If you’re a conscious consumer (and we assume you are since you’re reading this article), you’ve probably seen the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 label on various textile products while shopping, and have wondered what it means.

The Standard 100 certification from OEKO-TEX® simply means that the textile product you’re about to purchase has been tested for unhealthy degrees of 100 chemicals classified as toxic to humans, and found free of them. 

The goal of OEKO-TEX® is to protect consumers from dangerous substances in textiles. OEKO-TEX® sets high standards for products using this designation, even higher than those set by law. After an independent party has tested and approved the product, it is labelled, which contains all materials utilised in the product. Thus, not only the actual textile fabrics but also associated items like fastenings ( zips, buttons, etc), printed care labels, and attachments such as cloth linings. To ensure a thorough evaluation, the certification procedure tends to be more stringent than recognised national and international standards and this makes sure that OEKO-TEX’s verifications stay abreast of the required safety standards. In addition, the guidelines are regularly updated in line with medical advancements, and the required standards are reviewed every year. 

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What is OEKO-TEX?

OEKO-TEX® is, in a nutshell, an independent collection of third-party certifications that certify that a product has been thoroughly tested for chemicals that may be detrimental to humans and our broader ecosystems. Independent OEKO-TEX® partner institutes carry out the test using the wide and comprehensive OEKO-TEX® criterion portfolio. Several controlled and non-regulated compounds that may be detrimental to human health are included in the test.

The reason this is so important is that it helps the fashion industry combat the ‘greenwashing’ drawback to transparency efforts. With the rise of consumer consciousness and calls for brand responsibility, it can be very easy for unscrupulous brands to fake eco-consciousness simply by employing the right marketing without actually being held at any form of responsibility. An important part of shopping responsibly is ensuring that the companies we patronise are truly ethical and transparent, and can have their production processes be held to proper standards, verified by authorities beyond their control.

OEKO-TEX® does not make its own products; instead, it certifies those made by others, and since its inception in 1992, OEKO-TEX® has grown to include 18 independent members from around the world, as well as six distinct sets of certifications for several standards.

What Kind of Clothing Items Can be Tested and Certified?

In theory, all textile goods and every component at every level of processing, from threads to finished fabrics and final articles, are eligible for a STANDARD 100 certification. OEKO-TEX® employs a modular system in testing every single component and ingredient before awarding the final product the STANDARD 100 designation. 

Examples of testable articles include:

  • Fastenings like buttons and zips.
  • Threads, cloth linings and cloth fillers and finished textile materials (covering every level of production and every fabric type from cotton to polyester and even leather.)
  • Non-fabric components like metal, plastic, foam and glass.
  • The printing, cloth dyes and finishing coats applied to the outside material are also subjected to dangerous substance testing in accordance with the applicable requirements. 

Whether it’s baby textiles, apparel, household textiles, or decorative materials, the STANDARD 100 badge denotes quality.

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OEKO-TEX Standards and Certifications

OEKO-TEX® has a collection of six distinct labels that aid consumers in conscious purchasing decisions. They each cover different ranges of standards to ensure product safety and ethical production practices.

They include:

The Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX

This is OEKO-TEX’s most popular label. There are a hundred controlled and non-regulated compounds tested and covered by this certification, and the standards for these substances often exceed national and international criteria. At least once a year, the criterion catalogue is updated and enlarged to reflect new scientific information or statutory needs. This not only gives customers peace of mind that what they’re buying is safe, but it also keeps brands and manufacturers up to speed on the most recent information on substance safety and toxicity.

The Standard 100 Certification covers four product classes:

Product Class 1 covers clothing products for babies and toddlers. They are quite rightly, the most stringently regulated and tested article category. Because newborn skin is so delicate, it requires extra attention and protection. Additional requirements for this product category include “colour bleeding” tests and saliva resistance.

Product Class 2 covers textile products that come into direct touch with the skin are included. Clothing such as t-shirts, socks, and underwear, as well as home use products like towels, beds and beddings, are examples.

Product Class 3 covers products in which skin contact is minimal to non-existent. Consider outerwear such as jackets and coats, as well as belts, vests and other clothes and accessories. This category comprises products that do not come into touch with the skin.

Product Class 4 covers furniture, upholstery materials, curtains, and tablecloths are examples of textiles and goods used for decorating. It contains elements for decoration including all items, original products and accessories employed in the furnishing process.

MADE IN GREEN By OEKO-TEX

The Made in Green mark certifies that not only ingredients and finished products are screened for dangerous compounds, but the manufacturing methods are also considered. This ensures that items are produced in ecologically sustainable ways, from chemical use to the management of wastewater and more. This mark also takes into consideration the working circumstances of the people who make the product.

The OEKO-TEX® LEATHER STANDARD 

This is a globally recognised testing and certification method for leather and leather goods at all stages of manufacture, including peripheral items. The certification assists organizations throughout the distribution network in implementing high levels of human-environmental product safety. The LEATHER STANDARD certification serves as a legally enforceable assurance of satisfactory product certification in all business and production procedures.

STeP by OEKO-TEX® 

According to OEKO-TEX, “STeP stands for Sustainable Textile & Leather Production and is a modular certification system for production facilities in the textile and leather industry. The goal of STeP is to implement environmentally friendly production processes in the long term, to improve health and safety and to promote socially responsible working conditions at production sites.”

The STeP certification is different from other certification systems in that it comprises a thorough investigation and appraisal of the manufacturing conditions, rather than just particular sustainability criteria. The STeP process uses six modules to examine all critical aspects of a company including; Chemical management, environmental performance, environmental management, social responsibility, quality management and health protection and safety at work

The goal of STeP certification is to ensure that environmentally friendly production methods, social working conditions, and maximum health and safety are implemented over time.

DETOX TO ZERO by OEKO-TEX

Based on Greenpeace’s DETOX campaign, which was established in 2011 to eliminate toxic chemicals from textile manufacture, OEKO-TEX® introduces DETOX TO ZERO, practical and useable analysis and assessment tool for textile and leather companies that promotes transparency and the regulation of the use of harmful compounds.

Because this is not a standard certification system, manufacturers cannot “fail” or “pass” the program. Instead, the emphasis is on a process of constant advancement. The conditions in the manufacturing facilities are also assessed, and a solid action plan is developed that calls for a steady decrease in dangerous compounds in manufacturing processes.

ECO PASSPORT by OEKO-TEX® 

This independent certification method covers textile and leather chemicals, colourants, and auxiliaries. Each element in the chemical product is examined to verify that it complies with statutory requirements and is not detrimental to human health. The ECO PASSPORT is regarded as trustworthy proof of sustainable textile and leather production by both brands and producers. 

OEKO-TEX® Label Check Tool and How it Affects Transparency

OEKO-TEX® has a really awesome feature on their website that allows you to verify if an item sporting their label is truly certified by them. This feature keeps consumers a step ahead by enabling them to make sustainable product choices and spot greenwashing.

You can simply use the Label Check tool by entering the digits or QR code on the label to check if it is valid.

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Open madeingreen.com
  2. Type in the Label ID or scan the QR code
  3. A page should open that shows you information about the supply chain, manufacturing procedures and factories, etc.
  4. If nothing shows up after searching, you may report to OEKO-TEX®.

Should I go For Products with OEKO-TEX® Labels?

By purchasing products with the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 mark, you can rest assured that your clothing has been thoroughly inspected for the presence of dangerous compounds. OEKO-TEX® protects consumers against dangerous chemicals in textiles.

The OEKO-TEX® seal ensures that products have been thoroughly inspected for the presence of dangerous compounds. OEKO-TEX® certified products are free of any hazardous or allergenic ingredients. The goods can be used right away without needing to be washed and they are safe for the environment.

OEKO-TEX® pays close attention to changes in legislation, science, and organizations, and responds quickly based on the available data. In comparison to other products, an OEKO-TEX® certified product is less likely to contain dangerous compounds..