Let’s talk dirty … clothes, that is. Did you know that “new” clothes are actually much dirtier than they actually appear? Yes, experts are now saying that we should all be washing our new clothes before we wear them.
Why? Oh, no reason, really — except for LICE and SCABIES. You know, the parasitic insects that feed on human blood, and that skin infestation caused by the human itch mite.
Yes, dermatologists are scaring us straight by revealing that our “new” flannels or jeans may actually be carrying some pretty nasty bugs.
“I have seen cases of lice that were possibly transmitted from trying on in the store, and there are certain infectious diseases that can be passed on through clothing,” Dr. Donald Belsito, professor of dermatology at Columbia University Medical Center, told the Wall Street Journal. “The other infestation I’ve seen from clothing is scabies.”
Okay, now we’re feeling itchy.
And that’s not all. Your new clothes might also have been treated with potent chemicals like urea-formaldehyde resin. Urea is a main component in urine, generally made synthetically for use as a coating. Combined with formaldehyde, a natural preservative that can be dangerous in very large doses, this helps clothes to stay wrinkle-free and fresh-looking during transit and while hanging in clothing stores for weeks or months.
But these chemicals can irritate your skin if you don’t wash your new clothing before wearing them. While the risk may be low, it’s definitely worth considering, particularly if you or your family have sensitive skin or are prone to contact dermatitis.
What about COVID-19 and the risk of the virus being transmitted on fabric?
The good news is that you probably won’t get COVID-19 from wearing a new sweater before washing it. COVID-19 germs only hang on around on fabric for two days or less. But, that being said, it’s worth giving new clothes a wash if you want to be extra-cautious. You never know how many times the item of clothing might have been tried on, or trampled on, or sneezed on or handled by various customers and staff members before you came along to buy it.
“If you’re concerned that your clothing may have been exposed to COVID-19, the best way to get rid of the virus is to wash any exposed clothing on heated cycles,” division director of infectious disease at JFK Medical Center Dr. John Sensakovic told Hackensack Meridian Health.
However, other viruses and germs can be spread through clothing. Cloth isn’t the most transmissible medium, fortunately, but droplets containing cold and flu viruses can remain infectious for several hours.
So, do yourself a favor and give your new duds a run through the washer before you add them to your closet.
If we haven’t convinced you yet, let’s end on this note: BED BUGS. Yes, bed bugs can travel on clothing, and retail stores do sometimes struggle with bed bug infestations. So, to reiterate: Lice, scabies, COVID-19, bed bugs … um, excuse us, we need to go do a quick load of laundry.