Do your new clothes need a detox?

I used to love the look and feel of new clothes.  The last thing I wanted to do when I took the tag off was throw them in the wash.


But as it turns out, what makes those new clothes look so good is they are often times coated with a handful of chemicals that are very toxic.

The most common invaders are:

  • formaldehyde – Clothing manufactures use this chemical to prevent wrinkling and mildew, but it is commonly used for embalming deceased people and manufacturing industrial products.  The US Dept of Health and Human Services has recently added formaldehyde to the list of known carcinogens.
  • nonylphenol ethoxylates – Another chemical used as a detergent in clothing that is highly toxic and known to disrupt hormones, alter sexual development and affect reproductive systems.
  • toxic dyes,  flame retardants, etc

CLICK HERE to read an in depth discussion on toxins in your clothes.

But yet they can put it all over our clothes…. and towels… and bedding.

Not every company is guilty of this.  But part of the problem is many of the clothes we wear are imported from China and Asia where there are loose (or no) guidelines on what chemicals can be used on clothing.

There is some conflicting information on the internet in terms of which clothing brands are the worst, but I found THIS article from SAFBABY listing out some good and bad kids clothing companies in terms of formaldehyde use.

According to a study done by Greenpeace, brands like Gap, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klien, H&M and Converse are among the most offensive brands.

So what can you do?

Do your research.  If you have a favorite brand or store you like to shop from, google around and see what (if any) chemicals they commonly use in the manufacturing of their clothes.


Always, always, always clean your new clothes.  I have read suggestions to run new clothes through a hot cycle 3 times.  I know Jeanne adds hydrogen peroxide in the wash when she gets new clothes, and I have also heard of some people using baking soda.

For us… when we get new clothes, I just throw them once through the hot cycle with half a cup of white vinegar and detergent. My favorite laundry soap is BioKleen (which I still use for cloth diapers), but I also use ECOS (from Costco) as it is much more economical.

If you buy clothes second hand, be sure to wash the clothes just the same.  I have heard many thrift stores spray their clothes, but I called my favorite local shop and they do not.

Thankfully, as more people are becoming aware of these types of things, companies are responding to their customers demands for safer clothes.  I look forward to a day where there is a ban on these harmful chemicals being hidden in the things we use daily.


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