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Are Your Child’s Clothes Toxic?

Most likely the clothes you are wearing on you back and the ones you dress your kids in have harmful toxins in them. The effects of these toxins on your children can range from hyperactivity to hormone imbalances. 

The problem with farming and government standards

Today’s modern farming methods and government regulations make our clothes laden with toxins. By law the flame retardants are required to keep in the clothes for at least 50 washings! The government advocates these “safety” measures because they feel it will reduce the risk of injury in a fire. Though, are the government’s intentions to protect us really worth it? Yes, these fire retardants may save our life in a fire but they are slowly killing us.

There are other methods available for fire safety. But why haven’t you heard of any of them? Because the big chemical companies advertise that “their chemicals are necessary to save lives”. The brominated flame retardants being used directly affect the developing brain and reproductive systems.

As Ramiel Nagel points out in his book, “The government doesn’t protect us from these chemicals, even when their dangers are well understood and acknowledged.” He has warned us that we now have to take our health in own hands.


Additional symptoms and effects from brominated flame retardants or PBDEs include: hives, headaches, migraines, rashes, fever, flu-like symptoms, difficulty breathing, sinus infections, heart problems, muscle cramps, kidney failure, rapid breathing, yellowish coloring of the skin, birth defects, increased risk of cancer, acne, dilated pupils, motor and coordination problems, stomach ache, learning disorders, reduced appetite, fluid retention, reproductive problems, infertility, and the list just goes on and on.


PBDEs or antimony polybrominated diphenyl ethers are not the only toxins used on our clothes.

  • Antibacterials are used to prevent bad odors in sporting clothing, which cause irritation to the skin and are harmful to water life.
  • Fungicides are used to stop mold growth in clothes.
  • Dyes contain carcinogenic and mutagenic toxins.
  • Formaldehyde is a common agent to prevent shrinkage and wrinkles. It is a very dangerous toxin to the brain and body.
  • Phthalates are known to cause infertility.
  • Heavy metals such as chrome, lead, and nickel are present in dyes and are very dangerous to developing brains.
  • Fluoride and PFCs are a common additive to the manufacturing of clothing.

Toxins in your clothes

Most likely if you are not buying your clothes organic, they are going to contain flame retardants. Making your clothes may not be any better, because fabric comes with flame retardants. A less expensive option than organic clothing would be to buy organic fabric and then make your own clothes.

  • Cotton: Sprayed heavily with carcinogenic pesticides and then doused with toxins and flame retardants because it is highly flammable by nature.
  • Nylon or acetate: Soaked in toxins. It takes at least 50 washes to minimize the toxins.
  • Fleece (PJs): Very toxic with flame retardants, you do not want to sleep in it!
  • Leather: Contains the heavy metal chrome.
  • Polyester: Flame retardants are built into the clothes, so only wear on occasion.
  • Synthetic materials: Not only are they toxic, but they block your energy flow throughout your body.
  • Rayon: A synthetic material that is sprayed with many toxins and dyes.
  • Clothes that claim to be “wrinkle and shrink free”: They loaded with formaldehyde!
Your children are in danger
Children and babies especially are susceptible to these chemicals because they are growing and their cells are rapidly multiplying. Once these chemicals and toxins enter the body, they get stored in the fatty tissue. Detoxing these chemicals can be especially hard and sometimes the damage is irreversible.

Don’t forget that anything the mom puts in or on her body will transfer to her growing baby or through her breast milk. It has been found that PBDEs are not only in breast milk but are also in almost all living animals, from eagles to polar bears. There have been studies that show the effects of fire retardants in baby animals, so this is definitely a warning to all little children in the world. Even blood samples of people who live in ideal unpolluted places have significant amounts of flame retardants and toxins in them.

You are what you put in and on your body

Remember that your skin is a very powerful absorber. You skin will absorb anything you put on it. In Healing Our Children, it is mentioned that the pesticides used to grow cotton are definitely not food grade. Most cotton is also genetically modified as well. Really, anything you put onto your skin will absorb into your body, so using food grade methods should be a must. Sadly, this is not the case with most of the clothing sold in our country. If your clothes contain dyes and nerve-damaging chemicals, you are putting yourself and your children at risk of serious health issues.

Now what can you do?

Since you can’t go anywhere without clothes, finding natural brands will be important to maintain your health. Going all organic or natural is not completely reasonable for most people. The time it takes to research trustworthy brands, the money and availability all play a factor.

For sure have some clothes that are organic or natural. Even if you and your family only wear them around your house and when you sleep, it will help reduce the toxic load of your body. It is hard to transform your whole closet to safe materials, so do the best you can.

Here are some guidelines you should follow when buying clothes for your child.

  • Always buy organic or natural materials when possible.
  • Choose natural materials such as cotton before synthetic materials.
  • Always wash cotton and all clothes several times before wearing them.
  • Stay away from store-bought pajamas. They contain some of the highest levels of toxins. You are better off buying organic PJs or use an old cotton sleep shirt for your kids.
  • Stay away from polyester, because the flame retardants are actually built into the clothes.
  • Naturally fire-retardant clothing includes snug untreated cotton (snug reduces flammability) and natural wool.
  • If you are going to make your own clothes, do so out of organic fabric only. When you sew clothes, you are directly releasing the formaldehyde into your face!
  • Make sure to wash your clothes in a non-toxic detergent as well! Air dry only if you live in a unpolluted area.
  • Buy used clothes! Used clothes are a lot less expensive and have been worn, so all of their harsh toxins are worn off from washing and wearing. Just make sure to wash the previous detergents off of them.

Toxins are everywhere!

Do the best you can with lifestyle choices as well. Watch out for toys, stuffed animals, mattresses, pillows, car seats, highchairs, baby carriers, and even diapers. Sometimes you can find lists that show the toxic load on certain brands. It is safer to stick with the brands that claim to have fewer toxins. Though, you cannot be completely safe unless you buy all organic or natural materials.

As a rule of thumb, whatever your baby or child spends most of their time in, whether it be a car set, nursing pillow, mattress, baby swing, bouncy chair, carpet, etc. make sure that it is organic or natural. Exposure time does play a big role in the severity of the effect as well.

In a recent study, baby and toddlers have three times the amount of toxins as their moms. This mostly has to do with the materials that these babies are rolling around in and sticking in their mouths.


Do the best you can

Remember that emotions can be toxic too. Not only can negative thoughts and worries affect your own body, but it can affect your growing baby as well as people around you. The best things you can do are to become aware of the toxins in your life and reduce your exposure to them. Even if that means just changing out of your pajamas, you have helped reduce your body’s toxic load. Be thankful for the things that you have already done to protect your family.

“Let us cease poisoning ourselves and let this be the end of the poisoning of our children-to-be.” ~Ramiel Nagel



“Is Fire Retardant A Harmful Toxin?” CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 11 Nov. 2009. Web. 31 July 2012. <>.

“Lessen Your Baby’s Toxic Load ( Part 2): Clothing.” Lessen Your Baby’s Toxic Load ( Part 2): Clothing. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 July 2012. <>.

Photo of baby: Wikimedia commons

Pregnant belly: Wikimedia commons

Clothespin: Flickr creative commons