What is organic upholstery and why should I care?
This is a common question in my work, which includes restoration and customization of vintage upholstered furniture. Our mission is to educate as well as offer the option of organic & sustainable upholstery materials – an important choice for those who are chemically sensitive, as well as those looking to create a cleaner indoor environment.
It is helpful to know what kinds of questions to ask your furniture dealer or upholsterer when purchasing new furniture or rehabilitating your favorite sofa or chair. Confusion runs rampant with the current trend toward greenwashing everything from vitamins to kitchen sinks, partly due to a lack of guidelines which consumers can trust. Oecotextiles, an organic textile manufacturer who walks the talk, addresses this issue in some depth in their blog.
‘Organic’ vs ‘Natural’
Not all upholstery materials are available as certified organic products, so we have to do the best we can by offering the “next best thing” alongside the certified products, while keeping an eye to the horizon for new and better options as they become available. The certified organic products we are currently using in our restorations include latex foam, cotton batting, and locally produced wool felt & batting. (Note: we are addressing the inside padding materials here; cover fabrics will be explored in a later post).
The wool batting must be covered with a layer of organic cotton/bamboo batting or an organic cotton ticking fabric to prevent ‘migration’ of the wool fibers through the cover fabric.
The remaining fabrics we are currently using include non-organic natural fibers, such as hemp canvas used as a base layer over the springs and jute burlap.
Both wool and latex are widely touted as natural barriers to dust mites, mold & mildew, which are known allergen sources in many home environments.
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