Super Search

Art | Resources

Shopping for Toxic-free Products at IKEA



Question from Dawn

Hi Debra,

Does anyone know about Ikea stuff? They claim some of their things are non voc etc. Does anyone have any actual experience though with buying anything new from them?

Irina: I did research on ikea before, and they officially used to claim (I haven’t checked for a while) and I read from other non toxic connoisseurs that IKEA has some of the highest standards for testing their products for toxicity and exceeding the set standards as well as not using flame retardants on their furniture. It was confirmed back then that their white basic dishes do not have lead or other heavy metals. The quality and durability of their furniture specifically is still often questionable though that’s my 2 cents.

Nancy: I have many pieces from Ikea. Solid wood and steel items are fine. And easy to put together….

Louise: On Debra’s suggestion, I got a lovely IKEA non-irritating green polypropylene (sp?) fake Christmas Tree in November. Love it so much am keeping it up year round, decorating each season with seasonal fun!

Eleanor: Does IKEA use fire retardant chemicals in their furniture? I know several companies have stopped using fire retardants.

Kathie: Take a look at Ikea Hemnes furniture. Solid pine. I have several pieces of the Hemnes. It might work for you.

Karen: I also have the Hemnes pieces and they are fine.

Marni: Same here.

Debra Lynn Dadd: Yes I have purchased things from IKEA for my own use and recommended them to clients but only some pieces are suitable and those are made with solid wood and they have a very light acrylic finish on them that has no odor. But then there are other pieces that are made from synthetic fabrics and particleboard so you have to read that the descriptions carefully. I want time I had the thought of going through IKEA and choosing all the furniture that I thought was acceptable. Would anybody like me to do that?

Melissa: Yes, I would greatly appreciate you recommending which pieces to purchase. Im on a limited budget and need a new couch, headboard, and dressers. Ikea fits my budget and my state of mind!!

Dottie: Debra Lynn Dadd, that would be great!

Debra’s Answer

First, here is Ikea’s Chemicals & Substances fact sheet.

Read it and you will see:

  • no BPA in anything, not even the cash register recipts
  • no brominated flame retardants. “We never add any chemical flame retardants to our products if not required to do so by national legislation. To avoid adding chemical flame retardants, we strive to use materials with inherent flame retardant properties instead, such as natural wool.”
  • no PVC
  • no phthalates in children’s products and food containers
  • formaldehyde is “substantially reduced” but not completely eliminated
  • no fluorinated (water-repellant) chemicals in shower curtains, umbrellas and ponchos
  • no chrome in leather
  • no “CMR” substances—may cause cancer, mutation or are toxic to reproduction.
  • ban on lead, cadmium and mercury content
  • ban on the use of azodyes in textiles and leather

And they invite customers to contact them if there are any questions.

Now, all that said, it’s been my experience that I have to read the labels CAREFULLY and understand materials to make sure I don’t buy a product that I consider to be toxic.

A great thing about IKEA is that they very clearly disclose all their materials on their website and on labels, so if you understand materials, you can figure out what’s toxic and what’s not. And this is why I am working so hard on Zero Toxics, so you have a place to look up materials and find out if they are toxic.

[Just as an aside one of the things I am running into is that manufacturers seem to be more willing to disclose materials now but they are less willing to explain what those materials are and their toxicity. That’s another reason why Zero Toxics is needed].

Someone mentioned HEMNES above, so I will use that as an example.


Down below the product (you may need to scroll, there is a row of tabs)

Click on “Materials and Environment”

You’ll see that the frame is made from solid pine. Perfect. It has an acrylic lacquer finish. They have used this finish for years. I have purchased pieces with this finish with no problem. I’ve recommended it to clients and have had no complaints. It is made from petroleum, so if you need to stay away from materials made from petroleum, do not purchase any products from IKEA with this finish.

But then you get to the storage boxes, which are made from particleboard which ARE outgassing formaldehyde because IKEA has not banned formaldehyde.

MANY of their furniture pieces are made with particleboard.

So in this case, if you are OK with finish, you could purchase the frame, but not the store boxes, and I would consider that to be fine. I have, in fact, purchased an IKEA bed frame with no problem. And have purchased them for clients too.

You also need to watch out for stain, which may have VOCs.

I can’t possibly go through every product at IKEA and look at each one.

Many of the products I’ve purchased in the past are no longer available.

Here is one of my favorite products: SNIGLAR CRIB 

Look at this product description: solid beech, solid beech, solid beech. And nothing else. Unfinished. They say the fabric is nylon but don’t say the filling on the mattress, Hmmmm. In any case, I would buy this crib and put a Naturepedic crib mattress in it and be perfectly happy.

In addition to the bed frame, I’ve also purchased a down comforter, cotton curtains, a kitchen island, glass food storage containers with silicon lids, water bottles, rods on which to hang kitchen accessories, shower curtains, my favorite linen dish towels, and various other items.

I just have to say that I have been shopping at IKEA for many years and have always loved it because I could get solid wood furniture and other natural materials, they have clean simple design, and great prices. But the last time I went there about six months ago I was very disappointed. The amount of natural materials used has decreased greatly and I noticed prices have gone up. That doesn’t mean you can’t find natural materials and bargains, but it is no longer the IKEA I once knew and loved.

Larry and I are actually going to be going to IKEA to look for things for our motorhome tiny house within the next month, so when I’m there I’ll take a look around and see what I can find and will add those items here.

If you have any products you are considering, post them here and I will translate for you.

Add Comment


A New Refrigerator That Doesn’t Outgas



Question from Irina

Hi Debra,

Hi there! I’m shopping for a new fridge, and I’m looking at the descriptions, ALL of them so far have prop 65 warning, which I’m not happy with, plus some of them smell terrible, like a toxic factory inside when I checked some out at stores.

Are there any refrigerators that are made with non toxic materials at all? Without the prop 65? Please share anything you know about this. Thank you.

Brenda: this site may have some suggestions. A Non-Toxic Kitchen

Leidy: I got a French door LG this past summer. The electrical readings are very very low (bought on advice of an EMF engineer guy) and there is no wifi feature. I am somewhat sensitive to smells and offgassing and I got zero smells coming from outside or in the fridge. It probably does have a prior 65 warning though. Most things do….but I think sometimes it is not fully in context?

Irina: Thank you for sharing your experience! I went with an LG French doors, no water dispenser (I hate those things filled with mold) and it was one of the better smelling ones. I was told that all of them have prop 65 warning.

Debra Lynn Dadd: One of the problems with the Prop 65 warning is there could be a tiny piece inside where you are not exposed to it and it’s not outgassing because the toxic substance is a particle and they still have to out the warning. But the bigger problem is the amount of plastics used in the interior that are outgassing. Here are a number of posts about choosing refrigerators from my Q&A, including How I Found My New Refrigerator.

Irina: Thank you! Thankfully, the one I ordered was the only one left so it’ll be a floor model it thankfully already did not have the smell at the store, I was super happy about that.

Alberto: my wife suffers from MCS pretty bad. We just went through a total kitchen renovation. We purchased Electrolux. I am familiar with most kitchen appliances as I am a Chef by trade. We’ve had it for several months now and without incidents, a great product.

Larry: Prop 65 was developed by ANTI-environmentalists. The original idea was sound: Call out bad stuff in the marketplace to protect consumers. What happened instead was a law that states that ANY published study ie real, not real, double blind or on the neighbors kids and duplicated or NEVER duplicated that indicates a precancerous condition for any ingredient has to be listed. So they get to use questionable (non) science to call out nearly every molecule in existence as a way to make the law unworkable and generally ignored (as it should be in its current form). Please do not use Prop 65 as a guide to anything. It is misleading. Instead use that magic sensor we evolved to protect ourselves…your nose! Best to All

Irina: I am aware of the flaws with the prop 65 yet in combo with the offgassing odors fr the fridges which are by the way worse than ever! It made me triple concerned. I’m just so glad that there’s a group like this with people who are like minded and knowle…

Debra Lynn Dadd: Thanks Larry. I totally agree and didn’t know this background. Now I understand why it’s so unworkable. As a resident of the State of California I vote they just abolish it!


Irina: So our new fridge has been here for a couple of nights and I have to say I’m in love with it! No off-gassing at all and no reactions of any kind! The only parts that smelled a bit were all removable cheaper plastic/vinyl shelving, which we removed and placed outside and they aired out in a few hours we cleaned everything with my vinegar and essential oil mix and there was no toxic smell left. Thanks everyone for sharing your experience and recommendations!!! I really appreciate this knowledgeable group.


Add Comment

Bio-Hue Artist Colors

Dye based, watersoluble artists colors that can be used as watercolor paints or ink. An all natural product, free of synthetic preservatives. “Engaged by the promise of artist colors from natural pigments, Judi has been on the alchemical journey ever since. She forages, purchases or grows the materials for the art materials as mindfully and sustainably as possible. The inks and watercolors are made from the fewest ingredients possible allowing the beauty and personality of the source material to come through.” I am enchanted by these colors. This is where art should begin. Look at these colors.

Visit Website


Very well made and designed canvas waist work apron, made in the USA of 100% cotton with aged copper rivets and leather straps (removable for easy washing). Truly a work apron with several pockets that are perfect for carrying an assortment of tools. “Our premium 12.5 oz selvedge denim is a reproduction of an archived fabric manufactured for Levi’s 501 xx. These are colored using the same indigo dyeing technique that will fade beautifully with wear. ”

Visit Website

I Sleep Simple

The simplest beds and bedding—mattresses, toppers and pillows—made from “premium natural materials, handmade by apprenticed craftsmen…contains no fillers, additives or questionable chemicals…With 35 years of experience, we’re able to source the quality materials from producers in the U.S. and Indonesia. Our in-house, hands-on craftsmanship means we oversee and care for your product from start to finish. The simplicity of our raw materials and process allows us to be transparent – ask our team any thing about our products and how they’re made.”

Visit Website


Wipe with water instead of toilet paper—turn your toilet into a bidet in 10 minutes for less than $100. NO plumbing, NO electricity, NO hassle. Fits most standard two-piece toilets.

Visit Website


This past week on my Zero Toxics Facebook Group there was a question about ECOS Air Pure Air Purifying Paints.

I have used many ECOS paint and varnish products, but I’ve never used their “air purifying” products, and I just had a thought about them. They have trade-secret “inert minerals” that “trap” various harmful toxins and “transform each wall in your home into a massive indoor air filter.” This sounds good until you realize that this means THE HARMFUL TOXINS NEVER LEAVE. I wondered what group members think about this, and if anyone has used these products.

Since I can’t write a lengthy response on Facebook that includes multiple images and links, I thought I would respond here and link there.

This is actually a very good question.

I read everything on the webpage and then called ECOS and spoke with Julian Crawford, CEO of the company that is the US Distributor of Ecos Paints. I interviewed him in 2014 when I was doing Toxic Free Talk Radio (listen to our interview here)

Julian answered all of my questions and explained very clearly that the paint TRAPS the chemicals and then HOLDS them on the walls, thereby removing them from floating freely in the air where you can inhale them. The chemicals DO NOT release back into the room.

The web page says “VOC-neutralizing.” To me that means make something that was previously toxic becomes neutral. To ECOS this means that the room becomes neutral of toxic chemicals.

They consider applying this paint turns your room into a giant air filter. And it does, to a degree. It passively and silently is removing chemicals 24 hours a day to the capacity of the paint to hold the chemicals. How long it takes for the paint to reach capacity depends on how much VOCs are in the room. I have always been an advocate of removing chemical exposures as the first choice, but I also know there are times when it’s not possible to remove. A paint like this just might be perfect for a rented apartment, for example, where neighbors are sending toxic VOCs your way. But I would also have on hand a dedicated air filtration unit that removes both particles and VOCs to turn on when you need it.

Here are the reductions in chemicals present in the air of a room following the application of this paint (to read more, Click on tab “Data Sheets” then “APP Performance Test”.

I also noticed that ECOS is participating in the “Declare” program of the International Living Future Institute.

Below is the ECOS Declare statement that lists all the materials that are used in this paint. I’ve rewritten the ingredients along side because I find this format difficult to read.

Vehicle: Water
Binder: Oleic Acid, Sulfonated, Potassium Salt
Extender Pigment: Titanium Dioxide, Kaolin Clay (Calcinated), Hectorite
Thickener: Calcium Carbonate, Xanthan Gum
Absorbant: Zeolite, Rheology
Modifier: Hydroxethyl Alcohol Cellulose, Polyoxyethylene Trimethyldecyl Alcohol
Dispersant: Ammonium Polyacrylate, Polyacrylic Acid
Preservative: 1-Hydroxy-2(1h)-Pyridinethione, Sodium Salt
Defoamer: Paraffin Oil
Retarder: Glycerin
Antimicrobial Adhesion: Vanillin

This is an interesting list of ingredients. Ecos does not claim their paints are “natural,” they claim their paints are “odorless.” Julian sent me a box of samples of all their different types of paints and finishes before our interview in 2014 and they certainly were odorless. But if you have a personal need to eliminate petroleum, this isn’t your paint.

It’s interesting to me that on one hand there are petroleum ingredients and on the other hand there are edible food ingredients such as sodium and potassium salts, xanthin gum, and zeolite.

In addition to air purifying paint, ECOS also has

  • Air Purifying Primer
  • Air Purifying Varnish
  • Anti-Formaldehyde Paint
  • Anti-Formaldehyde Radiator Paint

See them all at ECOS Air Purifying Products.

Add Comment


This is the best dental floss I’ve found. Materials are natural and biodegradable and it comes in a refillable glass jar. No plastic here of any kind. There are two types. Flosspot is made from silk worm silk floss with a coating of candelilia wax for a smooth glide between teeth. Flosspot Gold is silk made from corn husks, coated with candelilia wax, and a ginger-mint flavoring. Both are certified by the USDA as biobased products.

Visit Website

The Date Lady

I love dates as a sweetener. Now you can get all the deep sweetness of certified organic dates in a syrup that is easy to use. Comes in it’s own squeeze bottle. “The organic dates in this delectable syrup were sun dried on palm trees deep in the Coachella desert. The fruit from this arid climate results in a golden brown nectar with notes of rich butterscotch that you might want to eat on… everything.”

Visit Website


Visitor site map





Toxic Products Don’t Always Have Warning Labels. Find Out About 3 Hidden Toxic Products That You Can Remove From Your Home Right Now.