How to Buy Non-Toxic Furniture

Keep your family safe with these tips.

<p>FollowTheFlow/Getty Images</p>

FollowTheFlow/Getty Images

Nowadays, eco-friendly living has become more popular. The concern of consumers is not just about the environmental impact, but also their health. This demand has been recognized by manufacturers, who are now making stylish and affordable nontoxic furniture that is more accessible than ever.

If you’ve been thinking about giving your home a non-toxic furniture refresh but aren’t sure where to start—here’s what you need to know.

Related:11 Everyday Changes You Can Make for a Greener Home

Search for third-party certificates

You can easily ensure that you are buying non-toxic furniture by looking for pieces that have been certified by third-parties such as OEKOTEX Greenguard FSC GOTS GOLS. They should be clearly marked on the product label or description. All products with these credentials are non-toxic and meet strict requirements.

“It’s important to have certifications such as OEKO-TEX and FSC because these are certifications that are issued by reputable, international third-party organizations that have the consumer’s best interests in mind,” explains Billy Shaw, co-founder and CEO of 7th Avenue Co, a modular line of sofas, chairs, and sectionals certified by OEKOTEX, FSC, and other certifications.

But keep in mind that doesn’t necessarily mean that furniture without these certifications is toxic.

What does non-toxic mean?

The label “non-toxic” is not regulated. It does not mean that a product has met a particular requirement. Dr. Hayley Goldbach, MDThe best way to avoid flame retardants, PFAS (sometimes called forever chemicals), and furniture that contains them is to avoid it.. “These are commonly used in stain-proof fabric or performance fabrics.”

PFAS and PFOAS can also be called microplastics. “This group of chemicals is incredibly harmful to the human body and the environment. They also stay in the environment for a long period of time and don’t break down naturally,” explains Shaw.

Keep in mind, however, that not all stain-resistant fabric is toxic. For example, 7th Avenue Co slipcovers are stain-resistant, but because they’re OEKO-TEX certified, they don’t contain flame retardants or other chemicals to be concerned about.

But it’s not just upholstery that can be toxic. “Unlike other consumer goods, furniture is quite an involved category of product. This means that when looking at non-toxic furniture, you’d want to take a look at all aspects of the product from the fabrics, the wood, and even the type of glue that is used,” Shaw says.

Goldbach advises that if you want to buy a furniture piece but aren’t certain what material it’s made of, contact the brand or manufacturer.

How Furnishings can impact air quality

Do you know that when you buy a new desk or dresser, it can have an odor that takes weeks to disappear? It turns out that’s not a good thing. These are chemicals (VOCs, or volatile organic compounds), such as formaldehyde, that are being released. Dr. Goldbach states that chemicals from paint, foam, cushions or cushion covers can affect indoor air.

Should your furniture all be non-toxic?

While it is technically possible to furnish every room of the home entirely with non-toxic pieces—it would ultimately be very expensive. So if you are trying to reduce household toxins, it’s best to prioritize some items over others.

“Mattresses should be the first priority as well as anything that you are spending a significant amount of time interacting with. Some common examples would be a bed frame, couch, or recliner.”

Reduce toxins in children’s bedrooms and nurseries. Are you unsure where to start with your cleaning? DaVinci The collection is stylish but affordable. Pottery Barn Kids There are some high-end options. These two brands offer a wide selection of Greenguard Gold certified furniture.

How to make conventional furniture safer

When you buy new furniture, or paint a roomConsider opening the windows and running an air cleaner to reduce the effects of VOCs.

If new, non-toxic furniture isn’t in your budget, Dr. Goldbach recommends buying used. “This not only allows you to get a nicer piece, but some off-gassing will have already taken place and thus it may be safer for your home.” 

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