The couch is the centrepiece of many homes so it’s only natural that we’d want to make a non-toxic couch a priority!
With so many options out there it can be overwhelming! We’re going to take you through why it’s important, what materials are used in regular couches, what are the better non-toxic material options and which non-toxic couch brands we recommend.
What toxins are used in couch manufacturing?
Many couch frames are made with wood or metal frames but there’s a growing trend to use plywood. This may seem innocent but you’d be surprised what’s used to make plywood.
Plywood is made by glueing multiple sheets of wood veneer together, using a glue known as phenol-formaldehyde which is known to increase the durability of the product.
Formaldehyde is a volatile organic compound (VOC) that is a colorless, strong-smelling gas that is a known carcinogen.
Adhesives used in furniture making often contain harmful VOCs as they help strengthen the final product. This makes sense when manufacturing couches but they are known to be harmful to humans and should be avoided.
Harmful chemicals in adhesives include polyurethanes, formaldehyde, benzene and phthalates, just to name a few. These chemicals have been linked to cancer, birth defects, asthma and a range of other health problems.
Foam that is used within sofas (and many other household items) will continue to emit toxic gases (VOCs) into the air that may lead to headaches, cancers and a range of other health problems.
There are a number of types of foam used in sofas out there but the most commonly used foam is ply foam. Polyfoam- is the cheapest, low-quality foam used and it’s a petroleum-based foam that is known for releasing VOCs into the air.
Fabric and Leather
The fabric that is used to upholster couches can also be quite toxic. Of course, there are options for natural materials but even then, they are often heavily treated with chemicals to create flame-resistant, stain-resistant and crease-proof fabrics. The chemicals that create stain-resistant fabric are called perfluorochemicals (PFCs) and have been linked with reduced fertility, cancer and even learning difficulties with children.
The other most common material to upholster a couch is leather. Whilst it is a natural product, the hide is treated with numerous chemicals during the tanning process. The most commonly used method of tanning uses chromium in the process. Chromium is a known carcinogenic (cancer-causing) for humans. Other chemicals that are used in tanning are formaldehyde, lead and mercury (among many others).
Related Post: This Best Organic Crib Mattresses For Your Baby.
Fire retardants are routinely used in couches because they are highly flammable. The most flammable component of the couch is the foam and it can fuel the fire pretty quickly. It sounds reasonable to use a fire retardant to protect your home but of course, toxic chemicals are used.
Chemicals that are used as fire retardants have been linked to decreased fertility, cancer, developmental delays in children and other hormonal disruption such as the thyroid.
How we absorb chemicals via:
- Skin absorption
- Children – in contact with the mouth
What materials should you look for in non-toxic couches?
Natural solid wood
When looking at the wood used for the frames, make sure you look for solid natural wood and not manufactured wood like plywood which contain formaldehyde.
POV free glue and finishes
Look for zero, or low, POV glue, varnishes and paints. They will reduce your exposure to POVs that can be released from furniture for many years to come.
No fabric treatments
Any manufacturer that promotes the couch as stain-free, crush free, Stochgurared or water-resistant will contain fabric that has been treated with chemicals.
No fire retardant
Look for products that state they don’t have synthetic fire retardants. This information can be hard to find at times but if in doubt definitely ask!
Natural Latex Foam
Instead of petroleum-based foam, choose natural latex foam. Just make sure it doesn’t have any additional toxic filler. The other plus with natural latex foam is that it’s not highly flammable and often doesn’t have other fire retardants being used.
Wool (preferably ethically sourced)
Wool can be used to cover the main structure of the cushion, otherwise, polyester foam is often used. Wool is also a natural fire retardant.
Look for brands that promote certifications such as GOLS, FSC and GreenGuard Gold to name a few.
Non-toxic couch brands we love!
Here are our top picks for amazing companies that build non-toxic sofas and couches.
Urban Natural has very high standards. All pieces are made in the US, using non-toxic materials and even use reclaimed materials where possible. They have a stunning range for any modern home.
Medley is about creating a cosy and healthy home. All of Medley’s products are made with ‘eco stuff’, handcrafted in California and they also offer a 100-day trial. They also offer a range of other products for the home.
Pure Upholstery offers non-toxic couches with organic fabric, FSA certified wood, organic wool, organic cotton and recycled stainless steel springs.
Eco Balanza creates ‘green sofas with meaning’ by using ethically sourced, organic and natural materials. They’ve spent years trialling many designs to make the most comfortable and non-toxic couch for your family.
We hope that helps you make a healthy choice for your house and family!
Related Post: 9 Beautiful Sustainable Furniture Brands We Love