Why you need to wash new clothes before wearing them, according to a dermatologist

Don't take any chances

Chelsea Ritschel
in New York
Tuesday 20 February 2018 19:20 GMT

It may be hard to resist putting on your new outfit as soon as you leave the store but a dermatologist has revealed why you absolutely need to wash new clothes first.

In addition to being unsanitary - think of all the people that handled them before you - wearing new clothes without first throwing them in the wash can also lead to some pretty gross consequences.

According to Donald Belsito, a professor of dermatology at Columbia University Medical Center, wearing unwashed store-bought garments can lead to skin irritation, scabies, lice, or even fungus.

Because, while you may love the dress, the previous person who tried it on could have hated it - and also been a carrier of lice.

Speaking on the Today show, Belsito recalled occasions where both lice and scabies were “possibly transmitted from trying on in the store.”

And if bugs weren’t bad enough, store-bought clothes can also be host to a variety of chemicals that can wreak havoc on your skin.

According to dermatologist Lindsey Bordone from Columbia University Medical Center, washing new clothes before wearing, even if they are ordered online, is crucial.

She told Self: “When clothes are shipped, they’re also kept with some preservatives so that mould won’t grow on them during the shipping process if there’s moisture.”

New clothing can have lice or skin-irritating chemicals
New clothing can have lice or skin-irritating chemicals

One of these chemicals happens to be formaldehyde resins - commonly used in clothing to prevent mildew and keep garments wrinkle-free.

But aside from less ironing time, clothes with formaldehyde in the fabric can cause severe reactions such as eczema when placed on the skin - especially when the formaldehyde exceeds allowable levels of the chemical, which unfortunately occurs.

According to the Wall Street Journal, who studied a 2010 study by the US Government Accountability Office, this excess formaldehyde use in clothing happens despite strict regulations.

And dyes in clothing can also cause allergic reactions.

Formaldehyde resin used to keep clothes wrinkle-free can lead to eczema
Formaldehyde resin used to keep clothes wrinkle-free can lead to eczema

However, most of these issues can be easily avoided by washing clothing before wearing.

Because, although board-certified dermatologist Will Kirby told Self: “You’re more likely to get an infection from touching the door handle walking into the shop then you are from actually putting on the clothes,” it is better to be safe than sorry.

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