Never wear new clothes before washing them

Kristine Tarbert

There is nothing better than finally splurging to buy a new outfit you’ve been eyeing off for weeks.

And while you probably just want to rip the tags off and wear it down the street right now – don’t.

It turns out wearing new clothes straight off the rack isn’t such a good idea, because they could be covered in bacteria from strangers or chemicals that can cause allergic reactions, studies have revealed.

Don't wear new clothes before washing them. Photo: Getty

Philip Tierno, a professor of microbiology and pathology at New York University, has conducted studies to test clothing from popular chain stores, as well as high-end fashion businesses.

He found pieces of clothing with norovirus, bacteria including strep and staph, and even faecal germs.

Source: Giphy

He stressed the number of people that have likely tried on a piece of clothing before you bought it is higher than you might think.

“It’s not four or five or six people; it’s dozens and dozens ... if that garment sits there for weeks or a month,” he said.

You don't know how many people might have tried an item on before you. Photo: Getty

While it varies depending on the store and the clothing item, people can transfer germs via the clothes, especially if the item touches the skin, so it’s important to wash your hands after a session in the fitting room.

While the risk is ‘very low’ of catching an infection this way (unless you have a cut which increases that risk) Tierno recommends washing every item of clothing you buy before wearing it.

Other than bacteria, many pieces of clothing are also treated with chemicals and dyes before being sent to the store, which can lead to allergic reactions in people with sensitive skin.

Chemicals and dyes on clothes can also cause an allergic reaction. Photo: Getty

Most fabrics made from synthetic fibers (polyester, acrylic) are coloured with azo-aniline dyes. These dyes can cause severe skin reactions for people, especially small children, according to The Spruce.

It’s extremely important to wash babies clothing before it is worn, because babies are particularly sensitive to chemicals.

Experts recommend washing clothes before first wear. Photo: Getty

Skin irritations can pop up within hours or days of exposure to the clothes, Dr. Meghan Feely, a board-certified dermatologist, told HuffPost.

And it’s not just clothes you have to worry about – hats carry their own set of dangers as well. Two words, head lice.

So while you might want to chuck on that new dress straight away, factor in a trip to the laundry first.

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