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Holiday PSA: You Need To Wash Those New Jammies Grandma Bought You

Illustration for article titled Holiday PSA: You Need To Wash Those New Jammies Grandma Bought You
Photo: Jeremiah Lawrence (Unsplash)
SqualorJolie Kerr is a cleaning expert and advice columnist. She’ll be here every week helping to answer your filthiest questions. Are you dirty? Email her.

Happy/Merry to you all! May your holiday season be abundant with gifts like pajamas and robes that encourage you to take to bed for the winter and just … stay there. Lord knows that’s my plan.

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But before you take to bed in your new pajamas, or new robe, or new whatever other kind of lay-around-the-housewear you might have gotten as a gift, or self-gifted, I, your friendly internet Clean Person, am here to remind you to wash that thing before you wear it.

“But it’s brand new!” And yes, you’re right about that! I’m going to get into the very good reasons to wash brand new clothing — this also applies to things like sheets and towels, too (sorry!) — but first I also want to say this: If you don’t wash things before you wear them, it’s truly not the end of the world. You will not die. You will not get violently ill. Well … you probably will not get violently ill but it is, indeed, a possibility. ANYway. I say that to say this: There’s a lot of fear-mongering that goes on with cleaning advice and that’s just not really my jam.

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Okay but what is my jam is being pretty religious about washing new items before I use them and here’s why: Brand new clothing (and sheets, and towels) are treated with all kinds of chemicals that can cause skin irritation. Among those may be color-fasteners that help to prevent fading, anti-wrinkling agents to keep things looking crisper during transit and display, and softness-enhancers that give clothes that “touchable feel” thing that makes you want to buy them in the first place. The problem with those chemicals, however, is that they are also skin irritants, and so especially for people who have sensitive skin of any sort, it’s a really good idea to wash those things away before using your new robe, or pajamas, or whatever. So look, there’s nothing special, really, that you need to know about washing these things other than to say that if you do have sensitive skin, it’s a good idea to opt for a fragrance- and dye-free detergent.

Also, if you’re washing terrycloth items like robes or towels, don’t use fabric softener — it leaves a coating behind that renders the fabric less absorbent. Instead, use dryer balls to help add fluffiness (and speed up drying time!)

Okay so now let’s get to the part where I maybe suggested you could get violently ill if you don’t wash brand new items, and here’s where that comes in. Because people touch display items, and try them on, and do God only knows what else, it’s possible that bacteria can get left behind. And right now, there’s a lot of norovirus going on and right. There’s the part about getting violently ill! So please, wash those new pajamas from Grandma before you wear them.

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Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast Ask a Clean Person

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