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Detox Your Kitchen: Nontoxic Kitchen Cabinets

by Angela Cummings and Sophia Ruan Gushée


When it comes to kitchen cabinets, you don’t have to trade beauty for healthy.  You can have both!

Nontoxic kitchen cabinets can help the air quality in your home, and they come in a variety of styles and finishes. Below are three tips to filter towards healthier kitchen cabinets.

1. Solid Hardwood

Wood cabinets can be made of solid hardwood wood or composite wood. Examples of composite wood include plywood, particle board, or medium-density fiberboard.

Composite woods are made by mixing wood pieces with adhesives. Those adhesives often emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which have been shown to have short and long-term health effects.(1)

Since solid hardwood is an all-wood product, there are no adhesives needed to bind the wood together, making it one of the nontoxic cabinet materials available today.

2. Formaldehyde-Free

Plywood is often used in kitchen cabinet boxes to help stabilize cabinet structures, particularly for larger cabinets. Without large sheets of plywood, it becomes more difficult to keep cabinets square and steady during construction.

Plywood can contain formaldehyde, which has been linked to cancer.(2) While the U.S. Congress passed legislation in 2010 to establish formaldehyde emissions standards for composite wood products, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has extended the dates in which companies have to comply with these new standards. This means that products on the market today may still be made with higher amounts of formaldehyde.(3)

Formaldehyde-free plywood is available for your cabinet boxes. This should help reduce your exposures to formaldehyde and other VOCs in your kitchen.(4)

3. Zero- or Low- VOC Finishes

Paints, stain, and finishes that are oil-based are often used on hardwood cabinets and have been found to be respiratory irritants.(5)  These finishes can release VOCs into the air and pollute the indoor air quality of your home. There are water-based products on the market that are zero- or low- VOC, healthier options that still provide beautiful coverage and protection of your kitchen cabinets.

You can improve indoor air quality and reduce toxins just by choosing healthier cabinet materials and finishes.  And, without compromising beauty!  Create the kitchen that you want while detoxing your home with nontoxic kitchen cabinets.

For more tips on choosing healthier cabinets, join the D-Tox Academy!

The D-Tox Academy gives subscribers access to specific brands of products, and tips for how to use and maintain products.  The academy includes short videos and check lists that are helpful when making healthier changes.


(1) (2) A-to-Z-of-D-Toxing-Works-Cited-Part-2 

(3) US EPA

(4) (5) A-to-Z-of-D-Toxing-Works-Cited-Parts-3-and-4 

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