How pollutants in sauna textiles can harm health

To make a visit to the sauna as pleasant as possible, you need the right sauna textiles. A cozy sauna robe, colorful hamam towels, a cotton sauna kilt or even plain sauna towels are used here. However, substances that can harm the wearer are often used in the production process. But with a little attention when shopping, the risk can be significantly reduced.
Toxins in sauna textiles can cause health problems

Toxins in sauna textiles can cause health problems

Textiles often contain a variety of chemicals. The manufacturing process often uses substances that can harm the user. Factories use polyvinyl chloride to size fabrics, chlorine bleach to brighten fabrics, benzidine and toluidine as dyes, and flame retardants that are known carcinogens. Other toxic chemicals used in daily operations include formaldehyde, lead and mercury. Although the textiles are washed as they move through the production line, many chemicals still remain in the textiles.

These substances not only harm the environment, but also pose a danger to humans and animals. For example, allergies can be triggered in those who wear the clothing. As a result, they can cause skin, eye and respiratory irritation that can disrupt sleep and concentration. There are even some that are suspected of being carcinogenic.

Contaminated textile products from non-European countries

Non-European clothing imports are more likely to be contaminated than European imports. This is because the manufacturing conditions are often unknown. In the manufacturing countries, there are usually no strict regulations to prevent pollutants from entering wastewater, for example. This has a lasting impact on the environment.

Chemical substances can also be used during transport

Numerous textile manufacturers outsource their production. Natural fibers in particular, such as cotton, linen and silk, must be protected from mold and insects during transport to Germany. For this purpose, they are packed in wooden crates that have been treated with wood preservatives. In other cases, the fabrics themselves are treated with moth repellents.

How to recognize ecological and environmentally friendly textiles

Acting sustainably – in recent years, awareness of this concept has grown significantly. If you are concerned about the production of your textiles and attach importance to certain criteria, you can use so-called textile seals as a guide.

  • Roughly speaking, the “Oeko-Tex Standard 100” seal only looks at the end product in question.
  • “STeP by Öko Tex” also assesses the operating sites of the textile industry and evaluates the production of textiles according to ecological, sustainable criteria.
  • The “Made in Green by Öko Tex” seal evaluates working conditions in addition to ecological criteria.

There are many other seals, some of which meet even stricter requirements. An overview is provided by the “Siegelklarheit” page of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

How can exposure to textiles and clothing be avoided?

  • In general, you should avoid buying clothes with strong odors.
  • Products labeled “low odor,” “odor-free,” or “antibacterial” have usually been further treated to achieve this effect. They may contain potentially hazardous compounds.
  • Always wash new textiles before wearing them for the first time or touching the skin. This eliminates the possibility of contaminated residues remaining in the material.
  • In addition, heat from ironing can release contaminants. To be safe, air the garments thoroughly before storing them in the closet.
  • Do you have an allergic reaction? Avoid clothing labeled “wash separately” or “clothing bleeds.” Heavily colored clothing often contains dangerous ingredients. “If the clothes bleed,” it means that the dye is dissolved by human sweat and can get onto the skin and into the body. An allergic reaction can then occur more quickly.
  • Undyed clothing is the best choice if you want to fully protect yourself from dangerous substances.


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