vegetable dyes and no adhesives.

Lorena Canals - What I like about these rugs is that they are washable. That might suite some people more than the other options. 100% cotton with "eco dyes".

Cali Bamboo - Carries some rugs that are undyed, unbleached but I did not hear back from them with the full specs (mothproofing? etc). Rugs made out of denim scraps usually retain the chemical smell of the blue jeans.

Dana Haim - Uses natural dyes but I did not hear back any other details when I asked.

Novica  - Has a number of Mexican Zapotec rugs dyes with natural dyes, they do not contain any other treatment, they claim, such as mothproofing, stain resistant coatings and natural latex.

Libeco - Libeco is a company that makes linen in Europe. All of their linen is either organic or not usually grown with pesticides (only in the odd occasion). It is all Oeko Tex 100 which certifies no chemical additives to the rug. When the linen is in its natural colour it does not have dyes. Technically they are dry clean only, but you can hand wash them and dry them flat on hung in a way that they won't wrinkle.

Did you find this post helpful? If so you can buy me a coffee to support the research behind this blog. Thank you!


Corinne Segura is a Building Biologist with 5 years of experience helping others create healthy homes. 



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Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases through the Amazon links.

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19 comments:

  1. Hi - Nice article. It may also be worth noting that the wood finish makes a big difference in emissions. Ask for zero or low VOC wood finishes (many wood finishes can emit formaldehyde, even though solid wood is used). Polyurethane foam is usually OK, if you ensure it is flame retardant free. Also ask for non PFC coated textiles and textiles without antimony (which is a catalyst used in polyester textile).

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    1. Thank you for this information. I anyhow don't want poliester in my life. But, I guess I need to be informed about wood. So much to worry about.

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    1. Both are chrome so yes would consider both to be non-toxic. Wash metal with soap and water for those extremely sensitive.

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  3. You should check out EcoBalanza as a green Sofa maker too!!! My friend just bought beautiful custom stuff from them, and I'm researching but they're not on your list!

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    1. Thanks for the tip. How much did she pay for hers?

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  4. What is the name of the cream 5-pillow sofa above the ciscobrothers.com?
    Great article and thank you!

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  5. So sad... Ekla home closed it's doors. I love my couch from them!

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  6. Check out EcoSelect Furniture. (http://www.ecoselectfurniture.com/) They have great customer service and products with no toxins. I got a sleeper sofa. Locally sourced USA wood. Recycled coil springs. And they have great ratings on FaceBook!

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    1. I wouldn't recommend polyurethane because of the levels of offgassing

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  7. Hi, I am trying to buy a dresser for bedroom. I am very concerned about the chemical smell / formaldehyde with the dresser / drawers. any brand can be recommended? thanks

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  8. Our bedroom furniture from americanecofurniture.com had a formaldehyde free finish and had no smell at all when it arrived. They are made in the US and they are the most beautiful pieces in all our house.

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  9. Loved this article! I would add Quatrine Furniture to the list, as everything is made in the US without formaldehyde and other toxins. The foam is Certi-Pur US, and the sofas are covered in machine washable slipcovers. Prices are comparable to Cisco Brothers.

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    1. Those look like standard couches to me. The only green certification listed is certipur which is really just standard polyurethane which is not non toxic. It does off gas. Any polyurethane could reach that standard. I don't see any steps taken like with the brands listed here.

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  11. I'm wondering why you don't discuss secondhand/vintage furniture? I have always assumed that in terms of outgassing, anything a few years old is better than most new things.

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  12. I do mention that option. It works for some but usually ha neither fragrance or mould contamination. Not everyone is that sensitive though.

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