How safe is cotton clothing that has finishing agents added?


Since I am a science teacher of gifted children and get many questions and fears about nanotechnology. So far, we have tested successfully the finishing treatment on Big Sky’s lotus upholstery fabric and given it harsh treatment with comforting results.


How safe are cotton fabrics for clothing that have finishing agents added to them—for the environment as well as humans?. What are the contents of finishing agents and their application process? Might some treated cotton fabric be hazardous to little children’s sensitive skin?

Mrs. Nic’s Sci-Mobile of Boston

2 Responses to “How safe is cotton clothing that has finishing agents added?”

  1. Judith says:

    Finishing agents are usually proprietary so the actual formulas are not available to the public. To be on the safe side, I recommend that all new garments be washed prior to wearing.

    Nanotechnology is not readily available in garments at this time. In fact an article that I just read suggested that not all items that have nanotechnology on their label or in advertising are, in reality, true nanotechnology.

  2. Kirsten says:

    I concur with Judith, pre-wash clothing before wearing.

    However the clothing industry has regulations for cotton (especially) for use in the home and for children.   There are several ratings.  What you purchase for your baby or toddler for sleep wear has to be rated a certain way for fire safety.  This is in case there is a fire at night and you are unable to get to your child quickly enough, (God forbid this should ever happen) but the cloth is rated on how quickly it will catch on fire.  For it to be sleep wear it has to have a low number.

    I would have to say yes, there are some finishing agents that are harmful to both the environment and to children’s sensitive skin, unfortunately you won’t know until they have a reaction.  Some agents used in unregulated countries are not disposed of properly so, yes, harmful to the environment.  And as for Children’s sensitive skin, keep in mind that some of the agents used (dependig on where they were processed include nicotine, formaldehyde, rubber, polyethylene, polyurethane, sorbitol, acids, and urea.  Any one of which can be harmful if not in the right quantity’s.  This is not to scare you, keep in mind these have been used for years.  Lots of experimentation goes on before it is applied to fabric but it doesn’t hurt to monitor things yourself.

    I have a theory that the more chemicals we subject ourselves to the more things we will become allergic or sensitive to.  This includes detergents, cleaners, make-up, lotions, perfumes….everything really.  It’s more a matter of moderation and monitoring what your using and how much.  From what I understand form my sister in law Peanut butter given to a child too early in their development can cause an allergy later in their life.  So pre-wash and monitor.