Healthier Window Treatments

bedroom interior design Mar 22, 2018

by Angela Cummings and Sophia Ruan Gushée


“Eco-friendly” is a term used to describe things that are good for nature, to preserve this beautiful earth. Recycling and conservation (of trees and energy) are cornerstone ideas and actions when it comes to eco-friendly efforts.

But what about the impact of toxic chemicals that are found in everyday products? They too are affecting our world—harming aquatic life, the animal kingdom, and humans as well.

You might be gazing out the window pondering this thought. And looking right past one of the many products that typically are made from harmful chemicals: window treatments.

Chemicals in Window Treatments

Standard window treatments—like shades, blinds, and drapes—are often made from synthetic materials, including vinyl (also called polyvinyl chloride or PVC), polyester, rayon and nylon. These materials are made from chemicals such as phthalates, chlorine, formaldehyde, pesticides and PFCs. (1) And they are in the VOC and solvent chemical families, which are included in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list of Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs).

Hazardous Air Pollutants. HAPs can get into soil or water (surface water), and can be absorbed by plants and animals. They can affect the health of animals, similar to humans, including the possibility of cancer, neurological, reproductive, developmental, respiratory and other health conditions. (2)

VOCs. VOCs may cause short-term effects—like headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, fatigue, loss of coordination, allergic skin reactions, nausea, memory impairment; and long-term effects—like cancer, damage to the liver, kidneys and central nervous system. (3)

Solvents. Solvents may be linked to asthma, cancer, damage to kidneys, liver, lungs, nervous system, development system, reproductive system, mental illness, depression, fatigue, confusion, dizziness, feeling drunk or “high”, lack of coordination, headache, nausea, stomach pains, skin rashes, cracking or bleeding skin, chest tightness, shortness of breath and irritation of eyes, nose and throat. (4)

Healthier Window Treatments

When choosing window treatments, consider buying products that are better for the environment and human health. Below are a few eco-friendly window treatments that are healthier for people too!

Wood blinds and shutters. When considering window treatments made from wood, check the type of wood and type of finish (paint, stain, finish) that is used. Hardwood, or wood that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), are typically eco-friendly and healthier options. The FSC certification involves review (and certification) of the wood product's impact on the environment (in terms of protection of water, old-growth forest, natural forest cover, and highly hazardous chemicals). (5) Look for finishes—like paint, stain, or sealants—that are zero- or low-VOC.

Drapes and Sheers. Adorn windows with drapes or sheers that are made of natural materials—like linen, cotton, organic cotton, and silk. Consider drapes that are colored with non or less toxic dyes, and are free of finishes. Also, avoid drapes and sheers that are labeled “stain resistant.” “water resistant,” or “wrinkle free.”

Vine and Twig. Straight from nature, vine and twig window treatments decorate windows but are not typically used for creating privacy like other window treatment options. Sometimes do-it-yourselfers will make vine and twig window treatments themselves. Make sure that the materials used do not contain fungus, mold, or chemicals like pesticides.


When choosing window treatments, consider their impact on the environment and human health.

  • Opt for products that are made from natural fibers and materials and contain the least amount of chemicals as possible.
  • Look for FSC certified products (for wood products), natural materials such as cotton, linen, and silk, and finishes (paints, stains, finishes) that are zero- or low-VOC and are made from the least amount of chemicals.
  • Avoid added chemical finishes such as those labeled “wrinkle free”, “stain resistant” or “water resistant”.

Choosing eco-friendly products that are made with fewer chemicals is a win-win for all. You’ll be helping the environment and people at the same time!



(1) A to Z of D-Toxing, Works Cited Part 3 and 4

(2) U.S. EPA Hazardous Air Pollutants

(3) Tox Town - VOCs

(4) Tox Town - Solvents

(5) Forest Stewardship Council

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About Ruan Living

Ruan Living simplifies a nontoxic lifestyle through its Practical Nontoxic Living podcast, free detox workshops, online D-Tox Academy, and transformative 40-Day Home Detox. It aims to help you avoid toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from what you buy, own, and do— without compromising your joy and convenience. Ruan was founded by Sophia Ruan Gushée, author of the bestselling critically acclaimed book A to Z of D-Toxing: The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Your Toxic Exposures and several detox workbooks. A graduate of Brown University and Columbia Business School, Sophia has served on the Brown University School of Public Health Advisory Council and Well+Good Council. A popular nontoxic living speaker, consultant, and teacher, Sophia lives in New York City with her husband and three daughters. Her passion for empowering others to enjoy nontoxic living began with the birth of her first daughter in 2007. Everything she creates is a love letter to her children and for the healthiest, brightest future possible. You can learn more here: Sophia’s Impact.


This article is for informational purposes only. This information is provided “as is” without warranty.

It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. We do not offer medical advice, course of treatment, diagnosis, or any other opinion on your conditions or treatment options. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Ruan Living.

In no event will Sophia Ruan Gushee or Ruan Living be liable for any damages or loss of any kind resulting from the use of this website. Anyone relying upon or making use of the information on this website does so at his or her own risk.

Some of the services and products recommended on this website provide compensation to Sophia Ruan Gushee or Ruan Living. All recommendations are based foremost upon an honest belief that the product, service, or site will benefit our site visitors in some way.  

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