December 20th, 2010
09:39 AM ET

Can wearing unwashed new clothes hurt a child's skin?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Mondays, it's pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu.

Question asked via email
Should I wash my kids' clothes before first wearing?

Expert answer

Thank you for your question. In general, I recommend that new clothes be washed before children wear them, especially if the clothing will be in direct contact with the skin. Reasons for this recommendation include the fact that the clothes have been handled by multiple people before being brought home, and it's impossible to know what has touched the fabric. In addition, certain dyes in the fabric may leave a residue on the skin or rub off on other clothing. Also, chemicals may have been sprayed onto the clothes to keep them fresh.

Some clothes are treated with chemicals to prevent the growth of certain bacteria. They may cause allergic reactions on the skin, especially in areas of friction or sweating. In addition, these chemicals can irritate the eyes, nose and breathing passages. While the United States places limits on the amount of preservatives that may be used on clothing, other countries have been known to allow higher levels.

Children tend to be more sensitive than adults to chemical irritants, so for clothes that are difficult to wash, it may be a good idea to try to air them out prior to wearing. Also, you may want to have the child wear light undergarments beneath them.

Ask our doctors a question

soundoff (166 Responses)
  1. Aikaonline


    May 16, 2021 at 03:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Aika Skill Simulator

    Everything is very open with a clear description of the issues. It was truly informative. Your site is useful. Thanks for sharing!


    May 16, 2021 at 05:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Persona Aika

    An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker who was doing a little homework on this. And he actually ordered me lunch simply because I stumbled upon it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to talk about this subject here on your blog.


    May 16, 2021 at 06:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Transit Van Repair Panels


    May 17, 2021 at 04:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. 2009 Stuck Intake Dodge Sprinter Repair

    Hello! I just wish to offer you a huge thumbs up for your excellent information you've got here on this post. I'll be coming back to your blog for more soon.


    May 17, 2021 at 05:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Maserati California

    I could not refrain from commenting. Very well written!


    May 17, 2021 at 12:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. 2020 Maserati Granturismo


    May 17, 2021 at 20:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. collision repair shop near me


    May 18, 2021 at 05:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. horse trailer roof repair


    May 18, 2021 at 08:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. where can i get my hairdressing scissors sharpened


    May 18, 2021 at 15:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Family Dental

    Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon everyday. It's always interesting to read through content from other writers and practice something from their sites.


    May 18, 2021 at 18:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. health membership

    You need to take part in a contest for one of the highest quality websites on the web. I most certainly will recommend this blog!


    May 18, 2021 at 18:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Tin Roofing Near Me

    This is a very good tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Short but very accurate info… Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read post!


    May 18, 2021 at 21:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. New Forklift Repair Shop California

    You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the most useful sites on the web. I'm going to highly recommend this site!


    May 18, 2021 at 23:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. zoom energy pills


    May 18, 2021 at 23:13 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.