Inside Good Housekeeping Institute's Textiles Lab

Will that umbrella keep you dry in the rain? Is that cashmere sweater worth your money? Just a few of the questions the Good Housekeeping Institute's Textiles Lab answers.

Senior Product Analyst Lexie Sachs says they test anything fiber-based, whether that's clothing and footwear or home furnishings, such as towels and bedding. They also look at accessories like luggage and umbrellas, and paper products like paper towels, tissues, and toilet paper.

Whether it's setting swatches of kids' costumes on fire to test their flammability, checking your rain boots' water resistance or making sure your cashmere doesn't pill (they're big fans of L.L. Bean's cashmere sweaters), the Textiles Lab is where every fabric imaginable is put to the test.

Sachs says they just finished a big leggings test, trying them out on over 100 women. Those women were able to tell the lab whether the leggings were supportive, breathable, comfortable, or if the waistband rolled down. The overall winner was the C9 Champion brand from Target, which costs only $35, compared to some other brands that were close to $100.

A few years ago the lab tested hosiery, looking specifically at black opaque tights. The most expensive pair ($45) and the cheapest pair ($6) tied. Both got the exact same overall score despite the difference in cost.

Making sure kids' Halloween costumes meet federal standards is another big test. A 5-inch swatch of fabric needs to be flame resistant for at least 3.5 seconds. Last year, every costume they tested in the lab passed. But that's not always the case. A few years ago, Sachs says, they found a petticoat lining in a popular costume did not meet federal standards.

If you're shopping for towels, JC Penney Royal Egyptian Cotton Bath Towels retain their color and size and are exceptionally soft. They're also Good Housekeeping Seal holders.

And while you're in the bathroom, this lab also tests toilet paper. Good Housekeeping loves Charmin, which is also a Good Housekeeping Seal holder, always performs well in the labs, and is the softest toilet paper they've seen, Sachs says.

Those are just a few of the things they test in the Textiles, Paper, and Plastic Lab, which also looked at stain-resistant white shirts that use nanotechnology to stay clean, silk pillowcases that prevent bedhead and wrinkles, and the best polycarbonate luggage.

You can check out all of the tests on