Research Tracks

A publication of the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at Baylor University

Scholars Week Preview: Can ‘green’ laundry products make children’s clothing less safe?


URSA Scholars Week is almost here!  Our annual celebration of undergraduate scholarship takes place April 8-11, 2013.  Click here to visit the URSA website for a complete schedule and more information about the event.

As more and more people become concerned about the effects of their daily activities on the environment, increasing numbers of consumers are choosing to purchase household cleaning products made from natural ingredients.

Haley Moore, a Katy, Texas, junior majoring in apparel merchandising, says that while these products are considered less harmful to the environment than their synthetic counterparts, their use may have unintended consequences.

Under the mentorship of Dr. Rinn Cloud, the Mary Gibbs Jones Endowed Chair in Textile Science in the department of family and consumer sciences, Moore designed and carried out experiments to test the effects of organic laundry detergent on the flame-resistance properties of fabrics like those used in children’s sleepwear.

“I became interested in this issue while taking a class with Dr. Cloud last year,” she says. “There’s a growing trend toward ‘green’ products in every aspect of the apparel industry, but I wondered if these products might have an effect on safety.”

Moore began with samples of flame-resistant fabric of the type commonly used in children’s sleepwear.  She washed one set of samples using organic, plant-based detergent, while washing another, identical set of samples using conventional detergent. After running the fabric through a full 50 wash cycles, Moore used a flame chamber to expose the samples to fire.  She then measured the amount of charring on the laundered fabric and on an unwashed control sample to determine the effects of the different products.

Her results suggest that fabrics may lose more of their flame-resistant properties through repeated washing washed in organic detergent compared to conventional products.

“Obviously, flame resistance is a key issue in clothing for children,” she says. “This project shows that more research is needed to determine whether these environmentally friendly products may make clothing less safe.”

Moore’s research was supported by a grant from the Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Achievement (URSA) Small Grants program.  She will present the results of her project during Scholars Week’s poster sessions on April 10 and 11 in the atrium of the Baylor Sciences Building.


  1. Pingback: Undergrad’s research suggests ‘green’ laundry products could make children’s clothing less safe « Baylor Proud

  2. Interesting. I still prefer detergents that do not contaminate the water that feeds life, and now with this information, glad it’s rinsing off clothing with flame retardant. Next research endeavor: what are the consequences of youth coming into contact with flame retardant – refer to

  3. I am so glad the CPSC was not involved in children’s sleepwear when I was growing up.

    Sleepwear should be large and flowing.

    CPSC has gotten a little crazed. Basing regulations on reported accidents and injuries only tells part of the story.

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