Formaldehyde-Free Baby and Children’s Clothing Companies

February 9, 2010 | 42 Comments

hannaandersson clothes are formaldehyde free

On February 4, 2009 we posted our first version of this article regarding which clothing companies do and do NOT treat their clothing with formaldehyde.  We have received quite a few emails from parents on this one, and even some who have shared helpful information with us!   Additionally, some companies who did not respond in the past to us have finally answered our questions, so we are re-posting this today with many updates and clarifications.

Companies who do not answer with a clear “NO, we don’t use formaldehyde” and say “we are compliant with all CPSC regulations” (for your information there are NONE for formaldehyde!) most likely use Formaldehyde in their children’s clothing.

Please let us know of any other children’s clothing company who possibly uses chemicals in their clothing!

Formaldehyde is a popular “cheap” chemical used  in clothing, shoes, furniture, fertilizer paper, toys, cosmetics and food.

Our recent article on formaldehyde in children’s clothing gave details on how long-term exposure and high concentrations of formaldehyde can lead to cancer.  And to think we cloak our children in this daily!

In our article, we reported about our concern with the USA not having any safety standards in place when it comes to formaldehyde limits in textiles.  Unlike other countries like Japan, Austria, Finland, Germany, Norway, Netherlands and others who are already ahead of us on this issue.

So, in order to help parents make wise shopping choices, we have contacted many of the most popular clothing stores, and manufacturers, to find out if they use formaldehyde in their clothing.

Some of them responded within 24 hours and gave us a clear answer.  But, others did not!  What really surprised us is that most companies could NOT give us an answer, and some did not even get back to us.  Only 3 companies of about 20 sent us a clear response very promptly.

Formaldehyde-Free Clothing Companies

  • Hanna Anderson

    “Hanna does not add any type of chemicals to our clothing, so we do not have any type of wrinkle-free chemical. However, the nature of most of the fabrics we choose are very care free!” - Char M  Hanna Andersson Customer Service

    SAFbaby’s comment: Love the quick response and a big fan of their great quality clothing. 60% of their clothes are Oeko tex certified which means that garments are tested for over 100 harmful substances. Another plus, most of their clothes are made of organic cotton! Way to go Hanna Andersson!

  • Carter’s & Oshkosh B’Gosh

    “We do not use any chemicals at all in our garments.” -Mary, Consumer Affairs, Carter’s / Oshkosh B’Gosh

    SAFbaby’s comment: Short and clear! However, we contacted them again regarding their tagless labels and what chemicals are used.Their new labels are said to pose no health risks, but Carter’s 2007 fall line did, see our article on this topic.

    Another response from Carters to one of our reader’s question “if Carter’s does not put any chemicals on their clothes, why do they reek of that “new clothes smell?”

    Carter’s Response:

    “Thank you for your recent email. All fabrics (including organic) have to be treated with some type of softener to be able to sew. These softeners can leave an odor. We do not wash most of the styles prior to selling and we label our garments “wash before wear”.

    I hope this answers your readers questions.”

    Sincerely,
    Mary
    Consumer Affairs
    Carter’s / Oshkosh B’Gosh

Use Formaldehyde or Insufficient Response

  • Gap

    “GapShield uses nanotechnology to help resist spills and repel and release stains. For more information visit www.nano-tex.com.

    This is a stain resistant finish that belongs to the general family of fluoropolymers. It also must meet our standards for formaldehyde. While formaldehyde is not regulated in apparel in the US, Gap Inc. follows global standards limiting formaldehyde to extremely small amounts. You can feel confident in advising customers that we have low-to-no formaldehyde in all of our clothing.

    Safety is one of our top priorities at Gap Inc. We do all we can to make sure our products are safe to all consumers and have a history of setting standards that meet or exceed the legal requirements for our merchandise. We have pre-approved, independent laboratories where we have our vendors send products for testing before we sell them in our stores and online. We also have a Product Safety team who manage our testing programs and make sure we are up to date on international safety and regulatory standards.

    Gap Inc. restricts several chemicals, including formaldehyde, lead, and carcinogenic dyes. We strive to ensure our products are safe for our customers and their children (and pets). Our tagless tees are PVC , Saline and Phthalates free.

    We hope you find this information helpful. If we may be of further assistance, our Customer Service Consultants are available 24 hours a day at custserv@gap.com or by calling 1-800-GAP-STYLE.” - Andrea, Customer Service Consultant at Gap

    One of our readers posted this comment:
    Hi all, I just wanted to let you know that Old Navy, Gap, Etc. Do Have a lot of icky stuff on them. I worked at an Old Navy on the shipment team, and when they opened the boxes, the smell was horrendous! I asked my boss about it and she said there were a lot of chemicals(including formaldehyde) to keep the bugs off during the shipment. I hope this helps some who are wondering about the gap brand.

    Another mom shared her ‘Gap’ experience with us:
    “I recently purchased some clothing from the Gap and Old Navy. It reeked of sulfur and chemicals, even after 4 washes the smell wasn’t entirely gone. Worse yet, after 4 washes (I gave up) my daughter broke out in a horrific pimple-like rash all over her legs after wearing one of the pairs of pants. It’s interesting the chemicals they *don’t* use in their clothing, but more interesting to me would be the ones they do use, because I am appalled and feel like a terrible mother for ever having allowed their clothing to touch her precious skin.”

    SAFbaby’s comment: We were impressed with Gap’s prompt response (within 24 hours). After we asked some more questions, we got a reply immediately. It shows that product safety is very important and they meet stricter global formaldehyde standards but wish they would use a safer alternative to Formaldehyde.

  • Babystyle

    “At this point we do not use nanotechnology on our own private label babystyle branded products.” – Ana, The customer Care Team, Babystyle

    SAFbaby’s comment: We contacted Babystyle twice to ask if they use formaldehyde or any other chemicals in their clothing but no response so far.

  • Children’s Place

    “Thank you for contacting Customer Service with your question. I apologize for the delayed response. Regarding the formaldehyde. Formaldehyde in apparel and textiles is not regulated by Consumer Product Safety Commission or by US gov’t so testing is not required. It can be tested but there is no set criteria as to what level is acceptable. TCP has applied the standards used by some of the European countries and will test specific fabrications where we feel there may be a chance of formaldehyde used in the processing of the fabric. Regarding the nanotechnology – at this time none of our vendors or suppliers are using nano technology in their production process. If the child is sensitive to chemicals in the environment, you may need to consider checking out web sites to find stores that specialize in children’s clothing made form all organic cotton with minimal processing. We sincerely hope we have answered your question. If we can be of further assistance please contact us at 1-877 PLACE USA or visit us at http://www.childrensplace.com.”- Jennifer

    One of our readers (see comment below) said this: Children’s Place answered after several attempts and said that all their yarns are treated!

    SAFbaby’s comment: We contacted Children’s Place many times and finally got an answer. Another company that used formaldehyde!

  • Gymboree

    “Thanks for your inquiry.  Gymboree uses an independent third party to test all of Gymboree’s products for substances including lead, formaldehyde, phthalates, and many others.  The standards we set for our products currently meet or exceed those set by the CPSC and applicable state laws.” – Mark, Gymboree

    SAFbaby’s comment: Here is the email we replied to Gymboree “There are no standards set on formaldehyde, so we assume that it’s in your clothing. Correct? Could we see your third party test?” We have emailed Gymboree several times but did not get a reply to our second question.

  • Naartjie

    Naartjie never replied to our emails but responded to on of our reader’s email:

    “Thanks for your email. We have been testing for formaldehyde since 2002, and take great care to comply with all the child safety standards. Because 97% of our clothing is “garment-dyed”, it is washed three times, so will not have any chemicals or residue on the fabric, and is also soft and pre-shrunk. We appreciate your email, and rest assured that you can buy our clothing without concern about formaldehyde or other harmful chemicals.”

    SAFbaby’s comment: Glad one of our readers received a response from them! They don’t say no chemicals are used but they claim they’re all washed away. To be sure their clothes are free of Formaldehyde, we need a “Yes, ALL our clothes are FREE of Formaldehyde” statement.

  • Disney

    “Thank you for your recent inquiry regarding licensing and producing or selling Disney merchandise.  We do not have have a phone number or  contact person to provide you.  To receive information, all requests  should be written in letter format and sent to the address provided  below. To obtain more information, please send your request to the address below.” – The Walt Disney Company Merchandising

    SAFbaby’s comment: This was Disney’s second response after letting us know the first time that they  are compliant with all CPSC regulations.  However, CPSC has NO regulations set for formaldehyde levels, so that reply was not helpful to us in the slightest.  We are not impressed with their follow up response to us.

  • Babies R Us

    “Thank you for contacting Babies R Us regarding your item inquiry.  I sincerely apologize that I do not have an ingredient list available to me.  I suggest that you contact the manufacture, Amy Coe, at 203-227-9900.If you have any further questions or concerns please contact our customer service line at 1-800-869-7787.” – The Guest Relations Team at Baby R Us

    SAFBaby’s comment: Left message with this number that was never returned.

    Email from Toys R Us after we published this article:
    At Toys“R”Us, Inc., the safety of our customers is, and always has been, our highest priority. We have a very strict safety assurance program in place for all the products we carry. We require that any product we purchase complies with all applicable government and industry laws, codes and requirements.  While formaldehyde is not regulated in infant apparel in the United States, Toys“R”Us, Inc. requires that apparel sold exclusively in its Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us stores meet a more stringent standard than required globally.  Manufacturers of the company’s exclusive brands, which includes the Amy Coe line, are held accountable for meeting these standards and are required to show documentation of third-party testing.  For additional information on the product safety standards at Toys“R”Us, Inc., please visit our dedicated Safety microsite, www.Toysrus.com/Safety.

  • Circo Brand / Target

    I’m sorry to hear that the information provided on the product description page was not enough to answer your questions. Unfortunately, right now, all of the information we have about Circo Brand clothing is right on our website. I know that it can be difficult to figure out what you want to order without more information, and I’m sorry if we’ve let you down. Your comments are a big help to us, and I’ll make sure to share them with our team that works with our product information.Thanks for getting in touch with us. I hope you’ll visit us again soon. - Target.com Guest Service

    SAFbaby’s comment: feeling let down at this point, but not thinking anyone really cares!

  • Pottery Barn

    We had no luck getting a response but one of our readers says this:

    “Pottery Barn uses formaldehyde for their beddings since they claim that they uses Easy-Care finishing (which is a mixture of urea and formaldehyde). I wrote them to ask about their Oeko-Tex certification and did not get an answer. They say that the fibers are certified but the final product is treated with Easy-care, and I concluded that the final product is not Oeko-Tex certified. Of course, they did not say anything which I assume I am right.”

    SAFbaby’s comment: No response to us by Pottery Barn!

Help us take action today!  Sign Safbaby’s petition to ask President Barack Obama to restrict/label formaldehyde use in textiles.

Please show a little love and LIKE this post at the beginning or end of the article if you found it helpful.  We always appreciate your comments and read each and everyone. LIKE us on Facebook too.

Post photo: Organic cotton (formaldehyde free!!) Jeppers Creepers by Hanna Anderson

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Category: 0-1 yr, 1-3 yrs, 3-5 yrs, 5+ yrs, Clothing, Petition

About the Author (Author Profile)

  • Jen

    Thanks for the valuable information. For companies that do use formaldehyde, does washing the garment before wear remove the chemical risk? Or does it take repeated washings…or is it that the chemicals are never entirely removed from the clothing?

    Thanks!

  • http://www.bamboosa.com Mindy Johnson

    At Bamboosa, all of our organic bamboo fabric used for our BambooBaby line is free of chlorine and formaldehyde … and ALL of our products are Made in the U.S.A. here in South Carolina.

  • Shauna

    Thanks for this info! I have a question that might sound stupid…am I wrong in assuming if a product is organic it safe and free of chlorine and formadldehyde? I’ve gone through my daughter’s closet and have removed the clothing from the companies that haven’t responded or do contain chemicals, and am replacing with Under the Nile, Under the canopy, green babies, etc. but wanted to make sure these companies are safe too! Green babies tags state they don’t have any of these chemicals but wanted to be clear about the others and organic clothes in general! Its so disappointing to be lied to or misled by some of these famous baby brands! I do have to say at least Gap was truthful, I’ve called some companies myself and get the run-around like your Babies R Us reply. Shame on these companies for caring more about there bottom line than our babies! I wonder what they put their own children in? Thanks for the great job!

  • safbaby2

    I decided to write to The Children’s Place because we buy all of our children’s clothing there due to quality and design. They fit our children better than any other brand. When I saw they gave no response to this inquiry, that was not acceptable to me. They owe their customers an answer. So, I wrote to them. It’s been a few weeks, but I just got a response today. Here it is. Please feel free to use it as you wish.

    Thank you for contacting Customer Service with your question.
    I apologize for the delayed response.

    Regarding the formaldehyde.

    Formaldehyde in apparel and textiles is not regulated by Consumer Product Safety Commission or by US gov’t so testing is not required. It can be tested but there is no set criteria as to what level is acceptable.

    TCP has applied the standards used by some of the European countries and will test specific fabrications where we feel there may be a chance of formaldehyde used in the processing of the fabric.

    Regarding the nanotechnology – at this time none of our vendors or suppliers are using nano technology in their production process.

    If the child is sensitive to chemicals in the environment, you may need to consider checking out web sites to find stores that specialize in children’s clothing made form all organic cotton with minimal processing.

    We sincerely hope we have answered your question. If we can be of further assistance please contact us at 1-877 PLACE USA or visit us at http://www.childrensplace.com.

    Sincerely,
    Jennifer

  • http://erinnewmanlong.blogspot.com erin

    just because I wanted to see the gap’s response to me “the consumer” I wrote:

    Hello,

    I am writing with great concern about the textiles used to make the clothing you sell.

    It’s highly well known that non-organic clothing holds the pesticides used to grow the cotton within it’s fibers. Now, the news is out that clothing from overseas is treated with FORMALDEHYDE! Can you tell me, and other consumers that this is not the case? Where are the textiles you use coming from? Do you test the fabrics? Do you have oversight of these things? Can you GUARANTEE that your clothing is chemical free and safe?

    Thank you.
    Erin

    The response:

    Dear Erin,

    Thank you for your email about Gap Inc. merchandise quality and safety. We appreciate the time you?ve taken to share your concerns regarding our merchandise.

    Safety is one of our top priorities at Gap Inc. We do all we can to make sure our products are safe to all consumers and have a history of setting standards that meet or exceed the legal requirements for our merchandise. We have pre-approved, independent laboratories where we have our vendors send products for testing before we sell them in our stores and online. We also have a Product Safety team who manage our testing programs and make sure we are up to date on international safety and regulatory standards.

    We appreciate your business and hope you find this information helpful.

    If we may be of further assistance, our Customer Service Consultants are available 24 hours a day at custserv@oldnavy.com or by calling
    1-800-OLD-NAVY.

    Sincerely,

    Kaysha
    Customer Service Consultant

    This doesn’t really answer my question…..

    I am still leary about trusting their clothes.

  • http://www.recycleatee.com/ Sustainable clothing

    I wanted to comment and thank the author, good stuff

  • K.

    I, too, would like to know if any of the chemicals of concern are washed out of the garments with ordinary washing. Anyone have an answer for this?

    Also, if Carter’s does not put any chemicals on their clothes, why do they reek of that “new clothes smell”?

  • safbaby

    We wrote about this in our first post http://www.safbaby.com/toxic-formaldehyde-hides-in-childrens-clothing-and-bedding

    “ALWAYS wash clothing and bedding (including comforters) before using. It may not completely wash out, but it will greatly reduce exposure. An additional tip here is to do an overnight soak cycle with your new clothing, adding a cup of baking soda or white vinegar.”

    About Carter’s new clothes smell, I emailed them directly and asked.

  • safbaby

    Response from Carters to question “if Carter’s does not put any chemicals on their clothes, why do they reek of that “new clothes smell?”

    Carter’s Response:

    Thank you for your recent email. All fabrics (including organic) have to be treated with some type of softener to be able to sew. These softeners can leave an odor. We do not wash most of the styles prior to selling and we label our garments “wash before wear”.

    I hope this answers your readers questions.

    Sincerely,
    Mary
    Consumer Affairs
    Carter’s / Oshkosh B’Gosh

  • pam

    Hi all, I just wanted to let you know that Old Navy, Gap, Etc. Do Have a lot of icky stuff on them. I worked at an Old Navy on the shipment team, and when they opened the boxes, the smell was horrendous! I asked my boss about it and she said there were a lot of chemicals(including formaldehyde) to keep the bugs off during the shipment. I hope this helps some who are wondering about the gap brand.

  • http://abunchofgreens.blogspot.com/ Lucia

    Pottery Barn uses formaldehyde for their beddings since they claim that they uses Easy-Care finishing (which is a mixture of urea and formaldehyde). I wrote them to ask about their Oeko-Tex certification and did not get an answer. They say that the fibers are certified but the final product is treated with Easy-care, and I concluded that the final product is not Oeko-Tex certified. Of course, they did not say anything which I assume I am right. Children’s Place answered after several attempts and said that all their yarns are treated (I will look back in the emails and post it here if you are interested). Naartjie responded to me but with an ambiguous answer. It is so frustrating to see how all these big companies take advantage of marketing science to mess up with our brains. Personally I just refuse to shop in this shops. I am curious if you find out anything about Gymboree and the others.

  • G

    Just a side note on the information you recieved from the Gap:

    I recently purchased some clothing from the Gap and Old Navy. It reeked of sulfur and chemicals, even after 4 washes the smell wasn’t entirely gone. Worse yet, after 4 washes (I gave up) my daughter broke out in a horrific pimple-like rash all over her legs after wearing one of the pairs of pants.

    It’s interesting the chemicals they *don’t* use in their clothing, but more interesting to me would be the ones they do use, because I am appalled and feel like a terrible mother for ever having allowed their clothing to touch her precious skin.

  • KC

    I soak my children’s clothes in milk (I buy powdered milk) to help leach out the chemicals.

  • Lo

    After seeing this article I contacted Naartjie because of I love their clothes. This was their response:

    Thanks for your email. We have been testing for formaldehyde since 2002, and take great care to comply with all the child safety standards. Because 97% of our clothing is “garment-dyed”, it is washed three times, so will not have any chemicals or residue on the fabric, and is also soft and pre-shrunk. We appreciate your email, and rest assured that you can buy our clothing without concern about formaldehyde or other harmful chemicals.
    Best regards,
    Laura Diaz

  • safbaby

    Thank you for posting Naartjie’s response on our site! I like their clothes!

    Best,
    Sandra @Safbaby

  • Lisa

    In addition to the question about whether the chemicals can be washed out over time, what about leaching onto clothes that do not contain the chemicals? Should I wash my Hanna Anderson seperately from my other clothes and then there are environmental impacts for doing that?

  • Noor

    I would like to know about Polo Ralph Lauren, and Okaidi. I love their clothes a lot. Also, I couldn’t see an answer about formaldehyde in organic lines from Gymboree and Gap? Does organic mean organic cotton only and would still be treated with chemicals like the conventional cotton?

  • http://www.peekagreen.com Alexandra

    You think that by choosing organic you will be safer but not necessarily, you still need to do your research! I spoke with Pottery Barn Kids today inquiring about their organic sheets and I’m still confused:
    -apparently the dyes used are regular dyes (meaning they contain heavy metals) instead of low impact dyes (heavy metal-free) generally used on organic fabrics.
    -fibers and threads are oeko-tex certified but apparently not the final product, contrary to what is written on their website (section Dimensions & Details)
    -my contact doesn’t know if they contain formaldehyde but on their website, “Easy Care Finishing” has been replaced by “all-natural premium jet wash ensures that fitted crib will be extra soft and wrinkle free”. Wrinkle-free does not sound natural and natural is not a certification, it just does not mean anything!

    So I’m not convinced it is 100% organic. I guess not all organic items are created equal! Why does it have to be so complicated!

    Because of this lack of safety and this greenwashing I’ve started 1 year ago my own baby site, handpicking the safest items, 100% organic materials with no formaldehyde, no lead or other heavy metals, no bad chemicals! this is simple and not confusing!

    Thank you SafBaby for this post and for you great work!
    Alexandra
    founder
    Peek a Green

  • Alysha

    Do you know if Carter’s includes their lines sold in Walmart and Target as chamical free?

  • Alysha

    In response to the questions RE: does it wash out?

    From a chemical perspective, recycled and used clothing is often healthier than new, chemical clothing. If you really, really must have that new synthetic disco outfit, avoid all easy care fabrics and finishes. Remember, it takes a long time and many washings to deplete most of the formaldehyde resins in those easy care finishes. That “permanent” is in “permanent press” for more than one reason.

    http://organicclothing.blogs.com/my_weblog/2006/04/wakeup_and_smel.html

  • Terri

    What about “fire retardant” sleepwear from Carter’s? No chemicals in that? I would also like to hear about Kohl’s Jumping Beans–I think I will email them.

  • Kimberly

    According to “Slow Death by Rubber Duck” by Rick Smith & Bruce Lourie:
    “…most polyester in sleepwear is now infused with a few different kinds of flame retardants……bonded right into the fabric.” When they asked Carter’s about their pjs, they didn’t get a straight answer.

  • safbaby

    I got this comment back from Carter’s today:

    We can’t find a record of a contact from Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie. Can you let us know who they talked to at Carter’s?

    We use clean polyester on all FR garments which is naturally flame resistant. All styles are tested and pass federal requirements. There is a polyester that has additives to improve the characteristics but we do not use.

    Sincerely,
    Mary
    Consumer Affairs
    Carter’s

  • Krista

    Alysha, I had the same question about Just One Year & Child of Mine (by Carter’s) and Genuine Kids (by Osh Kosh), so I emailed them to find out if it was safe to assume that these were also chemical free. They got back to me (the same day!) with this:

    Hello,

    Thank you for contacting Carters. Yes, you are correct, none of the products manufactured under the Carters/Oshkosh brand have any chemicals used in the production.

    Linda
    Consumer Affairs

  • Krista

    I have a full wardrobe of hand-me-downs for my son, but after reading this decided to stick with these companies. However, it also seem ssilly to buy a whole new wardrobe when I already have more than I need. So I have emailed a bunch of other companies and will post the answers here as I get them. I asked about formaldehyde and fire retardents. Are there any otehrs I should be asking about?

    The first is from Tommy Hilfiger. The answer:

    Thank you for contacting Tommy Hilfiger!

    These products are not used in our clothing.

    If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact us via phone or email.

    Sincerely,
    Sarah B.
    Tommy Hilfiger USA

  • Crystal

    It’s interesting to read the Gap’s comment on their use of formaldehyde. I have recently noticed strong chemical smells while in 2 different Old Navy stores and actually had to leave because it was overpowering to the point of making my eyes burn and water. You could smell it the minute you walked in. I recently purchased some clothing for my daughter at the Old Navy online site and bought her some Gap jeans online. The same chemical smell was on the clothing that I bought online. I had to get rid of the bags that they came in and immediately threw the clothing in the washer. Have washed twice now and with baking soda added, so we’ll see if it comes out or not. I still have one shirt to wash and it is smelling up the whole bedroom, so I am going to have to put it outside until I can get it in the washer. This smell is so so strong and until I received these clothes today in the mail and associated it with the same strong smell that is in their stores, I did not realize that it was possibly formaldehyde until I started doing research. Again, it is interesting to see the comment that the Gap company made, when I just received a pair of little girl’s jeans today from them that smelled like it had been soaked in the stuff.

  • safbaby

    Did you see Pam’s comment about Gap&Old Navy clothes?

    Here is what she wrote:
    “Hi all, I just wanted to let you know that Old Navy, Gap, Etc. Do Have a lot of icky stuff on them. I worked at an Old Navy on the shipment team, and when they opened the boxes, the smell was horrendous! I asked my boss about it and she said there were a lot of chemicals(including formaldehyde) to keep the bugs off during the shipment. I hope this helps some who are wondering about the gap brand.”

  • Crystal

    Thanks!! The smell is just horrible. I really don’t see how people can continue to shop there, and then to find out that it doesn’t matter whether you buy online or in the store, it is all the same. I actually thought it must be something in the stores themselves but when I received those clothes today, it was glaringly obvious that the stuff is on the clothing itself. There is no way that I could work there. I cannot bring myself to ever go back into another one of their stores.

  • Krista

    Crystal,
    I have never been able to shop in the Gap as the smell of the store makes me nauseous.

    More replies from companies:

    Baby’s Own:
    Our garments are formaldehyde and fire retardant free.

    Sears Baby:
    Please be advised that our buyer has indicated that none of our infants clothing is treated with chemicals such as fire retardants & formaldehyde.

    Please Mum:
    We only use fabrics that are safe for children; we do not use fire retardants or hazardous chemicals in our products.

  • G

    I commented a year ago on having bought Gap & Old Navy clothing for my child which caused her to break out in a rash. Her rash took a month to clear up, and although Gap/Old Navy customer service refunded us the money for the clothing and assured us the clothing would be tested and they would let us know what the results were, they quickly ceased communications and refused to return calls once the refund had been issued and the clothes had been returned to them. I still find this unnervingly creepy. What WAS in that clothing? I guess I’ll never know.

    After a lot of research, we settled on buying both of our children ONLY Oeko-Tex certified clothing, particularly that which is organic, and we have tried to avoid anything from China.

    Because options for this type of clothing are limited in the US, we have gone with Hanna Andersson primarily – always asking the origin of the clothing before we ordered. Their playdress sets, for example, while not organic are still made in Peru & Oeko-Tex certified, and have been for many years.

    There are a couple things that have struck me about buying Oeko-Tex clothing. The first is that it doesn’t really stink. It has a faint new smell, that is not dizziness/headache-inducing. One wash with vinegar and unscented detergent (we use Charlie’s or Ecos) and the faint ‘new smell’ is gone.

    Furthermore, both my children have had eczema since they were about a year old. They have had it year-round, and it requires constant care and treatment, lotion many times per day, etc. But since we have been buying only Oeko-Tex clothing, their eczema disappears almost entirely in the winter and is improved but not gone during the summer. Still, that’s half the year nearly eczema-free. This is HUGE!

    We’re not wealthy – far from it – and Hanna Andersson clothing isn’t cheap. But it’s been worth it. Instead of my kids having a large and varied wardrobe, we now only have a small collection of mix-and-match outfits that see a ton of wear (good thing they hold up so well). But what they do wear I feel is the best of all the options currently available. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to others searching for safer clothes for their kids.

  • Jennifer Hankey

    I am not sure about formaldehyde in Pottery Barn’s clothing, however, when I was requesting information about their sofas recently they did let me know that they treat their children’s clothing with fire retardant. This alone should be enough to avoid!

    The email

    Thank you for contacting Pottery Barn.

    Thank you for your email. Please know that our rugs are not treated with any chemicals or flame-retardants. The only items that are treated are our pajamas which are sold through Pottery Barn Kids which is required by federal law. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide any specific details as to what chemicals are used as it is proprietary information. Please accept our apologies for this inconvenience.

  • christin

    I don’t believe Carter’s. Don’t they also have flame ret. on most pj’s?
    If the cloths smell, you can be sure they are covered in ickies!
    I do love how long lasting their cloths are but they are not non-toxic.

  • http://lullabyorganics.com Erin

    We are lucky enough to have a Hanna Anderson outlet store in the Seattle area plus Costco has started carrying some Hanna Anderson as well. I agree with “G” above, that it is worth spending the extra $$ and reducing the number of articles we buy. Hanna doesn’t have everything we need and I wish it was 100% organic, but I really like that they have playwear, swimwear, and accessories (hats/socks/etc.).

    Similar to Alexandra (of Peek a Green), when I couldn’t find products as safe as I wanted easily for my kids, I started my own store (http://lullabyorganics.com) where I am able to make sure that everything I buy and sell meets my standards for safety and quality: 100% organic, no heavy metal dyes, no formaldehyde, and no chemical treatments (ie. flame retardants, wrinkle free, etc.).

    Some additional apparel brands I recommend:
    -Frugi
    -Green Babies
    -Under the Nile
    -Kate Quinn Organics
    -New Jammies
    -Frenchy Baby
    -Funkoos
    -Sckoon
    -Positively Organic
    -Origany
    -Speesees
    -Lapsaky
    -Sage Creek Organics

  • Katherine

    Just wanted to add, I have a friend who worked for Walmart in the textiles department as a tester. She said that Walmart routinely tests for all toxins such as formaldehyde in all their clothing, that many are rejected if levels of such are detected. Who knew that Walmart could be so health conscious?

  • Magda

    I am also interested in Carter’s response. I think I need more information from them before I would be convinced they are using no chemicals whatsoever. I have some pajamas from just one year by Carter’s and they have raised plasticky lettering and a monkey image on them. It is my understanding that this type of plastic coating on clothing is a form of vinyl, which is certainly chemically based. Also I wonder what the softener they are using is if they say it is not a chemical but still gives off a scent? I am trying to determine whether I have to get rid of these pjs or not – they were an impulse buy but so cute!

  • safbaby

    Dear Magda

    Thanks for reading SAFbaby and for sharing your comment&concern with us. We wrote an article a while back about the Carter’s tags, here it is: http://www.safbaby.com/carters-tagless-clothing-can-cause-chemical-like-burns-to-babies

    Best,
    Sandra
    Safbaby Mama

  • Tiffany

    I was just searching the web for “oeko tex and easy care finish” and ran across this article. I bought some pottery barn sheets and duvet covers for my kid’s beds which were organic and oeko tex certified. I bought them in store and they did not say the easy care part, but when I was on their website I was looking and saw the products I bought had an easy care finish. I was wondering how could a product be oeko-tex certified and have an easy care finish? It never occurred to me that they could certify it and THEN finish it with the easy care finish! I did run across some websites of chemical companies that said that there “Easy care” finish was low in formaldehyde emittance and that they meet Oeko -Tex 100 standards. So Pottery Barn could have used something similar. I will call Pottery Barn. In my experience you can not get anything out of an email with them. One lady on the phone referred me to William Sonoma which is corporate and they would be able to help me. This was because I was looking at the PB kid duvet inserts which had a small sign in store that said they were oeko tex certified. I bought t hem, and searched all over the packaging and nothing said oeko tex, after several emails and phone calls I find out they were not oeko-tex certified, BUT the ones from PB Teen were, go figure. SO I returned the ones from PB Kid and bought PB Teens.

  • Isabelle

    Does anyone know if “Le Top” clothing is formaldehyde-free? I have emailed them without being able to get a response.

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  • Leslie

    This is a great article – thanks for posting it. The replies are very useful as well.

    I wanted to mention another company too – Rawganique (rawganique.com). They have organic children’s clothes, adult clothes, house things like sheets, towels, kitchen linens, etc. They’re so natural that I didn’t have to write to them to ask any questions – they clearly state on their website that their fibers are organically grown and never treated with any chemicals. Most often, they’re not even dyed (and if they are they’re a natural dye that might fade… still better than chemicals!), so most of what they have is white or natural-colored. I’m slowly replacing most things in my house with Rawganique stuff. They’re expensive, but worth it imho. And everything is made in Europe – not China!

    I don’t work for them or anything – we’re so anti-chemical that we started an organic farm a few years ago. These guys are the most natural I could find after exhaustive searching. If you’re truly looking to de-chemical your house and clothes, you should look at their website. :)

  • Doree

    Thank you Leslie for the info :)

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