What is OEKO-Tex? & What Are The Oeko-Tex Standards?

Have you seen a brand with an OEKO-Tex label but are not exactly sure what it means? Well, don’t worry, you’re not alone in wondering what is Oeko-tex?

That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide, describing the most common Oeko-tex certifications, what they mean, and what materials are Oeko-tex certified.

What is the OEKO-Tex Standard?

OEKO-TEX® is an international organization that sets standards that rigorously tests products to guarantee they are safe from harmful chemicals.

The certification is given by OEKO-TEX® to a textile brand when their product meets the strict testing and certification process.

When a product carries the Oeko tex standard, consumers know that a product doesn’t contain high levels of a harmful substance or harmful chemicals and is thus safe for humans and the environment.

Different types of OEKO-TEX® standards are given to brands depending on the materials and production process. So let’s break them down in the next section.

What are the different OEKO-Tex certifications?

There are different OEKO-TEX® certifications depending on the material and production process tested. These standards include STANDARD 100, LEATHER STANDARD, STeP, DETOX, and MADE IN GREEN Standard. We will cover the most common in the article below.

What is STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX®

STANDARD 100 Label OEKO TEX

The STANDARD 100 is one of the most commonly seen OEKO-TEX® certifications.

What products can be STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® certified?

STANDARD 100 is available for any textile product or accessory. It covers every component of an item, even down to buttons, zippers, and threads.

Standard 100 also applies to mattresses, feathers, downs, and upholstery. However, Standard 100 does not apply to leather products, which are tested under a different standard which we’ll discuss next.

What does the STANDARD 100 tell us?

Well, the Standard 100 label tells us that every item of an article has been tested, and the article passes the limits (specified by OEKO-TEX®) set for a range of regulated and non-regulated substances, which may be harmful to human health.

The substances tested for include formaldehyde, heavy metals, chlorinated products, pesticides, phthalates, and more. You can read the list of Standard 100 substances and tolerance limits here.

For example, the certificate won’t be awarded if the material is tested and exceeds the limits set by OEKO-TEX® for a specific harmful substance.

What are the different product classes?

The standard has different product classes; each carries a different material limit. The product classes are:

  • Product class i: Suitable for babies under 36 months. Product class 1 has the strictest requirements and limits for harmful materials.
  • Product class ii: Details products that come directly in contact with the skin. This product class includes shirts, tops, blouses, underwear, and mattresses.
  • Product class iii: Product class 3 includes products with only a small amount of skin contact, for example, jackets, sweaters, vests, and belts.
  • Product class iv: Product class 4 covers decoration materials that won’t regularly come into contact with the skin, for example, table cloths, curtains, upholstery fabrics, rugs, and more.
  • So if you buy Standard 100 baby socks, for example, they will meet stricter substance limits than a pair of curtains that are also Standard 100.

What brands are STANDARD 100 certified?

Some examples of brands that are STANDARD 100 certified are:


What is LEATHER STANDARD by OEKO-TEX®

What is Leather Standard by  Oeko Tex

Now we know what the Standard 100 certification means; what is the Leather standard?

The LEATHER STANDARD by OEKO-TEX® is a testing system for leather and leather goods. Like the Standard 100, the leather standard includes all accessory materials (buttons, zippers, etc.). When a leather product is LEATHER STANDARD by OEKO-TEX® certified, a consumer knows the product is safe for human and ecological health.

What materials can be Leather Standard certified?

Oeko tex can certify any leather material and semi-finished leather material. Leather goods that are commonly certified include leather shoes, leather jackets, leather bags, and gloves. The standard also covers furs such as sheepskins and cowhides but does not certify protected or exotic animals such as crocodiles, snakes, or armadillos.

What requirements must products meet to be LEATHER STANDARD certified?

Leather goods are tested under the same standards as Standard 100 products. In addition, as mentioned above, items must not contain harmful chemicals above the limits set by OEKO-TEX®.


What is STeP by OEKO-TEX®

The STeP certification can be applied to a brand or a textile industry manufacturer. This certification differs from the STANDARD 100 and LEATHER STANDARD as it covers the manufacturing process of a material rather than the components of the materials itself.

The STeP certification looks at environmentally friendly focused production, promoting ethical working conditions, and improving health and safety in the workplace.

For a brand or manufacturer to be STeP certified, their production facility must meet or be working towards the 6 STeP pillars:

  1. Chemical management – responsible use of chemicals and the treatment of effluents
  2. Environmental performance – Working toward the reduction of carbon emissions.
  3. Environmental management – Track and reduce water and carbon footprint
  4. Social responsibility – No forced or child labor
  5. Quality management
  6. Health protection and safety at work – provide safe working conditions, including health and safety training

The STeP certification aims to implement change in an organization and change the way of working within an organization to focus on greener and safer working conditions.

What industries can be STeP certified?

The STeP certification covers all aspects of the textile supply chain, which includes:

  • Spinning factories
  • Weaving & Knitting factories
  • Dyeing and printing factories
  • Sewing and textile production factories
  • Manufacturing of accessories, including buttons, zippers, etc.
  • Leather processing facilities, including tanneries, beam houses, and leather logistics.

The STeP certification is a prerequisite for the MADE IN GREEN certification, which we’ll discuss in detail below.


What is MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX®

The MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX® label takes the standards a step further, ensuring products are safe for human and ecological health and ensuring they are manufactured under eco-friendly and ethical working conditions. In addition, the standard allows consumers to trace each component of their clothing or textiles.

How Does a Brand or company become MADE GREEN CERTIFIED?

Only if a brand or manufacturer is STANDARD 100 or LEATHER STANDARD certified and has the STeP certification can the brand apply for the MADE IN GREEN standard.

In summary, if an item of clothing is Made in Green certified, every component has been chemically tested and is harmless to human health. Plus, the garment was manufactured in a STeP certified environmentally friendly, socially responsible and safe factory.


In Summary: What is OEKO-Tex

As we’ve found out, many different OEKO-TEX standards apply to different materials, brands, and manufacturing processes.

Overall, the OEKO-TEX certification is a tool consumers can use to make positive choices to buy garments and textiles that are safe for human health and produced in safe working conditions.

Now, when you’re shopping, you can look out for the Oeko tex standard product label on clothing and textiles and know exactly what criteria the product must meet to be Oeko tex certified.


If you enjoyed this article and want to find out what other certifications mean like GOTS certified and B Corp certified, make sure you check out our other articles.

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Bethany

Bethany Worthington BSc (Hons) (she/her) is the Sustainable Fashion Editor and Co-founder of Ecothes. She has a passion for the environment, and a long love of all things clothing, and combines those two interests with Ecothes. In her free time she loves dancing, hiking in the countryside, and laughing with friends.

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