How Clean Are Your New Clothes? Find Out
'GMA' found harmful bacteria on brand new clothes.
Jan. 7, 2010— -- When you buy new clothes, you expect them to be new, not already worn by someone else. But that's not always the case.
Consider what happens after you return a pair of pants or a blouse. Often it goes right back on the rack, to be resold instead of staying in the back room, retail experts told "Good Morning America."
"The customer probably gets the wool pulled over their eyes. … A lot of people just come home and if it has a tag attached, they think it's brand new and they wear it," Tori Patrick, a former retail saleswoman, said. "You really never know where it's been."
To see how clean some "new" clothes were, "GMA" bought everything from blouses to pants to underwear from three popular chain clothing stores ranging from high- to low-end and handed them over to Dr. Philip Tierno, director of microbiology and immunology at New York University, to test the 14 items for germs.
Tierno found disturbing results. There was flora, or bacteria, on several items.
"On this black and tan blouse we found representation of respiratory secretions, skin flora, and some fecal flora," Tierno said.
On a jacket, Tierno discovered evidence of feces, skin flora and respiratory secretions, especially in the armpit and "close to the buttocks," Tierno said.
The biggest surprise came when Tierno tested a silk blouse.
There, he said, he found vaginal organisms, yeast and more fecal germs.
Tierno said a couple of the items had extremely high counts of germs, far above normal.
"Some garments were grossly contaminated with many organisms … indicating that either many people tried it or ... someone tried it on with heavy contamination," he said. "In a sense, you are touching somebody's arm pit or groin. So you want to be protected that's all.
"You may not come down with anything and, most cases you don't, but it's potentially possible," he added.
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