The Top 6 Fabrics You Should Avoid Wearing and Why

Every day and night we are surrounded by fabrics. From the clothing we wear to the sheets on our beds to upholstery on our furniture or car seats, these are the fabrics of our lives.

Fabrics are around us nearly all the time, but did you know that your material choices could either help or harm your health?

Material World

Not that long ago, people stuck to the natural fibers: wool, cashmere, cotton, silk, linen, and hemp.

But if you take a look at your clothing labels today, you are likely to find materials like rayon, polyester, acrylic, acetate and nylon. Additionally, your shirts and slacks may be treated to be wrinkle-free or stain resistant on top of that.

These technological advances in fabrics may make our lives simpler, but at what cost?

Chemically treated natural and synthetic fabrics are a source of toxins that adversely affect your health and the health of the planet.

Here’s our short list of fabrics to avoid, and the healthy ones to pick instead.

Top 6 Toxic Fabrics

1. Is polyester safe? Polyester is the worst fabric you can buy. It is made from synthetic polymers that are made from esters of dihydric alcohol and terpthalic acid.

2. What is acrylic fabric? Acryllic fabric is made of polycrylonitriles and may cause cancer, according to the EPA.

3. How is rayon treated? it is recycled wood pulp that must be treated with chemicals like caustic soda, ammonia, acetone and sulphuric acid to survive regular washing and wearing.

4. How are acetate and triacetate produced? They are made from wood fibers called cellulose and undergo extensive chemical processing to produce the finished product.

5. How is nylon made? It’s made from petroleum and is often given a permanent chemical finish that can be harmful.

6. What else to consider? Anything static resistant, stain resistant, permanent press, wrinkle-free, stain proof or moth repellent. Many of the stain resistant and wrinkle-free fabrics are treated with perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), like Teflon.

When you pick out your clothes, you probably don’t think about their toxic load on your body and the environment. But most fabrics that make up our clothes, upholstery and linens are highly processed with tons of chemicals. To protect yourself on the inside, as well as out, LivAmend and/or Cocobiotic can help to flush these toxins out of your body so they don’t stick around to cause any harm!

Modern Materials

Keep in mind that many fabrics (including natural fibers) undergo significant processing that often involves:

  • Detergents
  • Petrochemical dyes
  • Formaldehyde to prevent shrinkage
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Dioxin-producing bleach
  • Chemical fabric softeners

These additives are often toxic to the human body, may contain heavy metals and can pollute our environment.


Fabrics to Chose

If you are chemically sensitive or just want to surround yourself with healthy fabrics, listen to Doris Brunza – a fashion designer who worked in the Garment District in New York City for 20 years.  She knows about finding fabrics that don’t cause reactions because she is chemically sensitive.

She points out that nearly ALL fabrics, including organic fabric, are treated with chemicals at some point during their processing. Still, some choices are better than others.

In general, look for natural fibers like:

  • Cotton
  • Silk
  • Linen
  • Hemp
  • Wool
  • Cashmere
  • Bamboo

Take Away’s

If you can, purchase and wear organic fabrics and organic clothing. While they still might be processed to some extent, they are often a better choice than synthetics.

Brunza also advises people to buy high quality European garments made with the finest fabrics. Expensive clothing may seem overpriced, but the quality of the raw materials is superior, and the fibers can be woven into beautiful fabrics that are soft and strong, requiring little chemical processing to make them suitable for you, the consumer. They also last you for years, which makes them a cost-effective and sustainable purchase in the long run.

Remember to avoid chemical dry cleaning whenever possible and wash your clothes in a “green” detergent. We love the refillable laundry detergent provided by our friends at MyGreenFills, a non-toxic laundry subscription service.

Reducing your toxic load by watching what you are putting into your body and developing immune boosting strategies like sipping probiotic drinks and eating fermented vegetables daily can have a tremendous impact on creating a thriving inner ecosystem.  Organic food, pure water, and natural or organic clothing can work together to enhance your wellbeing and help you live a healthier life.


  1. “The environmental cost of fast fashion”, Phys.org.
  2. Brunza, Doris, “Finding Tolerable Clothing or Fabric”, EnvironmentalHealth.ca.
  3. Acrylonitrile, EPA.gov.
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