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Are Organic Sheets Worth It? Here's Why "Organic" Can be Misleading

Parachute in Joshua Tree
Written By
PARACHUTE TEAM
Photographs By
JESSICA SCHRAMM FOR PARACHUTE
@parachutehome

The concept of clean living involves a lot more than just the food we eat. Harmful chemicals can be anywhere — in our skincare products, in the clothes we wear, and even in our bedsheets. And while shopping in the “organic” aisle may seem like the obvious choice, the solution to healthier sleep needs to go a little deeper.

The term “organic bedding” is often overused (and misused) without explaining what it means, making it easy to get confused. For example, a manufacturer can claim a set of bedsheets is organic because it was produced using organic cotton. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t use toxic dyes or pesticides during processing. This is precisely why the term “organic bedding” can be deceptive.

Read on for a breakdown of all the factors that matter when you shop for bedding for your family, and why “organic” should not be one of them.

What is Organic Bedding? Is it Worth it?

Manufacturers most often label their textiles “organic” to describe how they grow their fibers. In most cases, this fiber is cotton. While organic cotton is certainly a healthy choice for you and the environment (it requires a lot less water during processing), the production of bedding doesn’t stop there. Bedsheets can be dyed using heavy metals, toxic inks or bleaches, and then treated with formaldehyde resin to achieve a “wrinkle-free” look — all actions that are harmful both for you and nature. “Organic” should also reference worker welfare and ethical production practices. Sadly, there is no way to know if a manufacturer uses this broader meaning when they claim a set of sheets is “organic.”

That’s why the term organic bedding doesn’t go quite far enough. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for bedsheets that were produced with your (and the planet’s) health in mind

What Qualities Should You be Looking for in Your Bedding?

Quality bed linen isn’t just a good investment because it delivers a 5-star luxury experience. It’s also a healthier choice that ensures your body can get all the rest it needs without unnecessary exposure to harmful chemicals.

Finding the best bedding for your family starts with the right material. Cotton and linen are natural fibers that are hypoallergenic, breathable, and strong enough to last for years. Thanks to modern weaving techniques available, manufacturers can produce bed sheets with different thicknesses that cater to both cool and hot sleepers. When farmers grow these fibers organically, they use water-saving techniques and no pesticides, which is beneficial to you and to the environment. Organically-grown cotton is also cleaned with vegetable-based soap instead of toxic cleaning products.

Next up, look for sheets that have been dyed with natural dyes and aren’t processed with harsh chemicals to add features such as wrinkle-resistance. People with skin conditions and sensitive skin may experience rashes and worsening of symptoms from toxic chemicals used during these treatments. And if you have a baby or a small child at home, it’s crucial to choose baby bedding that wasn’t processed with toxic chemicals or artificial colorants, as these can affect developing bodies.

The Solution? Look for Bedding With the Oeko-Tex Seal.

When manufacturers label their bedsheets as “organic,” they don’t have to share specific details about how those organic sheets are produced. That’s why Oeko-Tex-certified bedding is your safest bet.

Oeko-Tex is a global network of independent laboratories that tests textiles for harmful substances. The network certifies only those products that have repeatedly tested negative for a list of commonly-used toxins. That means every piece of material and the hardware that adorns it, such as buttons or zippers, have undergone rigorous examination.

Oeko-Tex updates its list of toxic chemicals and criteria every year to stay up-to-date with current production practices and scientific information. Manufacturers also need to apply each year to have their certifications renewed. The organization takes into consideration both regulated and non-regulated substances that could be harmful to human health. Each certificate is given a unique number that consumers can verify online to ensure its validity.

Oeko-Tex vs. Organic: Which One is Better?

The International Oeko-Tex Association was established in March 1992 in Switzerland. The following month, it introduced its first Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification, the most reliable and trusted label when it comes to textile products, including bedding.

Today, to display the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 label on their bedding, manufacturers must make sure all the components and materials they use comply with about one hundred strict parameters set by the Association. In addition, they have to pass regular quality audits in an Oeko-Tex testing laboratory.

Because Oeko-Tex is based on uniform measurable standards and hard scientific data, it is the most trustworthy certificate that guarantees “clean” bedding, regardless of the part of the world where it was made.

“Organic,” on the other hand, is not a concrete or scientifically-vetted term. Different countries have their own requirements and product safety standards, making it incredibly difficult to hold manufacturers accountable, or to know exactly how their bedsheets were produced

Why You Should Buy Oeko-Tex Bedding for Children

There is nothing more important than the health and well-being of your children, so taking a chance on their bedding is probably not something you’d want to do. Babies and toddlers are especially vulnerable because their skin is susceptible to artificial and chemical substances. So if you’re worried about unsafe materials and potentially harmful agents in their bedding, look for the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 label.

The organization’s requirements differ depending on the category, or class, a product falls into. Product class number one consists of articles for babies up to three years old. It includes the most strictly regulated and rigorously tested products.

For example, finishes that contain formaldehyde are completely excluded. A “saliva resistance” requirement bans all dyed products and materials with prints that would “bleed” should a baby suck on them.

So when you’re buying Oeko-Tex certified cotton bedding for your children, you can rest assured it is indeed the safest and most environmentally friendly option on the market. It is also entirely compliant with both U.S. and European Union regulations.

Benefits of Oeko-Tex Bedding for Adults

Bedding for adults falls within Oeko-Tex’s product class two. That category includes materials and textiles that come into direct contact with the skin for long periods. Considering the intended use of the products is crucial because it may change the limit values of some chemicals.

So what can you expect from your Oeko-Tex certified bed linen or organic mattress?

First of all, the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 label stands for “clean.” That means no harsh detergents have been used to produce these products. They are safe from over one hundred known or suspected harmful chemicals. If you suffer from skin allergies or have sensitive skin, this is very important. Formaldehyde, for example, regularly used in wrinkle-resistant bedding, can cause rashes and other dermatological and respiratory issues.

Oeko-Tex-certified bedding is also good for the planet, since no pesticides are used during manufacturing. By investing in the best organic bedding, you also support and encourage farmers to continue growing crops using environmentally-friendly methods.

And finally, because organic cotton is naturally soft, the bedding it produces is also incredibly soft to the touch, without the need to process it with chemicals.  

Where to Shop for the Best Oeko-Tex Certified Bedding?

All the bedding you’ll find at Parachute is made in family-owned factories in Europe, from the highest-quality Egyptian cotton. No synthetics, pesticides, or artificial colorants are ever used during the production process.

Parachute’s bed linen, bedding inserts and The Mattress exceed Oeko-Tex standards. Additionally, all bedding products are compliant with the European Union’s REACH protocol, which regulates the use of harmful substances with the goal of protecting human health and the environment.

Parachute also offers a large selection of safe baby bedding produced from ultra-soft linen and cotton. From a fitted sheet for your little one’s mattress to a lightweight quilt and pillow, you can stock up on all the basics for your child’s bed and feel confident that your little one will sleep peacefully in bedding that is safe and chemical-free.