According to research by The Derm Review, 31% of consumers admitted that they never wash new underwear before wearing it.
So, where do you stand on this topic? Are you a washer-then-wearer or a jump-straight-in-and-wear-it kind of person?
For those of you who said ‘wash then wear’, you’re doing it right. And stick with this method!
For those of you who dive right in and don’t bother washing underwear before wearing it, stop what you’re doing.
Now read on to find out why donning new undies without washing them may not be a good idea!
Should You Wash New Underwear Before Wearing It?
Yes, you should wash new underwear before wearing it.
And yes, this does include underwear that comes in packs, like those four-pack knickers you can buy. They must be cleaned first!
The reasons for this are:
You don’t know who might’ve worn the underwear before you
Unfortunately, some people try underwear on, and instead of buying the piece, they re-wrap it and put it back on the shelf.
As the next customer, you may not be aware of what’s happened. So, just in case the person before left germs behind on the material, you should wash it and keep yourself safe.
Consider this: How often have you tried a top on only to see makeup rubbed around the collar? Too many times, I’m sure!
Someone trying on underwear and leaving brown marks or discharge in the knicks is the same thing, but ten times worse and even more gross!
It’s yucky and doesn’t bear thinking about to say the least!
You don’t want to catch anything from the unwashed underwear
As above, if someone has worn your undies before you, they may (perhaps unknown to them) have an infection. And while trying the underwear on, they may have spread some germs onto the material.
If you then wear the item, you could catch the infection that the other person had! If things are really bad, you may need medical treatment.
Skincare biochemist Elle Macleman says that people should keep an eye out for the following issues, and if you see any signs of them, seek medical attention:
- Fungal infections in the genital region
- Dermatitis (skin irritation – redness/itchy)
The underwear will have been touched by lots of people from all over the world
As the garments are made and shipped, they’re touched by different people and machines.
They will also come into contact with many different surfaces that could be covered in various types of dirt/chemicals.
In addition, people tend to pick up items and pop them back down again when they shop. So you’ve got no idea who’s picked up the bra you’re wearing!
And not forgetting that anybody could’ve coughed, sneezed, or wiped boogies into your pants.
Given that underwear sits close to your delicate parts, it would be wise to clean these garments before they press up against said personal parts!
Washing the underwear just makes it extra safe for you.
You need to remove potential irritants from your underwear before you wear them!
As mentioned, your new undies could be bogged down with various chemical products used during the manufacturing process.
Suppose you were to don your pants without washing them. The products could seriously irritate your skin.
Not to mention that the aggravation would occur in extremely sensitive areas This wouldn’t be very pleasant!
Cleaning your new garments before wearing them gets rid of these potential problems.
How Many Times Should You Wash New Underwear Before Wearing It?
You only need to wash new underwear once before you wear it.
You must wash the underwear as per the cleaning instructions on the care label and use a suitable water temperature and detergent.
How Should You Wash New Underwear?
Some underwear can be cleaned in a washing machine. These undies are usually made from harder-wearing materials like cotton.
In contrast, some bras and knickers are made from delicate materials that can only be cleaned by hand.
However, some types of bras and knicks are made from various blends of fabrics, like cotton-blends, so be careful with these. Make sure you read the care label and adhere to the cleaning instructions!
Don’t assume because you see a hard-wearing material mentioned that you can just throw the piece into the washer—you could ruin the item by doing this!
Cleaning underwear in a washing machine
Steps to follow:
- Check the care label on each piece of underwear to see how they should be washed – it’ll usually be machine wash or hand wash. For machine washing, follow the steps below.
- Sort your undies out so you wash similar materials and colours together.
- Pre-treat any noticeable stains with some liquid laundry detergent. Massage the product into the blemish using your fingers.
- Wait while the detergent gets to work.
- Pop your underwear inside a mesh laundry bag (for added protection). You may need to use multiple bags (one for your bra and another for knickers, for example).
- Choose a suitable cycle depending on what material you’re handling.
- Reduce the spin speed, especially for lacey/more delicate pieces.
- Add a suitable detergent.
- Start the wash.
- When the cycle ends, remove your underwear and dry it as per the instructions on the care label.
Cleaning underwear by hand
Steps to follow:
- Remove your rings and bracelets, and pop some gloves on.
- Check the tags on your undies to see how they should be washed. If you see ‘hand wash only’, follow the steps below.
- Sort your underwear out by colour and material.
- Pre-treat any obvious stains with liquid laundry detergent. Rub the solution into the stain with your fingers.
- Wait a few minutes for the detergent to get to work.
- Fill a large, clean tub with water of the desired temperature (see the tag).
- Add a measure of detergent (that’s suitable for hand washing) to the water.
- Pop an item(s) into the water.
- Leave the item(s) in the water for a few minutes.
- Gently agitate the item(s) in the water.
- Gently rub the underwear between your fingers. Pay close attention to soiled regions.
- Repeat the steps above.
- Rinse the underwear clean using cold water.
- Dry the underwear as instructed.
- Repeat the steps above for the rest of your undies.
What temperature should you wash new underwear at?
The NHS recommends that underwear (and other garments that are contaminated/soiled with faeces or the like) should be laundered at the highest possible temperature permitted for the material! This could be a temperature as high as 60℃.
Washing clothes at 60°C or more kills germs. Given that underwear can be covered in faeces (poo), discharge, and bacteria from genital infections, it would be worth cleaning them in water that’s as hot as possible!
However, there is a slight issue with washing all types of underwear at 60°C. Underwear made from/containing delicate materials like silk and lace cannot withstand such high temperatures.
In this case, you’d have to reduce the water temperature, (typically) wash the garment by hand, and use a suitable delicate detergent to clean the piece.
Bethan has a passion for exploring, reading, cooking and gardening! When she’s not creating culinary delights for her family, she’s concocting potions to keep her house clean!