Most of us love new clothes. They are “perfect” – colors are bright, lines are crisp and pristine. So why would you wash them and risk changing the look before you wear them?
Reasons To Wash New Clothes Before Wearing
There are three good reasons to wash new clothes, especially those that are worn in direct contact with your skin, before you wear them.
- One is to wash out extra dye that can be transferred to your skin or other garments. Most fabric made from synthetic fibers (polyester, acrylic) are colored with azo-aniline dyes. These dyes can cause severe skin reactions for those who are allergic to them. If the allergy is severe, the rash will be similar to poison ivy. But even less severe reactions can cause dry, itchy inflamed patches of skin.
- It is possible to transfer lice, scabies, bacteria and fungus from person to person when clothes are tried on. Dressing rooms can become breeding grounds for everything from viruses to athlete’s foot.
- And, most importantly, to remove chemical finishes that manufacturers put on clothes to enhance color or texture. The finishes won’t bother everyone, but if you have sensitive skin you can develop a rash especially in constant contact areas like armpits, collars, cuffs and trouser waists and thighs..
- Urea formaldehyde is often the chemical used to prevent mildew on clothes that have to be shipped from Asia and South America to the United States. It has a very sharp odor that will remain until the garment is washed. One washing will not remove formaldehyde completely but you will reduce the resin significantly.
It is especially important that children’s clothing, especially clothes for babies, be washed before they are worn. Babies are particularly sensitive to chemicals and skin rashes can occur. Select a detergent that is fragrance free and dye free as these can also cause skin reactions. Plus, washing the clothes for children will make them softer and more comfortable to wear.
Washing new bed linens and towels is also important to remove applied chemicals since these come in direct contact with skin. Washing will also improve the absorbency of the fabric by removing surface fiber coatings..
If you have a tag on the garment that reads “wash separately before wearing”, beware of dye transfer and color bleeding. Washing will help remove the excess dye but check the rinse water. If color remains in the water, it make take several washings to get rid of the excess dye so continue to wash separately.
What About Used Clothes?
- Clothing from consignment or thrift stores should always be washed or dry-cleaned before wearing for hygienic purposes and to prevent skin irritation. Even though these clothes have probably been cleaned before, washing in your regular detergent will insure better results for your family.
What Can I Do To Reduce Exposure To Chemicals On Clothing
You can avoid some chemicals by shopping for organically produced natural fiber clothing. But be sure to read labels because not all cotton and linen and wool clothing is created equal. Manufacturers apply chemicals to prevent mildew and natural fibers are particularly vulnerable to mildew if exposed to moisture.