Wash Your New Clothes Before Wearing Them


Red lacy lingerie on black background

Most people don’t think about where an item of new clothing has been before it comes into their possession.  It is exciting the first time you wear a new article of clothing;  it looks fresh and the fabric is perfect.  It seems a shame to launder it before you wear it; it does not look the same after that first wash.  But beware, most garments are not made in the USA where certain standards have to be conformed to and can be labeled one country of origin but maybe not all the steps to make that garment were performed in one place!   The fabric could have been made in one location, then dyed in another and stitched together in a third, each with varying laws about allowable levels of chemical use and quality control.

Here are a few reasons to wash those clothes before you wear them:

1. Itchy, Scaly, Red Skin

There are two major culprits when it comes to allergic reactions to new clothing: dye and formaldehyde resin.

Until much of the dye is rinsed out — usually in more than one washing — some wearers might notice red, itchy, scaly rashes, especially near the areas where there is friction or sweating.

Formaldehyde resins are used to prevent cotton-polyester blends from wrinkling and to limit mildew.

Allergic contact dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis, forms of eczema, can be caused by wearing fabrics containing the anti-wrinkle chemical.

2. Hidden Surprises

You never know what sorts of germs or mites can be living in the confines of the weave.  You don’t know how they were transported, how long they sat there, who made their home in them.

There have been cases of lice that were possibly transmitted from trying on in the store; or catching a ride in transit and there are certain infectious diseases that can be passed on through clothing.

3. Hot in Here

Many factories pack chemical satchels into boxes or bags to absorb moisture during the shipping process and to keep fungus from growing especially when it is humid.  But, fungus can hang around for a while and you may be the unlucky one to put that garment next to your skin.

It is better to be smart and wash your clothes a couple of times before you wear them.  With international commerce, safeguard your skin and limit your exposure to unwanted guests, bacteria and irritation.

Source: Wall Street Journal, 5/19/15
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