According to Ayurvedic texts, the clothing we wear should be made of natural fibers that allow the skin to breathe. Of course, when said texts were written, all fabrics were organic as inorganic pesticide solvents hadn’t been invented yet.
It was also suggested that cloths always be worn clean to protect the body from bad bacteria called krimi in Vedic times. (1) Stay tuned for an entire article on the topic of krimi—the Vedic equivalent to microbes!
Different natural fabrics were worn in different seasons to better protect, enjoy, and live in harmony with nature.
Wool was worn in the winter to protect the body from cold, wind, and rain. In the spring, layers of silk were worn to protect the body from wind and rain. Light-colored cotton or a single layer of silk was traditionally worn to keep body cool and dry in the summer. Linen, hemp, and other fabrics made from straw and seeds were also worn to be protected from the heat, rain, and wind. (2)
Synthetic vs. Natural Fabrics
According to a handful of studies, the new high-tech synthetic fabrics that are marketed as the better than natural fabrics for body temperature regulation during exercise are not any better than good old-fashioned cotton.
In one study, researchers concluded, “Clothing made of a synthetic fabric with purported “cooling” properties did not improve high-intensity cycle exercise endurance in trained athletes under ambient laboratory conditions that mimic the environmental conditions of indoor training/sporting facilities.” (3)
In another study, researchers reported, “The majority of the research analyzing advertised synthetic fabrics has shown no difference in thermoregulation or clothing comfort while exercising in those fabrics in the heat compared to natural fabrics” (4)
These high-tech, more expensive synthetic fabrics fail to perform any better than natural fabrics, and they are often extremely toxic. Most of synthetic fabrics are processed in toxic solvents that are known carcinogens. (5)
A Canadian study found that women who worked in a factory where they were exposed to fabric solvents, rayon, and acrylics had a seven-fold increased breast cancer risk. (6)
Top 6 Toxic Fabrics
Here are the top six toxic fabrics according to Bodyecology.com: (7)
- Polyester is the worst fabric you can buy. It is made from synthetic polymers that are made from esters of dihydric alcohol and terpthalic acid.
- Acrylic fabrics are polycrylonitriles and may cause cancer, according to the EPA.
- Rayon is recycled wood pulp that must be treated with chemicals like caustic soda, ammonia, acetone and sulphuric acid to survive regular washing and wearing.
- Acetate and Triacetate are made from wood fibers called cellulose and undergo extensive chemical processing to produce the finished product.
- Nylon is made from petroleum and is often given a permanent chemical finish that can be harmful.
- Anything static-resistant, stain-resistant, permanent press, wrinkle-free, stain-proof or moth-repellant. Many of the stain-resistant and wrinkle-free fabrics are treated with perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), like Teflon.
Top 10 Natural Fabrics