Our Clothes Are Making Us Sick

Our Clothes Are Making Us Sick

Update: 2023-06-29


Have you ever put on a new shirt and then discovered that it makes you feel itchy? Or have you ever taken off a new pair of pants at the end of the day to find that the fabric has given you a skin rash? This is a problem that’s increasingly common as more and more chemicals are being added to our clothing when they’re dyed different colors or treated with additives that make them stain-, wrinkle-, or odor-resistant. Some of these chemicals are irritants that can cause breathing problems or skin issues. Some others are toxic enough to trigger life-altering autoimmune diseases. Since the fashion industry operates within loose regulations, the problem of toxic apparel isn’t going away anytime soon.

This week on Gadget Lab, we're joined by journalist and author Alden Wicker. Her new book is called To Dye For: How Toxic Fashion is Making Us Sick—And How We Can Fight Back. We discuss the wide range of chemicals, dyes, and treatments that get put into our clothes, and we offer tips on how to avoid the worst offenders while shopping for a new wardrobe.

Show Notes:

Alden’s book is To Dye For. It’s out this week from G.P. Putnam’s Sons; buy it wherever books are sold. Also read Alden’s reporting on the fashion industry for WIRED.


Alden recommends Vermont. Lauren recommends tzatziki sauce. Mike recommends The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin.

Alden Wicker can be found on Twitter @AldenWicker. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.

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Our Clothes Are Making Us Sick

Our Clothes Are Making Us Sick