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Welcome to my blog dedicated to living holistically.  

Non Toxic Home Guide

Non Toxic Home Guide

Our homes are our sacred spaces - where we create memories, whip up tasty treats, & restore our bodies at night. Unfortunately in today's industrialized world, it's also where we are exposed to a substantial amount of toxins. Over time, our daily exposure to these toxins can negatively impact our health. I set out to create this home guide -- NOT with the intention to scare anyone. I want to simply provide information so that you are able to make the most informed decisions for yourself & for your family. As all things do, transforming takes time -- every little step is still one step closer. 

I wanted to make this guide navigation friendly. Thus, it will be organized by  product type. Not looking to buy a rug right now? Simply skip over the rug section.

So, LET's GET TO IT!

 

COUCHES


The place where we cozy up with our blankets & pets and binge watch shows on Hulu or Netflix. Yet, most couches you will find at traditional furniture stores are filled with VOC releasing poly foams {polyurethane that is}, soaked in toxic flame retardants, & coated with perfluorinated chemicals to be stain-resistant. These chemical cushions then sit upon engineered wood frames {aka wood composite} that is basically a mix mosh of wood fragments glued together with formaldehyde based glues. I know, I got sick just from saying this all aloud. Unfortunately, these chemicals don't stay in the couch, but are released into the air as dust that you breathe in or that settles around your home {this is called off-gassing}. And these chemicals are linked to a whole bunch of health issues including: cancer, birth defects, immunodeficiency, reproductive issues, & respiratory irritation. Don't freak out! If you've had your furniture for many years, it's probably done most of its off-gassing. These chemicals are in their highest concentrations when they are fresh from the factory!

Here's what to look for:

  • Cushions filled with either hypoallergenic wool, down, or 100% natural latex {Dunlop or Talalay, make sure it is 100% latex and not a mix of latex & foam}
  • Make sure the couch is flame retardant free {you may need to ask the manufacturer}
  • Choose natural fibers for the upholstery & avoid stain/water resistant finishes as these contain toxic chemicals
  • Avoid engineered wood frames, instead look for FSC certified wood or solid wood
  • Choose products with wood stains that are water-based & low VOC
  • Look for GREENGUARD GOLD certified furniture {this ensures the lowest levels of VOC emissions other than completely no VOC; it is one of the highest certifications other than organic furniture}

For my personal standards, I won't be recommending CertiPur foam couches as there is a lot of self-regulation in the foam industry {but technically, CertiPur ensures stricter regulations & lower levels of emissions for foam products}. 

Wow! That seems like a lot of work just to find a non-toxic couch.

I completely hear you! I must have spent weeks on the computer & phone just to find some viable options. Below I've linked 3 non-toxic couch options at various price points!

Luxury - If you just bought your FOREVER HOME & are looking for quality organic investment pieces {unlimited budget}, Cisco Home offers custom made organic furniture -- from couches, to bed frames, to dining chairs, living room chairs, etc. Since it's custom made, you get to choose the style of the couch, the filling of the cushions {down, latex, wool, cotton} that are all flame-retardant free, the upholstered fabric {linen/organic cotton}, the frames are all solid wood that use absolutely NO formaldehyde glues, & the wood stain that is water based & No/Low VOC. These are definitely not cheap, but the quality is exceptional {I have two custom chairs made by Cisco}.

If this is not your forever home or you simply don't want to shell out a ton of money, I found two more affordable options that are still non-toxic. Pottery Barn recently came out with their PB COMFORT ECO line of couches, living room chair, & ottoman that are GREENGUARD GOLD certified. My parents currently have these couches in their home & they are a classic design and even on delivery day did not smell of chemicals one bit {I have serious chemical sensitivities}. My parents chose the down blend for the cushions {50% polyester, 45% feather, 5% down} that are flame retardant FREE. The upholstered fabric is 100% organic cotton & the wood frame is FSC certified & uses only low VOC wood stains.

The couch alternative -- FUTON-- I have in my apartment is ideal for apartment dwellers. It is 100% natural, CHEMICAL FREE, with no VOC's. The frame is solid wood with no glues, it is only finished with Linseed oil {a natural plant oil}. My futon mattress is composed of pure latex & hypoallergenic wool. Plus, my futon cover is 100% organic cotton. Yes, it is a futon. No, it's not the most comfy couch I ever owned, but it works! I've added a ton of natural mudcloth pillows & alpaca throws to make it more cozy. 

 

RUGS


Who doesn't love a good cozy rug to soften the force on our feet & make us feel at home? Sadly, like couches, traditional rugs are filled with toxic chemicals. Most rugs are made from synthetic materials like polypropylene, nylon, & polyester {essentially all plastics that release endocrine disruptors}. And most of the time, rugs have a backing {essentially a synthetic rubber to which the rug fibers are glued to {formaldehyde laden}. Since all these synthetic materials are highly flammable, they are then sprayed with chemical flame retardants. Like couches, the stain/water resistant finishes involve a cocktail of hazardous chemicals.

Here's What to Look for:

  • Natural fiber rugs composed of wool, cotton, jute, or hemp
  • Avoid rugs with backing, this means formaldehyde based glues are involved
  • Avoid tufted rugs {these have backing always & involve lots of glues}
  • Instead look for handwoven, hand loomed, hand knotted {these rugs will have the same pattern on the back as the front because there is no backing}
  • Check with the manufacturer/store that the rug is free of flame retardants

Again, I've linked some non-toxic rug options below that are chic & clean. I understand people are busy with careers, children, etc. 

Luxury- Again, if you're on an unlimited budget, Hook and Loom offers 100% undyed wool rugs that are completely chemical free! All their rugs are hand-loomed, meaning no backing {not even latex} & no toxic glues {Plus, this makes them REVERSIBLE}. Keep in mind these are undyed to avoid chemical dyes {they are neutral colors/patterns}. Also, wool sheds so invest in a good HEPA vacuum {being honest here}. Btw, my parents bought wool rugs from here & they are super plush, but the shedding is REAL.

Some more affordable options I've found include West Elm's natural fiber rug collection. They use natural fibers such as wool, cotton, & jute. They specify which ones have NO BACKING and are hand-loomed {again no glues here}. I actually bought two rugs for my apartment from their collection and absolutely LOVE THEM! Straight out of the packing, they had zero chemical odor & were absolutely beautiful. My rug unfortunately sold out! But there are plenty of other options. 

Another option I found on whim is from Joanna Gaines Magnolia line. The rug collection includes hand-knotted & hand-loomed rugs made with mostly natural fibers. My favorite rug from this collection has to be this one. I can't speak of how they are in person because I haven't purchased one yet.

 

COFFEE/END TABLES & TV CONSOLES


I'm not gonna lie. I've been obsessed with the chic marble coffee tables for awhile. I was absolutely heartbroken to find every single one was essentially a marble top glued {formaldehyde} to an engineered wood backing {again more chemicals & glues} LE SIGH...

Again, the main issue that will arise with wood furniture items is going to be ENGINEERED WOOD -- filled with formaldehyde glues & then stained or coated with oil stains/lacquers which are just CHEMICAL HEAVEN. Luckily, the non-toxic solutions can be much much more affordable than the couches & rugs! 

THANK GOODNESS MICHELLE, YOU ARE MAKING ME BROKE!

Here's What to Look For:

  • Avoid engineered wood & choose solid wood instead
  • Look for products that are stained with water-based No/Low VOC stains
  • Ask the manufacturer if they use formaldehyde based glues in their products
  • OR SIMPLY choose tempered glass & metal {preferably stainless steel} tables
  • If metal, look if the Prop 65 Warning is listed -- if it is it could contain carcinogens

Here's some non-toxic options that I found:

If there's no way you're giving up wood, West Elm just launched their 2nd GREENGUARD GOLD certified furniture line {Mid-Century Modern} that includes: wood bed frames, wood coffee tables, wood tv consoles, dressers, nightstands, benches, you name it! It's that perfect natural minimalist vibe & is certified for extremely low chemical emissions. 

If you're not attached to wood, Wayfair has a ton of just tempered glass & stainless steel options that are super chic & won't break the bank! In fact, my coffee table cost under $200 & is non-toxic! Again, tempered glass & metal TV consoles can look super fashionable if done right. I like ones with multiple shelves that you can dress up with good reads, pictures, & some room decor items that POP!

 

DINING TABLE & CHAIRS


Another room, more potential for toxins to be lurking... To keep this brief as issues tend to repeat since the materials are the same. The biggest culprit in dining tables again is ENGINEERED WOOD & WOOD STAINS! While dining chairs {fabric upholstered ones} are very similar to couches! Thus no need to go through it again, instead I will just provide you some non-toxic options I found.

There's not many non-toxic wood dining tables on the market right now. West Elm's Mid-Century GREENGUARD GOLD certified line has one. Otherwise, custom would be the way to go to ensure the style & materials you want. However, if you're in the NYC area, this store has some wood furniture that is all solid wood, no Formaldehyde glues, & the lowest VOC stains. I'm sure more stores exist like this one so just make sure you're GOOGLING the right stuff!

Otherwise, I chose a tempered glass & stainless steel dining table from Wayfair for under $500. This option is so easy & cost-effective plus can look super chic!

Okay, dining chairs are just super TRICKY. Again, there's barely any options out there. WHAT GIVES?! If you're set on upholstered & cushioned, Cisco Home has custom made organic dining chairs just like the couches! Again, this is pricey AF! More affordable options could be metal dining chairs with organic seat cushions {these are relatively easy to find on the internet}. Or you could search for a woodworker that will make you solid wood dining chairs & then add organic seat cushions. Personally, I chose acrylic invisible chairs {no, acrylic is not natural} but it doesn't have chemical odor to me & it's super affordable {I paid around $150 per chair}.

 

BED FRAMES, DRESSERS, & NIGHTSTANDS


Ahhh sleep! Isn't sleep the best?! Unfortunately spending 7-8 hours every night in a toxic environment wreaks havoc on our bodies! If you're in the market for a new bed frame, dresser, or nightstands, make sure to go clean as we humans spend a lot of time in the bedroom!

Again anything wood is going to have the concern of engineered wood & toxic stains. If you're looking for a wood bed frame, dresser, or night stands, West Elm's Mid-Century GREENGUARD GOLD certified collection has some. Otherwise, if you're in the NYC area, this store again has non-toxic custom solid wood furniture! West Elm also has another line of GREENGUARD GOLD certified furniture {Audrey Collection} that is finished with non-toxic lacquer for a more dressy look. This is the one of the dressers I have. Here's my thoughts: I have both dressers linked. The one from West Elm: the inside of the drawers has a slight chemical smell I am not crazy about but it's not that strong where it bothers me. The other solid wood one from the store in NYC: completely chemical free & had absolutely no odor when I received it, plus it has soft close drawers!

Both the West Elm Audrey & Mid - Century lines have dressers, bed frames, & nightstands.

My current bed frame is just a stainless steel one from Wayfair that I LOVE! My night stands are just tempered glass & stainless steel that I've added trays & accessories to. These did not have any chemical odor & were super affordable! Again tempered glass & metal are you're new best friends when you're going non-toxic on a BUDGET!

Now, if you're looking for a super glam tufted fabric headboard, Cisco Home has organic ones that don't compromise design for health. Again, PRICEYYYY!

 

MATTRESSES


I wasn't sure if I was going to discuss mattresses since I feel there's so many bloggers out there that have covered this topic. But MY NON-TOXIC HOME GUIDE wouldn't be complete without it, so let's get to it! I'm sure you've heard by now about how conventional mattresses like couches use toxic polyfoams, chemical flame retardants, synthetic garbage. & connected coils that create a toxic EMF {electromagnetic field}

I've tried two brands of organic mattresses & will discuss both in detail. Also, my sister has a different one because of her latex allergy {natural or synthetic} that I will be covering.

Don't worry, these mattresses are no more expensive than the toxic Tempurpedics out there!

My current mattress is from AVOCADO. Yes, you read that correctly.. and you can't hate a company that's named after the best food ever! I have a full size original Avocado mattress with the pillow top option. Its core is composed of 100% natural latex rubber, individually wrapped ergonomic coils, & wool, covered in an GOTS certified organic cotton casing. The individual wrapping of the coils is key. Ultimately, this means the coils can't create an electromagnetic charge that will interact with your body. This brand uses NO chemical fire retardants, but instead utilizes hydrated silica & wool {which are natural fire barriers}. They are 100% foam & chemical free & are GREENGUARD GOLD certified. The pillow top option will add an additional 2 inches of natural latex for additional pressure relief. It comes vacuum sealed and expands, and there was absolutely no chemical smell from day 1. Honestly, I've been sleeping on this for a month now & I'm obsessed. It is super comfy & even my boyfriend Pete approves {he's super picky when it comes to beds}. Plus, they now have a VEGAN option with all the same stuff but without the wool. Not to mention, it has a 25 year warranty!

My mattress at my parent's house is from Naturepedic. If you're looking for customization, Naturepedic gives you the options to pick which layers you want in your mattress. Plus, you can customize each side to different levels of firmness. I have the EOS Classic in the cushion firm choice, which was way more expensive than my Avocado. Its composed of 100% organic latex, individually wrapped coils, a non-GMO plant based comfort layer, organic wool, & organic cotton. It of course is chemical free, glue free, flame retardant free, & GREENGUARD GOLD certified. This brand also has luxury mattresses which includes high end materials such as CASHMERE & ALPACA {if you're looking for ultra-luxe}. Naturepedic also came out with a VEGAN line that is wool free. I slept in this mattress for over a year and it was very comfortable to me {my boyfriend Pete who prefers softer beds said he should have made his side the PLUSH option}. Luckily, there's a time window from when it's delivered where you can swap out the layers free of charge. And it comes with a 20 year limited warranty.

Now, WHAT IF you're ALLERGIC to LATEX? Don't worry there are organic mattresses out there without latex! My Green Mattress offers organic mattresses that are latex free. The latex free model is the Pure Echo. It is composed of individually wrapped coils, organic cotton & wool batting & covered in a GOTS organic cotton & Okeo-Tex certified wool case. It is 100% flame retardant free as wool is a natural flame retardant & is GREENGUARD GOLD certified. It also comes with a 10 year warranty.

 

BEDDING, DECORATIVE PILLOWS, BLANKETS, & POUFS


This might just be my favorite part of this blog post. I am obsessed with sheets, pillows, & blankets. I'm often guilty of buying way too many pillows that I find random places for. You probably can guess where this is going... what about bedding, pillows, and blankets are toxic?

Duvet inserts, comforter filling, and pillow stuffing is usually comprised of again toxic polyfoams or synthetic polyester which means there's risk of chemical flame retardants.

Duvets & Comforters - Instead, opt for ones that are filled with either organic cotton or eco down. My fave 100% organic cotton duvet insert is this one from Coyuchi. It is the perfect warmth for either summer or winter & can be used as a duvet insert or comforter. Coyuchi also offers eco down duvet inserts cased in organic cotton, but they are a bit pricey. For my apartment, I chose an eco down duvet insert cased in organic cotton from the Company Store for a fraction of the price! I chose the medium warmth which is very versatile & good in all seasons. I also picked up their organic cotton down pillows in soft & medium fill. And to make my bed just impossible to leave in the morning, I added this eco down mattress cover

Sheets- I chose organic cotton sheets or Okeo Tex certified linen sheets for my apartment. Cotton is grown with a ton of pesticides so organic bedding is the way to go! Plus, this ensures its not given a chemical wash before it hits your bed. Okeo-Tex while not organic is a certification that imposes stricter chemical regulations. It bans Azo colourants, formaldehyde, pentachlorophenol, cadmium, nickel, etc. I ordered many sets of organic cotton sheets from West Elm & even my organic cotton duvet cover. I love this expansion of West Elm that is reasonably priced. Other organic sheets could run you upwards of $200 a set. Linen sheets are definitely my fave {they just feel so cozy}. Pro tip: Wash them a couple of times before using -- Linen gets softer with each wash. These linen sheets by Parachute Home are Okeo-Tex certified & seriously soft! If you must have organic linen sheets, Coyuchi has some but be prepared to pay.

Throw pillows - I don't mess around when it comes to accent pillows! I love different textures, patterns, & fluffiness {yes, this is real}. My neutral mudcloth pillows filled with eco down come from Indego Africa {a company that supports women in Africa to learn trades to support themselves & family, and their eco friendly & use natural fibers}. My bedroom pillows come from The Citizenry and are either filled with eco down or 100% cotton. They offer a ton of pillow options that all use high quality materials like baby alpaca & wool. Plus, I snagged some comfy blankets from them as well! I am also eyeing some Serena & Lily statement pillows that are made with natural fibers. Also to clarify, my pillows from Indego Africa & The Citizenry came with the stuffing {no need to buy an insert}, Serena & Lily's require you to purchase a separate insert.

Poufs - This is a difficult one as most poufs are filled with polystyrene beads that are just chemical heaven & again release VOC's into your home. Plus, most poufs are either tufted {formaldehyde glues again} and made of cheap synthetic materials {risk of flame retardants}. Cisco Home has custom made organic poufs {$$$} & I found these plain wool poufs from Holy Lamb Organics {could add your choice of fabric over to dress up}. They are stuffed & covered with just 100% undyed wool. 

 

BATH


A retreat, a personal oasis... or at least to me it is. The easiest thing to make your bathroom feel like an organic spa is to invest in some plush organic towels & bath mats. Heck, even treat yourself and buy an organic bath robe!

Conventional cotton bath towels are pesticide laden & possibly treated with a chemical wash to soften. This is why I either chose organic or OKEO-Tex certified bath towels. There are two brands in particular that are unsurpassed in plushness & softness. One of my sets is from The Graces, they are 100% organic cotton & literally are the softest organic towels I've tried {I've tried a few other brands that were just okay}. This company also sells a bath mat that is very similar to their towels just a tad thicker. My personal favorite even though they're not organic are from Parachute Home. They are OKEO-Tex certified for stricter chemical regulations. Seriously, their towels are the SOFTEST ever & are super absorbent. I have the classic version but they also carry waffle towels as well. I also bought a bath mat & it gives all the vibes of a 5 star spa.

I currently just have a plain cotton shower curtain & polyester liner. Here's the key with shower liners STAY AWAY FROM PVC. PVC off-gases harmful VOC's and honestly I can't even smell one without gasping for air. Polyester liners while still synthetic are far less offensive to your respiratory tract. Parachute Home also carries 100% OKEO-Tex Certified Cotton shower curtains & plain polyester liners. 

And if you want to TREAT YO SELF, Parachute Home carries the comfiest shower slippers & robes. 

 

AIR & WATER PURIFIERS


STAY TUNED... This topic itself is needs to be a separate post to ensure every thing is covered adequately. I will probably end up doing a NON TOXIC HOME GUIDE PART 2 for anything I've missed. The Home is a big place with many things & thus one blog post just doesn't do justice. 

Anything I didn't cover that you would like me to? Comment below to be included in Part 2. Or you can DM me on Instagram @primalbelle. Thanks for joining!

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