September 25, 2006

Flammability Issues - Children's Sleepwear

The consumer product safety commission recently issued a recall for children's bathrobes because they are considered highly flammable. The robes were made of 100% cotton terry cloth. Even though a bathrobe is not technically sleepwear, it is a piece of clothing that is connected to sleeping and thus must comply with the Children's Sleepwear standard.

More information can be found on the children's sleepwear standard (read this letter on loungewear too). It took me over an hour to finally find links to these two pieces of information and I read lots of interesting information on other products. If you go to the CPSC site, be sure to click on the Business link for guides and summaries.

Since you can read the government regulations at the links above, I won't repeat much of it here. Suffice it to say, the actual Flammable Fabric Act applies to just about all fabrics and articles of clothing (there are some exceptions). Some fabrics that consistently fail flammability testing include: sheer rayon or silk, rayon chenille, cotton fleeces, and cotton terry cloth. Synthetic fabrics (polyester, nylon, acrylics) or wool fabrics are generally exempt. This is because these fabrics either simply melt or do not hold a flame once the flame source is removed.

If you design childrenswear consisting of any suspect fabric, you should take the time to send either your fabric or clothing to a testing lab. A flammability test can run anywhere from $200-$500, depending on the lab. Small change compared to a burn lawsuit.

Next time I will tackle children's safety and bedding.


  1. Hi esther,
    I produce a line on handmade children's sweaters using organic cotton yarn and bio friendly dyes here in Kenya. I would like to import into the States but am told that the clothes must be treated with fire retardant. Do you know if there are exceptions for organic products? Or if there are natural or non toxic fire retardants?

  2. Erin, I do not know of any rule that requires clothing be treated with a fire retardant. Historically that was true for sleepwear but it was later found that the chemical caused skin irritation and was a carcinogen. I know of no fire retardant that could be considered green or organic. Maybe there is. In any event, I would recommend you read the links above a little closer and do some research with someone who knows more about the rules of importing into the US.