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Why You Should Wash New Clothes Before Wearing Them And It’s Not Just Because Of Covid-19

Why You Should Wash New Clothes Before Wearing Them And It’s Not Just Because Of Covid-19

As if harsh chemicals and lice infections are not reason enough.

Maya Suraya

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There may be many reasons why some of us choose not to wash our new clothes before wearing them: shrinking, colour fade, or the time it takes. The reason could even be psychological.

Whatever the motive may be, there is a good reason why we should break this habit.

Not Only Because Of Covid-19

The highly infectious virus may be a major reason these days to wash new clothes before wearing them.

But even before the pandemic, it’s always been important to do so.

Harsh chemicals

(Credit: Cottonique)

New clothing can often contain harmful chemicals which may lead to allergic contact dermatitis, an immune system-related reaction to an allergen that has come into contact with your skin that makes it red, itchy and uncomfortable.

Dr Susan Nedorost says allergic contact dermatitis from clothing is usually caused by disperse dyes that is primarily used in synthetic clothing materials like polyester and nylon. The chemical may be present at higher levels in new unwashed articles of clothing.

Dr Susan is a professor of dermatology at Case Western Reserve University and director of the dermatitis program at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center in the United States.

Allergic reactions aren’t the only issue.

A study in Sweden from 2014 found that a chemical compound called “quinolone” were found on a majority of clothing samples.

US Environmental Protection Agency has classified quinolone as a “possible human carcinogen” based on studies linking it to “tumour-initiating activity” in mice.

Breeding ground for bacteria and more

Human body lice in clothes
(Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – CDC)

There’s no way to know what your ‘new’ clothes have been through at the factory, or who has tried them on before you in the changing rooms.

That said, unwashed clothes could transfer lice, scabies, bacteria, and fungus from one person to another.

Loose dye transfer

Another reason to wash new clothes is to wash out extra dye that can be transferred to your skin or other garments.

This is also a reason why it’s important to wash your clothes according to whites, light-coloured garments and another for dark colours.

It’s especially important to wash undergarments

(Credit: Fahad Waseem / Unsplash)

It is especially important that you wash new undergarments before wearing them as they are always in contact with our skin.

Skincare biochemist Elle Macleman says that not washing your underwear could lead to infections in your genital area, while an unwashed bra could result in mastitis – an infection that develops in the breast tissue that is painful and a risk to mothers who are breastfeeding.


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