If you are a little confused about which clothes are treated with flame retardants and which aren’t, you are not alone.
While there is a mandatory standard to reduce the risk of burns from in sleepwear for children, there are no compulsory safety requirements for other children’s clothing or for any adult clothing.
Burns from clothing fires are a significant cause of serious injury particularly in older age groups, where incidents are mainly related to robes, pyjamas and nightgowns. While most fabrics used in clothing can burn, some materials are much more flammable than others.
- Synthetic clothing: Generally any synthetic clothes for babies older than 9 months will use flame retardant chemicals. Under 9 months, no flame retardants. Polyester clothing (like fleece) is inherently flame-retardant (chemical properties of the polyester itself).
- Cotton clothing: For cotton clothing, sleepwear for children under 9 months is not required to meet flame-retardant standards so it is not treated. For children 9 months and up, clothing must either be snug-fitting or flame-retardant.
Ways to Get the Flame Retardant out
If you are looking to remove the flame retardant from clothing because of the risks the chemicals pose or due to skin sensitivities, wash them with soap.
Clothing tags will typically be very clear and will advise that the garment is flame retardant. The washing/drying instructions may also include “use detergent, not soap” and “do not use fabric softeners” because the soap and softeners remove the flame retardant.
It’s hard to remove all the toxins from our children’s environment, but choosing safe sleepwear is one easy step we can take to reduce their exposure. The solution is simply to purchase sleepwear made of natural fibers.
- Natural fabrics: Choose cotton, bamboo or wool and avoid synthetics such as polyester and nylon
- Labels to avoid: Avoid sleepwear labeled: “To retain fame resistance” or Flame resistant fabric”
While many parents have voiced concerns over the safety of the chemicals used for flame-resistant clothing, the reality is that the safest sleepwear for babies is either snug-fitting or those pajamas labeled as flame-resistant. The tag will say for child’s safety, garment should fit snugly.