While shopping during your self-care Sunday, perhaps you score a great hoodie and pair of workleisure pants (okay, sweatpants), and you can’t wait to wear them—even if this means not washing them first. The brand-spankin’-new duds look and smell clean, so they’re good to make their debut, right? Unfortunately, not at all.
For starters, everyone who tried on garments before you left the germs they carry as a not-so-pleasant free gift with your purchase. After all, one of the three main ways you spread germs is via your skin (your eyes, nose, and mouth, plus your anus are the other two), Philip Tierno, PhD, professor of microbiology and pathology at New York University, explained to Huffington Post. In fact, studies Dr. Tierno has conducted have examined clothing from popular stores—and the results have shown traces of norovirus and fecal germs (yes, poop).
Clothes are sometimes processed with detergents, chemical additives, dyes, resins, or tanning agents—like formaldehyde for wrinkle-free material—that can cause skin irritation, dermatologist Meghan Feely says.
Before you go into a hypochondriac-style state of shock, Dr. Tierno says that you most likely will not come into contact with or contract something super threatening—though there are other hazards to watch out for, like harsh chemicals and even—yuck!—lice. Dermatologist Meghan Feely, MD, says that clothes are sometimes processed with detergents, chemical additives, dyes, resins, or tanning agents—like formaldehyde for wrinkle-free material—that can cause skin irritation. According to her, washing your clothes first (with a fragrance- and dye-free detergent) can help remove the harmful chemicals. And washing and drying will also remove unwanted bugs like lice and even bed bugs.
In the name of being safe rather than sorry, take that fantastic third piece to your laundromat, stat. And then flaunt it at the gym with peace of mind.
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