Should You Wash New Clothes? Only If You Care.

Around 48% of Americans don’t want their picture snapped if they’re in the same outfit twice. That means occasionally shopping for new or new-to-you clothes. But that new outfit you’re excited to wear might be bringing home more than you bargained for. It has likely been treated with dyes and several chemicals, from stain-repellents to color fasteners. There’s even a popular waterproofing chemical referred to as PFAS with little research backing its safety. So yes, you should wash new clothes—here’s why.

Clingy Chemicals Cause Complications

Chemicals used during manufacturing can irritate skin. Like urea-formaldehyde, which is a clothing chemical used to reduce wrinkles. It can cause a skin reaction in people who are allergic to it or who simply have sensitive skin. The first wash may drastically reduce chemical resin, although some will likely be left on the fibers. To keep the chemicals from stubbornly clinging to your threads, run the wash a couple more times.

High Dye Packs Home Problems

That colored shirt could be a problem waiting to happen. Extra dye can rub off onto your skin and cause a rash, especially in high contact areas like your collar, hips or wrists. Called azo-aniline, new clothing dyes can cause dry, red, itchy skin. If you’re allergic to azo aniline, it can even cause a more severe rash that’s similar to poison ivy.

Germs Like to Hitch a Ride

From shoes to hats to shirts—some nasty bacteria and germs can transfer from one person to another. So instead of trying on that outfit in the store, buy it and wash it first. If it doesn’t fit, you can always resell it at a consignment shop. Don’t take a risk of getting lice, fungus or other diseases. If you sweat in new clothes, your pores are opening up and allowing even more germs to sneak into your skin—another reason why you should wash new clothes.

Natural Fibers Carry Dirty Little Secrets

Even with clothes labeled “100% cotton,” chemicals can be used to treat those items for everything from maintaining color to staying soft. Some research suggests synthetic fibers may be treated with more chemicals than natural fibers, but all-natural fibers are not chemical-free. And because there’s no requirement for manufacturers to disclose what chemicals or additives the clothes were treated with, it’s best to just wash your new clothes.

Strut Your New Steals—Safely

So—should you wash new clothes? Yes, yes and YES. Skip the potential germs and skin irritants by washing new clothes as soon as you get home from the store. A spin in the washer and you’ll be ready to strut your brand-new fashion statement.