Chemical Free Clothing for Kids: A Comprehensive Guide

Understanding the Importance Chemical-Free Clothing for Children

Here at Reima, we want kids and families to thrive. We know that you trust us with your most precious gifts: your kids! Unfortunately, in today’s world of fast fashion, harmful chemicals have made their way into clothing production and can pose a risk to our children’s health. We’re going to talk about some of the common chemicals used even in clothes made specifically for kids, the risks of exposure to these harmful chemicals, and why it is so important to us to keep all our clothes chemical free and how we can help you make informed choices for your little ones!

Common Chemicals Found in Traditional Kids' Clothing

Let’s do a quick overview of the common harmful chemicals in traditional clothing production:

  • PFA (Perfluoroalkyl) and PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic Acid): A class of human-made chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These chemicals are known for their water- and grease-resistant properties and are often used in waterproof clothing. You may have heard of these chemicals referred to as “forever chemicals” or “everywhere chemicals” because they are so prevalent in the products we use every day, and they do not break down easily and can build up in our bodies over time. PFAs are known hormone disruptors, can disrupt immune responses in children, increase the risk of asthma and other breathing problems, and have even been linked to cancers. 

  • Formaldehyde: Often used to create wrinkle resistance and durability in fabrics, formaldehyde can lead to allergic reactions, asthma, and respiratory issues. Most alarmingly, it is classified as a known human carcinogen, posing a serious threat to our children's health.

  • Phthalates: Commonly found in vinyl raincoats, boots, and accessories, phthalates are added to plastics to make them soft and flexible. Exposure to phthalates has been linked to hormone disruption and developmental issues, which can severely affect growing bodies.

  • Flame Retardants: These chemicals are used to meet flammability standards in children's pajamas and sleepwear. However, exposure to flame retardants can negatively impact brain development and even future fertility in children.

Children are particularly vulnerable to chemical exposure due to their developing bodies and frequent hand-to-mouth behaviors. Choosing chemical free clothing can significantly reduce their risk of exposure to these harmful additives. 

Shop Our Non-Toxic Rain Gear

Impact of Chemicals on Children's Health

Exposure to these harmful chemicals can result in various health issues, including:

  • Increased risk of allergies and asthma.

  • Skin irritations, eczema, rashes, and other skin problems.

  • Respiratory issues and discomfort when wearing clothing treated with chemicals.

  • Decreased vaccine response.

  • Potential developmental and hormonal effects that disrupt normal growth.

  • Thyroid disease.

  • Some of these chemicals have been linked to more serious health issues including ulcerative colitis, liver disease and cancer.

Unfortunately, chemicals are part of the world we live in today. Like mentioned above, PFAs in particular are sometimes called an “everywhere chemical.” When kids are exposed to harmful chemicals in their clothing, they’re absorbing it through their skin, breathing it in as they play, and younger children are likely sucking or chewing on their clothes. 

How to Identify Chemical Free Clothing

Okay, take a moment here and take a full deep breath. We know all that sounds a little bit scary. It can feel overwhelming to know what to look for! But here’s the good news. More and more retailers are recognizing the importance of clothes that are safe and free of chemicals like PFAs. Here are some guidelines you can follow to ensure the clothes you choose for your little ones are safe and chemical free:

  • Look for Trusted Organic Certifications: Seek clothing with certifications like the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and OEKO-TEX Standard 100. These certifications ensure that the clothing is free from harmful chemicals.

  • Read Labels and Avoid Harmful Substances: Check for specific chemical-free claims on clothing tags and avoid fabrics like vinyl that may contain phthalates. Here at Reima, we are committed to creating clothing for kids that is safe and free of harmful chemicals. For a list of all the chemicals on Reima’s restricted substance list, you can click here.  To further improve the chemical safety and reduce the environmental impacts of textile manufacturing, we became a bluesign® system partner in 2020. All bluesign® partners must meet strict criteria for chemical management to protect the water, air, and soil, as well as the people working with textiles. As bluesign® acts as an independent verifier, the system ensures transparency and traceability of all textile processing steps, down to the raw materials. Our clothing has been 100% PFC-free since 2017. To ensure water repellency and waterproofing, we use nominated, fluorine free treatments such as BIONIC FINISH® ECO and Teflon Ecoelite®. 

  • Consider Sustainable Natural Fabrics: Choose clothing made from organic cotton, bamboo, hemp, wool, linen and other eco-friendly textiles. Look for options with non-toxic dyes, fair trade certifications, and vegan materials.

Benefits of Choosing Chemical Free Clothing

Beyond avoiding the harmful risks we listed above, here are some of the benefits of choosing chemical free clothing for your kids:

  • Reduced Risk of Skin Irritation, Allergies and other Health Problems: Chemical-free clothing decreases the likelihood of allergic reactions to dyes, fabrics, and other sensitivities, preventing redness, itching, rashes, and other skin problems. It can also reduce the risk of asthma and other more serious health problems down the road. 

  • Improved Air Quality: These clothes help avoid the off-gassing of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which can negatively impact indoor air quality. This contributes to creating a healthier environment for your children.

  • Environmentally Friendly: Organic farming practices avoid toxic pesticides and chemicals. Chemical-free clothing is biodegradable, recyclable, and produced using eco-friendly manufacturing methods.

Tips for Maintaining Chemical Free Clothing

Another important step in creating safer clothing and a safer environment is increasing the lifespan of each garment. Follow these guidelines to make the most of your chemical-free clothing:

  • Always follow Proper Washing and Drying Instructions: Use fragrance-free detergents and avoid fabric softeners. Line drying is preferable when possible to extend the life of your garments.

  • Store in Breathable Environments: Opt for natural storage bins made of cotton, wicker, or wood, and avoid plastic containers that could off-gas chemicals.

  • Repurpose, Recycle, and Upcycle: Turn stained or damaged clothes into cleaning rags, and consider passing usable hand-me-downs to younger siblings, cousins or friends, or donating to charities and thrift stores.

The Future of Chemical Free Clothing

As awareness of the risks associated with traditional clothing production grows, we can anticipate significant changes in the industry. Here are some key developments to watch for:

  • Innovations in Eco-Friendly Textiles: Researchers are working on sustainable fabrics made from food crop waste, algae, and other innovative sources. Here at Reima, we have a jacket made from Seawool - repurposed oyster shells! There are many environmentally friendly and safer alternatives to using harmful chemicals, and we are committed to continuing to be at the forefront of adopting these innovations. 

  • Growing Consumer Awareness and Demand: As parents become more educated about the risks of chemicals in clothing and the benefits of organic alternatives, the demand for chemical-free clothing is likely to increase, encouraging more and more retailers to adopt safer practices.

  • Stricter Government Regulations: Governments are expected to introduce stricter legislation around chemical use and labeling laws to protect consumers, especially children.

Why Chemical Free Clothing Matters to Reima

Listen, we know that navigating all of these things as a parent is not easy. Sometimes it can feel like you need at least a dozen Phds just to get through their childhood. We’re here to help make it a little easier by doing the heavy lifting for you. We know your concerns, because many of us are parents who have the exact same ones! 

Some of the most toxic clothing for kids includes the types of clothing Reima is known for: traditional rain gear, waterproof and dirtproof finishes, clothing in bold colors or patterns. 

We’ve chosen to find safer, alternative ways to offer the same benefits without the harmful chemicals. When you shop at Reima, you know that every item you purchase with us is safe and chemical-free. Every single item of clothing we produce follows strict safety standards and is tested every season. (For full details you can click here). 

Together we are creating a safer and more sustainable future for the next generation, and we’re glad to be part of it with you!