What Is OEKO-TEX® and Why Should You Even Care?

What Is OEKO-TEX® and Why Should You Even Care?

We all have a wide range of choices when selecting the textile products we wear and use in our homes. This era of online shopping and access to so many possibilities right at our fingertips means it is no longer difficult to be more discerning about what we buy for ourselves and our loved ones. Why should you care about the substances that go into the fabrics you depend upon every day? We’ve put together a brief Q&A about this topic to explain what OEKO-TEX certification is and why we insist upon it for every Sticky Toffee product we make.

Q: Is OEKO-TEX a type of fabric?

A: OEKO-TEX is not an actual fabric or textile. It is a registered trademark label that stands for excellent textile product safety. When you see a product with Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX® shown on the label, you can trust that every element of the textile has been tested for harmful substances and is considered safe for humans—right down to every thread, fastener, print dyes and other components used to make it. Products with this certification earn customer confidence based upon rigorous tests that apply constantly updated scientific information about substances used in manufacturing and their effects on humans.

Q: When you see OEKO-TEX on a label, does it mean the product is organic?

A: OEKO-TEX certification of a textile does not mean the product is organic. As explained by a blog post on the website for nature and sustainability-inspired clothing manufacturer The Simple Folk, the difference between organic certification and OEKO-TEX certification has to do with the stage of the lifecycle of the elements used to create a product. 

Organic certification has to do with the strict guidelines regulating everything from the seed to the farming of plants used to make fabric. Organic products come from non-GMO plants grown sustainably without use of toxic pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.

OEKO-TEX certification relates to testing safety of raw materials as they are being processed and manufactured to make the actual textile products. Even organic fabrics can contain harmful dyes, threads or other things that can be harmful to human health. OEKO-TEX is designed to ensure all types of textiles are safe, regardless of how their original plant material may have been grown.

Q: How can I tell if the OEKO-TEX label on a product is real and not a fake certification?

A: It’s really easy to check to see if a label is valid. The folks at OEKO-TEX have a great website resource that allows you to enter a label number directly into a Label Check option. The label may have some case-sensitive characters, so you want to be sure you enter everything as it appears. 

Once you enter the label numbers and letters, a valid certification will bring up information like this on your screen:

Q: What does OEKO-TEX test for in fabrics?

A: OEKO-TEX tests for a wide range of harmful regulated and unregulated substances that may be used at various stages of textile manufacturing, using a guide and criteria revised annually and kept fully up-to-date with the latest scientific findings. In addition to testing fabrics, all other elements of a textile product—such as sewing thread, accessory parts, buttons, zippers, dyes and more—must all pass in order for the finished consumer product to be certified. For further explanation, visit the OEKO-TEX website to see more about their test criteria and what manufacturers need to do to participate in the certification process.

Q: Does OEKO-TEX certification mean a product is safe for a baby?

A: OEKO-TEX certification offers added peace of mind to parents who know their little one is going to chew on practically anything that can go into their mouth. Being able to count on the absence of substances that are harmful to ingest or that can cause issues when coming into contact with delicate skin is important for families.

Q: How do certain substances in uncertified fabrics potentially affect me or my family?

A: According to the OEKO-TEX website, there are many concerning impacts that can come from the many chemicals regularly seen in textile product manufacturing. “Harmful substances found in or used to manufacture clothing, footwear and home textiles have been linked to neurotoxicity, liver, kidney and lung disorders, cancer and more. Chemicals used in textile production pollute rivers, oceans, wildlife and horticulture within miles of processing facilities.”

The greatest impact is on young children, elderly and those who suffer from allergies; allergic dermatitis is a very common issue.

Q: Why does OEKO-TEX certification matter to Sticky Toffee?

A: All of our raw materials come from certified suppliers because product safety and sustainable production for our textiles is an unwavering commitment we’ve made for our company and our customers. Nothing matters more to us than providing options for the home that are safe for every person, at every age. Our Sticky Toffee team members all have families we love—and we use the products we make. It only stands to reason we would want the same guarantee of quality and safety for you and your loved ones that we expect for ourselves.