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How To Save Money With Green Upholstering

Updated on September 5, 2012


As more and more people strive for a greener lifestyle, even upholstery has gone green.

This is wonderful news for those of us who are trying to eliminate fake materials, toxic fabrics and overall bad karma from our environment. 

It's great to know that there are people working to upholster furniture using materials that are ecofriendly and that won't make people sick! 


It's important to note that many upholsterers actually might not have heard of green upholstering before.  So it should not be a shock to learn that many people by and large have not heard the term either.

Concerning upholsterers though, if they are professionals at all, they should embrace the idea of using solid materials that are also environmentally friendly.

Chairs and sofas are made up of a frame, springs and webbing, cushion, padding and then fabric. 

You can find furniture at garage sales, estate sales, swap meets or even around the house.  If the frame is solid, then the piece is probably worth saving.

Consider reupholstering something rather than buying new or throwing away a solid piece of furniture.

public domain image of hemp fiber
public domain image of hemp fiber


Green upholstering is the philosophy that you can take anything made with non ecofriendly materials and make it ecofriendly.

Springs can be rebuilt and the cushion replaced to make it like new.  The material most used to redo cushions is foam or perhaps a springy unit wrapped in foam. 

How is green upholstering any different?  Most standard upholsterers use a foam treated with brominated fire retardants such as PDBEs.  Green upholstering uses a latex foam instead.

The latex foam itself though is not flame retardant so the foam cushion needs to be wrapped in a fire retardant material.

You can do this by using fireproof ticking or natural wool batting as a protective wrap.

Wool is a nontoxic fabric that also breathes.  You can cover that with down-proof ticking (this will keep wool hairs from poking through the fabric).  The ticking also helps when it comes to dust accumulation or dust mites because they cannot get into the cushion. 

Select fabrics that are of course visually pleasing.  There are all kinds of nontoxic and natural fabrics available from many sources.

Good choices are fabrics that do not use toxic dyes or heavy-metal dyes.  Other choices are recycled fibers and natural fibers, such as organic cotton, hemp, or bamboo. 

Many fabrics might appear natural and environmentally sound but can have toxic finishing materials applied to them.  It's possible to get rid of the these finishing products by washing the fabric, but you need to experiment and see how the fabric turns out after washing. 

The fabric might fade or not be stain resistant.  Or it may shrink due to the finishing being removed. Experiment and if you can find materials and fabrics that allow you to preserve their color and texture after washing, you're still green!



  • Confirm with an upholsterer that you want to work with what you have but you want to keep it green. 
  • You should be able to preserve and use the original frame if it's solid with no additions of unnatural materials.
  • Springs can be redone or replaced.
  • For foam replacement, you want latex foam covered with wool batting and not polyester batting.  
  • You also want down-proof ticking to prevent the wool hairs from poking through the fabric.
  • You want a natural and breathable fabric without finishing products or toxic byproducts used on it. 

Going green when it comes to upholstery is a marvelous way to redo furniture and promote a healthier environment. 



Here are some great sources for materials and nontoxic fabrics.  However, encourage your local fabric stores to order green fabrics too!

Latex foam can be purchased at

Natural fabrics that are woven -

Find fabrics at Harmony

Purchase environmentally friendly fabrics at Oliveira Textiles

Find wallpapers, fabrics and more at Mod Green Pod

Shop for all kinds of goodies at Q Collection

If you must buy new, look at Ikea.  Ask them to direct you to their "green" furniture line.

Check out these other fantastic sources

  • Green Sage
  • Anna Sova
  • Loop Fabric
  • Hemp Home Traders
  • Interface Fabrics
  • Clothworks and Furnature (Furnature's SafeWash removes fabric finish safely)
  • Do-it-Yourself Organics at Heart of Vermont
  • Rawganique
  • Nirvana
  • Viridian has a great list of manufacturers of environmentally friendly furniture


Check out the Children's Health Environment Coalition for more information and more sites on how products we have in our homes are making us sick and causing health problems. 

SustainLane is a fantastic resource regarding the environmental and health impacts of fabrics and furniture. 

In short, there are ways that you can save a piece of furniture and make it not only new, but environmentally safe. 

Talk over green upholstering with your upholsterer before you have him or her start your project and see what wonderful creations you can come up with!

If you have more information or sources on green upholstering, please share them with all of us in the comment section below.


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    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Washington

      Thanks, Hanna - I found it fascinating and love some of the websites!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      A very interesting hub.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Washington

      Thanks chspublish - whatever we can do is something, eh?

    • chspublish profile image

      chspublish 6 years ago from Ireland

      It's great that you're promoting the green in this practical and useful way.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Washington

      BJ - That is hilarious - the best way of course to go green is to use plastic covers and keep things for 100 years! Love your wit.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Dear Sustainable Upholstery Expert Person:

      I have a sofa purchased in 1949 that is in absolutely perfect condition.

      Ask me why?

      Because the thick plastic covering it has "gone green!" :)

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Washington

      Glad you liked, Darski - had a good time doing this one and learned a lot!

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 6 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Fantastic hub, I am a green girl, and it's expensive most of the time to be green. It's a slow proccess and it must be done for the future of our green Earth. Lovely wonderful hub my dear friend. Great job, rate up love & peace darski