Tips For Choosing Healthy and Non-Toxic Furniture
One of the most common questions I get when people want to start making a healthier home has to do with choosing healthy furniture.
And believe me, I know how challenging this can be!
I have done countless hours of research and trial and error to find the best non-toxic furniture for all different price points. Rather than making you take hours of your time, I've condensed my research to give you a few great tips to help you choose healthier furniture.
First, let's start with what NOT to get...
Avoid Chemical Flame Retardants:
Chemical flame retardants are known endocrine disrupters (messing with hormones) and carcinogens. Certain types also cause neurological disorders. The chemicals are especially detrimental to children because their small bodies are absorbing these chemicals at a much higher ratio than adults.
When buying cushioned furniture look for the CAL TB 117-2013 Compliant label. The label will say whether or not the product uses chemicals to meet the requirements of the California law. This label is only required on furniture sold in California, but since they have such a large consumer population, many companies don’t change their packaging for the rest of the country.
If you do not see the CAL TB 117-2013 Compliant label, the best option is to contact the manufacturer and ask if they use chemical flame retardants in the specific piece of furniture you are looking for.
Formaldehyde is a volatile organic compound (VOC) which means that it off-gasses harmful chemicals into the air we breathe. This off-gassing can last for years. It leads to eye, nose, throat, and lung irritation, increases risk of asthma in children, causes upper respiratory illnesses, and is a known carcinogen.
Formaldehyde is used in the glue that binds together most home furnishings. It is often in the particle board or plywood frame of sofas, tables, cabinets, dressers, bed frames, and shelving.
Look for solid wood furniture and frames whenever possible to minimize the risk of formaldehyde exposure. Contact the manufacturer to ask if they use formaldehyde in the particular piece of furniture you are looking for.
Avoid Synthetic Latex:
Synthetic latex is made using petroleum-based compounds. It contains VOCs that will off-gas for long periods. Synthetic latex is found in mattresses and chair cushions.
Natural latex is the safer alternative to synthetic latex. Natural latex is made from the rubber tree and will not off-gas. If you are looking to buy a natural latex mattress or sofa, make sure that the company is using 100% natural latex. Some companies use a blend of both natural and synthetic latex but market the product as natural.
Healthy and Non-Toxic Furniture Recommendations
Healthy and Non-Toxic Sofas and Chairs:
Many main stream brands have stopped using flame retardants in their sofas including:
IKEA, Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, and Room & Board. But note that other chemicals, like formaldehyde and synthetic latex, may still be in the furniture.
IKEA is a great affordable option for safer furniture. They stopped adding flame retardants to their cushioning in 2015. They also strive to use as little formaldehyde as possible. They do not use formaldehyde in their paints or in the adhesive that attaches a laminate to its particle board core. Across all their products, the formaldehyde emissions are about half of the legal limit set by the European Union.
Savvy Rest makes sofas and arm chairs made of organic cotton or hemp fabric, organic latex cushions and solid wood frames. Their products are pricey, but you are paying for a completely non-toxic product.
Furnature is another expensive but very safe and earth friendly company. Their products are completely non-toxic.
Healthy and Non-Toxic Mattresses:
Mattresses have more stringent flame retardant requirements than sofas. This means that mattresses will either have an added chemical flame retardant or are made of wool which is a natural flame retardant. Organic mattresses are the best option. Look for organic cotton, natural latex and wool. Wool makes the mattresses naturally flame retardant, so no chemicals need to be added.
My Favorite Options:
Happsy: Happsy is a newer organic mattress company and is significantly less expensive than the alternatives. I have not had a chance to try out Happsy, but from my research they check out as a healthy option, and they have very positive reviews.
Healthy and Non-Toxic Dressers and Shelves:
When choosing dressers and shelving, look for solid wood furniture. Solid wood is going to be more expensive than engineered wood (particle board, MDF and plywood) but it is much less likely to contain formaldehyde.
Note: Be mindful of the finish of the wood! If the solid wood furniture is finished with a toxic stain or paint, it will off-gas VOCs. You want a non-toxic ZERO-VOC finish.
Contact the furniture company to find out what types of paints and stains they use to finish their solid wood furniture.
IKEA makes a lot of solid wood furniture that is unfinished. This allows you to affordably buy solid wood pieces and finish them yourself with non-toxic paints.
Healthy Used Furniture:
Shopping for second hand solid wood furniture is a good way to keep costs down. I do not recommend second hand furniture for any cushioned, upholstered furniture because toxins can off-gas from those materials for years.
Plus, without knowing the previous owners, you don’t know if the chair or sofa has been exposed to cigarette smoke, toxic cleaners, or any other household toxins that tend to linger on upholstery for a very long time.
Choosing the healthiest furniture you can is the right choice for your family. And knowing what you need to avoid is a great start in keeping your family safe and healthy.
These furniture suggestions will fit in perfectly when creating your bedroom sanctuary! Your mind and your body will thank you.