Giving (and receiving!) new clothing is a favorite holiday activity, but the “new” smell that comes along with new clothes often signals the presence of toxic chemicals.
Find out the simple solution for getting rid of both the smell and the chemicals, right here:
Unless the clothes are 100 percent organic, wash new clothes or bedding first before wearing or putting on the bed. That “new” smell is a potent mixture of chemicals such as formaldehyde and urea resins, and they should be removed. The chemicals are used to “finish” fabric for a range of purposes including stain resistance, mercerizing, keeping them from wrinkling, and even sometimes for disinfecting. Most contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which, like formaldehyde, are often sensitizers and suspected carcinogens.
The formula I give here is what I use to successfully remove this new smell from clothing. It will also work for low-level chemical contamination from normal household substances such as perfume.
Place the clothes in the washing machine with enough water to cover. Sprinkle one small-sized box of baking soda (or 1 cup) into the washing machine. Soak the clothes overnight. When convenient during the soaking, agitate the machine for a few minutes. Launder as usual. Repeat the method until the clothes don’t smell anymore.
Some imported clothes are now impregnated with long-lasting disinfectants; you can identify these clothes by the smell alone. It is very hard to remove it, and the method depicted above doesn’t work. The best thing is to not buy the clothes; I’ve started asking catalog companies if their clothes are disinfected.