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Should You Wash New Clothing Items Before Wearing Them?

By Sandra Roussy January 23, 2023 Makeup and Fashion

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.

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.

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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My brother got crabs just trying on a pair of dress pants in a high-end store. ICK,! Alway wash well.


Usually I wash them first. But if it is bought Ina boutique I sometimes don’t. But reading this article I think I should. Thanks for sharing. Be blessed.

Mark Butterfuss

I grandma told me to wash items before I wore them and I still do it today! You never know who has had them before you got it,another reason I don’t try things on in the store. Nobody at Wallieworld is checking my clothes for who knows what. Always do as your grandmother taught you!


Helll yes, only way to go would never wear anything without washing, knew all these things pretty logical, too many are lazy, my boyfriend n others argue with me its stupid, then they complained of itching. Nothing changed they still stuck to their guns not necessary. It’s a shame they wont open their eyes to the facts of truth telling me I over react and are silly.


What about clothes that need to be dry cleaned?


I’m no expert on dry cleaning, however I know that they use nasty chemicals.
After my wool coat was handed back to me from a dry cleaner, it was stiff as cardboard & smelt of chemicals .
I took it home , hand washed in in Luke warm water ,spun dried it & it was good as gold ! I do believe there would be other things that could be hand washed instead.
Since then I bought clothes that didn’t need dry cleaning.
There are also spot treatments & fabric freshners that can be used – good luck

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: www.sandraroussy.com

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