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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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Back in the late 70s/80s I wouldn’t wash before wearing, but since having kids and working in the textile industry, I sure do now. Exactly for the reasons above.
only problem with this though is when you buy that special outfit, the one that will lose its deep colour, or new look.. or needs dry cleaning..
I was very wary of buying medications too, after working for a pharmaceutical manufacturer in the mid 80s.. things have changed now,thankfully.


I would Never; wear anything that I
without washing the item I know that they have germs.


I was not aware of all thise reasond, but I do always wash my garments before wearing. My husband was always insistent on this. He wore a pair of new blue jeans as a young boy. Was hit by a car and the doctor told his mother to take him home and give him a bath! She was very livid because he wadn’ t dirty as much as the dye had cokored his skin.


New clothes treatment: put on waterproof gloves, soak clothes in cold water about 10 minutes with a color catcher product (looks like a dryer sheet). Wash with a regular load of clothes, again with a color catcher sheet. Quite a surprise to see how much dye is transferred to the C. C. S.! Sometimes put new clothing item in dryer by itself. The pandemics have taught us to be more watchful and protective. As a former chemist, it’s better to take precautionary steps than to be sorry later. Thanks for your helpful input always.


For as long as I can remember, my mother worked in the garment industry. She always suggested washing before wearing. She even shared the conditions of the factories in the US as well as overseas. But I loved the look of clothes prior to wearing and mostly ignored her warnings until she made a believer out of me. Pregnant with my first child I had been gifted with a ton of clothing. I had purchased a mini washer and mom insisted washing all of the items. Because the drainage of the water went into the sink, to my horror the dirt from the washing was apparent. The water was dark and smelly. From that point on I was sold, everything washed before wearing! Momma knew best!!

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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