Formaldehyde in Clothing

Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong -smelling gas used in making building materials and several household products. It is used in pressed-wood products including plywood, and fiberboard; glues and adhesives, paper product coatings and also insulation materials. It is best known for its preservative and anti-bacterial properties. The textile industry uses formaldehyde-based resins as finishers to make fabrics crease-resistant. To learn more about its uses and exposure, you may visit


Formaldehyde is generally used to give a permanent-press effect to clothing, to increase stain resistance and for color fasting. Just like adding preservatives to food keeps it fresher and lasting longer, formaldehyde does this to our clothes.


Although the government insists that there are no serious health risks with formaldehyde, many people experience adverse reactions especially with skin irritations. People with a higher sensitivity may have headaches, sore throats, and even flu like symptoms.


Although formaldehyde can be found in any material, it seems that the most popular source are those that advertise “wrinkle free, stain resistant, permanent press”, etc. and if you are sensitive, these types of clothing should be avoided.

There are tests that you can do on your own to see if there is formaldehyde in the clothes you are buying. Check one test out here:


Even if you think your new clothes are safe from this chemical, I always advise my clients to wash new clothes first, even more than once. If you notice a smell or suspect something, it is recommended that you add powdered milk or baking soda to your wash. I have heard that this procedure will remove at least 60 % of the formaldehyde.

I would suggest to be safe, stay away from these clothes altogether, and buy eco-friendly clothing!




The opinions shared in this article are those of the contributor and not Total Gym Direct

Frances Michaelson

A pioneer in the fitness industry, Frances opened the first personal training center in the West Island of Montreal in 2001. In 2008 , Frances had the “gut feeling“ that there was more to learn about health and how our bodies function, which led to further her education in the field of Naturopathy and holistic nutrition. She has since authored two books. Her latest book, "Do you Have the Guts to be Healthy" was published in March 2021. As a trainer and naturopath, she truly loves seeing people transform themselves by trusting their bodies instead of getting caught up in the medical system. Practicing health is the only way to live the gift of life well!

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