Fresh Living

Fresh Living

How to Survive New Furniture

DiningRoom.jpgYesterday was an exciting day–our new dining room furniture arrived.  It’s beautiful, and we quickly figured out how we wanted to lay it out and started dreaming about Thanksgiving dinner.  But then we opened the doors of our new sideboard.

Pee-yew!  The “new furniture smell” inside the sideboard’s drawers and cabinets is significant.  And it’s serious, given the health and indoor air pollution consequences we know come from the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that lurk in the wood glues and varnishes that hold most new furniture together.


I have no desire to spend the next few weeks with headaches, coughing, or worse.  So I’m on a “power-offgassing” program that so far includes opening each cabinet and drawer wide, placing a “Vornado” fan in the room, throwing the windows all the way open, and blasting fresh air into every nook and cranny.

Luckily, yesterday and today were dry, crisp fall days, so the air is more than welcome inside.  And when we recently did the same project on our bedroom set–which was low-emitting but still smelled a tad–we noticed a significant reduction in the smell after just a few days. 

I just learned of another solution–or a supplementary one if you have the chance to institute Operation Open Windows.  Zeolite rocks are volcanic substances that are seriously porous, which means that they’ll absorb all kinds of things.  People use them in gardens to clean up spoiled soil, and they use them indoors to leach the toxins from carpets, furniture, and other offgassing menaces.  According to, placing the rocks in direct sunlight for 1 hour allows them to expel the toxins they’ve absorbed, making them re-usable for years.  Intriguing!  Has anyone ever used Zeolite?


I also read here about the ability of a bowl of white vinegar to remove odors (or does it just make the room smell like vinegar?  Hmm….) including cigarette smoke.  I might have to try that too.

How do you cope with offgassing?  Are you super-sensitive, like me, or do you not even notice “new furniture smell?”

(image–which is not my set!–via:

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  • Bruce Agte

    As a cabinetmaker, I decided long ago to stop using the nitrocellulose lacquer that is standard in the industry (and whose solvent is carcinogenic) and switch to water-based lacquer. I also stopped using materials which used formaldehyde in their binders: specifically panel products that have flake or fiber cores. “off-gassing” is very much like breathing second-hand smoke. It’s dangerous. I don’t want to promote my company or any particular manufacturers, but if you pay attention to the materials and finishes when you’re shopping for furnishings, you’ll be doing something very positive for the health of your family and planet!

  • @seemasugandh

    can a new furniture hard wood set be off gassed for a few days and then primed and painted over with water based healthier paints and somehow seal in the smell and chemicals?

  • Bedroom furniture

    I like your blog info.
    Thanks for sharing with us.

  • Sleigh Bed

    I believe this is 100% true and i will definitely agree with The “new furniture smell” inside the sideboard’s drawers and cabinets is significant. And it’s serious, given the health and indoor air pollution.

  • scottgriest

    I appreciate these type of instructions and guidelines for the beginner and sometimes it useful fr professionals as well.logo design

  • christ mark

    There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into consideration.I read and understand the entire article and I really enjoyed it to be honest. Thanks.

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