There’s something pretty special about putting on fresh-from-the-rail new clobber. Not only is it wrinkle-free, it smells new-clothes fresh and you haven’t had to play shrinkage roulette with the washing machine.
But according to a specialist sticking your clothes in the wash before you even think about putting them on is exactly what we should be doing. And there’s a pretty worrying reason why.
Clothing manufacturing expert Lana Hogue, who teaches classes at Garment Industry 411 told Elle.com that there is more than one reason we should be doing the whole washing before wearing thing. First up, is one you may have considered yourself, that nagging worry that you won’t have been the first person to try on your shiny new garment. And just because someone shares the same taste in Top Shop tailored shorts doesn’t mean they practice the same levels of personal hygiene.
But even if the thought of other people’s germs don’t have you reaching for the washing powder, consider the fact that almost all clothing has been covered with chemicals that can cause some pretty nasty side effects if they come into contact with the skin.
“You should absolutely wash clothes before you wear them,” says Lana. “Especially anything that is right next to the skin or that you will sweat on.”
“Most of the chemicals used in dyeing fabric and putting finishes on yarns that allow them to be processed through spinning equipment are known irritants.”
According to Lana one of the potential risks of these irritants is contact dermatitis, an itchy red rash that pops up anywhere the irritant came in contact near the skin.
But there are other, more potentially serious risks. Ingredients like azo-aniline dyes and formaldehyde resin are fairly common chemicals found in clothing textiles. “Formaldehyde is a category 3 carcinogen, which is the lowest hazard, and the amount is so small that it’s assumed that it won’t remain a threat for very long. But still, who wants to knowingly expose themselves over and over again to carcinogens?” explained Lana.
And all-natural garments aren’t completely risk-free either, because, according to Lana “even natural fibres require caustic chemicals.”
Thankfully, washing items before wearing them can dramatically decrease the likelihood of chemical-induced side effects. Lana advises paying particularly close attention to anything that’s worn directly next to the skin or you’re prone to sweating in because “Sweating opens your pores and allows your skin to absorb the chemicals in clothing.”
So though not putting on that fresh out the packet slogan Tee is a bit of a buzzkill, the germy alternative could be far, far worse. Besides a skin rash would totes destroy your new outfit swagger.