Should you wash new clothes before wearing them?

New clothes come with a lot of mysteries and secrets within their fibers

wash new clothes before wearing

Deep down you know you should wash new clothes before wearing them. Who knows where they have been or who touched them? But at the same time, fear for what it may happen to them in the first wash can cloud anyone’s judgment.

What if they go loose before you even had the opportunity to wear them? Maybe the colors will go off or color transfer from other clothes ruins them. These are sensible questions. After all, you paid for them so it’s not much to ask to at least wear them once intact. Reasonable as this line of thinking might be, though, you may want to reconsider it soon.

Why you should wash new clothes before wearing them

You are already aware that strangers touched those clothes but probably the information never sank in. It just stays there, afloat in your mind.

It’s time to take the next step and truly give it a thought to the fact that other hands and bodies touched your garments.

It’s unsanitary

unsanitary wash new clothes before wearing

Think of all the people that already handled those clothes. From the factory to the store, a whole bunch of people has touched them.

Now, do you think they all had their hands washed? What about when the clothes fall down and they remain on the floor gathering dust and dirt until the store helper comes to pick them?

Are you not disgusted yet? Then think of how many people might have tried them. That shirt can look clean but more likely than not it already touched the armpits of several people. Were they clean? Shaved even? Who knows?

And the same applies to pants and underwear.


Lice, fleas, scabies, fungus, virus and bacteria. These are the main reasons you should wash new clothes before wearing them.

The first two are almost impossible to spot unless you are looking for them and the others are microscopical. You don’t know if your garments are infected until the symptoms show up.

In fact, since genitalia is more prone and sensitive to infections, you should always try underwear and undergarments while wearing clothes. And if you end up buying them, you still need to wash them.


Most shipped clothes contain preservatives to prevent them from getting mold if there is any moisture in the packages. It also helps them remain wrinkle-free.

One such preservative is formaldehyde. If you don’t wash it off your clothes before wearing them, you might get a severe skin reaction, allergies and eczema.

Tips to wash new clothes

wash new clothes wash new clothes before wearing

Now that you know the reasons why you should be washing new clothes comes the big challenge. How can you do it without ruining them?

Simple: follow their washing instructions. That’s the only way for you to know the right temperature and washing method and prevent shrinking or fading. Try to use a natural detergent too, so it has fewer chemicals capable of damaging the fabric.

If possible, let the clothes air-fry as its better for their fibers.

Pay attention to athletic clothes

Now you understand why you should wash new clothes before wearing them and can make an informed decision about whether you want to do it or not. If you choose not to wash them, at least save an exception for athletic gear.

You are going to be wearing them while hot and sweaty, which opens the pores. Dirt and any foreign bodies can then easily transfer to the skin and be absorbed through the pores.

Watch below Wall Street Journal contributor Heidi Mitchell explaining the journey clothes take before reaching the sales rack, and why you should be washing them.