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Should You Wash New Clothing Items Before Wearing Them?

By Sandra Roussy February 11, 2024 Beauty

The simple answer to that question is yes. But have you ever wondered why it is recommended that you wash your clothes before wearing them for the first time?

Have you ever developed a rash a few days after wearing a brand-new clothing item? Has this been happening more frequently? As we get older, our skin tends to thin and become more sensitive. We may react more easily to irritants now more than ever.

There are a few reasons why washing your new garment before putting it in contact with your skin for an extended period of time is a good idea.

Why Wash Your New Clothes?

Excess Dyes

One of the most common reasons to wash your new item is because of the residual and extra dyes that are on the garments that can transfer to your skin and alleviate the chances of provoking allergic contact dermatitis.

This can cause a rash that can last for several days or even weeks. This skin reaction can happen out of the blue even if you have worn unwashed new clothing items in the past. Synthetic fabrics, like polyester and nylon, are fabrics that seem to harbor the most excess dyes.

It is suggested that you wash your new item separately before including it with your regular wash, but if this is not possible a Sixty & Me reader suggested washing your new clothing items with color catcher sheets, like Shout® Color Catcher Dye-Trapping Sheet

Shout® Color Catcher Dye-Trapping Sheet

These sheets help to soak up and capture stray dyes from new clothing in your laundry, protecting your other garments from potential harm caused by color bleeding. The sheets also provide protection and longevity of the vibrant colors of your clothing. Thanks for the suggestion!

Chemicals and Fabric Treatments

Chemicals used in producing fabrics and manufacturing garments can be irritating to the skin and even harmful to your health. The apparel industry doesn’t have the cleanest slate when it comes to health and environmental concerns. Fabric treatments and finishes, like anti-wrinkles for example, can irritate sensitive skin. The treatment applied fades over time with regular washes.

Dust and Allergens

Clothes can accumulate dust, dirt, and allergens during transportation and storage. Washing helps to remove these particles, making the clothes cleaner and more comfortable to wear, especially if you have allergies or sensitivities.

Not as New as You Think

Is your new garment really new? Chances are the item has been tried on in the store before you purchased it. It may have even been bought, worn, and returned. Also, many hands have touched your new clothing item before it made it to your closet; from the apparel workers to the shop employees.

People carry bacteria, fungi, and even insects on their bodies (yes, even you). Although chances are low, you may increase the risk of contracting an infection from a garment.

Insider Facts

I worked in the apparel industry for over 20 years and part of my job as a fashion designer was to have fit samples and approved samples delivered to my office before production. These are essentially the same garments that, after approval, are manufactured the same way the sample was and then shipped to the stores.

I have opened boxes of surprises a few times over the years. I once had a stowaway. A small iguana-type animal had hitched a ride all the way from China to Canada. This little guy didn’t make it, but he sure left behind his natural bodily matter on the samples. Other times, samples smelled of smoke or had other unpleasant odors.

Bottom Line, Wash Before Wearing

Now that I have probably scared the bejesus out of you, you know the main reasons for washing clothes before wearing them for the first time. Read the care label on the garment and wash according to the instructions and have peace of mind.


Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you always wash your new garments before wearing them? Did you know all these reasons why you should wash your new clothing items? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

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Mara Chorneyko

For many years I always work clothes straight from the store and actually preferred that because I didn’t want them to lose their shape or color. Then I got sick from two toxic molds after a hurricane and which brought me to severe chemical sensitivity. Even with that I still kept wearing clothes straight out of the store. Then it came to time and even to present where I absolutely cannot wear clothes unwashed. In fact, I have to wash them three times before I can even wear them. This really stunts my shopping and my wardrobe. When I get the fabric preservative on my hands it does not wash off for several days it gets in my hair, dishwasher, bedding, and everywhere else any surface I touch. Most people think I’m crazy when I tell them I have to wash things several times but I actually know two other people who have a similar problem. That’s not to mention that I have a compromised immune system which doesn’t do well with other people’s touch or handling of the clothing. I so appreciate this article because most people are totally oblivious to this.


I always wash new clothes before wearing them. That’s because I imagine the clothes being thrown onto factory floors or other surfaces during production. You never know what dirt, dust and contaminants may have gotten onto them.


Same here. Factory and workshop floors are not clean!

Jackie Pretorius

I always wash before wear as factories are filthy places and clothes lay in heaps on the floors while being made
You never know what lurks in the seams of garments, who has tried it on or even worn it before it just sits better when washed


Always have washed or dry cleaned before wearing because of the majority of reasons mentioned especially the people factor ! Many people are just nasty lol


Thanks. I knew the answer; but was hoping for a different answer regarding dry cleaned.

Katherine Carrigan

Especially childrens clothing and toys from other countries (now days all!) need to be washed or at least surface cleaned. You do not know the conditions in the factory or shipping, so don’t take chances.

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The Author

Sandra is the middle-aged woman you hear about who sheds everything she owns and sets out into the world to rediscover and redefine herself. After more than twenty years spent in the fashion industry designing collections for brands such as La Senza, Victoria’s Secret, and JACOB Lingerie, she shifted her path and pursued her longtime passion for writing, traveling, and photography. Sandra was published in the NY Times best selling book Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It. A deeply personal essay hand-picked by Elizabeth Gilbert about loss, facing fears, and going after dreams. Visit her website:

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