Nearly half of Brits don’t wash brand new clothes before wearing them. However, new, unwashed garments can be covered in germs that might have dangerous implications for the skin. Express.co.uk chatted to Dr Faheem Latheef to find out everything you need to know about washing new clothes.
When you buy a new item of clothing, you expect it to be fresh out of the factory and unworn… but that’s not the case.
A shocking 22 percent of people have worn an item and returned it unwashed, with 73 percent of these people having done it more than once or regularly.
Brits are spending over £62 billion a year on clothing and footwear, which equates to about £250 a month per person on new clothes.
So, imagine how many items you’ve bought that are actually ‘second hand’.
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.
Dr Latheef said: “Different kinds of microbes will survive in clothing for varying amounts of time and it’s difficult to know if people or surfaces you encounter are affected.”
The three most common microbes that live on new clothing are bacteria, viruses and fungus.
The expert explained: “Staphylococcus (staph) can cause infection and is more likely to impact those with eczema and cause flare-ups.”
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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.
Dr Latheef added: “Verrucae or warts are also caused by a virus, often HPV virus, that can spread through shared contact, however, this is more unlikely
“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.”
Germs aren’t the only issue when it comes to new clothes, there are other things lurking on clothes that can affect your skin if you don’t wash them first.
For example, new clothing can also have excess dyes on them that can bleed out of the clothing as you sweat onto your skin and can sometimes cause allergic reactions.
Clothing is also often treated with stain repellents, colour-fasteners, anti-wrinkle agents, softness-enhancers, and any number of other chemical treatments, and these chemicals can cause contact dermatitis or itchy painful rashes.
We all want to keep ourselves and our families as healthy as we can and reduce the spread of germs and allergens and washing new clothing as soon as you get it home is one way to do this.
Dr Latheef said: “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 laundry experts at Beko advise washing new clothes at high temperatures above 56 degrees celsius.