Do you really need to wash new clothing before you wear it?
It looks bright and clean, but once you’ve ripped the labels off your new clothing, should you be running it through the wash before you show off your new garms?
Most of us think about this when we’re dressing newborn babies – protecting sensitive skin, washing their new sleepsuits in non-biological detergent and proudly folding their tiny babygrows in preparation for the new arrival… but we don’t afford ourselves the same level of care when we buy new clothes for older children and adults.
It’s likely your clothing has been on a long journey since manufacture – and during those travels a huge number of people come in close contact with the fabric. Not only can various bugs get transported on the materials used, but there are also some chemicals and toxins present, that you should really be aware of.
That box fresh new smell on the clothing you’ve just purchased? That’s formaldehyde.
Formaldehyde is used on garments to reduce creasing and to ward off mildew. This chemical can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions. Long term exposure to formaldehyde has also been associated with an increase in cancer risk.
Other alarming traces on fabrics can include caustic soda, bromines, sulfuric acid, sulphonamides, halogens and urea resins, as well as disinfectants. All of these toxins can aggravate your skin, leaving you itching or sore. Long-term build-up of all these nasties has been linked to serious chronic health ailments.
The best thing to do is wash your brand new clothing and bedding, following the label’s care instructions, to get rid of toxin residues.
To keep them their best, remove tags, turn articles inside out, fasten any buttons or zips, and use gentle detergents. Look out for stray red socks when you’re doing a light-coloured load too! Don’t forget to dry outside wherever possible, or keep ventilation a top priority if you need to air-dry clothing inside your house.