Does Non-Organic Cotton Contain Pesticide Residues?

Posted in: Chemical Education
By Naturepedic Team
More from this author

Does Non-Organic Cotton Contain Pesticide Residues?


Many parents have questions about cotton. Is regular cotton okay, or should you use organic? The major difference comes down to, unfortunately, pesticides. Organic cotton is grown without pesticides; regular cotton is grown with them. 

This distinction is both prescient and important. If you aren’t buying organic cotton, are residues from those pesticides still in the cotton clothing, sheets and blankets you’re using for your baby?

This is an important question if you’re concerned about your child’s health. Pesticides have been linked to several diseases and conditions, including asthma, autism, learning disabilities, birth defects, reproductive dysfunction, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and several types of cancer—to name a few!

The President’s Cancer Panel

In fact, the President’s Cancer Panel, which reports to the President of the United States on barriers to progress in reducing the burden of cancer, recommends that we eat organic food in order to avoid pesticide poisoning. Here’s a quote from a recent President’s Cancer Panel Report:

“Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers…Similarly, exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones, and toxic run-off from livestock feed lots can be minimized by eating free-range meat raised without these medications."

But food is not our only exposure to pesticides. As with other chemicals, residue can also become airborne in the products that we buy to decorate, furnish, and add comfort to our homes. When the chemicals that make up these products off gas, they contaminate the air that our families breathe.

The Problem with Pesticides

Recent studies have confirmed that nearly 48 million pounds of pesticides were used on cotton in one year making the crop the third most pesticide sprayed crop behind corn and soybeans.

The good news is that by the time those cotton crops become fabric, the pesticides are gone. However, according to Debra Lynn Dadd, Queen of Green and author of Home Safe Home, there are other problems with cotton, including the cotton batting sometimes used in crib mattresses:

“Cotton batting does contain pesticide residues, if it is not organic, as it is not as processed as cotton fabric. So it is imperative to buy organic cotton batting, as in a mattress or pillow.”

Finishes and dyes on some cotton fabrics can also be a problem:

“The problem with cotton fabric is the finishes, such as a permanent press finish, which releases formaldehyde. Most fabrics of any kind have a "sizing" applied, which washes out in the first wash. Five washes is plenty to remove sizing, but no amount of washing removes permanent press. Dyes are also not a concern if they are "colorfast," that is, they don't bleed when you wash them."

There are also environmental reasons to use organic cotton, as it has less of a negative impact on the earth. Conventionally-grown cotton typically uses a huge amount of the most toxic chemicals to grow and farm its product, which seeps into our air, water, soil, and indirectly into our bodies.

At Naturepedic, we use only organic cotton in our crib mattresses. This way, parents can know your baby is safe from pesticide residues and the residues of other toxic chemicals that may be used on the crops or in processing.

As for your baby’s jammies, sheets, blankets and other goodies, regular cotton is probably fine. But do find out about the dyes used and treatments or finishes such as permanent press. If it looks like the chemicals used there might not be safe, go with organic.

To be sure your cotton clothes and mattresses were not made with toxic and synthetic inputs, look for the official Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) logo, which you'll find on our Naturepedic mattresses. Learn more about our certifications.

11 years ago
You Put What? Where? | Samvid Beauty
9 years ago at 4:43 PM
[...] we need organic alternatives, which are becoming easier and easier to find in local grocery stores. Cotton, often the main ingredient used to make up pads and tampons may be concerning if not organic. [...]
9 years ago at 12:21 AM
Thank you for posting this information. I am learning more everyday but since I wasn't aware of why organic, etc until the last few years, it's hard to convert everything immediately. It's good to know that some of the things I currently have will still be ok and so I can wait until they need to be replaced and then buy the organic version. As for the other items, I can concentrate on replacing them sooner. Thank you again!
Deanna Clark
3 years ago at 8:22 AM
Check my comment for the voice of experience...hope you are doing well 6 years later!
7 years ago at 4:47 AM
<strong></strong> Does Non-Organic Cotton Contain Pesticide Residues? | Naturepedic
Organic Food Vs Non Organic Queen Sheets « Healthfood Tips
7 years ago at 3:36 PM
[…] Does Non-Organic Cotton Contain Pesticide Residues? | Naturepedic – … Alzheimer’s disease, and several types of cancer. In fact, the President’s Cancer Panel recommends that we eat organic food in … However, according to Debra Lynn Dadd, Queen of Green and … crib mattresses, formaldehyde in fabric, Naturepedic, non-organic cotton, organic … […]
Green Living Pesticide Free | face naturals
6 years ago at 3:02 PM
[…] Does Nonorganic Cotton Contain Pesticide Residues? […]
Conventional VS. Organic Bedding- Natural Sleep Mattress
4 years ago at 5:38 PM
[…] or conform to the body’s shape, and typically results in a Medium-Firm to Firm mattress feel. It is important to know if the cotton mattress you are considering is made from organic cotton. Regular cotton is grown with pesticides whose residue may carry into the products manufactured from […]
Deanna Clark
3 years ago at 8:21 AM
I have only old sheets and fabrics from thrift takes time and having little discretionary income motivates!!! Also, consider that for pet blankets...the older and more faded the better. The same for housing and long as your not getting the really bad stuff, like lead, in the water. The toxins do wear off after, say a decade of washing...New, bad.....old:good. The fabrics at fabric stores are horrible....unsuitable for clothes, blankets, anything. I used to love sewing, but now order organic knit from Texas, which thanks to Trump, is now cheaper than the fabric at stores anyway. The fabric stores have heavily dyed, heavily treated garbage at a huge price now.....another pleasure gone. How do people work around that??

Does Non-Organic Cotton Contain Pesticide Residues?