Last Updated on June 13, 2022 by The Filtery Staff

You and your loved ones (both human and furry!) spend a lot of time living, resting, playing, and eating on your furniture. So with all that time spent, you probably want to make sure you’re buying non-toxic furniture that’s safe for your family and as healthy as possible for your home.

So in this guide, you’ll learn about what to look for in non-toxic furniture, and then we’ll give your our favorite brands to shop from that are using the safest non-toxic materials.

P.S. If you’re looking for more specific furniture categories, check out our related non-toxic furniture guides:

This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a commission if you choose to make a purchase. As always, we only make recommendations that are genuine.

Featured Image Credit: Burrow

Non-Toxic Furniture At A Glance

Best Certified Non-Toxic Furniture: Avocado
Best Affordable Non-Toxic Furniture on a Budget: Burrow
Best Non-Toxic Bedroom Furniture: Savvy Rest
Best Non-Toxic Sofas & Couches: Burrow
Best Natural Solid Wood Furniture: Maiden Home
Best Non-Toxic Baby & Nursery Furniture: ducduc

How Do You Know if Furniture is Non-Toxic?

Certifications

There are several different kinds of certifications out there. You might recognize labels like OEKO-TEX, GREENGUARD, MADE SAFE, Certi-PUR, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and more.

Each of these certifications comes with pros and cons. Overall, certifications do indicate a level of safety when it comes to the materials used. They help to provide companies with a level of accountability since they have to be verified with a third party that they don’t contain certain toxic chemicals.

However, certifications don’t always mean a product is 100% non-toxic. Although they all have safety standards and restrictions in place, they’re not perfect. For example, there are currently only two certifications (to our knowledge) that completely restrict PFAS a.k.a “forever chemicals.” Those two certifications are MADE SAFE and GreenScreen. (OEKO-TEX restricts certain types of PFAS, but not all of them.)

It’s also worth noting that certifications do cost brands money to acquire and maintain. This usually won’t be a problem for larger and more established brands; however, smaller artisan companies may not be able to afford it. Just because a brand isn’t certified doesn’t automatically mean it’s toxic or less safe.

All of that being said, we definitely recommend looking for third-party certifications when possible since certified non-toxic furniture brands are generally going to be your best bet.

(P.S. We’re actually working on a complete guide to help you more easily understand these different certifications, so if you’re interested in that, be sure to sign up for our email list to get notified when it’s available!)

Low or No Formaldehyde

Now let’s talk about formaldehyde-free furniture. First, it’s important to note that formaldehyde is a naturally-occurring substance and it exists in small amounts all over the place—even in human bodies. So completely formaldehyde-free furniture isn’t really a thing… However, this is mostly a matter of semantics because what you should really be looking for is furniture that is LOW in formaldehyde.

When formaldehyde is in our environment at higher concentrations, that’s when it can start causing problems, from skin irritation to cancer.

The place where you’ll usually find the most formaldehyde in furniture is in MDF (medium-density fiberboard) wood, a.k.a. plywood or particleboard. These types of engineered wood are actually made by gluing a bunch of wood pieces (like chips and sawdust) together using a LOT of glue… And that glue almost always contains high amounts of formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (or VOCs).

So when buying non-toxic furniture, we recommend going for solid wood whenever possible.

Low or No VOC Finishes

Speaking of volatile organic compounds, you’ll also want to look for low VOC lacquers and zero VOC finishes on your furniture.

In short, VOCs are a family of chemicals that can evaporate at room temperature. They include harmful substances that can decrease your indoor air quality, potentially causing problems from lung irritation to cancer.

Conventional furniture is typically finished with harsh, VOC-laden lacquers, so you’ll want to look for brands that are using things like natural linseed oil or water-based finishes instead.

You can read this article to get more info about VOCs.

No Flame Retardants

When it comes to flame retardants in furniture, there is good news! These toxic chemicals (associated with everything from cancer and thyroid disease to fertility problems and decreased IQ) have actually been largely restricted and/or banned in recent years, and even conventional furniture companies like Ashley Furniture have started getting rid of them completely.

Flame retardants are often added to polyurethane foam, which is a more flammable material since it’s derived from petroleum. Unfortunately, however, investigations have shown that these toxic chemicals don’t even slow down fires… So manufacturers have basically been adding them to our stuff for no reason.

A California law that went into effect in 2020 banned fire retardants in children’s products, mattresses, and upholstered furniture. That means that any furniture brand that sells to California residents has had to say bye-bye to toxic flame retardants in recent years. Although we’re not totally in the clear since flame retardants are still used by some companies, it’s now much easier to find brands that do not use them at all.

You can dive deeper into flame retardant chemicals (including how to read couch labels to see if these substances are present) in our guide to non-toxic sofas and couches.

No PFAS

Unfortunately, there’s not so much good news on the PFAS front…

PFAS stands for per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances. This is a family of chemicals that has gained the nickname “forever chemicals” since they don’t break down. Instead, they just stick around and build up in our bodies and environments over time.

You may have heard about PFAS from the movie, Dark Waters, or the related documentary, The Devil We Know. These films share the shameful story of DuPont, the Teflon manufacturer that knowingly poisoned an entire town with its toxic PFAS.

In addition to making eggs slide off of a pan more easily, PFAS also work to make fabric water- and stain-resistant, which is why they’re often added to furniture.

Unfortunately, PFAS are still widely used by furniture manufacturers today, and there is a huge lack of transparency in this area. We hope that as PFAS continue to gain more public notoriety, they will be phased out in the same way flame retardants have been.

No PVC

PVC is often used to make vegan leather alternatives. However, as we’ve talked about before, PVC is one of the most toxic kinds of plastic. It contains chlorine, which creates byproducts called dioxins and furans, which are linked to cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, and more.

Not only that, but PVC almost always contains phthalates, which are known endocrine disruptors and are linked to a list of various negative health outcomes.

Natural & Organic Materials

While natural and organic fabrics are definitely always better for some things (like underwear, for example!), when it comes to furniture, it’s not always so straightforward.

First of all, some synthetic fabrics tend to be more resistant to mold growth compared to certain natural fabrics like organic cotton. For those with CIRS or sensitivity to mold, this can be a compelling reason to consider getting upholstered furniture made with something like polypropylene.

Secondly, anything can be made from natural and/or organic materials but still have toxic additives. We’d argue that it’s better to get a sofa made with a synthetic fabric but that is PFAS-free (like Burrow, for example) as opposed to a sofa that’s made from certified organic cotton fabric but then has toxic stain-resistant finishes added to it.

The 8 Best Non-Toxic Furniture Brands

Whether you or your loved ones are chemically sensitive or you’re just trying to decrease the amount of toxic materials in your life as a preventative measure, buying non-toxic and eco-friendly furniture is a great way to promote and maintain human health.

Here are our favorite chemical-free furniture brands:

Avocado (Best Certified Non-Toxic Furniture)

Carries: Mattresses, Bed Frames, Dressers, Nightstands, End Tables, Coffee Tables, Dog Beds (+ other home goods like bedding, pillows, skincare, and more)

Avocado is one of our favorite brands for non-toxic mattresses and furniture. First of all, they carry the most third-party certifications of any furniture brand, including MADE SAFE, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), GREENGUARD, and more.

Their primary offering includes solid wood bedroom furniture (no MDF!) which includes non-toxic, water-based ECOS stains and Titebond® wood glues, which are safe and produce no harmful fumes (zero VOC).

Avocado is also known for its sustainable furniture… Not only do they use reclaimed wood and other recycled materials for a lot of their wooden furniture, but their products are also carbon negative, their designs are zero waste and biodegradable, and they’re members of 1% For the Planet.

Plus, they’ve got a lot of low-risk consumer features like 1-year trials, 25-year warranties, and easy financing.

Shop Avocado


Burrow (Best Affordable Non-Toxic Furniture on a Budget)

best affordable non-toxic furniture from Burrow on the filtery

Carries: Sofas & Couches (including sectionals, sofa beds, and ottomans), Coffee Tables, End Tables, Bed Frames, Mattresses, Desks, Office Chairs, & More

It can be difficult to find affordable non-toxic furniture if you’re on a budget, but Burrow is one of the best brands to look into. They carry a non-toxic sofa that starts at $835 and their pricing is very comparable to what you’d find in the more conventional furniture industry.

Not only that, but Burrow’s furniture will hopefully last you a long time, even as you move from home to home. This is in part because of its modular design: it’s meant to be assembled, rearranged, and reconfigured for spaces (and families!) of different shapes and sizes.

Burrow uses Olefin for its upholstery fabric. Even though it’s synthetic, it’s made from polypropylene, which is one of the safer plastics. More importantly, it’s free from potentially dangerous chemicals like PFAS and flame retardants.

Their coffee tables and other wooden furniture is made from sustainably-sourced hardwood and is free from toxic glues that contain high levels of formaldehyde and other VOCs.

Burrow has several other compelling selling points too, like customization options, easy financing, and free shipping.

Note that Burrow does use plywood in some of their pieces. For the most part, they use TSCA Title VI compliant MDF, which is made in Europe and contains absolutely no formaldehyde. The exception to this is the plywood used for their headboards, which is regular MDF. (We hope they change this soon!) Burrow has been very helpful and transparent in answering our questions, so don’t hesitate to reach out to them if you have any other questions!

Shop Burrow


Savvy Rest (Best Non-Toxic Bedroom Furniture)

Carries: Bedroom Furniture, Sofas (including armchairs, loveseats, and ottomans), Tables, Benches, and Cribs (as well as other bedroom essentials like pillows, sheets, and more)

For more sustainable furniture, Savvy Rest works on a made-to-order basis in order to decrease wood waste. Their customizable furniture is made using things like solid wood and zero VOC finishes like natural linseed oil (or you can also get unfinished!).

Their line of mattresses is free from toxic chemicals and is instead made from safe materials like organic natural latex, organic wool, and organic cotton.

Savvy Rest’s natural furniture is also made in the USA, is GREENGUARD certified, and is completely free from things like chemical flame retardants and PFAS.

Shop Savvy Rest Use code THEFILTERY20 for 20% off.


Maiden Home (Best Natural Solid Wood Furniture)

non-toxic furniture from maiden home on the filtery

Carries: Sofas, Sectionals, Bed Frames, Coffee Tables, End Tables, Kitching & Dining Room Tables and Chairs

Maiden Home carries a collection of gorgeous furniture made from sustainable hardwood. It’s free from things like flame retardants, formaldehyde, and other toxic chemicals, and instead, they use water-based, low-VOC glues and stains as much as possible. They also use soy-based foam for their cushions, instead of polyurethane foam, which is a petroleum product that tends to have more chemical emissions.

It’s important to note that some of Maiden Home’s upholstered furniture does contain stain-resistant treatments, so they’re not completely free from all PFAS. They are free from PFOS and PFOA (two of the “worst” PFAS) and are GREENGUARD GOLD Certified, which means that although they’re not 100% non-toxic, they’re not the worst either.

Maiden Home offers a high level of customizability with a practically endless number of possible fabric and finish configurations, so you can pick out what’s best for you and your home. When it comes to whether or not a specific piece contains any PFAS, we recommend just asking the Maiden Home team before you buy to make sure you’re getting what you want!

When it comes to their furniture production, everything is made by hand by wood artisans in North Carolina and Virginia. Plus, they also offer financing through Affirm, starting at 0% interest, and a 30-day return policy.

Shop Maiden Home


ducduc (Best Non-Toxic Baby & Nursery Furniture)

Carries: Cribs, Changing Tables, Kid Beds, Desks, Dressers, Bookshelves, Storage, Benches, Play Tables, & More

Several of the brands listed here (including Avocado, Savvy Rest, ) carry great non-toxic cribs and other non-toxic nursery furniture, but ducduc’s collection of non-toxic furniture for babies and kids has one of the widest varieties of options. They have all kinds of options to fit your little ones as they grow, from baby cribs to convertible big-kid beds and more.

Everything from ducduc is handmade in the USA out of 100% solid wood (MDF-free) and is finished with non-toxic, water-based finishes and glues.

Shop ducduc


Medley

best non-toxic furniture brands from medley home on the filtery

Carries: Sofas (including sectionals, sleeper sofas, and ottomans), Accent Chairs, End Tables, Coffee Tables, Dining Room Tables, Office Furniture, and More

Medley is another eco-friendly furniture brand that carries beautiful modern and minimalistic designs. They use sustainable materials like FSC certified wood, zero-VOC glues, and certified organic natural Dunlop latex… all of which are free from any fire retardants.

Medley’s furniture also comes with a handful of certifications, including OEKO-TEX® 100, CertiPUR-US®, Global Organic Latex Standard, Global Organic Textiles Standard, GREENGUARD Gold, and Forest Stewardship Council. Plus, all of their furniture is California Prop 65 compliant.

Everything is handcrafted in the USA, in Los Angeles, California. Additionally, Medley offers financing through Affirm, starting at 0% interest, and a 15-day trial & return policy.

Shop Medley


Sabai

best non-toxic furniture brands sabai on the filtery

Carries: Sofas, Sectionals, Accent Chairs, & Ottomans

Sabai is another great option for affordable non-toxic couches.

None of their furniture contains any formaldehyde, flame retardants, or PFAS treatments. They use CertiPUR certified foams for their cushions along with FSC-certified solid wood finished with low-VOC stains. And they actually don’t use any glue at all!

Sabai is also a very sustainable company and is working to increase furniture circularity and decrease waste with their Repair and Replace program. This program allows you to repair your furniture as needed to get as many years as possible out of it. They also offer a Revive program, which allows you to re-sell your sofa or buy one secondhand at 30% off.

All of Sabai’s furniture is ethically made in a family-owned factory in High Point, North Carolina. In fact, 90% of their materials are sourced within 100 miles of their production facility!

Shop Sabai


Carolina Morning

non toxic furniture brands carolina morning on the filtery

Carries: Couch, Loveseat, Chair, Coffee Table, Futon, Bed Frame, Pillows (including yoga/meditation cushions)

For a different kind of design, Carolina Morning makes minimalistic modular furniture out of regionally harvested Appalachian poplar wood and then finished with a non-toxic, whey-based finish. Their cushions are available in various different shapes and colors and are made using 100% certified organic cotton canvas and then filled with natural and eco-friendly kapok fiber.

Carolina Morning’s designs are “inspired from traditional floor-based cultures such as Vedic, Taoist, and Native American who used the floor to create simple and elegant surroundings.” They offer some really unique options—like this Floor Lounge Chair or Floor Couch!

Shop Carolina Morning

What About West Elm and Pottery Barn?

West Elm and Pottery Barn are also pretty good places to find affordable non-toxic furniture. They do have a lot of great initiatives when it comes to things like sustainability, fair trade, and the use of safe materials… But it often just comes down to which specific product you’re buying.

Much of their furniture is made under fair trade conditions using natural materials and is free from some of the worst offenders such as flame retardants. However, when it comes to other factors (like PFAS), it’s often really difficult to determine whether or not a specific piece of furniture is totally non-toxic. So after you pick out your favorite pieces, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask before you make your purchase!

What About Non-Toxic Outdoor Furniture?

Sigh… Your options are very limited here. This is because almost all outdoor furniture is treated with water- and stain-resistant chemicals that contain PFAS. But we do have a separate article breaking down your options for less-toxic outdoor furniture, which you can check out here.

Or as an alternative, you could go with a less conventional option like organic hammocks if it works with your outdoor space!


solid wood non toxic coffee tables from savvy rest on the filtery
Image: Savvy Rest

More FAQs About Non-Toxic Furniture

There are lots of questions about non-toxic furniture! If you’re looking for a specific answer, here are some of the most commonly asked questions:

Is the Smell From New Furniture Toxic?

Many people find that new furniture has a strong smell to it, and whether or not this smell is toxic just depends. In general, strong chemical smells can give you a sign that harsh (and potentially dangerous) chemicals are used, which can lead to reduced indoor air quality. This is why we recommend you avoid toxic chemicals by shopping from the eco-friendly furniture companies listed above.

However, just because new furniture has a strong smell doesn’t automatically mean it’s toxic. Those who are chemically sensitive may even have a strong reaction to safe smells at high concentrations, which some doctors and researchers believe is most likely due to a limbic system disorder.

How Long Will Furniture Off Gas?

“Off-gassing” refers to the process of chemicals from furniture (or other products) evaporating from the product and into your air. (You can read more about that here). Many people are under the impression that if you let furniture off-gas for a certain amount of time, it will “complete” the process and stop emitting chemicals into your air.

But this is actually a myth. In fact, when it comes to certain materials like polyurethane foam, off-gassing actually gets worse as the product ages, since the material breaks down more and more. So basically: furniture never really stops off-gassing.

How Do You Get Formaldehyde Out of Furniture?

You can’t really get formaldehyde out of furniture. Instead, you’ll want to try and purchase furniture that doesn’t come with a bunch of formaldehyde to begin with. You can do this by looking for furniture made with solid wood (instead of engineered wood) and minimal glues, adhesives, and lacquers.

Where Can You Buy Non-Toxic Furniture?

For the most part, the safest furniture companies are direct-to-consumer brands (like the ones listed above). However, you can also find non-toxic (or at least less toxic) furniture at some in-person stores like West Elm and/or Pottery Barn. (Although, not all of their furniture is non-toxic, so you’ll just have to do more research before buying.)

What is the Safest Furniture?

The safest furniture for children, those who are chemically sensitive and/or living with conditions like cancer or auto-immune disease, and/or people who are just trying to choose healthier furniture for preventative reasons is going to be furniture that is made from solid wood and no- or low-VOC finishes and is free from toxic chemicals like flame retardants and PFAS-containing treatments.

What is Organic Furniture?

“Organic furniture” indicates that the materials used to manufacture the furniture are made without potentially toxic chemicals like pesticides. For example, the fabric used to upholster a couch may be made out of organic cotton. Or the latex inside of the cushions may be made from natural organic latex.

Usually, you’ll want to look for third-party certifications like GOTS or GOLS, which provide a level of accountability that the materials used are truly organic. However, certifications are not the end-all, be-all, and materials can still be technically organic even without a certification.

It’s very rare to find furniture that’s 100% organic since several kinds of materials (like wood) can’t really be certified organic. What’s more common is to find furniture made with some organic materials.

How Do You Know If You’re Buying Solid Wood Furniture?

Most furniture distributors will tell you in the product descriptions whether or not solid wood is used in their products. Avoid descriptors like MDF, plywood, engineered wood, and particleboard, as these are all indications that the furniture is NOT solid wood and likely contains high levels of formaldehyde.

Is Ashley Furniture Non-Toxic?

Ashley Furniture is not non-toxic. Although the large furniture brand did phase out toxic flame retardants (which is definitely a win!), it still uses other potentially harmful materials such as engineered wood, harsh glues and finishes, and PFAS-containing treatments.

Is Ethan Allen Furniture Toxic?

Similar to Ashley Furniture, Ethan Allen did ban flame retardants in their furniture, which is great news. They’ve also implemented several other safe and sustainable initiatives, including using low-VOC finishes and some solid wood. When it comes to Ethan Allen, some of their furniture is less toxic than others, so it’s ultimately up to you to do your research before buying.

Is Bamboo Furniture Toxic?

We’ve talked about the problems of bamboo before when it comes to fabric. (In summary, several of the chemicals commonly used to transform the bamboo plant into a soft and silky fabric are toxic.)

When it comes to furniture, however, there isn’t quite as much concern, since there aren’t as many chemicals needed to turn bamboo into wood. In general, bamboo furniture is considered non-toxic. However, just like with any other material, it ultimately comes down to how it’s processed and what is added afterward.

Is Metal Furniture Toxic?

For the most part, metal furniture is a safe bet since it doesn’t off-gas as much as other materials. If you choose to buy metal furniture, you may just want to wipe it down with an all-purpose non-toxic cleaner before using it in order to get rid of various oils and materials from the manufacturing process.

Additionally, it might be worth noting that some people are concerned that metal furniture could conduct EMFs more than other types of furniture, but the verdict is still out on that…

Is Plastic Furniture Toxic?

Whether or not plastic furniture is considered toxic depends on the type of plastic used. You’ll want to avoid PVC as much as possible, opting instead for a safer synthetic like polypropylene.

Is Leather Furniture Toxic?

The leather furniture you’ll find on the market almost certainly contains toxic chemicals. This is mostly because almost all of it uses conventional leather (where heavy metals like chromium are used in the manufacturing process), as opposed to the safer and less toxic vegetable-tanned leather.

Although you’ll be able to find plenty of veggie-tanned bags, jackets, and other (smaller) leather products on the market, it’s nearly impossible to find a couch made out of vegetable-tanned leather. This is mostly due to the fact that vegetable-tanned leather is more expensive and therefore an entire sofa made out of it would be out of most consumers’ budget.

Do Leather Couches Have Flame Retardants?

It depends! Most of the time, flame retardants are added to polyurethane cushions, which most leather sofas do have. However, flame retardants have largely been phased out of many couches sold in the U.S. due to a California law that went into effect in 2020. So your chances of buying a leather couch that contains flame retardants have definitely gone down significantly. But you’ll still want to check with the furniture brand and/or reference the couch label before buying!

Is MDF Furniture Toxic?

Yes, MDF furniture is toxic. MDF wood is actually made by gluing a bunch of wood pieces (like chips and sawdust) together to make what looks like real wood. There are almost always high amounts of formaldehyde and other VOCs in all of that glue, which is what makes MDF toxic.

Is Pine Furniture Toxic?

Furniture made from natural pine wood is generally a good sustainable furniture option, but you want to make sure it’s made from solid pine wood, as opposed to manufactured wood (MDF). Also, don’t forget to check the finishes! You’ll want to buy solid wood furniture that uses water-based finishes and/or natural linseed oil. Even better: look for FSC-certified wood, which indicates that it’s been sourced from responsibly-managed forests.

Is Laminate Furniture Toxic?

Much like MDF, laminate furniture is often made using potentially toxic materials. Laminate essentially consists of synthetic materials that are made to look like wood. It can be quite difficult to find out exactly what is actually in laminate furniture, but it often contains things like formaldehyde (and other VOCs) as well as phthalates.

Does All Furniture Have Formaldehyde?

Technically, all furniture contains small amounts of formaldehyde since it’s a naturally occurring substance that is found in everything from trees to humans. However, the real problem with formaldehyde in furniture is due to the fact that there is SO much added formaldehyde from the glues, adhesives, and finishes. When formaldehyde exists in these high amounts is when it starts to become dangerous to human health.


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