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A Cleaner World Blog

My mom bought Gray a super-cute Mickey Mouse sweatshirt off the clearance rack back in August, and it sat in his closet with the tags still on for months.  So, I decided to snatch it for myself and packed it when heading home for a Thanksgiving visit.  There is nothing like a brand-new piece of clothing; the colors are so crisp and vibrant.  The day I planned to wear it, I could not bring myself to put it on.  I kept thinking about the number of hands that had touched it during manufacturing, transit, and display along with all the customers that picked it up, touched it, tried it on, and then decided not to purchase it.  

That was a wise decision because a study led by Dr. Donald Belsito of Columbia University Medical Center found scabies, lice, and fungus on new clothing.  Not only that, but many new pieces also showed traces of chemical additives, dyes, resins, and formaldehyde.  Did you know that clothing purchased online and shipped is usually treated with a preservative so that mold does not grow during shipping?

Dr. Belsito is not the only one to publish a study on this; research conducted by New York University microbiology professor Philip Tierno showed that previously tried on clothing from a department store contained traces of norovirus, strep and staph, and fecal germs.  He went on to explain that there are three ways to spread germs – skin, respiratory system, and anus.  Touching clothing with those germs then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth could lead to illness.  

As a germophobe, I was incredibly disturbed by these findings.  The good news is, however, that simply washing new garments can help remove both germs and chemicals from the fabric.

  1. Follow the care label.  We frequently say this, but the quickest way to ruin a garment is to ignore the instructions on the care label.   
  2. To help keep the colors more vibrant, turn the garment outside and wash in cold water.Skip the bleach if the item is dingy; bleach can wear out fibers more quickly, and it tends to cause yellowing.  Try vinegar instead; it is a natural brightener.
  3. If the care label says it is dryer safe, use the lowest heat setting and remove it as soon as the cycle is completed.  You could also hang it to dry to help reduce color fading or shrinkage.

Now that you’ve read this, we’re guessing that you’ll always wash new pieces or place them in your wash, dry, fold bag for A Cleaner World to care for before wearing.  I certainly will.

woman shopping for clothes
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