Formaldehyde is a colourless, strong smelling poisonous gas. It’s a known carcinogen which has been found in the fabrics of mainstream baby clothing brands in concentrations of up to 18,000 ppm (parts per million). That’s 900 times over what is considered ‘safe’ for baby clothing. 


Formaldehyde is often added to fabrics to reduce wrinkles and mildew, promote stain resistance and help colours last longer. It’s often added at the end of the manufacturing process to make sure garments look fresh and new when they arrive in the shops and with the consumers. 


Formaldehyde is dangerous for everyone, particularly babies and kids and is linked to cancer and other health complications. It’s harmful when in contact with the skin and it also releases easily into the air, adding to indoor air pollution in homes. 

It’s considered safe in baby items up to around 20 ppm, but any exposure to the substance, no matter how small, can cause health complications. We would always advise to avoid it altogether. Some people are very sensitive to formaldehyde and experience adverse reactions even at low levels. Babies and children at crucial stages of development are most at risk as they have very porous, sensitive skin and they breath in more air in relation to their body weight. 


Always wash clothes and soft toys before using them. Washing can remove up to 60% of the substance. So head down to your local FARA Kids store as second hand clothing is actually a great option as a lot of the chemicals would have been washed away already. Or ask friends or relatives for their old hand-me-downs.

When buying new, avoid fast fashion and opt for more sustainable, natural and organic fabrics where possible. 

As well as in fabrics, formaldehye is often found in cosmetics, MDF and ply wood (or any wood which isn’t solid), glues, perfumes and room sprays. Try to make as many swaps as you can to natural, chemical free products. Do your research and make sure you trust the brands you buy from.

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