Furniture: Before you buy

Furniture, because it lasts a long time, can be an on-going source of toxics in your home. If you have an opportunity to make a healthy choice, it is a good investment! Healthy mattresses are an especially good investment, since we spend so much time on them. What you need to know:

Skip the stain-guard: 
Upholstery made with polyester and microfiber are stain-resistant without added chemicals. Stain-proof treatments may be made with perfluoronated compounds (PFAS) that are both toxic and persistent.

Look for “no added flame retardants”: 
In 2018, the Consumer Product Safety Commission advised families with kids to avoid “organohalogen flame retardants” in car seats, furniture, mattresses, and in plastic casings surrounding electronics.

  • When buying new, choose products with a label on the cushion that says: “no added flame retardant chemicals.”
  • For used furniture, consider replacing foam cushions with new filling made without flame retardants: polyester, down, wool or flame retardant-free foam.

Look for low-VOC: 
Furniture can contain a variety of treatments, finishes and materials that release toxic chemicals: volatile organic compounds. Even after you stop smelling them, these chemicals can harm health. Choosing furniture that is verified to be low or no VOC is a good choice.

Know what “eco-friendly” means: 
Furniture and building materials may have a variety of green labels, but eco-friendly can mean a lot of different things. They can tell you if the materials are recycled, sourced sustainably, or are good for indoor air. “Third party” certifications like Greenguard, created independently from industry, are most reliable. You can research labels at

The way you maintain your home can make a big difference to your family’s health. Get a healthy homes checkup with our guide and tips.