For mattresses and bed frames see my post on mattresses and bedding.
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 can be processed with toxic 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) but the picks here are FR free.
- 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 the beds.
Here is a short video I made about the components of a non-toxic sofa.
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.
The 8 Top Non-Toxic Sofa Brands You Can Buy Online
They carry Cisco Inside Green and Essentials collection, see the section below on all the details on Cisco’s materials.
They carry a few other lines that are typical material sofas:
- Younger + Co does not mention anything about what is in their sofas.
- American Leather claims they use water-based pigments on the leather, polyurethane (with soy) foam, and they are free of flame retardants.
- Environment sofas use reclaimed/recycled wood and canvas. The cushions are organic feathers + down, with or without polyurethane. You can upgrade to organic latex, jute, hemp, and wool.
- Luonto uses polyurethane foam. There is no other indication of what kinds of materials they use.
Made in the USA. Delivery to contiguous US states.
Start at $1900
Medley sofas are made with either polyurethane or organic natural latex, 0-VOC glues, no flame retardants, fabric options that are all-natural, organic, or both, solid alder frames with natural or 0-VOC finishes, and organic cotton internal frame lining.
They offer a sample kit which is really helpful for those who want to check out the materials first.
You can use code MyChemFreeHouse5 for 5% off.
Made in the USA. Delivery to the US, Canada and beyond.
Start at $1500
Cisco Brothers sofas are either the Essentials Collection or they can be made with the Inside Green option.
The more base line is called Essentials Collection which contains hardwood (no plywood), typically alder or maple, polyurethane foam, cushions with goose feathers & down. Fabrics are washed to remove any residual dust or chemicals.
The Inside Green option contains organic natural latex instead of polyurethane wrapped in either eco wool or feathers & down. They use certified solid woods, organic cotton fabrics with no toxic treatments, jute and hemp instead of springs, and WOCA natural stains. No flame retardants are used.
Start at $2300
Made in the USA. Sold at locations throughout the US and Canada. You can also order online from Urbangreenfurniture which carries 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 with what materials are used.
They use organic wool, organic cotton, organic-certified natural Dunlop latex, and 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 Rubio, or they can leave it unfinished.
They can also accommodate a latex allergy by completely leaving out and replacing the latex.
Solid wood frames are made of alder and beech, ash is usually used 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
The down blend is 50% polyester fiber, 45% duck feather, and 5% duck down. After emailing the company, it sounds like the down option has no foam, but I would double-check.
The foam option is, unfortunately, polyurethane memory foam, I prefer regular polyurethane. Memory foams are usually higher in offgassing than regular foam (though not necessarily). These don’t contain flame retardants.
They use solid wood inside the construction and some of the fabric options are GOTS certified organic cotton. This sets them apart from most other large national big brands.
For someone wanting to avoid both latex and polyurethane, and still looking for something affordable, this could be a good option.
They deliver to the contiguous US states.
$1000 – $2900
Made with solid alder, low-VOC wood glue, water-based stains, and polyurethane foam 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 America, order in-store in Seattle, limited shipping outside of Seattle.
Start at $1700
Made with solid maple (no plywood or particleboard), GOTS-certified organic upholstery (hemp and/or cotton), natural latex wrapped in organic wool, and the option of a linseed finish or unfinished feet. No flame retardants.
Made in America they ship to all states and Canada.
Starts at $3500
Made with organic latex with a feather and down wrap, solid maple wood, organic wool, GOTS certified organic cotton, Greenguard certified water-based glue, and Rubio Monocoat wood finish on legs. No flame retardants are used.
Made in America. They ship to the 48 contiguous states. It’s possible to order one to Canada but you need a customs broker.
Start at $1400
Alternative Sofa Options: Simple and Affordable
Daybeds and Futons
If you are too sensitive to 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.
IKEA makes a futon and simple metal-based sofa that contains polyurethane foam (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 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 time airing out.
The more polyurethane, the more you have to offgas. Not all futons have foam though. You have to check what the fill is.
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 glues used. They often don’t have stains.
Metal frames 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. Cushions that can be left outside to offgas or replaced with a cushion of your choice.
Outdoor cushions are made with either polyurethane or polyester fill 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
Green (Non-Toxic) Tables, Chairs, Bookcases and Storage
For non-toxic 0-VOC tables, chairs, bookcases, benches and storage units 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 which has particle board or MDF board. Plywood is not as high in offgassing as MDF or particle board.
There are some formaldehyde-free pressed wood products like Purebond plywood (though some sensitive folks react to that proprietary glue).
Some types of furniture are more likely to have a veneer of real wood glued on to a lower quality wood. In some styles this is hard to avoid.
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.
Non-Toxic Vintage Furniture
Vintage or reclaimed wooden furniture might be safe and healthy 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, pesticides, or other chemical substances.
With upholstered items, take extra care to make sure it wasn’t from a time frame when flame retardants were even more toxic. The post on flame retardants goes into more detail.
Solid Wood Amish Furniture
If you can’t find what you are looking for in the eco stores or in big box stores, try Amish furniture making companies. They build solid wood furniture. They often use linseed oil as a finish but unfinished can usually be requested.
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.
Uplift makes standing desks with solid wood as an option for the top, and metal as the legs. The finish has been reported as extremely low odor and has GreenGuard Gold certification.
With Amazon you usually can’t find out what stain/varnish was used. Usually, a clear coat is a safe bet for the mildly and moderately sensitive.
You can get the same style in glass and metal for the super sensitive.
Green Cradle – This company makes 100% solid wood bedroom furniture, either unfinished or finished with linseed oil. They have dressers, chests, armoires, bookcases, nightstands and cribs.
Pacific Rim Woodworking – This company makes beds and dressers out of solid wood, Purebond (no added formaldehyde) plywood, and they have 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.
Medley – Makes bedroom furniture out of solid wood and bamboo, with all-natural finishes. You can use 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 tell me what all the finishes were, as the items are 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 with non-toxic glues.
3. Alternatives to Wooden Furniture
Solid wood furniture from specialty stores tends to be expensive. Here are some alternatives.
These would also suit those who don’t do well with the odor of wood or have severe allergies and reactions to mold, dust, and allergens.
Non-porous, low toxin furniture that can easily be wiped down with a variety of cleaning products is a huge advantage for many.
Many of these options are also less expensive which is well suited to those starting over after a moldy or toxic house.
Glass, Metal, Stone & Plastic Furniture
Metal is one of the safest materials. Metal may need to be washed down in order to remove factory oils, but otherwise most finishes don’t offgas.
Powder-coated metal is the safest painted look finish. Electroplated finishes are totally safe, along with metals that doesn’t require any finish like chrome and stainless steel. Metal finishes, even if they used a paint, usually cure quite quickly.
Other furniture items you can find in metal are cabinets, drawers, even a chest of drawers though there are some wood products in there, shelves, tables of all sizes, kitchen prep islands, desks, bed frames, TV stands and more.
I really like this coral console table storage unit.
But, it can be paired with acrylic plastic like this totally transparent glass and acrylic desk below.
It’s possible to find pieces that are pure glass, like this table from Amazon (pictured) which is surprisingly affordable for a glass product.
Hard Plastic Furniture
Hard plastics are generally safe and are tolerable for most people. Almost all furniture made of hard plastic will be a low or no offgassing plastic. Sometimes it needs a couple days to air out.
I have seen many of these mid-century style chairs (pictured) in person and they were very inert. Some have metal legs if you want to avoid all wood.
Hard polypropylene, ABX and acrylic are all highly tolerable, low to 0 offgassing plastics. These polypropylene shelves/organizers pictured below could look cool (they come in metal as well).
Sterilite is a plastic that even the very chemically sensitive usually do well with (a mix of polypropylene and polyethylene). You can find drawers made of Sterilite.
Slightly more flexible is the plastic used to make outdoor faux rattan furniture.
Usually these are made of safer plastics (like polypropylene) that will work for most folks who are sensitive to chemicals. Make sure it’s not made of PVC which I have come across (rarely) with outdoor wicker. The one pictured could even be used indoors in a beachy style home.
Marble and other stone can be made into tabletops. Marble is made with a resin used to fill in the fissures, and a sealer would also be applied to furniture. You will have to reseal it if it gets heavy use.
It’s harder to find real stone furniture online. This is one real marble table from Amazon. You will find real stone furniture more readily in brick and mortar or specialty stores.
Faux marble is most often laminate (with particleboard) not ideal for the chemically sensitive. Though it could also be a safe hard plastic, or a less safe hard plastic (like cultured marble). It could also be engineered stone which is usually 0 VOC. Be sure to check out what it is made of.
This faux marble island is quartz, which is safe and 0-VOC (but like marble, not cheap).
Rattan, Seagrass, & Banana Leaf Furniture
You might also want to consider furniture made of natural fibers: rattan (a vine), banana leaves (the leaves from banana trees), seagrass (a reed) and bamboo (a grass).
The outdoor “rattan” is usually plastic woven in a wicker style, and works best for outdoor furniture. Real rattan and similar fibers can be used to make low toxin and even stylish indoor furniture.
The term “paper rope” is not a natural grass or reed, but rather paper mixed with glue and “sizing” chemical twisted together. It resembles rattan. If you are looking for real rattan, be sure to double-check.
Rattan can look stylish inside, despite being very simple:
Are rattan, banana leaves and seagrass treated?
Many very sensitive folks do well with these fibers. Though it’s possible the plants were sprayed while they were growing or sprayed with pesticides in transit if they are coming from tropical countries as an import (source).
Rattan is a vine that is technically a wood product. Amazon carries a selection of natural rattan chairs, most of them $100 – $200. IKEA carries rattan chairs from $50 – $180.
You can also find rattan headboards (IKEA has one with a wire frame), trays, baskets, stools, coffee tables, storage pieces and even mirrors.
More bed frames in my post on mattresses and bedding.
Banana leaves or banana fiber are the leaves from Banana trees. You can find it made into stools or poufs.
IKEA has a banana fiber stool and so does Amazon (pictured).
The terms seagrass and water hyacinth are used interchangeably in the furniture industry.
The leaves and stems are made into furniture like this storage basket. You can also find seagrass coffee tables, rugs (more in my post on non-toxic rugs), and various types and styles of storage baskets.
Corinne Segura is a Building Biologist Practitioner with 6 years of experience helping others create healthy homes
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