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Should you wash new clothes before you wear them? Here's the Verdict!

Updated on April 6, 2018
Pam Morris profile image

Writing is my passion. I have an undying thirst and quest in the field of writing.Some eat, smoke, drink or use drugs when stress, I write.

Most of us are guilty of purchasing a new dress, a pair of pants, blouse, skirt or a shirt from a retail store and wearing it before we wash them. This is a very shared, and typical reaction of most people as many fabrics appear pristine when they are brand new hanging on the rack. For that reason, many assume the clothes are clean, but some disturbing compounds are lurking on the fabric. Moreover, the germs new garments carry is merely one important reason to consider washing before wearing.

First and foremost, just because a blouse looks faultless and a dress or pair pants look elegant and white hanging in the store, does that means you should not wash them before wearing? Could there be hidden toxic in new clothes? Are we making ourselves sick because we wear new clothes before washing them? I advise all to beware of the nasty bacteria hiding in the fabric and wash clothes with non-toxic laundry detergent and water before wearing.

Wise consumers hold the saying “wash and wear” at face value and are under awareness that consumers should always take smart saying seriously as it is of significance for new clothing. If you are wondering why should you wash new clothes here's a thought, when I was working in retail I witness a case of lice that were possibly forwarded from trying on clothes in the store. Therefore, it's best to take the time to think about who might have tried on the item of new clothing in the store before you purchase them. The answer also rests on how you feel about catching a rash, possible feeling itching or being put at risk of contracting a disease.

The saying “wash and wear” is a perception that shoppers should always consider as straight-talking, although people can’t listen to all proverb, in reality, the saying “wash and wear” is right for washing new clothing. For new garments, you wear next to your skin it is best to take the time to machine wash or dry clean them before wearing. For obvious reasons the retail clerk return items, people have worn with the tag on it and revert to the rack before you purchase them.

Although some may feel like they should wash new clothes “occasionally" or it only applies to specific items rather than risk the possibility of hidden toxic sources in new clothes, an allergic reaction or getting an irritated rash take precaution by always washing new clothes before you wear them. Also, let’s keep in mind that the dressing rooms are a breeding ground for lice, bacteria, and fungus. Furthermore, just because a dress, blouse, skirt, shirt or pants look very nice hanging in a department store on a rack does not mean it clean and safe to wear the item before dry cleaning or washing it.

Some people purchase new clothes and automatic feel it is safe to wear them before washing them. They do not consider the germs and hidden toxic that are hiding out in the fabric. According to clothing technical expert, Lana Hogue, “It is mandatory to wash new clothes before wearing them. Moreover, sometimes it best to wash clothes twice before wearing. Especially garments that are right next to the skin or appeal that you will perspire on. Did you know sweating open your pores? The perspiring allows the skin to absorb the hazardous chemical from the clothes into your skin. Greenpeace chemicals expert Manfred Santen shared, “chemicals can be found in everything from exclusive luxury designs to budget fashion.”

To begin with, most of us go shopping because we do not have the time nor the capability to sew our own clothes. Primarily after a day of shopping most people — can’t wait to try on their new clothes in the bedroom and model them in the mirror. However, it an important step concerning buying new clothes many neglects. I made this same mistake until I accept a position in a retail store as assistant manager and watched so many different people try things on, now I throw everything in the washer immediately after buying them.

Unless you prefer to live on the wild side new clothes should always be sent through the washing machine — because, despite what garment look like, even the cleanest-looking, newly- hang up fabrics are not really clean. So it vital to make it a point to get in the habit of washing all new garments before wearing them. A 2010 Study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office shows new clothes purchased by consumers surpassed permissible amounts of the chemical’s resin and may cause reddened, dry, itchy of the skin.

When you come to an agreement on shopping for clothes whether they are new items, consignment or thrift shopping, it necessary to consider the terms of hygiene, germs and hidden toxic that are hiding out in the fabric. Expecting mothers and today’s mothers have a responsibility to take good care of themselves and the children, especially since children are the most vulnerable to toxic chemicals.

Many safety precautions should be taken like researching information on new clothes and chemical; how to protect yourself from the damage chemicals can do to the skin. For a reason, it harms human skin from the textile production processes “finishing” placed in the fabric. The “finishing” consists of chemical, and it protects and rids the wrinkles, germs, and stains that are living in the supply rooms or factories.

Unless you are a shopaholic, at least four times a year or more you need to purchase new clothes. So you go to the mall or a department store to upgrade your wardrobe. After finding the ideal dress, shirt or pants, you are ready to wear the clothing. Especially if you're feeling particularly impatient, you can’t wait to tear the tags off the clothes and show them off for friends and family to see. According to close watchers of the global textile and clothing industry, “New clothes should always be properly washed before wearing because several hidden toxic sources in new clothes have become more than a passing concern.”

Study show that even with a garment that is label provenance, many include materials that were made in one country, dyed in another and stitched together in a third, each with varying laws about allowable levels of chemical use. When most individual purchase new clothes, they expect them to be unworn, but that is not at all times the case, sometimes the item is a return that the local manager has placed right back on the sale floor on the rack.

This reason alone is a good enough reason to dry clean the item un-washable and wash the clothes that are washable before wearing, below are other reason why it mandatory to wash new clothes before wearing them. Here're reasons why it is mandatory for consumers to wash new clothes before wearing them:

  • Greenpeace tested clothing in 2012 and 2014 from fashion brands like American Apparel, Gap, Levi’s and children’s clothes makers to find dangerous chemicals in at least one item from every brand tested.
  • Clothes are not always storage properly and trying on clothes allow lice to linger inside the fabric. To make sure you safe and free of mites it important to wash or dry clean new clothes before wearing them.
  • New clothes contain material that is dyed with toxic chemicals that will cause dry, itchy and severe skin effect. It is important to wash first to eliminate a severe skin reaction.
  • New clothes are heavy soaked in chemicals to provide clothing with a permanent press effect and to hinder mildew development.
  • New clothes are covered with formaldehyde to prevent mildew and wrinkling during shipping that will cause irritation and a bad rash to sensitive skin.
  • Sudden chemical especially the chemical used on new jeans will poison the skin and can even cause death.

Beware of hidden toxin and harmful chemical sources in new clothes

New clothing clings to the skin, and it is attached to our biggest organ. Also, new clothes are soaked with toxic chemicals for treating clothing threads and similarly for fabricating garments. Did you know 14 of the most significant designation get their apparel from the new garments factories? Two of the most toxic chemicals used to treat the clothes are substances like azo-aniline dye and formaldehyde resin. The azo-aniline dye is used to stain clothes, mainly synthetic fabrics; the formaldehyde resin prevents wrinkling and limiting mildew during delivery.

The azo-aniline dyes and formaldehyde resins can trigger skin itchiness in certain individuals or an advanced allergic response in others. But those are not the only risks. According to Donald Belsito, a professor of dermatology at Columbia University, “new store bought clothes that are clean-looking clothes aren't so clean. The professor also said, "he had seen cases of lice that were possibly transmitted from trying on clothes in the store, and certain infectious diseases can be passed on through clothing."

What's chemicals are in new clothing?

The clothing factories use Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE) which are a commonly used clothing chemical that is toxic. Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE) are used as some detergents in textile industries with hormone-disrupting properties that are similar to BPA. P-Phenylenediamine (PPD) is another commonly used clothing chemical that is found in black clothing and dyes for leathers which often produce allergic reactions. It is also a toxic chemical that can be commonly found in towels, bedding and nightwear.

New Clothes Protection Tips; How to protect yourself

Before purchasing new clothing read the labels and be particularly suspicious of no-iron, wrinkle free and preshrunk clothes–try to avoid rayon, nylon, polyester, acrylic, and acetate or Ttiacetate material. However, if you want to purchase clothes made of this material make sure to wash, even best to wash twice with organic detergents before wearing. For clothes that need to be dry clean do not go to a dry cleaner that is still using perchloroethylene that has been banned. Ask the cleaner if they use the banned perchloroethylene if they do go to another dry cleaner to prevent an experience of horrible itchiness or terrible rashes that come free with the purchase of new clothes that are not adequately washed or dry clean.

While it is imperative to wash all new clothes before wearing them, it is also vital to know new clothes are not the only thing that consists of chemicals that can chafe in your skin...Beware of hidden toxic sources in laundry detergent. The study shows some laundry detergent include toxic chemicals. To not spread it in the clothes switch to non-toxic laundry detergent and rewash all clothes before wearing them. Until all of the dye or toxic chemicals is entirely washed out of clothes, wearers might notice they are itching or have red, scaly rashes on the skin.

Should you wash new clothes before wearing them?

After reading this article what are your thoughts when it comes to should new clothes be washed before wearing?

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Always wash before wearing New Clothes!

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Many clothing items are also contaminated with chemicals and dyes that may lead to irritation or other health issues.
traveler's diarrhea
formaldehyde resins
New clothes are soaked with dye. The dye are dark or bright dyes that are heavy soak which will run off into the skin causing skin irritation and a serious rash
norovirus
Nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE)
Lice and scabies could potentially be transmitted by trying on clothes before washing

© 2016 Pam Morris

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    • Pam Morris profile image
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      Pam Morris 18 months ago from Atlanta Georgia

      Thank you for your reply, it greatly appreciated. I hope this article are of good use to whoever read it.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 18 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very useful information about precautions to be taken while wearing new clothes. I do not buy readymade garments, except underwears which are not tried for purchase by anyone.

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