That’s exactly what Zita asked me this week. She’d seen some baby clothes that had a tag on them, saying they were Oeko-Tex certified, and she wondered how Oeko-Tex and organic certifications were different.
The simplest way to explain this is that organic certification is all about how the raw materials for your fabric is grown. Oeko-Tex certification is about how the fabric is processed, including things like dyes and finishes. Oeko-Tex textiles and fabrics are certified free of harmful chemicals and are safe for human use.
To attain Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification, the fabric has been tested and certified to be free from harmful levels of more than 100 substances known to be harmful to human health.
- The certification is voluntary
- It must be updated annually
- Certification is conducted by independent third party laboratories
- The criteria for Oeko-Tex testing is reviewed every year, so they’re always up to date
- The testing takes into account every conceivable way that harmful substances can enter the body
- Oeko-Tex is a global standard, so it’s the same in every country
Every part of the garment, including stitching, zips, buttons and coatings have been tested. Your skin is permeable, so if you’re wearing clothes that have been processed with harmful chemicals, those chemicals can be absorbed into your body. You should always wash new clothes before you wear them anyway, but the Oeko-Tex certification is your guarantee that your new clothes have been processed without harmful chemicals.
However, fabric that is certified as Oeko-Tex Standard 100 does not mean the same as organic.
To be certified organic, fabrics such as cotton, wool, bamboo, hemp, flax and other natural fibres must be grown and produced under stringent standards that relate to the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. To be labelled organic, the fabric must also meet fibre production and processing standards from the likes of GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) or ACO (Australian Certified Organic).
However, fabric that is organic has not necessarily been tested for harmful substances in the same way as the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification.
Organic certification and Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certifications are different, but useful ways for consumers to understand more about how the products they buy are produced. Ideally, you’d buy organic clothes or fabric items that have been certified by Oeko-Tex!
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