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Do you need to wash new clothes before you wear them? Here's the verdict

That dress looks perfect right off the rack, and that crisp button-down shirt is never going to be any brighter or whiter than the moment you buy it. So is it really necessary to go to all of the trouble of washing those brand-new garments before you wear them for the first time?

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Should you wash new clothes before wearing them?

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Should you wash new clothes before wearing them?

Play Video - 1:29

The answer to that depends on how you feel about rashes, insects and diseases.

Yes, according to Donald Belsito, a professor of dermatology at Columbia University Medical Center, those clean-looking clothes aren't so clean after all.

Belsito, who spoke to The Wall Street Journal about the risks, noted that dyes and formaldehyde resins can spark skin irritation in some or a full-blown allergic reaction in others. But those are far from the only risks.

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"I have seen cases of lice that were possibly transmitted from trying on in the store, and there are certain infectious diseases that can be passed on through clothing,” he explained. "The other infestation I’ve seen from clothing is scabies."

IgorAleks / Shutterstock
Should you wash new clothes before you wear them? Pile of colorful clothes with washing machine.; Shutterstock ID 226661083; PO: new-clothes-wash-before-wear-today-tease-150519; Client: TODAY digital

Dressing rooms aren't the only place where your would-be wardrobe comes in contact with others. From the people who manufactured the clothing, to those who shipped it and others who stocked the racks, there's just no telling how many hands (and other parts) have touched it all.

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If that, along with Belsito's added warning that "fungus can hang around for a while," isn't enough to make you want to wash those new items once before wearing them, maybe it should make you want to wash them twice — that's what the doctor does.

"In terms of hygiene, it’s a very good thing to do," he told the Journal. "Being a dermatologist, I’ve seen examples of some strange stuff, so I don’t take any chances."

Follow Ree Hines on Google+. This article was originally published on May 19, 2015.

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