OEKO Tex Standard 100: A Complete Guide

OEKO tex standard fabrics
OEKO Tex Standard 100 is a standard used to check harmful chemicals and heavy metals in apparel and other textile products.

Many Importers are familiar with OEKO Tex Standard 100, but are still uncertain whether compliance is required by law, and how the entire certification process works.

In this article, we answer some of the most common questions clothing and textiles importers have about OEKO Tex Standard 100:

  • What is OEKO Tex Standard 100?
  • Is compliance required by law?
  • What is the difference between Standard 100 and REACH?
  • How do I find Standard 100 certified manufacturers?
  • How do I verify OEKO Tex Certificates?
  • How do I book lab testing?

What is OEKO Tex Standard 100?

OEKO Tex Standard 100 is an international lab testing and textile certification system, applicable to both fabrics and finished clothing.

OEKO Tex, which is an independent organization based in Switzerland, created the 100 Standard as a collection of several international regulatory frameworks:

However, OEKO Tex takes it one step further than the US and EU, as the 100 Standard also includes the following:

  • Important legal regulations, such as banned Azo colorants, formaldehyde, pentachlorophenol, cadmium, nickel, etc.
  • Numerous harmful chemicals, even if they are not yet legally regulated.
  • Numerous also environmentally relevant substance classes

In other words, OEKO Tex Standard 100 sets the bar higher than any government or state agency in the world.

For Importers selling in several countries and markets, ensuring OEKO Tex Standard 100 is simply a matter of practicality, as you can be sure that you match the highest standard there is.

Notice: REACH is an EU regulation, that restricts hundreds of chemicals and heavy metals in textiles, CPSIA, which is only required for children’s products in the United States, restricts lead content in textiles.

To which products does OEKO Tex Standard 100 apply?

It’s applicable to most types of textile products, and not only clothing textiles.

OEKO Tex separates products into 4 classes:

  • Class 1: Textiles for babies (0 – 3 years)
  • Class 2: Underwear, t-shirts, socks and beddings (Direct skin contact)
  • Class 3: Jackets, coats and other clothing (Not direct skin contact)
  • Class 4: Furniture and home textiles (curtains, sofa covers, cloths etc)

OEKO Tex Standard 100 is also applicable to zippers, prints, sewing thread and other non-textile components. A test report is only valid for the product as a whole – be that a piece of fabric, or a snowboarding jacket.

Where can I find a list of OEKO Tex Standard 100 suppliers?

OEKO Tex Standard 100 is only applicable to the tested product samples. Hence, a textiles supplier cannot be ‘OEKO Tex Standard 100 Certified’.

With that being said, suppliers can still be divided into two categories:

1. Suppliers making apparel and/or textiles that can pass OEKO Tex Standard 100

2. Suppliers making apparel and/or textiles that cannot pass OEKO Tex Standard 100

It all comes down to the chemicals and heavy metals in the final product.

However, most suppliers fall in between these two categories – simply because the vast majority of textiles suppliers don’t have any data on the chemical and heavy metals content in their fabrics.

But, there are ways to find out if a supplier belongs to the first category of suppliers:

alibaba oeko tex

This is what a listing on Alibaba.com can look like

1. Add ‘OEKO Tex Standard 100’ when you search suppliers on Alibaba.com or Globalsources.com (i.e., OEKO Tex Standard 100 Baby Blankets).

2. Ask your supplier to provide an OEKO Tex Standard 100 test report

You can also use the ‘Buyer Guide’ on Oeko-tex.com, that allows you to search companies worldwide, with valid OEKO certificates. OEKO Tex provides the following details for each listed supplier:

  • Company name
  • Address
  • Contact person
  • Email
  • Product Level
  • Usage
  • Materials
  • Standard 100 Product Classes

What is the difference between OEKO Tex Standard 100 and REACH?

REACH is an EU regulation restricting chemicals and heavy metals in all consumer products, sold in the EU. As such, textiles imported to the EU shall not have excessive amounts of lead, cadmium and other substance restricted by REACH.

The only way to find out if a product is REACH compliant, is by sending a sample to a compliance testing company.

OEKO Tex Standard 100 is a collection of EU and US regulations, combined with additional substances that are not banned (yet).

That said, OEKO Tex Standard 100 compliance is not required by law.

Is OEKO Tex Standard 100 required by law?

No, Standard 100 compliance is not required by law. However, for companies looking to sell textiles worldwide, it’s easier to focus on ensuring Standard 100 compliance for the following reasons:

1. It’s more time consuming to keep track of banned chemicals and other regulations in several countries.

2. Suppliers in China, Vietnam and India tend to be more familiar with the Standard 100 requirements, compared to CA Prop 65, ASTM and other standards.

3. Retailers (which tend to be important customers for textile importers) are also familiar with Standard 100. Some may only consider buying products that are Standard 100 certified.

OEKO Tex Standard 100 offers an ‘all-in-one’ textile standard, that makes life easier for textiles importers. This is also why it’s the most common certification standard in the textiles industry.

How do I know if a manufacturer is OEKO Tex Standard 100 certified?

As mentioned, an OEKO Tex Standard 100 test report is only applicable to the tested samples. The test report is not valid for an entire factory.

As such, there are no ‘OEKO Tex Standard 100 certified suppliers’. At best, a supplier can provide a few test reports, demonstrating that they can either produce OEKO Tex Standard 100 compliant fabrics, or at least they know where to procure them.

However, you should not expect to find a supplier that can provide test reports for every single fabric and color in their catalog.

Lab testing is done ‘as needed’, as it would cost way too much to test every single fabric and color, on a yearly basis.

How do I know if a product or fabric is OEKO Tex certified?

You need to request a test report from your supplier. But, as mentioned, it’s unlikely that you will find a test report valid for your specific fabrics and colors, that is still valid.

OEKO Tex Standard 100 test reports expire after 1 year.

Asking for a test report is still a critical part of the sourcing process, as they can help filter out suppliers that simply got no clue what OEKO Tex Standard 100 is.

Given that less than 1 in a 100 suppliers in most Asian countries can prove previous compliance with OEKO Tex Standard 100, it’s crucial that you ask for a test report in the initial stages of the sourcing report.

OEKO Tex Standard 100 Sample Certificate

OEKO certificate sample

How do I know if an OEKO Tex Standard 100 test report is authentic?

You can do a validity check on oeko-tex.com. All you need is the certificate number, that is always specified on the report.

Remember to always compare the following information:

  • Product / Article ID / Fabric type
  • Manufacturer / Supplier Name
  • Date

Some suppliers may try to use OEKO Tex Standard 100 test reports from other factories, only to edit out some information and claim it as its own. However, this is easy to spot by using the online validity check.

What do I do if the supplier cannot provide a test report for my product?

If you’re buying finished apparel, rather than fabrics, it’s very unlikely that the supplier will have test reports matching the entire set of materials and components.

However, you can still book lab testing for an ‘uncertified’ product. This is also what most Importers do, as it’s the only option.

Just keep in mind that you, as an importer, will need to cover the cost.

How do I book a Standard 100 lab test?

OEKO Tex cooperates with many companies, operating testing facilities worldwide. Hence, samples don’t need to be posted all the way from Vietnam or China, to the head office in Switzerland.

Below follows an overview of the offices in China, Vietnam and India:

  • Greater China: Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong S.A.R, Taipei (Taiwan)
  • Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City
  • India: Mumbai, Tamilnadu, Delhi, Ahmedabad

The full list can be found here.

How much does OEKO Tex Standard 100 lab testing cost?

In general, testing costs start from around $400 per product. However, the final cost depends on the following factors:

  • Colors
  • Fabrics
  • Components (i.e., buttons)

In other words, testing a collection of ski jackets, with a large number of layers and components, is far more expensive than simpler textile products – which may only consist of one fabric and color.

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