Table of Contents
1) Sofas and couches
3) Less conventional furniture/alternatives to wood
For mattresses and bed frames see my post on mattresses and bedding.
I recommend all of the products here, some products have affiliate programs and some do not. Upon purchase, I earn a small commission through affiliate links at no extra cost to you.
If you need assistance choosing the best sofas and furniture for your needs and sensitivities, please contact me for a one-on-one consultation.
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/formaldehyde treatments on the fabric (such as Scotch guard and other stain and water-resistant coatings)
- Eco Leather – 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 dyes and treatments.
- Solid woods (not formaldehyde filled pressed wood products)
- Zero or low-VOC glues, stains and varnishes
- Flame retardant free (my post on flame retardants goes into detail on which ones we want to avoid)
- Polyurethane does offgas at low levels, but I don’t rule it out completely. Make sure it is flame retardant free (soy foam is still polyurethane with some soy)
- GOTS certified fabrics and GOLS certified latex – both are explained in this post on certifications
Many of the companies below also offer upholstered chairs, recliners and non-toxic sofa beds/sleeper sofas. You will have to choose between polyurethane or natural latex in beds.
Here is a short video I made about the components of a non-toxic sofa.
The 8 Top Non-Toxic Sofa Brands You Can Buy Online
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.
Made in USA. Delivery to contiguous US states.
Start at $1900
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, and organic cotton internal frame lining.
You can use code MyChemFreeHouse5 for 5% off.
Made in USA. Delivery to the US, Canada and beyond.
Start at $1500
Cisco Brothers 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. Fabrics are also washed to remove any residual dust or chemicals.
WOCA water-based stains are used. (Check to see which WOCA stains they are using if you re super sensitive, as there is a discrepancy between what Cisco is saying and the SDS sheets of the product. Some people react).
Start at $2300
Made in the USA. Sold at locations throughout the US and Canada. You can also order online from some of the sellers like Urbangreenfurniture which carries Cisco’s sofas made with the “Inside Green” option. Those start $3400
These handmade, customized 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, organic-certified natural Dunlop, GOTS certified fabrics. No flame retardants are 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 they can 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.
Handmade in Seattle, they ship to all states and to Canada.
Start at $3800
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 and engineered wood which likely contains formaldehyde. There is some solid and some engineered wood in here. With Greenguard Gold certification, this is an extremely low level of allowed formaldehyde (0.0073 parts per million).
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 could be an option.
They deliver to contiguous US states.
Made with solid alder, low-VOC wood glue, and 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.
Made in American, order in-store in Seattle, limited shipping outside of Seattle.
Start at $1700
Made with solid maple, no formaldehyde-filled plywood or particleboard. GOTS-certified organic upholstery (hemp and/or cotton), natural latex, option of natural finishes or unfinished. No flame retardants.
Made in America they ship to all states and Canada.
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.
Start at $2900
Alternative Sofa Options: Simple and Affordable
Daybeds and Futons
If you are too sensitive for wood and typical sofa materials, or you just want something simpler and cheaper, you could try a metal daybed from Walmart, IKEA or Amazon and put a non-toxic mattress of your choosing on it. This Zinus Daybed will accommodate a MondoKing Thermarest.
IKEA makes a futon and simple metal-based sofa that contain polyurethane (no flame retardants) but this option cuts back on other toxic materials used in regular sofas. A simple sofa with a washable cover can be an asset to those with sensitivities and allergies who need to launder items often.
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 (no flame retardants). A simple option like this can be quite non-toxic and offgas rather quickly, especially after a little airing out.
The more polyurethane, the more you have to offgas. The more components you have inside a typical sofa, the more offgassing you have from pressed wood products, stains, and glues.
Futons eliminate pressed wood products and cut down on glue used. They often don’t have stains. Metal structures eliminate all offgassing of stains and wood glues.
If you want a proper futon bed for sleeping made of truly safe or natural materials check out my post on mattresses where I outline a number of options in this category.
You could also look at outdoor furniture to be used inside. The benefit here 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 either polyurethane or polyester and the covers can have waterproofing on them, but because of the ability to remove them from the sofa and offgas them, this could be a simple, affordable and healthy option for many.
2. Non-Toxic Furniture
Non-Toxic Tables and Chairs
For chairs and tables look for solid wood (with zero-VOC stains and varnishes) and zero or low-VOC adhesives.
Low odor woods are preferable for some sensitive people.
Avoid laminated wood, plywood and MDF board.
The exception might be formaldehyde-free pressed wood products like Purebond plywood (though some sensitive folks react to that proprietary glue).
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 catalyzed 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 (which are highly tolerated by the chemically sensitive) 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 MyChemFreeHouse5 for 5% 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, mold, 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.
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.
Pacific Rim Woodworking – This company makes beds and dressers out of solid wood, Purebond (no added formaldehyde) 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 MyChemFreeHouse5 for 5% off.
Zin Home – Makes bedroom furniture, much of it out of reclaimed wood, and some with natural finishes. They were not able to say what all the finishes were as the items were made overseas.
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 suit those with severe allergies and reactions to mold, dust, and allergens. Non-porous, low toxin furniture that can easily be wiped down with a number of cleaning products is a huge advantage for many.
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 generally 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.
Check out These Metal, Glass, Plastic options:
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.
Corinne Segura is a Building Biologist with 6 years of experience helping others create healthy homes.
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