5 serious Diseases that you can get from fabrics

Updated on by Sarina

Though fabric and clothes bring us a lot of happiness, sometimes they can also bring us problems. There are some serious concerns due to the indiscrimintate use of chemicals in the production process of many textiles and also careless handling of clothes and household fabrics which can lead to diseases. Here is a list of these problems. 

Diseases that can result from chemicals in textiles

Let me start with a disclaimer first. I am not a medical practitioner, nor am I authorized to talk as an expert about medical conditions. What I have written in this post are all from what I have learned from reading other web pages and articles written by experts. The relevant pages are added as a link in the end.

Clothes, fashion, fabric – all these are associated with happiness in my mind. We do not associate clothes with anything negative. I suppose it is so for you too. But behind this joy there is a real danger – There are diseases that can be caused by some things related to fabrics. It was an eye-opener for me.

List of dangerous diseases that may be caused by contact with chemicals in fabrics

Black fungus

As if the current problems are not enough, another problem is doing the rounds around the world – Black fungus. Getting blind is a gruesome fate that no one wishes on anyone.  And this fungus causes blindness and a whole lot of other problems.

Though no one is wiser about what is causing the growth of this fungus and its problems, some say that the unhygienic use of masks can be a trigger. Regular cleaning of masks and other fabrics used in homes during these trying times is compulsory. They should be washed in detergent, rinsed off, and then dried thoroughly in sunlight. 

Read more here : Unhygienic masks being a factor for black fungus

Related post: How to disinfect fabric and clothes.; How to remove mold spots from clothes ; How to use bleach on clothes

Contact Dermatitis 

Dermatitis is a skin disease in which skin can develop rashes and itchiness. It is called textile dermatitis when the problems associated are triggered by coming into contact with the fabric.

If you are prone to rashes wherever fabric touches skin, if your eyes start watering every time you wear a new dress, if a new sweater causes you to wiggle and squirm because of irritation, if you are always tempted to itch after wearing a particular dress you may have this condition already.

There are many pollutants, chemicals, etc on the surface of the fabric- they may be inevitable in the manufacturing process of fabrics and garments (unless they are specifically eco-friendly). If you know the list of chemicals and poisons in the fabric you may never ever touch a new one. Neoprene is a material that can cause an allergic reaction which is termed dermatitis. 

If you are sensitive to these you have to be very careful about what you wear. Do not forget to wash all the fabric you will be handling in sewing; new clothes should never be worn without washing.

If you have this condition, you may want to start wearing only organic and eco-friendly fabrics – they are specifically made without any chemicals. 

Read more here: Being allergic to clothes ; Neoprene allergy

Related post : Best eco friendly and organic fabrics.

Allergic reaction to new clothes or badly stored clothes is very common

Allergic Rhinitis or Asthma

Allergic rhinitis involves inflammation of membranes lining the nose. Anything that flares up and disturbs the lungs is bad news for someone with asthma. And most of the fabric has chemicals and dyes that contain poisonous materials and these hazardous materials can easily do that. Rhinitis may just involve running nose, sneezing and even cough but severe asthma can be a debilitating disease and you should take all precautions to not succumb to it.

Fabric softeners added to the washing cycle with very good intentions can prove to be very detrimental to your health if you are asthmatic. Read about fabric softeners here.

You can read more about the bad effects of fabric softeners here – Why fabric softener may be bad for you. 

I read about the asthma causing textile processing material Alpha amylases here:
List of things that can cause occupational asthma


Fabric manufacturing is a very complex process and involves the use of many chemicals. Simple chemicals like caustic soda, ammonia, to potentially hazardous chemicals like, formaldehyde, sulphuric acid, and perfluorinated chemicals are involved in the making of fabric. Out of these, some are carcinogenic, ie cancer-causing.

Many of the laundry products in the market are also said to contain some carcinogenic components.

Most of the coated fabrics available in the market are very appealing but you have to realize that the coating is a result of many processes involving different types of dangerous chemicals.

You can read about how to recognize Cancer Warning Labels in fabric here

Endocrine system disruption 

Water-resistant and flame-resistant fabrics have a coating on them, giving them their functionality. But when humans (for whom they are made) are exposed to it, their endocrine system cannot cope with it, resulting in many endocrine-disrupting diseases like Thyroidism.

Read more about this here : Study links thyroid disease to non stick chemicals coated on water repellent fabrics.

I know how disturbing it is to read about diseases and how important health is for all of us. Not all fabrics are bad. Some are more bad than others. This post is written as a cautionary note. After reading this I hope you will take a little precaution in handling new clothes and fabrics and more care in properly cleaning soiled clothes.

Related pots : Detergents and clearners used to clean fabrics ; Basic garment care – a list of articlesSitemap of sewguide.


I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

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