Guest Post // #mumdebate: Do you wash new baby clothes?

The lovely Jo of Mellie Green Organic Babywear has written a fantastic guest post for Make, Do & Push! today, explaining why we should wash baby clothes before we use them for the first time. We featured Mellie Green last week in Indy’s first style post, which you can find here.


To wash or not to wash?

It’s part of a pregnancy rite of passage; washing all of your soon to be newborn’s tiny vests, sleepsuits, hats and mitts and hanging them on the line to dry. It’s like a statement to the world the eviction process starts now! But this image is something much debated by mum’s everywhere – should you bother washing new baby clothes? I mean they’re brand new/ out of the packet or off the shelf – is it really necessary?

We asked our panel of 100 mum’s the question “do you wash new baby and children’s clothing before putting it on your little ones?” and you wont be surprised to see the question divided opinion.

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Many of the mums that we spoke to who do pre-wash clothing do so only for the first 3 months, with germs being the number one reason given. Comments ranged from not knowing where they’ve been and who’s touched them to wanting that fresh smell. No one picked up on the real reason why you should wash all clothes before use.

To understand the debate let’s go right back to the beginning and see how clothes are made. It all starts with cotton plants – the demand for cotton is massive and increasing daily; according to the Soil Association there are over 100 million cotton farmers in 80 countries across the world trying to meet this demand. The number itself is staggering but did you also know that cotton farming uses the most and some of the most toxic pesticides in crop production? This not only affects the environment and the ecosystem but it also impacts up to 77 million cotton workers who are poisoned every year. This is just to get the raw material.

Next the cotton is processed, dyed and turned into clothing – this process uses toxic dyes and chemicals and there are no mandatory checks placed on factories undertaking production.

So that is the production side – but what about the clothes when they get to you? Tests have shown that these toxic dyes and chemical processes can leave residue on clothes which can be absorbed through the skin, that includes formaldehyde which is used to give clothes that pristine just ironed look. If you’ve ever noticed rashes or allergies in yourselves or your little ones after wearing new clothes then that could be the cause. Again – there are no regulatory tests performed on clothing coming into the country.

So the answer is yes you should. You should wash everything and wash it well before wearing it, for dry clean only items make sure they’re well aired. As baby and children’s skin is so much more vulnerable than ours this is especially important with children’s clothes and sleepwear (which also contains flame retardant chemicals).

But washing your clothes well before you wear them doesn’t solve the problem. The Cotton Workers will still get poisoned through pesticide use, waterways will still get polluted and huge amounts of CO2 will still be released into the atmosphere. The answer to all of that is organic farming. Organic Cotton is certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) that means it doesn’t use GM cotton seeds; or hazardous pesticides; or toxic dyes; it uses less water, produces 94% less greenhouse gas emissions, and waste water is treated meaning waterways and community water sources are unpolluted; plus factories are regularly inspected and toxic, carcinogenic and allergenic residues are not allowed in the finished clothing.

Natural-Collection-new-baby-giftset2The Organic Story is about so much more than a fad or the label, and for many manufacturers it is also fair-trade, giving a better deal to the farmer. Organic cotton is better quality and the organic process produces softer and harder wearing fibres, meaning your little ones clothes wash better, last longer and stand up better to all the wriggling, crawling and bum shuffling that they get put through. This all means you can chose quality over quantity and pass your organic items on to be used for years to come.

About the Author

Mumpreneur and mum to William and Annabel, Jo Lennon, is the owner of Mellie Green Organic Baby Wear. Dedicated to sourcing the best in UK and International organic baby clothing, skincare and toys and spreading the word on the benefits of buying organic for your babies.

Mellie was (and still is) the name of a very special little man’s cuddly elephant, and Mellie signifies everything that we stand for – she was there to soothe, comfort and calm, day and night. Mellie Green looks to bring that same comfort, soothing to your family, with comfortable and beautiful organic clothing and bathing products which are delicate on your baby’s skin.

Because organic cotton is farmed free from pesticides or chemical fertilizers it’s gentle even on the most sensitive skin, and because organic farming doesn’t use these chemicals it’s not only good for our skin it’s good for nature and our environment. Keeping our planet Mellie Green’s range of baby clothing, bath products, toys and gifts use certified organic cotton and ingredients wherever possible.

You can find Mellie Green Organic Babywear on TwitterFacebookInstagram and online here.

Don’t forget, you can get 10% off everything in the Mellie Green online shop (including sale items!) until the end of August with our exclusive code:

mellie green discount code


  1. 16th July 2015 / 8:03 am

    I always make sure any new clothes purchased for Rowan, our little boy, are washed thoroughly before he wears them. He’s turned one a few weeks ago and we still do it quite religiously.

    The reason we started doing it was because of germs, we didn’t know where items had been/handled before they arrived in the shop, also wary of any other customers touching items that aren’t packaged in anything made me get the heebie jeebies.

    To be honest, I’d never thought about the dyes that can be absorbed through babies skin, etc, that’s rather ignorant of me, so I am glad that we have washed everything beforehand!

    Organic baby garments do tend to be more expensive, but the products are always much better quality and feel softer against babies skin. It also gives you a great feeling that you’ve done your bit for the environment too,

    I wish we’d bought more organic items for Rowan. I think we’d have bought less clothing because of the cost but it would have lasted so much better. There’s always the next baby to do this for!

    Laura x

  2. 16th July 2015 / 10:59 am

    I had no idea about what could be on our clothes! Great post and I’m very glad I have washed all of Little R-M’s clothes! xx

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