Welcome to the latest version of our complete guide to finding eco-friendly, non-toxic sofa brands.
I was once a guest on The Dr. Oz Show with a toxicologist from Yale. Although we were discussing phthalates in macaroni and cheese for this particular episode, I asked him during a break what he was MOST worried about in terms of toxins in the home. To my surprise, it wasn’t plastics or fragrances, but instead household dust, largely due to furniture whose toxic contents constantly shed.
Since sofas are often among the largest pieces of furniture we have in our homes, and ones on which we spend a lot of time, this seems like an important item to get right.
I wrote this post for those of you ready to invest in a truly safe, non-toxic sofa (or upholstered chair). We’ve done the research for you, and this post covers all the details about our favorite non-toxic sofa brands, plus other brands you have asked about–including popular big box upholstered furniture stores.
Bottom Line: The 6 Safest Non-Toxic Sofa Brands
If you’re looking for the best non-toxic sofa brands, these six are the best of the best. You’ll read all about each of them further down, but if you want to just buy, please make note of some exclusive discounts in the list below.
- EcoBalanza – 10% off for our readers. Email us to order.
- CleanSleep – Thank you for supporting our store 🙂
- Medley – 5% off with code GIMME5
- Kalon Studios – 7% off for our readers. Email us to order.
- Savvy Rest
- Cisco – 15% off for our readers. Email us to order.
Non-Toxic Sofa Materials
When you’re evaluating upholstered furniture brands, here are some things to look for:
- Cushions. The most sustainable materials for cushions and padding are natural latex, cotton, down, and wool. Polyurethane foam isn’t Good Stuff, strictly speaking, but we are okay with it in sofas. You’ll want to avoid cushions with fabrics that have been sprayed with stain-resistant treatments, as these usually contain PFAS.
- Frame. Opt for solid wood construction instead of composite wood products. You can learn more about what to look for in wooden furniture, including sofa frames, in this post.
- Finishes. Look for sofas made with glues, stains, and varnishes that are zero or low-VOC.
- Certifications. The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) certifications ensure that the fabrics and latex used in your sofa meet the strictest standards for health and sustainability. Poly-based foams should have CertiPUR certification, which at least limits the VOCs emitted. GreenGuard Gold certification is easier to achieve than GOTS or GOLS, but still better than nothing! You can learn more about these certifications in our mattress guide.
Flame Retardants in Furniture
You’ve probably read–on this website and elsewhere–that your sofa is bad for your health in large part because of the flame retardant chemicals it may contain. Indeed, if your sofa was manufactured before 2014, it almost certainly contains one of the following flame retardants:
- Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are found in mattresses, electronics, and cars, in addition to the foam of sofas. PBDEs are associated with hormone disruption and neurodevelopmental delays, including lowered IQ . The European Union has banned the use of PBDEs in electronic devices. Studies show that children in the United States have higher levels of PBDEs than adults do. Oh, and here’s the kicker: they don’t even work very well at stopping fires.
- Firemaster 550 is made with bis(2-ethylhexyl) tetrabromophthalate (TBPH). Yes, you saw that word in there: phthalate. TBPH is nearly idential to DEHP, the phthalate banned in children’s products due to evidence of carcinogenicity and developmental toxicity.
- Chlorinated tris is the chemical that was removed from children’s pajamas in the 1970s because it was shown to cause cancer.
Good News on Flame Retardants!
Things changed for the better nine years ago. The flammability standards enacted in 2014 can be met WITHOUT the use of the toxic chemicals I just described! To be clear–the law does not BAN the use of the chemicals; it just renders them unnecessary. Look for the TB117-2013 label on sofas and pillows, which suggests that the item meets the standards without fire retardants.
How to Reduce Your Exposure to Flame Retardants
This guide is intended to help you select the safest sofa or upholstered chairs. However, if you’re not yet ready to plunk down thousands, here are some other steps to limit your exposure to older furniture in your home.
- Keep foam enclosed. Be sure to mend any rips in your sofa or chairs that might allow chemically-treated foam to be exposed, and don’t remove cushion casings to launder.
- Upgrade your mattresses. If replacing your own mattress is out of the question, consider upgrading just the mattresses for your children. Many of my clients think their crib mattresses are okay if they are old because they have “already off-gassed.” In fact, as the foam degrades, more PBDEs and other chemicals may be released. Get help choosing a truly non-toxic mattress with our Safe Mattress Guide.
- Ditch your broom. Flame retardants accumulate in household dust, and sweeping puts plumes into the air. Instead, use a vacuum or wet mop to banish dirt and toxins. Invest in a HEPA-sealed vacuum that really traps toxins.
- Invest in a robust air filter. We like (and own) Austin Air filters, which employ HEPA, activated carbon, and zeolite, a mineral with superior ability to trap toxic gases and odors such as formaldehyde, ammonias, and carbon monoxide.
- Eat more plants. Unfortunately, even though these chemicals are being phased out, they will continue to persist in our environment for years. The number one food source of PBDEs is poultry fat. The lowest levels of a variety of toxins–including flame retardants–are found in plant-based foods, so if you substitute beans for chicken a couple of times a week, you’ll reduce your exposure.
What Other Toxins Are in Sofas?
Unfortunately, flame retardants aren’t the only problem with upholstered furniture.
The glues and finishes on wooden legs can contain formaldehyde. Even without a chemical bath, polyurethane foam is a petroleum-by product that releases VOCs.
Anything that is wrinkle or stain-resistant from a treatment like Scotchguard should be avoided. Back in the day it Scotchguard contained a noxious chemical called PFOS–which is not only terrible for the environment but also linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and immune system dysfunction. Scotchguard agreed to phase out PFOS and has replaced it with PFBS. Overall, PFBS seems safer, as it has a shorter half-life and accumulates in our bodies at a slower pace. I remain skeptical as safety studies are still lacking.
Leather is another sofas material that is frustratingly problematic. Leather itself is not inherently toxic, but the tanning process used to turn animal hides into leather can involve the use of chromium, formaldehyde, and various solvents. Additionally, some leather products may be treated with flame retardants or stain-resistant coatings or phthalates. Chrome-free leather is acceptable, in my opinion, and better yet is leather that specifies that it is chrome-free and vegetable dyed. The two brands I know of that make this kind of leather furniture are Medley and EcoBalanza, both of which you can read about below.
Carolina Morning is a super clean yoga-prop brand that we carry in our store. And you can configure their futons and frames into a non-toxic sofa, like the one pictured here.
The wood used by Carolina Morning is Appalachian poplar, which is finished with a whey-based finish.
The cushions are kapok-filled with GOTS certified organic cotton canvas covers, available in a range of colors. Everything made by Carolina Morning is free of PFAS and fire retardants.
How to Get a Carolina Morning Sofa: Email us to order, or give us a call at 717-413-8182. You’ll pay $2,900 for a full sofa configuration.
Cisco was the first Good Stuff sofa we ever bought in 2013, and we still have it (now featuring a few marker streaks) in our den.
When I bought my Cisco sofa, not all of their models were free of flame retardants. I had to pay more for the “Inside Green” option, which was also filled with organic down and natural latex instead of polyurethane foam.
Now, all Cisco products are free of flame retardants and formaldehyde glue. You can still choose Inside Green if you want down and latex for your fill.
All Cisco wood is certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council and treated with only low-VOCs finishes.
How to Get a Cisco Sofa: Cisco extended me a designer discount on my sofa, and I’m happy to pass 15% off for our readers. Email us for a quote or to order. You’ll pay around $5,000 and $8,000 for most sofas with the Inside Green option from Cisco, before this discount.
EcoBalanza’s upholstered furniture is all custom and handmade in Seattle.
These sofas (or loveseats) are composed of only the safest materials, including organic wool and cotton, kapok, down feathers, and GOLS-certified latex. The wooden components are made of solid wood.
EcoBalanza furniture is free of flame retardants and PFAS. All of their adhesives and stains are zero or low-VOC, and EcoBalanza can also leave the wood unfinished.
If you’re looking for a leather sofa, EcoBalanza uses vegetable-tanned leather that is free of all heavy metals.
How to Get an EcoBalanza Sofa: We can offer 10% off EcoBalanaza furniture. . After browsing their site and deciding what you want, you can email us to order. This is a higher end line, so you should expect to pay more than $5,000 for these sofas.
The Futon Shop obviously makes futons, but they also make upholstered seating, including easy chairs, sofas, loveseats, and sectionals.
These sofas check all of the boxes we look for when identifiying non-toxic sofas brands. They use solid pine for frames and legs, and you can choose from latex, organic wool, or poly-based foam for the cushion fill.
Other materials in these sofas include coconut coir, organic cotton, and linen. Nothing is treated with flame retardants or PFAS.
How to Get a Futon Shop Sofa: You can order these sofas from Futon Shop’s website. They are one of the most affordable non-toxic sofa brands, with prices starting at $1,800.
Kalon makes the most beautiful solid wood pieces, which you can also read about in our Safe Wooden Furniture Guide. They make several sofas as well, including this stunning one (the pink is so pretty!) and this one that I am seriously coveting. Their most popular sofa is the Rugosa, which comes in a range of gorgeous fabrics.
Why we love Kalon:
- Wood is sustainably sourced, solid hardwood, and finished with just organic plant-based oil.
- Sofa fill is 100% feathers.
- EDC free (free of all endocrine disrupting chemicals).
- Fabric is linen and mohair.
How to Get a Kalon Sofa: If you’d like to order through our trade program with Kalon, you’ll receive a 7% discount on everything on their site, including the Rugosa sofa, which normally retails for about $8,900. To begin the process of placing an order this way, email us here.
I own many pieces of Medley furniture, all of which I love for being both modern and comfortable.
Here’s what else I love about Medley:
- Medley uses “green” sources of wood, including FSC-certified maple and walnut.
- Natural latex, which is resistant to bacteria, mildew, and mold, is used as a filler in place of polyurethane foam, provided you select this option. Because of our budget, we choice the poly foam option, which is free of flame retardants.
- Medley has new ways of building their sofas, including needled wool on the frames and fluffy wool fiber for the back pillows. This is truly a unique process (learn more here).
- The feather/down fill option consists of 100% feathers and down, both of which are thoroughly cleaned (with non-toxic cleansers) before being used.
- You can opt for recycled, 100% natural, and even organic fabrics on your Medley sofa by selecting that filter when choosing your upholstery.
- The glues used by Medley are water-based, which make them much less toxic (and less flammable) than standard solvent-based adhesives.
- Similarly, the stains and finished used on wood pieces contain no solvents, preservatives, or biocides, and instead are treated with plant oils.
How to Get a Medley Sofa: Medley sofas can be ordered on their website, and they’ve done the unimaginable and actually lowered their prices recently! Sofas start at $2,400. Even better, Medley has generously offered Gimme the Good Stuff readers 5% off of orders. Please use code GOODSTUFF5 when ordering.
Constructed in their Central Virginia production house, Savvy Rest organic sofas, loveseats, and armchairs are made with quality, safety, and longevity in mind. In all Savvy Rest furniture, you’ll find:
- Natural Talalay latex foam
- Certified organic fabrics (cotton, hemp, and a cotton/hemp blend)
- Sustainably-sourced maple hardwood
- Organic wool batting used as a natural flame barrier
- Zero-VOC linseed oil and AFM Safecoat stains
In addition, Savvy Rest furniture avoids all forms of formaldehyde glues, cardboard, metal coils, particle board, plywood, veneer, polyester, polypropylene, polyurethane, toxic stains, dacron batting, feathers, or down.
How to Get Savvy Rest: You can order a sofa, chair, or loveseat from Savvy’s website. Sofa prices begin at $3,695.
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Many conventional brands have removed flame retardants from their furniture. The sofas from the following brands will lack the very bad chemicals listed above, but may contain other questionable materials. This includes polyurethane foams, stain or wrinkle treatments, and formaldehyde-containing adhesives.
Crate & Barrel
Crate has eliminated flame retardants from their upholstered furniture. It is still not clear to me whether or not all Crate & Barrel items are entirely free of PFAS, though. The wooden parts of Crate’s sofas are also mostly particleboard.
Still, a number of these sofas have GreenGuard and FSC certification. Crate & Barrel makes it easy to see which pieces have these certifications by placing the icons on each sofa collection when you browse. You can find a sofa with both GreenGuard and FSC for as low as $1,700. (I like the Gather collection, which has both certifications and is pictured here.)
Burrow sofas are stain resistant without the use of PFAS, which is awesome. They do you plywood rather than all solid wood, but you can choose metals legs. Burrow does not have any certifications, but their foam is CertiPUR-US certified, which ensures that the sofa is free of flame retardants.
You can get a Burrow sofa for less than $1,500, like the Field, pictured here.
The only info I can get out of Ikea is that “some of our upholstered furniture contain flame retardant chemicals around the zippers.” Ikea sofas don’t contain PFAS, but do contain particleboard.
Lulu & Georgia
This brand makes beautiful furniture, but there is nothing especially eco-friendly or non-toxic about most of it, with a few exceptions. The Ansley, Bex, Cami, and Afia (pictured below) are low-emission and/or GreenGuard Gold certified.
Nugget play sofas are mostly polyurethane foam. In other words, it’s not made of natural materials. That said, they are GreenGuard Gold certified. This is the least impressive certification, but still something!
PB actually has a green line now, although even the “down” fill is 50% polyester fiber. Still, this line includes solid wood and the option of GOTS certified organic cotton, which means they’ll be free of PFAS. They also have a line of GreenGuard Gold certified items, including the Paxton glider (pictured here) and the Avalon upholstered bed.
Room & Board
Room & Board does have GreenGold certification on some of their sofas, but it seems that not everything is PFAS free so proceed with caution.
West Elm doesn’t treat their furniture with flame retardants. Some West Elm upholstered furniture has GreenGuard Gold certified, including their Hargrove line, the Carlo chair (pictured here), and the Midcentury daybed.
Are there other potentially non-toxic sofa brands you want to know about? Comment below.
If you’d like to see all of the upholstered furniture in my own home, I give you a little tour here:
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Maia, Founder & CEO
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