If you want to be absolutely sure that your clothes and bed sheets, for example, don’t contain worrying toxic chemicals, there are some things you can do.
It is better to use biological, untreated fabrics which have not been chemically enhanced. You need to ensure that harmful chemicals have not been used during the whole process, from the cultivation or rearing (depending on whether they are vegetable or animal fibres) up until they reach the shelves.
We should avoid certain types of fabrics e.g. stain-proof or waterproof, which may contain perfluorinated compounds. Certain non-iron fabrics may have been treated with formaldehyde and other potentially harmful compounds, so it is worth taking this into consideration.
Avoid clothes which have to be dry cleaned. Wash clothes with organic products as much as possible, and avoid any that contain synthetic fragrances.
To further reduce the levels of pollutants, you can leave clothes to soak in water and bicarbonate of soda.
There are different certifications, some of which are stricter than others: Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) checks if the fibres are ecological or not, often giving the percentage of synthetic materials; Öko-Tex which certifies, amongst other things, the restricted use of certain chemicals in manufacturing but not in the raw materials; Ecoetiqueta Europea doesn’t show that the products are organic but just that they aren’t synthetic and that they set limits for certain chemicals; Made in Green limits harmful chemicals but also does not take into account whether it is organic; etc.
We also advise that you find out about campaigns run by NGOs, such as Greenpeace’s Detox Fashion campaign which keeps track of which brands use or have stopped using certain harmful chemicals in their garments.