Chemical-free (we wish)

Safer clothing and textiles

So far, there is no perfect place to find chemical free clothing and textiles. Different people use different products, materials, chemicals, etc and sometimes it’s hard to find out what has been going on. Some companies out and out lie about the purity of their products, others are just genuinely clueless about the toxicity of chemicals used in textiles. There are companies that really do make an effort, but the added costs are a burden for many of us.

Then there are the issues of post manufacturing contamination. Things like shipping container or storage pesticides, air “fresheners” and incense, other fragrances used, sold or handled, or even the chemicals used to clean the carpets …

Sadly we still have to be detectives to find safe enough clothing when our bodies no longer tolerate chemical contact, clothing that none-the-less may require a lesser or more extensive detox protocol (see resources) to be wearable.

What follows is a list of links of places from where some people have had some luck finding suitable clothing. A listing here doesn’t necessarily imply an endorsement, especially from an MCS point of view, as we are all different in our tolerance of chemicals, and clothing can also vary batch to batch.

There are many different options here, some organic clothing might only be marginally safer than other non-organic options, as not everything is always labeled either, meaning a regular manufacturer might be making clothing that is actually safer than some that are made from organic fibers, if the other processes are not as toxic, like those from Dharma Trading, while not organic, tend to be safer because they lack the finishes that would prevent dyes from taking to the fabrics.

Some of the companies will list in more detail the lengths they go to to make themselves safer for people who do need to avoid chemicals, and for the environment, as opposed to those just looking for safeR (not safe) clothing, which can include synthetic, but lower impact dyes and finishes.

Note:

As I was re-checking some of the links, a couple of sites were infected with malware, so I’ve put those aside for now, but listed one (in its own category) for the brave or well-protected. Always make sure you have good, up-to-date security features when using the internet.

These appear in a somewhat random order… I may work on cleaning this list up over time, and adding details, as my own health permits and as new information comes to light. Please feel free to leave comments with more resources if you have had success with them.

(apologies for the formatting, I am having a lot of trouble with it)

Added Nov 25, 2014:

New report from Sweden:

We have listed hazardous substances that may be found in textiles

The Swedish Chemicals Agency has identified hazardous chemicals that may be found in clothing and textiles in our indoor environment.

http://www.kemi.se/en/Content/News/We-have-listed-hazardous-substances-that-may-be-found-in-textiles/

PDF:
http://www.kemi.se/Documents/Publikationer/Trycksaker/Rapporter/Report6-14-Chemicals-in-textiles.pdf?epslanguage=en

 

Clothing

 

Annukka
http://annukka.com.au/

Blue Canoe
http://www.bluecanoe.com/

CATA-Consumers Against Toxic Apparel
http://www.cataorganic.com/index.html

Clean Undies
http://www.organic-cotton-co.com/

Cottonique
http://www.cottonique.com/

Cottonfield undies, Ts and sleepwear
http://www.cottonfieldusa.com/

Dharma Trading (clothing meant to be dyed so has fewer finishing chemicals)
http://www.dharmatrading.com/topnav/clothing/

earth creations
http://earthcreations.net/

Ecoland
http://www.ecolandinc.com/store/

Heart of Vermont
http://www.heartofvermont.com/shopdisplayproducts.asp?id=119&cat=ORGANIC+SLEEP%2FLOUNGE+WEAR

HessNatur
Unfortunately they closed their US office, available from Germany

Janice’s
http://janices.com/

Kasper Organics
http://www.kasperorganics.com/index.html

Maggie’s Organics (especially their dye-free organic socks)
http://www.maggiesorganics.com

Organic Cotton and Other Natural Fibers
http://www.princesstigerlily.com/mcs/cotton.html

Rawganique (terrible customer service, numerous expensive and poor quality goods, and a lack of truthiness in some descriptions)
http://www.rawganique.com/

Shop by fabric at Faerie’s Dance
http://www.faeriesdance.com/shop-fabric-c-22.html?osCsid=a0e78f3e47a27760cdea8f560a8333e3

SOS organic cotton products
http://www.sosfromtexas.com/about.php

The Original Bug Shirt
http://www.bugshirt.com/

The Organic Pages
http://www.theorganicpages.com/topo/index.html

Threads for Thought
http://www.threadsforthought.com/

For kids up to 12
http://www.softclothing.net/resources/clothing-faq/

 

 

Textiles, wools, yarns, felts, batting, DIY

NearSea Naturals

http://www.nearseanaturals.com/

Philosopher’s Wool

http://www.philosopherswool.com/Index.htm

Local Harvest

http://www.localharvest.org/store/wool.jsp

Stoney Mountain Farm

http://www.stoneymountainfarm.com/pages/product-list/roving-batts-and-yarn.php

EcoButterfly

http://www.ecobutterfly.com/organiccottonyarninformation/

Organic Cotton Plus

http://organiccottonplus.com/

Nature’s Fabrics

http://www.naturesfabrics.com/organic-fabric.html?limit=all

Nature’s Choice Organic® Cotton Yarn

http://www.lionbrand.com/yarns/naturesChoice.html

ORGANIC, BIODEGRADABLE Naturally Dyed, Eco-Friendly Yarns

http://www.imrsheep.com/organic100.html

Simply Cotton Organic Worsted Yarn

http://www.knitpicks.com/cfyarns/yarn_display.cfm?ID=5420186

Peace Fleece

http://www.peacefleece.com/index.php

 

Footwear

http://www.multnomahleather.com/

http://po-zu.com/uk/about/

http://www.celtic-sheepskin.co.uk/ladies/ladies-sheepskin-slippers/moccasin-lounger-soft-sole/

http://www.cloggieshop.com/  (check the plain wood ones if you are very sensitive)

http://www.cloggieshop.com/index.php?dispatch=products.view&product_id=29781

http://www.lechameauusa.com/chasseur.html

http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/how/historic-crafts-and-skills/leatherworking/soft-sole-plains-moccasins

http://www.shoebuy.ca/birkenstock-boston-suede/29832/29832

http://www.softstarshoes.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=category.display&category_id=43

http://www.toms.com/corporate-responsibility/

http://www.autonomieproject.com/fair_trade/footwear.html

http://www.simpleshoes.com/info/materials.aspx?g=info

Bath, Bedding and Furniture

(note, many organic bed and furniture manufacturers can provide samples of their materials so you can test for compatibility)

http://www.obasan.ca/en/main_nav/home/

http://www.theorganicmattressstore.com/organic-sheets.html

http://www.surroundewe.com/Products.asp?d=0&ID=30

http://www.shepherdsdream.ca/

http://www.nofeathersplease.com/

http://www.furnature.com/why-furnature.html

 

Review/list of different organic mattresses
http://www.organicmattress.ca/organic-mattress-reviews/

Site that had malware warnings at the last check-in

Truly Organic Clothing   http://www.truly-organic-clothing.com/

More information about textiles and materials

Here’s a blog post that discusses different types of certifications: http://oecotextiles.wordpress.com/2011/07/22/certifications-part-1/

The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)

http://www.global-standard.org/the-standard/general-description.html

About natural fibers:

http://www.naturalfibres2009.org/en/fibres/index.html

For info about how some natural materials are sourced, see the drop-down menu when you hover over the fashion icon

http://www.occupyforanimals.org/fashion.html

This post discusses the chemical issues (or some of them – Greenpeace International is doing some great work in this area too)

http://oecotextiles.wordpress.com/2010/11/10/how-to-get-rid-of-chemicals-in-fabrics-hint-trick-question/

when all else fails:  Detox your laundry:

https://lindasepp.wordpress.com/2012/09/08/laundry-decontamination-protocols/

28 responses to “Chemical-free (we wish)

  1. Thanks a million, Linda! And check out Lifekind for (mostly) mattresses. They also carry sheets, blankets, toiletries, and so on–it’s all high quality, very nicely made, and organic! I have purchased sheets and pillows and an air filter from them and am very satisfied with my purchases.

  2. Thanks Kathy! I’ve added the link!

  3. Thank you so so so sooooo much for your time, effort and sharing these valuable info with us. We truely appriciate it.

    • I hope you find some things that work for you!
      We are all so different as to what we tolerate and how many times things need to be washed before being ok…
      Having a list to narrow things down from was really helpful to me

      There’s a HUGE need for chemical free clothing and bedding!

  4. Linda,
    This is my first time to read your site, and thank you so very much for all the work to help us. My partner and I are both very ill and it’s not so easy to find the information we need. Her MCS is much worse than mine because so many things cause her to have seizures. She is in and out of the hospital so much and it is the worst place on earth for us to have to go to. I can’t believe how rude and inconsiderate the staff can be regarding fragrances and chemicals. I appreciate everything I have read so far from your site and look forward to having others to talk to and learn from.
    Kay

  5. Wow you’re pretty awesome! I’ve just stumbled upon your website though not through stumbleupon haha and I’ve had difficulty trying to find organic, dye-free, chemical free clothing and whatnot. I feel gross using chemically-imbued clothing and sheets but even when I have found organic clothing, it’s usually not dye free, and always very expensive…

    tldr: thank you 🙂

    • It shouldn’t be so difficult (and expensive) finding non-toxic clothing…
      The toxic stuff should be the expensive stuff that’s hard to find!

      • Agreed. I mean it’s seriously becoming like food in that regard; eventually I’m just going to grow my own cotton and make them myself or barter with someone to have them do it for me. What do you do to wash clothing since water is poisoned I’d love to be able to wash my clothes the old fashioned way but I don’t think that’s going to be possible for me living in Miami, though maybe I’m just being uncreative and not affording it enough thought? I live with my family who uses copious detergent so using the washer/dryer without chemicals is question since they are both imbued with many years of chemicals…

        • Who woulda thunk it could be so difficult to have safe clothing in this century?
          Hope that you can find some safe for you solutions too.
          Have you considered running the washer with just hot water to get the detergent residues out before using the machine? Or getting the family to save money and use less (the $ thing is usually a good motivator)
          I have to use double filtered water (whole house filtration) to wash my safe clothing with or the trace chemicals from tap water cause bad fibro flares (I used glass bottled spring water for 1 1/2 years). With a single carbon whole house I had to wash my clothes in the tub using double shower filters. Haven’t had a washing machine since Jan 2009. I’ve been unable to find safe (fragrance-free) baking soda for a year and don’t tolerate soaps or detergents… This seriously limits what I wear and use when I have to hand wash everything and have a bad back…
          I am hopeful that my options will increase this year, looking forward to getting out of this laundry hell.
          Life should not have so many man made obstacles!

      • Excuse me, I meant to say that it’s worse than food in that regard. I had a difficult time locating not only organic but local food (so many foods are certified organic but are gassed, sprayed with “perservatives” and other chemicals AFTER they have been harvested…. so deceitful….) but securing organic clothing has proven far more difficult. I again thank you – I appreciate you, your work, your research, and I while I don’t have MCS, I have no desire to be poisoned by the clothing I wear and whatnot….

        • Really! No one should be poisoned just for living!
          There are some seriously dumb things allowed these days…
          For food, buying from farmers, farmers markets, CSAs or growing our own if we can is the best way to avoid as much contamination as is currently possible (pesticide drift can still be an issue, as can other supply chain practices).
          I’m lucky to have a delivery service that doesn’t get fragrance chemical contamination on the produce, unlike health food stores and supermarkets that sell incense, scented soaps, laundry products, etc… I have limited choices, and sometimes the foods do have contamination from something, but it’s the best I have access to these days, and for that, I am grateful.

  6. Here’s another clothing option some people are happy with (wordpress wouldn’t allow me to edit and add it now)

    earth creations
    http://www.earthcreations.net/

  7. Here is a mattress/bedding company that was really helpful to me:
    http://www.sachiorganics.com

    The actual mattress I got is not on their website. If you supply them with a doctor’s note, they may be willing to make you a mattress that does not meet flame retardancy requirements (presumably based on the argument that the ADA overrides said requirements). I’m not sure if they still do that, but it’s worth asking. They are a very small family business. Back when I lived in Santa Fe, they personally delivered my special mattress straight to my apartment, avoiding usual transportation issues. The closest thing I can find on their website to the mattress I got is this topper.
    http://www.sachiorganics.com/bedding/wool-topper?page=shop.product_details&flypage=sachiFlyPage.tpl&product_id=27&category_id=4

    • Thank you for the resource.
      There are non-toxic alternatives to flame retardants (like a layer of wool) and with a Dr note, many manufacturers will provide a flame-retardant-free mattress, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other chemicals in the bed! Which is why organic beds are so important!
      Good to know Sachi was helpful – I seem to remember reading about other people ordering from them too…

      • The specific bed I got is basically a futon that appears to have been sewn together by hand. (Well, maybe with the aid of a sewing machine, but locally by the family, not in a factory.) The fabric encasing it looks rough and minimally processed — undyed, and not pure white either, suggesting bleach probably wasn’t used. I remember them telling me the fabric was organic. There is a paper WARNING label sewn on saying, “This mattress may be subject to ignition and hazardous smoldering from cigarettes. It was manufactured in accordance with a physician’s prescription and has not be tested under the Federal Standard for the Flammability of Mattresses (FF4-27).” There is a zipper which can be opened to reveal that the mattress is full of wool. I remember them asking if I wanted a layer of latex, and I declined, so it is just wool. I was told to be more careful about flipping the mattress around periodically (both vertically and horizontally) to make it wear more evenly, especially since I had opted out of the latex foam. I can’t recall if they had organic wool back in 2009 or 2010 when I ordered it, but they do now. I remember having to wait for it to be made since it was custom made to order.

  8. I purchased my mattress, sheets and pillows from White Lotus. I love their products and their customer service and return policy are phenomenal. If you sign up for their emails, you will receive notice of sales and discounts available. I believe you can also receive discount codes through their Facebook page. http://www.whitelotus.net

  9. Additionally, neither the storefront nor the family who worked there smelled like perfumers back in 2009 or 2010. Although I was less sensitive back then than I am now, and I am still less perfume-sensitive than you are. But at least I can state with reasonable confidence that, as of a few years ago, they were not using chemical air fresheners in their store.

  10. Hi Linda

    Great resources:)
    Im a little curious what youre experience have been with Rawganique nowadays? Is it still the same issues? As i look and see on the website they seem to have developed some their own clothing inhouse.

    • I haven’t bought anything from them since then. One of these days I am going to try to have a serious discussion with them about the unresolved issues from my big order in 2010. I’ve simply been too sick to deal with it.
      Some of the clothes are still in a bag, requiring modification to make them work for me.
      I can’t return them as they were on an outdoor line for weeks and became discoloured.
      One of the 2 flannel shirts I ordered (they were supposed to be identical) had undeclared sizing material ironed into the cuffs and collar, and I didn’t know until I put it in water to soak.
      The drawstring PJ pants have undeclared elastic in the waist band that has to be removed by undoing all the seams by hand and then all re-sewn by hand, as the elastic is sewn in, not loosely added. Most of us who buy drawstring pats do it because we have to avoid elastics.
      The longjohn type pants were so small compared to the shirts, and the cuffs on them all were an awful material instead of simply being hemmed, as was the exposed elastic waistband that wasn’t even enclosed.
      That’s what I remember off the top of my head (having looked at the bag a few months ago to see if I could make those modifications indoors, but they weren’t “safe” enough. The other work I had done outdoors when at the cabin.
      My attempts to have everything plus some billing issues addressed in 2010 were unsuccessful, and I’ve not been up to pursuing it further with them.

      • Hey Linda

        Thanks for your response. Its sad to see that was the case with Rawganique. Since they seem to have a lot of things right. But as youre saying, i hope everything works out with them nowadays. Its hard to still find raw good quality clothing. Since as you may already know even 100% organic ones still use chemicals that are “approved”. Like caustic soda in the breakdown.

        How have your experience been recently from someone knew you got clothes from? Kasper organic sounds interesting.

        • Clothing conversations among people with MCS haven’t changed much over the years. With the lack of standardization from clothing manufacturers and supply chains, it’s really impossible to say that what works for one person will work for another. Or even that something will be the same 6 months later from a different batch/lot # (which cannot be traced usually). Also, some of us can use stronger cleaning products in the detox process than others can, and dryers also seem to help release some of the chems (I don’t advise trying the dryer too early in the process as you could transfer some chems into hard to reach areas, and contaminate the dryer). Some of the companies listed above are favorite choices for some people though. There are a couple of textile eco-certifications that guarantee at least some processes are better than others, so I am going to experiment with those options whenever I am able to get a washer and dryer that is safe for me to bring and use inside.

  11. Yeah as you are saying its quite hard in general to find good ones. But from all of it, it seems that Kasper Organic is the one with an overall interest into not using dyes or chlorine within the production. Which seems to be a good road to have.

    One other thing that is quite interesting is in regards to skin products, one of the purest one i have found that ships internationally is Rawganiques ones. In which they have the kaffir schampoo and mung bean powder, have you had any other good tips on something similar that ships internationally?

    • The fewer substances used, the better… and usually easier to detox…

      I can’t recommend any products, as I’ve had to give up pretty well all of them due to contamination issues along the supply chain.

      Safe Canary Nest has a lot of useful information, including some on different types of products: http://safecanarynest.com/resources

      Also, joining the online support groups is useful, as you can get answers from many different people from all over the world.

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