The best non-toxic window coverings are natural untreated fabric, natural fiber roll-down blinds, non-painted aluminum blinds, and aluminum screens.
For blackout shades, bamboo shades with liners, polyester curtains, hemp, cotton, and paper pleated shades can be considered.
I avoid PVC roller shades or curtain backing, flame retardant treated fabrics, wrinkle-free finishes, and wood and aluminum blinds with finishes that offgas.
If you’re looking for non-toxic window frames, you can find that article here.
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.
1. Non-Toxic Fabric Curtains
Fabric curtains are usually treated with wrinkle-free chemicals and flame retardants.
Natural fabrics do break down in UV light but are a healthier option. Look for Oeko-Tex 100, organic, or GOTs Certified fabrics to guarantee that they don’t use chemical treatments.
1. MagicLinen uses 100% OEKO-TEX-certified European flax linen. Their blackout curtains have a backing layer of polyester.
2. Anchal makes a single layer 100% GOTS Certified organic cotton curtain.
3. Rawganique makes organic hemp and organic linen curtains as well as organic cotton blackout curtains. They offer dye-free, bleach-free options.
4. Barn & Willow uses Belgian Linens (usually grown without pesticides) and certified organic cotton fabrics.
The linen options I have found on Amazon are either a linen polyester mix or polyester made to look like linen.
2. Non-Toxic Blinds
Types And Brands:
“Green” versions of blinds include bamboo roll-down blinds that are not treated with chemicals like those from Earthshade and Blinds Chalet. Check to see what the backing is and order samples. Bamboo blinds come in different looks, and other grasses can be woven into the blinds as well.
1. EarthShade is a company that goes above and beyond and is great for chemically sensitive folks.
2. Blinds Chalet makes bamboo shades and was happy with the samples (these really need a backing unless you want just minimal privacy).
I have not found wooden blinds with a 0-VOC finish since this is so hard to accomplish with something that holds up to UV. Real wood blinds are also prone to warping. Real solid wood is best used as shutters.
Real wood blinds made of basswood are extremely light. From an aesthetic point of view, they are almost impossible to differentiate from the composites.
1. Blinds Chalet makes real wood blinds that are very light and thin (Signature 2 inch in Carmelia is what I got samples of). I could pick up only very minor offgassing which did come to completion in a few weeks.
2. Blinds Galore – all of the thin 2 inch real wood blinds from Blinds Galore were also very low in odor, just like other major brands. Only the very sensitive would be able to pick up any offgasing. And with a bit of time, this did offgas completely.
Faux Wood Blinds
Faux wood blinds are usually polyvinyl chloride (PVC), but composite blinds can be made of safer plastics mixed with wood.
1. Blinds Chalet composites that I got samples of were very low in offgassing (Premier Composite Shutters).
2. Blinds Galore composite blinds don’t explicitly say what kind of polymer (plastic) is used. Some of them are listed as PVC and some do not indicate the type of plastic used. This brand has an American and Canadian website. I tested Bali wood blinds. They were extremely low in offgassing.
Aluminum blinds used to be finished with a powder-coated finish which was very safe. You can find some older blinds like this.
But currently, all metal blinds in North America, Asia, and Europe are made with a polyester-based baked-on enamel finish that does offgas in theory. But by the time I have received samples of metals blinds the offgassing has been complete.
1. EarthShade makes the only brushed aluminum blinds with no paint or coating. (At some retailers, what they are calling “brushed aluminum” does have a coating).
2. Hunter Douglas ads an anti-static additive to the coating of their blinds. This may be something like Teflon (but we don’t actually know what it is), which could offgas or leach chemicals.
Between the Glass Blinds
Between the glass is a really cool option that eliminates the worry of offgassing. The blinds are between the panes of glass.
1. Pella – if you’re getting new windows you could get your blinds or shades in between the glass. Which is a cool option that Pella offers. Here is an example.
3. Non-Toxic Blackout Shades & Curtains
Polyester Blackout Curtains
Polyester backing is one of the the most common black out lining materials. Polyester with no PVC will work for many sensitive people. It’s not perfect right out of the box, but it doesn’t take long for the chemicals to dissipate. If you can wash and/or air them out first that will help.
1. Eclipse polyester curtains from Amazon do not contain flame retardants. They can be washed and aired out, and should be good after washing and airing for most people.
2. West Elm‘s 100% polyester curtain liner is an extra layer of polyester that goes under their other curtains, it contains no PVC or foam. Like all polyester it will still have that new fabric smell but will air out with some time. West Elm has been improving their eco-credentials lately. Someone sensitive to chemicals did well with these.
3. Moondream makes 100% polyester black out curtains that are Oeko-Tex 100 certified.
Room Darkening Curtains
1. Rawganique makes two-layer Organic Cotton “Blackout Curtains”. The brown/brown color will black out as much light as is possible to black out with 100% natural and organic material.
2. IKEA Room Darkening Curtains made with 100% cotton are light-blocking. They should be washed or aired out before using if you’re highly chemically sensitive.
100% Blackout Blinds
1. Earthshade makes eco blackout shades and rollers that are probably the safest ready-made option on the market. The blackout roller shades do contain 35 parts per billion (ppb) formaldehyde (a miniscule amount) which is produced when pressing the polyester sheets together to laminate them with heat. Only the severely sensitive will need to offgas this first by airing it out. The shades have also been processed with bleach. Those are the only two treatments of the fabric.
When installed with a proper blackout system, these will get you the most light blocking of the options on the list.
Simple Light Blocking
1. Paper black pleated shades are a simple and quick solution to light blocking. The company claims in an email they do not give off any hazardous chemicals (I bought the natural color version of this – it has a slight chemical smell and needs to be offgassed only for a short while). They are not that great at blocking light compared to the other options and you will need to double them up to make a bigger difference. But these are super inexpensive, easy to install quickly, and worked perfectly in my tiny house.
DIY Organic Curtains
Another really safe option would be to make your own blackout curtains with pesticide-free hemp or organic fabrics.
1. Two Sisters Ecotextiles sells organic fabrics for curtain making, including black out liners.
4. Non-Toxic Window Screens
Conventional screens are very smelly at first. They can be left outside to offgas, or aluminum screens can be used instead. Chemically sensitive folks prefer aluminum screens.
Marvin is one brand that makes aluminum options.
Corinne Segura is a Building Biologist Practitioner with 8 years of experience helping others create healthy homes.
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