How to Choose Safe, Natural Floor Coverings for Your Home
Who’s excited to talk about non-toxic, natural floor coverings? Is it sad that we are totally excited? Let’s break this down: flooring is easily overlooked, but it’s an area of your home that you come into contact with every day. And some family members, like pets and crawling babies, get up close and personal with daily. There are some serious health implications to consider when choosing the materials you use for natural floor coverings – and for how you clean them, too. Here’s what you need to know about choosing safe and natural floor coverings for your home.
Top 3 Safety Watch-outs When Choosing Non-Toxic, Natural Floor Coverings
- Fillers like plastic and synthetic rubber and toxic dyes in carpeting
These ingredients can contain compounds like phthalates, which are endocrine-disrupting and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that can irritate our respiratory systems.
- Treatments like fire retardants, antifungals, pesticides, stain and water repellents
Did you know carpeting can contribute to indoor air pollution? Carpets and other floor coverings are often treated with hazardous chemicals in the form of antifungals, fire retardants, and stain repellents. These treatments contain carcinogens like formaldehyde, benzene and other VOCs which are released into the air in your home.
- Glues and adhesives
Similarly, glues and adhesives used to adhere hardwood flooring or tile can contain a whole cocktail of ingredients like fillers, plasticizers, thickeners, surfactants, hardeners and, even biocides to inhibit mold growth. These VOCs can exacerbate asthma and allergies, so you should always look for an adhesive with the lowest VOC content and use the least amount possible.
The Best Natural Floor Coverings For Your Home
Luckily, there are some great brands creating safe, sustainable options for natural floor coverings for our homes.
Organic cotton and sustainably sourced wool are going to be your friends in this department! Hook and Loom offer beautiful rugs in wool and cotton that are eco-friendly and free of dyes, chemicals, and latex. Earth Weave Carpet Mill craft 100% natural fiber carpets and area rugs that are made of either raw natural colored wool or dyed with organic dyes, with no toxic treatments. Lorena Canals create original designs for washable cotton and wool rugs using eco-friendly materials and safe, natural dyes. Did we mention they’re washable? As in: they go in the washing machine? You’re welcome.
(Psst! Looking for a non-toxic play mat for babies? Check out this roundup from The Gentle Nursery.)
Search for natural stone tile material that can be unsealed, like porcelain or some types of slate, or ceramic, travertine, granite, soapstone or limestone tile that has been sealed with a non-toxic sealer – or may not require a sealer at all! Use unmodified grout to avoid latex additives that can off-gas after installation. For more on tile sealers, check out this post and don’t forget to avoid toxic adhesive!
Look for suppliers who are transparent about disclosing the source and processing of their timber. Green Building Supply offer a range of bamboo, hardwood, and cork flooring made from eco-friendly materials. Their experts are a wealth of information on safer underlayment basics and adhesives, too. Mannington hold themselves to a high standard of safety, participating in responsible forestry and treating their hardwoods with UV and water-based finishes that do not contain VOCs. They’re also certified by the FSC, Forest Stewardship Council, which certifies that they use environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable means for sourcing timber.
We know how important (and overwhelming) it can be to select safe, natural flooring for your home – and we’re learning right beside you. A great resource for natural flooring (and so much more) is the EWG’s Healthy Home Guide. You’ll find tons of information on what to choose (and what to avoid) for flooring in your home. And, of course, we’re always here to help you learn more about how to make the safe choices for your family. More good news: once your natural flooring is installed, we’ll help you keep it sparkling clean without exposing your family to harsh and toxic chemicals. Our revolutionary cleaning product, Force of Nature, harnesses the power of simple, household ingredients to create an EPA-registered disinfectant that can keep your floor clean enough to snuggle, crawl and play on.