What is Oeko-Tex?
The Oeko-Tex Association issues the product-related labels Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex (formerly Oeko-Tex Standard 100), Made in Green by Oeko-Tex (formerly Oeko-Tex Standard 100plus) and Leather Standard by Oeko-Tex, the label Eco Passport by Oeko-Tex for chemicals to be used in textile production, and the STeP by Oeko-Tex label (formerly Oeko-Tex Standard 1000) and the Detox to Zero status report for production facilities.
Oeko-Tex labels and certificates confirm the human-ecological safety of textile products and leather articles from all stages of production (raw materials and fibres, yarns, fabrics, ready-to-use end products) along the textile value chain. Some also attest to socially and environmentally sound conditions in production facilities.
The Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex product label, introduced (as Oeko-Tex Standard 100) in 1992, certifies adherence to the specifications of the standard by the same name, a document of testing methods and limit values for potentially harmful chemicals. This independent testing and certification system may be applied to textile materials, intermediate products at all stages of production and ready-made textile articles. Examples of eligible items for certification are raw and dyed finished yarns, raw and dyed finished fabrics and knits, and consumer goods (all types of clothing, home and household textiles, bed linen, terry cloth items, textile toys and more).
The Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex aims at making it obvious to consumers that the labeled textile products have undergone laboratory testing for a wide range of harmful substances, and that the content of those substances remains below the limit values established by the Oeko-Tex Association.
The introduction of the standard established a globally standardized quality assurance system for manufacturers and retailers, taking into account the decreased vertical range of manufacture in the individual facilities of the textile and clothing industry, and compensating for regionally different evaluation standards for the risk potential of harmful substances. Use of the Oeko-Tex certificate documents compliance with human-ecological requirements to subsequent production levels and consumers.
Textile products can only be certified according to the Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex if all components comply with the required criteria – for an item of clothing, in addition to the outer fabric, this might include threads, linings, prints as well as non-textile accessories such as buttons, zip fasteners, rivets or any other accessory parts.
Extent and requirements of Oeko-Tex testing for harmful substances depend on the intended use of a textile product. There are four product classes:
- Product class I – Items for babies and infants (up to 36 months of age)
- Product class II – Items with direct prolonged or large-area skin contact
- Product class III – Textiles without or with little skin contact
- Product class IV – Furnishing materials for decorative purposes (curtains, table linen, carpets, etc.)
Product class I requirements are more rigorous for most potentially harmful substances, and there is an additional test for saliva resistance.
Test criteria and limit values are globally binding and are updated and expanded each year. The current version of the Standard 100 is available at the official website. Test parameters include substances banned or regulated by law as well as yet unregulated substances that are known to be problematic.
Textile products are tested for their content of several hundred individual substances from 17 groups of chemicals. The standard takes into account
Important legal regulations (e.g. banned Azo dyes, formaldehyde, pentachlorophenol, cadmium, nickel)
Requirements of Annexes XVII and XIV of the European Chemicals Regulation REACh and of the ECHA SVHC Candidate List that are assessed to be relevant for fabrics, textiles, garments or accessories by expert groups of the Oeko-Tex Association
US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) requirements regarding lead
Numerous other environmentally relevant substance classes
Numerous substances known to be harmful to health or environmentally relevant but not yet subject to any regulation
Furthermore, all tested items must have a skin-friendly pH value and good color fastness. They are tested for emissions of volatile chemicals and are subjected to an olfactory test.
Once issued, the Oeko-Tex certificate is valid for one year.
The Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex is the product label for textiles tested for harmful substances with the largest prevalence worldwide. More than 10,000 manufacturers in almost 100 countries currently participate in Oeko-Tex certification. To date, the Oeko-Tex Association has issued over 160,000 Standard 100 certificates for textile products from all stages of production (as of 12/2015).