Do You Actually Need To Wash New Clothes?

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Are you a person who can't wait to put on that new sundress or swimsuit you just received in the mail? Do you come straight home from a department store and throw on your new graphic tee without letting it see your washing machine first? There is really nothing like the crisp feeling of brand new jeans freshly purchased from the store. However, before you put on your new clothes, experts say you may want to reconsider wearing them before washing.


Although our newly purchased items are new to us, they've been handled by many people and have been exposed to countless chemicals before they arrive at your door (via InStyle). Some of these chemicals used to preserve the material or dye your clothes a certain color are so toxic they can cause painful rashes, itchy skin, or even impact your breathing (via Time Magazine). Before you don that new romper you just purchased, you should consider letting it see your washer and dryer. Your skin will thank you.

What is in our clothing?

While there are some companies who have and follow voluntary regulations regarding the chemicals they allow around their products, even more companies put our clothing through a plethora of chemicals. Chemicals like antimicrobial treatments to prevent mold and flame retardant treatments are covering the clothes you purchase to keep them safe in warehouses (via Forbes).


According to Forbes, formaldehyde is the most dangerous chemical used in clothing production. (Yes, the same one used in body embalming.) While many countries have restrictions against formaldehyde, the U.S. is not one of them. In addition to formaldehyde, factories have other hazardous chemicals flying around the air that can attach themselves easily to garments (via HuffPost).

Chemicals like quinoline, a carcinogen that has been linked with causing cancerous tumors in mice, have been reported in many garments tested by researchers from the University of Stockholm (via Time Magazine). These harmful chemicals can do more than just irritate our skin, they can impact our lives long-term. In addition, companies that specialize in outdoor wear are especially toxic. Clothing that helps repel water relies on chemicals that act like non-stick cooking sprays making water bead up and fall off rather than infiltrate the material (via Mother Jones). With all of these chemical-laced products, it may be hard to know exactly what to do to keep you and your family safe.


What to do before you wear your new clothes

For some, decontamination of new clothing will only take a simple wash or two in free and clear laundry detergent to make them less irritating to the skin. For others with more serious sensitivities, it may take a few washes in hot water. Still, others may require an extensive airing out timeframe outdoors before letting them see a washing machine (via Chemical Free Among Friends).


Most fabrics can hold up through multiple washes. Materials such as cotton or polyester are tough enough to stand the test of time. However, more delicate materials like silk won't, so airing out may be the only option (via Chemical Free Among Friends). Some researchers recommend turning your clothing inside out when washing to attack the hidden chemicals that could be lacing the inside of the fabric (via HuffPost).

Clothing consumers can also look into specific companies' chemical regulations. Companies like Nike and H&M have taken steps toward outlining their company-specific regulations to keep customers safe. When manufacturers take the steps to research what is going into their garments, clothing purchasers can be calmed knowing that there have been tests in place to protect them from countless carcinogens.


No matter what, the consensus seems to be that purchasers need to at least put the clothing through a wash before wearing it. No matter how exciting it is to finally get the garments you've been waiting for, your health will benefit from taking the extra steps to rid the fabrics of harmful chemicals.