How and Why To Off-Gas New Furniture

This is the current state of our garage. We recently bought this bed from Costco but won’t be putting it in our home just yet.

You see, new furniture, especially upholstered furniture, are treated in a manner so that they’re flame retardant, are built using chemicals like formaldehyde, and release dangerous volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). These can also be found in the paints, solvents, glues, and even wood. Each can cause major health issues. While buying used furniture or furniture made only of wood is best, there are steps you can take to reduce the amount of toxins you’re bringing into your home when you buy new furniture. But first, let’s look at why flame retardants, formaldehyde and VOC’s are so dangerous.

Flame Retardants

Flame retardants are used in a multitude of house hold including pillows, mattresses, upholstered furniture and even carpet padding. These flame retardants emit what’s called polybrominated-diphenyl-ethers (PBDEs). These PBDEs are known for being hormone disruptors which can accumulate in the placenta and can even contaminate a mother’s breast milk.


Formaldehyde is used to treat most furniture and even wood products. The problem is, it’s actually known to cause watery eyes, coughing, wheezing, nausea, skin irritation, and burning sensations of the eyes, nose or throat.


Foam products (like the foam used in most upholstered furniture) experience what’s called ‘off-gassing’ which releases VOC’s. VOC’s are can have immediate effects on your body like irritation to your eyes and nose. They may also cause asthma attacks. Long term, they’ve been shown to potentially damage the kidneys, liver, and central nervous system and have even been linked to cancer.

While all of this may feel a bit overwhelming, there are steps you can take to reduce your exposure to these toxins when introducing new furniture into your home.

Buy used furniture. Whenever possible, buy furniture that is used. This furniture has most likely already gone through an off-gassing process and therefore *should* be much safer to bring straight into your home.

Off-Gas your furniture before you bring it into your home. If you find yourself buying that bed at Costco you’ve been eye for months like we did, then letting it ‘breath’ outdoors before you bring it in your home will be best for everyone. You can do so outside in the fresh air or in your garage. Some say that allowing your furniture to receive sunlight works even better for releasing the toxic gases but when it’s the middle of winter, that’s not really an option. Which is why our garage currently looks the way that it does.

Some sites suggest letting your furniture off-gas for months before you bring it indoors. Other’s even go as far as 1-7 years. For me, that’s simply too long. While we don’t need this bed in our room right away, I would like to enjoy it sooner rather than later. So we’re going to give it 1 week to off gas in our garage and then go from there. If it still has a strong smell to it, we’ll leave it out there longer. If not, we’ll bring it in and start getting our bedroom put together.

See my complete master bedroom inspiration here:

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