As tempting as it might be to put on a new garment as soon as you buy it, and as much as it looks perfectly ready to wear straight off the rack, you should always wash new clothes before you wear them.
The simple fact is, you don’t know where they have been and what they have come in contact with. Washing before wearing helps to keep your skin safe, and happy skin feels better than new clothes anyway.
Dyes and chemicals
The dyes that are used to manufacture clothing often contain allergens. Some people are allergic to common dyes, but even if you aren’t allergic, you can still develop allergies with regular exposure. Since the dyes are not always rinsed out during the manufacturing process, you should wash the clothing before it is worn.
If you notice red, itchy, or scaly spots, especially in places where you sweat or where there is friction with fabric such as armpits, neck, waist or groin, you should suspect allergens in your clothing as a possible cause. Dyes are not the only culprits when it comes to adverse skin reactions. Many garments have harmful chemicals such as urea formaldehyde resins to prevent mildew and reduce wrinkles. This chemical is legally regulated in terms of how much can be used, but some studies have shown that clothes on the market in the US still exceed the allowed amounts of urea formaldehyde resin. For people who are sensitive to this chemical, the symptoms are often flaky skin, rashes, or eczema.
You might find the perfect outfit hanging on a rack in your local department store, but it probably spent quite a lot of time in plastic bags and in very hot temperatures on the way there. This is an ideal breeding ground for fungus, which can remain in clothing fibers for a long time. If you are at all sensitive to mold, this can be a major health issue. Furthermore, some mold-inhibiting chemicals that are commonly used to prevent fungus growth can cause contact dermatitis.
Germs, bugs, and gross things
The ickiest offenders aren’t the chemicals or dyes that the fabrics are soaked in during the manufacturing process, or even the fungus that might grow in the hot, damp, dark shipping environments. The grossest and scariest danger comes from other people – specifically the other people who have tried on the garment before you. When you wear a garment without washing it, you put yourself at risk for:
- And infectious diseases.
Your health is too important to risk. Always wash new clothes before you wear them. They’ll feel better when they come out of the dryer all warm and bouncy anyway.