Health Benefits of Wearing Natural Fabrics

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I swear, I’m not a clothing snob. By any means. The extent of my fashion sense is what I can find at thrift stores – or if I’m feeling exceptionally splurgy, I’ll rummage around the clearance racks of a Forever 21.

And I have to confess, as of writing this blog, my closet is primarily peopled with polyesters, rayons and acetates.. basically, non-natural fibered clothing. And I’m not exactly losing sleep over that fact. The thing is, I am still in the throes of losing the excess baby weight, and so I’m still in the trying-to-fit-into-pre-pregnancy-clothes state.

But I AM slowly losing the weight! Which gives me a bit of a dilemma: I only brought maternity clothes with me to our new home in Pensacola. All my not-pregnant clothes are locked up in storage in California. So soon I will be cleaning out and filling up my wardrobe, so as not to go naked and junk.

Since I am rearranging my lifestyle to be health centered and toxin-free for my precious baby daughter, I decided to give some thought to the topic of replenishing my wardrobe. What would be the healthiest materials to have pressed against and rubbing on my skin every minute of every day? (Well, minus showers and dancing naked around the living room, that is.)

The answer is: Natural Fiber Fabrics!

What Are Natural Fiber Fabrics?

All fabrics are produced from fibers. Most clothing (lots of greenie websites I stumbled upon set the number at two-thirds) is produced from synthetic, chemically derived, man-made fibers. Natural fiber clothing, on the other hand, is created from the naturally occurring fibers of plants and animals.

The number one reason people tend to wear natural fabrics by choice, is primarily for ecological reasons. For those of you who know me, I LOVE the planet, but it’s not my first concern. My family, their health, and our budget get first dibs in my priority line up. So for the record, my personal interest in wearing (and promoting) the use of natural fabric vs. synthetic, is for the health benefits.. the ecologically friendly aspect is just a pleasantly awesome bonus!

So all ecological bonuses aside, what interests me is that:

There are verifiable health benefits in wearing all natural fibers against your skin!

The inherent characteristics of natural fibers offer breathability, natural temperature regulation, superior durability, water absorption, antimicrobial properties, and more!

Meanwhile, synthetic fabrics tend to offer low breathability, low water absorption, and poor thermal regulation. A side effect to synthetic fabrics that have low breathability, is that your skin reacts by creating a barrier and encourages a favorable condition for bacteria growth, which can cause or worsen skin disorders like acne and can exacerbate allergic reactions. No fun!

Health Benefits of Some Basic Natural Fabrics

This is by no means a thorough list, and every category has variations and sub categories. But these are the basics of the basic of the most popular natural fibered fabrics.

Cotton

Cotton is one of the most widely used fabrics, and for good reason – its soft texture and breathable nature makes it very wearable, and it just feels good against your skin.

Cotton has been cultivated in many different parts of the world for more than 5,000 years. Even though the people who grew and used it never came in contact with each other, they still managed to develop similar tools to clean, prepare, spin, and weave it.

The arrangement of the cellulose in cotton gives it a good degree of strength, durability, and absorbency.

Unlike synthetics, it doesn’t emit static electricity, prematurely age, or trap perspiration.

Linen

Linen is a material made from the fibers of the flax plant. It is highly absorbent, and tends to quickly lose the water it wicks away, removing perspiration from the skin. It’s also a good conductor of heat. It keeps the heat in, and in hot surroundings it feels cool to the touch.

Linen resists dirt and stains, withstands high temperatures and gets softer the more it is washed. It is the strongest of the vegetable fibers with 2 to 3 times the strength of cotton!

Linen contains natural antibacterial and antiseptic properties that prevents bacterial growth. Even after upwards of 20 years of use, linen fabric helps kill microbes, and prevents fungal diseases, inflammation, and damaged skin infections! (This is why it has been used for bandaging wounds throughout the ages!)

And I’m not entirely convinced on this point, but psychotherapists state that linen fibers create a feeling of calm, concentration and depth of thought and have an ability to protect a person from nervous and psychotic breakdowns. It is often used in therapy sessions and religious retreats for this purpose.

Silk

This is my husband’s favorite of all natural materials – well, this and leather. Silk is a natural protein fiber obtained from cocoons made by the larvae of silkworms. The prized iridescent appearance comes from the fibers triangular prism-like structure, which allows silk cloth to refract incoming light at different angles.

Besides its luxurious softness and beauty, silk is known to be the most hypoallergenic of all fabrics because of its natural protein structure. It is an all-climate fabric – silk is warm and cozy in winter, and comfortably cool in warmer temps.

Silk is also highly absorbent, it can absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture without feeling damp, so it absorbs perspiration while letting your skin breathe. It also dries fairly quickly.

Its smooth surface resists odors and it mixes well with other animal and vegetable fibers.

Wool

Wool is a broad term for a fiber obtained from sheep and certain other animals, including cashmere from goats, mohair from goats, angora from rabbits, etc. Wool can range from thick and scratchy to fine and soft. Wool from softer sources are deliciously comfortable, soft and itch-free.

The heat retaining properties of wool are prized in cold weather and high performance wear, like hiking and backpacking.

Wool offers superior breathability, temperature regulation, and like linen, wool contains inherent antimicrobial properties.

Studies undertaken by the University of Sydney, Australia, are showing that wool sleeping apparel and bedding increases total sleep time, promotes sleep onset and improves sleep efficiency.

Leather

Leather is a durable and flexible material created by the tanning of animal rawhide and skin. When properly made of quality components, leather will outlast plastic, vinyl, and fabric many times over.  It can also stand up better to the elements, making it the longest lasting of the fibers.

Leather offers excellent protection against wind, light rain, and cold. It will breathe and ventilate to adjust to the environment.

Leather is also lint and dust-free, making it ideal for sufferers of asthma and other allergies. Dust mites can grow wherever skin flakes can be found and it is for this reason that allergy experts recommend leather furniture for its ability to resist dust collection and can be easily wiped clean.

Did I miss any natural fabrics? Remember, I’m still kinda new to this. ^_^

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Gingi Freeman
Gingi Freeman
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Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls.

Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

Gingi Freeman

Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls. Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

16 thoughts on “Health Benefits of Wearing Natural Fabrics

  • 6 January, 2014 at 10:21 pm
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    What about Rayon? Isn’t it a ‘man-made’ but still ‘natural’ fiber? Any research on how it rates? This all reminds me of costume info on the proper fabrics to use. heh. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
    • 7 January, 2014 at 1:24 pm
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      Rayon is TECHNICALLY not natural, though I personally have no problem with it. It has the same breathability and moisture absorption properties as cotton. While not providing the full bonuses of purely natural fabrics, it also doesn’t suffer the negatives of full on synthetics.

      I’m gonna be lame and cut and paste Wikipedia:

      “Rayon is made from purified cellulose, primarily from wood pulp, which is chemically converted into a soluble compound. It is then dissolved and forced through a spinneret to produce filaments which are chemically solidified, resulting in synthetic fibers of nearly pure cellulose. Because rayon is manufactured from naturally occurring polymers, it is considered a semi-synthetic fiber.”

      Also, while rayon is a source of much debate in the ecological community, the bottom line seems to be – It’s biodegradable. It’s sourced from fast growing brushwood, such as bamboo and cypress, so it doesn’t hurt on an ecological level. The chemical processing leaves absolutely no discernible toxins so it is completely safe for wear (unlike vinyls, pleathers, etc.) So as long as the production companies and transportation of the materials is handled in an environmental friendly manner, most major ecological watchdog groups give rayon an “Earth friendly” approval.

      Reply
  • 6 January, 2014 at 11:36 pm
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    When I was going to Holistic Coaching school I learned all about this and the effects jewelry can even have on your body! We need to chat it up some time!

    Reply
    • 7 January, 2014 at 1:25 pm
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      What the heck is Holistic Coaching school?!?!? And yes… yes we do!!

      Reply
  • 7 January, 2014 at 1:04 am
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    Also, Rayon is made by using chemicals and shreds of wood pulp. It is made of natural fiber technically but it is then put through a chemical process. 🙂

    Reply
    • 7 January, 2014 at 1:28 pm
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      Do you use rayon? I’m interested in your thoughts on it, since we seem to have similar “research-the-crap-out-of-this-shiz” impulses, haha..

      Reply
  • 8 January, 2014 at 2:13 am
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    I find the info about linen keeping bacteria down after twenty year of wear seriously interesting. Also, I had no idea rayon was made from wood pulp! This is a very interesting topic. I think I might research rayon some too.

    Reply
    • 8 January, 2014 at 2:46 pm
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      Yeah, I’m REALLY into fabrics right now. I’m trying not to bombard my page with the same topics over and over and over and kind of space them out. But dangit, I want to talk about fabrics! lol

      Reply
      • 8 January, 2014 at 10:41 pm
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        I really geek out when people talk about wool and other certain fibers because I spin (a little), dye, and knit but people usually don’t care and/or get it. lol

        Reply
        • 9 January, 2014 at 2:28 pm
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          Whaaaaat?! OMG, I’m so jealous!! How’d you get started? Where do you get your wool from? My mum has an old fashioned spinning wheel, and I’ve always wanted to fix it up and make it work! Share with meeeee! lol

          Reply
  • 17 February, 2014 at 3:44 pm
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    I love wearing natural fabrics! I actually have a really hard time wearing synthetic clothing items, as they don’t feel good against my skin. Cotton has always been my favorite, but I love the other natural fabrics you mentioned as well! : )

    Reply
  • 9 January, 2015 at 6:06 am
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    it is a nice idea to get away from diaper rash but real question is what steps need to follow.
    1-use ecological diapers that are really workable in case of diaper rash.
    2-do not use tightly cloth diaper.
    3-keep diaper cream with you. in case your child get rashes.
    חיתולים אקולוגיים

    Reply
  • 18 August, 2015 at 5:40 pm
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    Hello! Thank you for writing about the benefits of wearing natural fabrics and inspiring so many of us! I have been using more natural fibers into my designs. Earlier this year, I launched AtelierPrelude.com ; an online boutique which specializes in all-natural organic cotton, silk, and cashmere clothing. We also now carry organic bath and beauty products. I would love if you could mention our name in your article and/or please stay in touch @atelierprelude via fb, instagram and pinterest! <3

    Reply
  • 10 May, 2016 at 11:12 am
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    Wearing natural fabrics is one of the best thing for your skin protection.Natural fabric is very safely to maintain your healthy skin.So,you must consider this fabric before choosing the clothes.This is one of the best articles for choosing natural fabric for our healthiness.!!

    Reply

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