Should You Wash New Clothes Before Wearing Them?

The idea of washing brand new clothes before wearing them has become an outdated concept that will simply ruin that fresh new clothes feel or in the case of cheap throwaway fashion from shops such as Primark, the notion completely contradicts the point of buying these clothes in first place.
However, recent studies have highlighted the unpleasant realities of what can be found in new clothes. Even before someone has tried on an item in a shop, the environment it has been stored in and whether it has been kept in a protective plastic cover or not can allow clothes to harbour germs and even mould which are undetectable to the human senses, but which can cause disease or at the very least worsen allergies. Once an item of clothing has been tried on by other people the chance of contamination increases significantly. Tests on a dress bought from a shop found respiratory secretions from coughing and sneezing alongside growing colonies of bacterial flora that can only originate from human skin.
Like the often cited example of an open bowl of peanuts at a bar, you cannot be sure that other people have washed their hands adequately, or at all after going to the toilet. The Division of Microbiology and Immunology at New York University analysed items bought from three different major retail chains in the United States and found evidence of trace amounts of faecal bacteria, genital bacteria and yeasts. Worse still, this was often at levels much higher than you would find from a few unwashed hands touching the aforementioned bowl of nuts.
However, it was acknowledged by the scientists involved in this study that cases of contamination were worse in clothes where a seam covered the arms or the buttocks of the person making contamination much more likely. In addition, they did test several items of clothing that had only negligible traces of contamination and where contamination was detected it was not on a level that would likely cause a problem, as for the majority of people their immune system could tackle any germs they encountered. Finally, despite the detection of fungus that could cause a yeast infection, it was rarely found in sufficient amounts that it could actually infect another person. Ultimately, the recommendations from the Scientists was not to needlessly worry about possible contamination from new clothes, but they do encourage everyone to wash all their new clothes in hot water and with anti-bacterial laundry products to protect themselves, particularly if due to your age or a medical condition you might have a reduced immune response to what might be lurking within the fabric of that recent fashion "must buy".

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