How is Your Underwear Made? The Truth About Men's Undies

What’s up fellas, NADS blogman here. Today, we’re talking about materials. By the end of this, you should have a good idea of the processes used to make the most popular fabrics used in underwear (and most other clothing). Get ready, we’re about to drop some knowledge bombs on ya.

When it comes to choosing underwear, it's crucial to consider what material it's made of. The textile industry is complex, and the production of fabrics involves the use of various chemicals that can have a negative impact on the environment, the health of workers, and consumers (you). As consumers, we can make a difference by choosing eco-friendly and sustainable fabrics and supporting brands that prioritize ethical and responsible production practices. By doing so, we can help to create a better and healthier future for ourselves and the planet. Alright, let’s get into it.

Polyester: Let's start with polyester, which is a synthetic plastic based fabric made from petroleum. Yes, petroleum. It is created by a process called polymerization, which involves combining various chemicals such as ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid. Polyester is known for being durable, wrinkle-resistant, and easy to care for, which is why it's often used for athletic wear and other performance apparel. It’s also much cheaper to produce than other fabrics, as you’d expect. The production of polyester involves the use of harmful chemicals and high energy consumption, which can have a negative impact on the environment and the health of workers and wearers. Additionally, polyester is often treated with chemicals such as formaldehyde and other additives to improve its properties, which can cause skin irritation, dermatitis, and other adverse reactions. Prolonged exposure to polyester fabric can also lead to the accumulation of toxins in the body, which can have harmful effects on overall health. And as you saw from our recent blog post, polyester was effectively used as a male contraceptive when worn on the balls for prolonged periods of time.

Spandex: Another synthetic fabric that has gained popularity in recent years is spandex. This stretchy fabric is made from a polymer called polyurethane (another plastic), which is combined with various other chemicals such as diisocyanates and dimethylformamide. The production of spandex is a highly energy-intensive process that involves the use of hazardous chemicals that can pose health risks to workers and again, wearers. Some people may be allergic to spandex or the chemicals used in its production. Skin irritation, redness, and itching are common symptoms of an adverse reaction to spandex.

Conventional cotton: Now let's talk about conventional cotton, which is the most widely used natural fiber in the textile industry. Although cotton is a natural fiber, the production of conventional cotton involves the use of harmful pesticides, herbicides, and other hazardous chemicals which can have a negative impact on the environment and the health of workers & wearers. These chemicals usually remain in the finished fabric and cause skin irritation and other health issues for consumers, such as reproductive & hormone health complications. 

Modal: Modal and micromodal are made from the pulp of beech trees. Sounds great right? Maybe not. The production of modal involves a chemical process that uses sodium hydroxide, carbon disulfide, and other chemicals. Although modal is considered to be a more eco-friendly and sustainable fabric, its production still involves the use of hazardous chemicals that can pose health risks to workers and wearers. These chemicals can cause skin irritation, respiratory problems, and other health issues. Much like with synthetic fabrics, it is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with prolonged skin exposure to these materials & chemicals.

Viscose: Viscose is is a type of fabric made from wood pulp that goes through a chemical process that involves caustic soda, carbon disulfide, and other chemicals. While viscose is soft, comfortable, and versatile, its production can have negative impacts on the environment, the workers involved in production, and the final wearer due to the use of hazardous chemicals. It can also lead to deforestation and the destruction of natural habitats. People who work in factories that produce viscose fabrics are at a higher risk of exposure to chemicals like carbon disulfide, which can cause skin irritation, headaches, and other health problems. Prolonged skin contact with viscose fabric can also have adverse effects, as you’d expect by now. 

Organic Cotton: Organic cotton farming and production process involves using natural methods that prioritize the health of the environment, the people involved in the production chain, and consumers. It is cultivated without the use of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, or GMO's. Organic cotton farming instead uses crop rotation, natural pest control, and composting techniques to maintain healthy soil and plants. The production process also involves using non-toxic dyes and reducing water usage. Organic cotton is the best choice for the environment, the workers involved, and final consumers because it cuts out exposure to harmful chemicals, supports sustainable agriculture practices, and reduces the environmental impact of cotton production. Choosing organic cotton also supports fair labor practices and helps to promote social responsibility in the fashion industry.

The bottom line: Material matters. We recommend opting for materials that have the least chemically intensive production process possible, like organic cotton. Less chemicals used in manufacturing means less chemicals in the final product. Your garment won’t contain what isn’t used in its production. What you put on your body matters!

That's all for today, NADS blogman, signing off!