Picture this. You’re sitting with a bag of brand new clothes, outfits you’ve hand-picked from your favourite store or online, and you obviously can’t resist the urge to wear them. In fact, you may go as far as to plan an event or catch up with friends, just so you can dress in one of your cute new clothes. But, have you ever thought about the fact that these clothes, with tags still on in the bag, were tried on by so many others before they finally ended up being yours?
Germs That Can Live On Your New Clothes
Although germs picked up on new clothes are often harmless and don’t penetrate the skin, some can cause infection—particularly in individuals that have an impaired immune system.
Examples of microbes that can live on new clothing include the following:
- Bacteria: Staphylococcus (staph) can cause infection and is more likely to impact those with eczema and cause flare-ups
- Viruses: While Coronavirus has been shown to be able to survive on fabric for only a couple of hours, other viruses, such as Norovirus (i.e., vomiting bug), is more likely to be spread through contaminated clothing. Verrucae or warts are also caused by a virus, often HPV virus, that can spread through shared contact, however this is more unlikel
- Fungus: Fungi are a very common cause of skin rashes and itching depending on which part of the body they affect. These can spread easily and, in susceptible people, can be very troublesome and recurrent.
Other Factors That Can Affect Your Skin If You Don’t Wash Your New Clothes Before Wearing Them
- Clothing Dyes: In addition to germs, new clothing can also have excess dyes on them. These dyes can bleed out of the clothing as you sweat onto your skin and can sometimes cause allergic reactions.
- Chemical Irritants: Clothing is often treated with stain repellents, colour-fasteners, anti-wrinkle agents, softness-enhancers, and any number of other chemical treatments. These chemicals can cause contact dermatitis or itchy painful rashes. Stains on your precious white clothes? Here’s how to remove color stain from white clothes quickly & easily.
Sharing his thoughts on the research, Dermatologist Dr Faheem Latheef says:
“Due to the effect of the pandemic people have become increasingly conscious of the risks posed by germs in the environment. However, one consideration that is often neglected is the possibility of germs being spread through items of clothing. Although mostly harmless, germs can easily spread if items of clothing are used by more than one person. The main microorganisms we are likely to be exposed to are bacteria, viruses, and fungus (including yeast and mould!).
Washing clothes, even if they are new, is highly recommended as people may have worn and returned items or tried them in the store. Although normal washing of clothes will reduce the risk of germs being transmitted, in certain situations clothes may need to be washed at higher-than-normal temperatures. I would also recommend washing all, new dark clothing and bed linens at least twice before use and avoiding fabrics that fade.”
The Channel 46 reached out to Beko, a leading large home appliances brand for a quick guide on the right way to wash new, and in fact, all your clothes, in order to ensure they’re absolutely germ-free and sanitary for use.
1. What are the risks of wearing new clothes before washing?
New clothing, especially those that have been tried on before purchasing, could potentially contain harmful bacteria. Broadly speaking, most germs can survive on fabrics for quite some time. The main micro-organisms we are likely to be exposed to on clothes are bacteria, viruses, and fungus, including yeast and mould. Whilst the risk of becoming seriously ill from new clothes is small, it is advisable to wash new clothes before wearing them to reduce the risk of transmission. Bear in mind that numerous people may have worn or returned items before your purchase.
In addition to this, new clothes may contain dyes, chemicals, and skin irritants that could react with your skin. Normal washing of clothes can reduce the risk of skin irritants and germs being transmitted. However, in certain situations, clothes may need to be washed at higher-than-normal temperatures to minimise the risk as much as possible. Make sure to read the care label carefully and follow the specific wash instructions for each garment to prevent damage.
2. What are the 5 laundry hacks to make your clothes fresh, clean, and germ-free?
- If you are concerned about bacteria and viruses, consider washing your laundry at temperatures above 56°C. However, where possible, it is advisable to wash your clothes at lower temperatures to help reduce energy consumption and keep your utility bills down. It is important to note that washing clothes at higher temperatures can increase the risk of damage. Before washing clothes, make sure to read the care label carefully and follow the specific wash instructions for each garment.
- Don’t let wet clothing sit in a washing machine after a cycle, remove it immediately.
- Look for anti-allergy and hygiene programs on your washing machine and dryers, as they provide a more hygienic wash.
- To reduce the appearance of sweat stains, apply a little white vinegar and rub into the affected area before you pop it in the machine. This trick is a simple, but effective stain remover.
- Do not overload your machine. Overloading the drum will affect your washing machine’s performance and potentially reduce its lifespan. As a general guide, you should be able to fit your whole hand comfortably in the top of the drum once full.
3. How can you prevent lint from getting onto your clothes?
Avoid lint build-up by regularly cleaning out the filters on your washer and dryer. Turn your clothes inside out if necessary. Also, having a lint roller in your closet is always a good investment for those just-in-case moments.
4. How can you prevent colour bleeding of new clothes?
To avoid colour bleeding into other items, be sure to separate your washing, sorting your loads into a dark wash and a light wash. To protect your clothes from bleeding and fading, set your wash onto a gentle cycle at a low temperature of around 30°C. Some washing machines will feature dedicated wash cycles that are designed to protect your garments. Finally, as mentioned previously, make sure you have not overloaded your washing machine or dryer before washing a new load of laundry. Always follow the care labels on each garment before washing them.
Maintaining hygiene for your clothes is not such a tough task provided you follow the above advice of the experts. And as always, keep up with The Channel 46 guides to learn more, grow more, and do more with your life.
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