by Staff writer
We all love new clothes! They are “perfect”– colors are still bright, lines are crisp and pristine and there is that special joy that comes from knowing you are the clothes’ very first.
A lot of people like to think that unlike second-hand clothes (okirika), new clothes need not be washed before they are worn.
But this is false!
Here are 3 good reasons why you need to wash new clothes, especially pieces like underwear or t-shirts and shorts, before you wear them:
1. To get rid of extra dye
One reason to wash new clothes is to wash out extra dye that can be transferred to your skin or other garments. Most fabrics made from synthetic fibers (polyester, acrylic) are colored with azo-aniline dyes. These dyes can cause severe skin reactions for people, especially small children, who are allergic to them. If the allergy is severe, the rash will be similar to poison ivy. But even less severe reactions can cause dry, itchy inflamed patches of skin.
2. To get rid of germs
That’s right – new clothes can have germs. It is possible to transfer lice, scabies, bacteria, and fungus from one person to another person when clothes are tried on. Dressing rooms can become breeding grounds for everything from viruses to athlete’s foot. Why take that risk?
3. To get rid of harmful chemicals
New clothes should be washed to remove the chemical finishes like Urea formaldehyde that manufacturers put on clothes to enhance color or texture. The finishes won’t bother everyone, but if you have sensitive skin, you can develop a rash especially in constant contact areas like armpits, collars, cuffs, and trouser waists and thighs.
Urea formaldehyde is often the chemical used to prevent mildew from forming on clothes that have to be shipped long distances in hot, humid containers from Asia and South America to somewhere else.
It has a very sharp odor that will remain in the fabric until the garment is washed. One washing will probably not remove all of the formaldehyde but you will reduce the resin significantly, and it will continue to be removed with each wash.
It is especially important that children’s clothing, especially clothes for babies, be washed before they are worn.
Babies are particularly sensitive to chemicals, and skin rashes can occur. Select a detergent that is fragrance-free and dye free because detergent dyes and scents can also cause skin reactions.
Lastly, washing new clothes for children will make them softer and more comfortable to wear.