Do You Wash New Clothes Before You Wear Them?

8:29 AM

So many people I know (including myself in the past), have lived under the assumption that you should be able to wear clothes that you just bought from the store without worry.  Despite the dark wash on jeans changing the color of your underwear or a brightly pigmented shirt causing your bra to turn into an off-pinkish shade, many women and men still buy clothes and wear them when they get home.  I must confess that I'm sometimes that person, guilty of assuming clothes I've just bought are safe to wear.

I was on Facebook last night and was reading one of those reblogged a gillion times news stories about a woman contracting parasites from wearing clothes that she had just bought but not washed.  Now, I'm a realistic person...I realize that it may not actually have been the clothes that gave her parasites but it may have been something else but nonetheless, doing some research on how safe just bought store clothes are is quite sobering...

Now if you think about it, there are chemicals not just from the dyes in our clothes and fabrics but there are also chemicals in the towels and sheets we purchase (like formaldehyde and urea resin) which the manufacturer claims they put on the fabric to "protect it from stains, keep it wrinkle free, etc.".  To be honest though, I always wash my sheets and towels before using because I can't stand the texture of the fabric from those items just out of box or off the shelf.  I need to wash it to get it softer and to give it the smell I prefer when I lay my head on my pillow.

Clothing though.. was a different story.  I often welcomed that "new clothes" smell and would wear items the day I purchased it.  I never gave much thought to the person or numerous people that had possibly tried on that very same shirt, dress, jeans, bra, bathing suit, whatever before I had and what diseases or bad hygiene they may have had.  Yuck...  Sometimes I'd come home and wash clothes because it helps keep the colors from fading and the clothes from shrinking if you wash before wear but that occurred maybe 50 percent of the time.  If you read the tags on your new clothes, most of them say "wash before wearing".  There's a reason for that.  How do you know that a person who has fungal problems hasn't just tried on that very same neon pink darling top you just grabbed off the rack?  How do you know that the bathing suit you're about to try on hasn't been tried on by someone who didn't properly clean themselves after going to the bathroom?  Scary thoughts that can make your head spin.

As a parent, this is especially concerning because you don't want anything harmful going on your child.  When my son was a baby I washed literally  E V E R Y T H I N G  he put on meticulously because I wanted to make sure it didn't irritate his skin.  As he's grown older and is nearly a tween, I've gotten rather lax in that capacity... up till now that is... It is truly truly frightening to consider what germs, chemicals, diseases may be on the fabric of the clothes you purchased off the rack.  You also shouldn't assume that because you shopped at a "high end" retailer that the clothes are cleaner because I know quite a few "rich people" with disgustingly bad hygiene.

Bottom line, if you are purchasing any clothes or other fabric items that you are going to wear/dry yourself with/sleep in, WASH IT FIRST!  Better to be safe than sorry.  I have an image of the parasite ridden woman burned forever in my brain and will not be sharing it here because I wouldn't want to expose any of you to that.  Yuck.

Here is an article from Good Morning America about this very topic.
 Google it, there is a ton of info (lots of it is gross) on the interweb about why you must wash before wear!

How Clean Are Your New Clothes? Find Out

By Andrea Canning and Rich McHugh

When you buy new clothes, you expect them to be new, not already worn by someone else. But that's not always the case.

Consider what happens after you return a pair of pants or a blouse. Often it goes right back on the rack, to be resold instead of staying in the back room, retail experts told "Good Morning America."

"The customer probably gets the wool pulled over their eyes. … A lot of people just come home and if it has a tag attached, they think it's brand new and they wear it," Tori Patrick, a former retail saleswoman, said. "You really never know where it's been." To see how clean some "new" clothes were, "GMA" bought everything from blouses to pants to underwear from three popular chain clothing stores ranging from high- to low-end and handed them over to Dr. Philip Tierno, director of microbiology and immunology at New York University, to test the 14 items for germs. Tierno found disturbing results. There was flora, or bacteria, on several items.

"On this black and tan blouse we found representation of respiratory secretions, skin flora, and some fecal flora," Tierno said.

On a jacket, Tierno discovered evidence of feces, skin flora and respiratory secretions, especially in the armpit and "close to the buttocks," Tierno said. The biggest surprise came when Tierno tested a silk blouse. There, he said, he found vaginal organisms, yeast and more fecal germs. Tierno said a couple of the items had extremely high counts of germs, far above normal.

"Some garments were grossly contaminated with many organisms … indicating that either many people tried it or ... someone tried it on with heavy contamination," he said. "In a sense, you are touching somebody's arm pit or groin. So you want to be protected that's all.
"You may not come down with anything and, most cases you don't, but it's potentially possible," he added.

Wash or Dry New Clothes

The organisms can survive weeks or even months on clothes, Tierno said. Contracting a yeast infection this way is highly unlikely, though possible, experts say. And with the evidence of feces, viruses could also be passed along. "A very bad type of diarrhea -- you can also transmit things like the norovirus, stomach virus. You can transmit things like MRSA [a staph bacteria]," Tierno said.

"Most people are unaware and think that they can't really catch anything from these clothes because they are dry, they are on the rack and they are new. They are not realizing that numerous individuals try them on and contact certain parts of their body that may transmit potential pathogens."

In order to protect yourself from harmful bacteria, Tierno recommended washing your new clothes or running them through one cycle in a hot dryer before wearing them. He also suggested wearing clothes underneath while trying on new clothes and washing your hands after shopping.

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