You may have been puzzled by acronyms on the label when buying sheets or towels. OEKO-TEX®? GOTS? What do these terms mean? And what do they tell you about the product you are buying? Here’s our primer on textile certifications.
Home textiles such as mattresses, towels, sheets, curtains, kitchen linens and rugs marked with the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 Certification have been tested for and found not to contain hundreds of toxic chemicals that can irritate skin and cause breathing problems. The certification, which is granted by the International Association for Research and Testing in the Field of Textile and Leather Ecology, helps consumers make good decisions when purchasing home textiles. Clothing and cloth toys are also eligible for the standard. The organization’s website features a buying guide to help consumers find certified products.
To obtain the OEKO-TEX® 100 certification, a manufacturer must submit samples of all components of its textile – such as, for example, thread, cloth and batting on a comforter – to a special lab for testing. OEKO-TEX® updates its methods and standards frequently.
A different certification, MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX®, informs consumers that the item has been tested for harmful chemicals and that the factory in which it was made ensures healthy labor practices and working conditions. Textiles with this certification bear a QR code consumers can use to determine where and how a textile was produced. This certification lasts only one year, so the manufacturer must repeatedly apply for renewal.
OEKO-TEX® also certifies certain organic cotton as having been made without the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or toxic chemicals. However, not all OEKO-TEX®-certified products are organic.
A GOTS-certified textile is made from at least 70 percent organic fibers and made with minimal environmental impact. GOTS considers organic fibers to be those grown without toxic or persistent pesticides, genetic engineering or synthetic fertilizers.
Certification from GOTS, which is the acronym for the Global Organic Textile Standard, also indicates that the employees who manufacture the textile work voluntarily, are not discriminated against, do not work excessive hours, are paid fairly, can collectively bargain and work in a safe environment.
If you want textiles that are organic, free of harmful chemicals and ethically made, you should look for both the GOTS certification and the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 Certification on the product label.
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