Do You Really Need to Wash New Clothes Before Wearing?
When you buy new clothes (or receive them as a gift!), the urge to try them on and wear them right away might be overwhelming. But before you show off that new look, make sure you wash everything first! Find out why experts in textile manufacture, dermatology, and immunology recommend that you always wash new clothes before wearing them.
What is on your brand-new clothes?
Clothes today are pretty versatile. They’re more colorful, softer, easier to keep clean, and need way less ironing than many of the fabrics we used in generations past. Today’s clothing can even fight off mold and mildew, wick sweat, and repel stains. But like all superpowers, your wardrobe’s beauty comes at a price.
Those intense colors, wrinkle-free pants, and stain-resistant shirts owe their resilience to chemicals that can be extremely harsh on our skin. The fashion industry and textile manufacturers often use dispersal dyes, formaldehyde, and finishing resins to make clothes that look great and last in storage. What does all that mean for you? Studies have found that those compounds and chemicals (dyes, resins, etc.) are still present in significant amounts when you take your new clothes home.
For some people, these substances can give their skin red, itchy, dry patches, or even severe reactions similar to poison ivy. The symptoms may pop up within hours or a few days after wearing the garment and can last for weeks. Dermatologists call this condition textile contact dermatitis, and they say that washing new clothes before you wear them can significantly reduce your exposure to the offending chemicals.
Preventing that “new clothes itch”
The best way to prevent rubbing all those compounds on your skin? Always wash new clothes before wearing them. Check the labels for unique laundering instructions to keep your new clothes looking their best — without risking your skin. If an item says, “wash separately,” take it seriously. It probably contains dispersal dyes, which are one of the most common culprits of textile contact dermatitis.
If you have allergy-prone or sensitive skin, you may find that certain types of clothing give you fewer problems. Natural fibers with less vibrant dyes may contain fewer irritants than their bright or synthetic counterparts. A looser fit can also help, as it tends to cause less contact and friction. You may want to avoid wrinkle-free and stain-resistant garments as well, as these properties depend on strong chemicals.
Unfortunately, however, until there are labeling laws to force clothing manufacturers to disclose the chemicals used in their processes, you may never know exactly what compounds are on your new clothes. The washing machine — and a natural, gentle, yet still effective laundry detergent — remains your best line of defense to significantly reduce whatever treatments have been used before you put new clothes on.
Charlie’s Soap Secret Tip: To ensure you avoid dermatitis or irritation from dyes, resins, and even dust, we recommend you wash new clothes with Charlie’s Soap laundry detergent at least twice before wear. Especially if your new clothes are brightly colored, or you have new denim with dark dye. This allows the clothes to wash clean of extra “product,” and removes buildup from other cleaners or detergents.
Does washing new clothes before wearing really help?
Dermatology and immunology experts agree that washing new clothes before you wear them is your best bet to reduce your exposure to skin-irritating compounds. Of course, the key is to use detergents and high-efficiency washing machines that help to remove those residues and chemicals.
Charlie’s Soap contains no dyes, perfumes, or softeners, and leaves behind no residue. You get a simple, effective detergent that removes dirt, stains and harmful residues every time you wash. Trust Charlie’s Soap to make your new clothes safer and to keep your favorites clean and bright. Check out our gentle line of laundry products: clean-rinsing, additive-free washing liquids, powders, stain-removers, and oxygen bleach.