Why you should always wash new clothes


If you're like a lot of people who wear new clothes before washing them, you may be wearing a lot more than just clothes. There's a long process between producing fabric and walking out of a store with a new garment, and during that process there are a lot of hands involved -- not to mention all the people who tried on the garment prior to the sale.

Dr. Donald Belsito, a professor of dermatology at Columbia University, told the Wall Street Journal lice and infectious diseases can be passed through clothing and that it should be mandatory to wash things at least once, sometimes twice.

"In terms of hygiene, it's a very good thing to do," said Dr. Belsito. "Being a dermatologist, I've seen examples of some strange stuff, so I don't take any chances."

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However, the most important reasons to wash prior to wearing are the dyes and formaldehyde resins used to produce clothing. Wall Street Journal contributor Heidi Mitchell sat down with WSJ Live to discuss the chemicals commonly found in new clothes.
"The big ones to watch for are azo-aniline dyes which are used on synthetic fabrics to color them," Mitchell told WSJ Live's Tanya Rivero. "Also, Urea formaldehyde which is in anything that's wrinkle-free. If you're allergic you can get pretty bad allergies. [...] For the rest of us, it can just be irritating."

Not only is it important to wash new clothing, it's also kind of important to continue washing clothes after you've worn them. CNN's Anderson Cooper made the news in 2012 after he publicly stated he only washes his jeans every four to six months. Fashion consultant Stacy London surprised the host on "Anderson Live" with the results of a test done on a pair of his jeans which concluded Cooper's jeans were a biohazard.