How to find non toxic, chemical free baby clothes?

Unlike in cosmetics or food, the label of a garment does not say which substances are contained in the fiber. Many chemical substances are used in the manufacturing process of textiles before they end up in the wardrobe. So it is much harder to identify chemical free baby clothes which ideally derive from a non toxic manufacturing process.

Among the chemicals are a number of substances that are harmful to the environment and the health of babies and toddlers, even in the smallest quantities. However, most substances are not an immediate threat to your child, but the manufacturing process is often a massive problem for the environment and the workers who come into contact with these substances. Above all, the precious resource water is polluted with the toxic substances from the textile factories.

This may be a problem for the countries of production, but the pollutants from textile production in China, Bangladesh, Indonesia or Mexico are spread around the world by watercourses and air currents. Through food, air and drinking water, they also reach the human organism in our latitudes.

In this article, we will present you the most harmful substances you should look out for when buying baby clothing and provide you with a list of brands that guarantee a harmless production of baby clothes with minimal impact on the environment.

Within the framework of its detox campaign, Greenpeace has defined 11 pollutant groups for textiles, which must be abolished. This also affects baby clothing. Greenpeace examines the entire production cycle and not just what is in the fibers of the textiles. Here is a selection:

They are used in textile production, for example during washing and dyeing. In the water, the alkylphenols cleave and are hormonally active.

Azo dyes
They can split off substances that are suspected of causing cancer in skin contact. In the EU legislation for instance, they are no longer allowed for textiles that are worn directly on the skin.

Brominated flame retardants
They are used for fire protection and are also used in textiles. They are hormonally effective and can damage growth and development of the genital organs.

The plasticizers are used in the textile industry mainly in plastisol or printing inks. They are hormonally effective in humans and animals. According to EU chemicals legislation, a number of phthalates have been banned since 2015.

They are often used in children’s clothing to make prints elastic and long-lasting. If a garment contains more than 0.15% free formaldehyde, it must be labeled accordingly: “Contains formaldehyde. It is recommended to wash the garment for better skin tolerance before first wearing. ” in some countries.

PFC (Perfluorinated and polyfluorinated chemicals)
They make textile and leather products water- and dirt-repellent. Therefore, they are widely used mainly in outdoor clothing. They accumulate in the human tissue and blood, can damage the liver function and affect the body’s own hormone system.

Heavy metals,
such as Cadmium, Lead and Copper are found in dyes. They can accumulate in the body and damage organs as well as the nervous system.

Organotin compounds
They are used in the textile industry in socks, shoes and sportswear to prevent the formation of odors.

There are over 400 substances worldwide that are used in the textile industry and are harmful to humans and the environment. In the “Roadmap To Zero” program, renowned textile manufacturers have committed themselves to eliminate these substances from their production processes. A complete listing can be found here: Download PDF

When buying organic cotton clothing, make sure the company has a third-party certification to back up their claim. Very strict standards are GOTS and IVN Best.

Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)

GOTS certifies the entire textile production chain from the cultivation to the finished textile. The individual processing stages are independently certified. Chemical management is part of the Standard and includes a positive and negative list of substances.

At GOTS, textiles made from regenerated fibers can be certified. Regenerate fibers are fibers which are produced from a natural product by a chemical process, e.g. Viscose id made from cellulose. A maximum of 30 percent artificial fibers may be added to the natural fibers.

The List of GOTS certified Baby Clothes Brands include:

  • Babiesnature
  • Bonamy
  • Burt’s Bees Baby
  • Cat & Dogma
  • Colored Organics
  • Dordor & Gorgor
  • Kate Quinn Organics
  • LANACare
  • L’ovedbaby
  • Maple Clothing
  • Niteo
  • Penguin Organics
  • Polarn O. Pyret
  • Woolino

The safest way to find non-toxic baby clothes is to look for clothes made of organic cotton or wool that are also GOTS certified. Products that apply these standards are not only safe for your child they also consider the workers who made them and the environment surrounding the factories.

Photo: CC0 Public Domain