Wash before you use

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All new products should be washed thoroughly before use to avoid any allergic reactions. 

New clothing and materials may contain allergens and toxic chemicals either as part of their manufacture or through cross contamination through shipping and transport.

Chemicals can be found in plastic water bottles (e.g. BPA, phthalates) and on clothing and bed sheets (especially formaldehyde).

Chemicals like formaldehyde are routinely used to give clothing a permanent press effect and to retard mildew growth. 

Materials shipped from overseas can be exposed to fumigants such as methyl bromate and other pesticides. While these tend to disperse quickly consumers can react to the initial exposure .

Not every new product can cause a reaction but it does depend on the exposure/use of chemicals and the sensitivity of the user.

People have different levels of sensitivities to these chemicals and within any given batch of products (e.g. bed sheets), testing might find some with chemicals and some without. 

To reduce any potential reactions it is recommended you always wash new items according to manufacturer’s instructions before use.

ACCC Product Safety Australia information


Formaldehyde It is a colourless, flammable gas with a pungent odour.  People can suffer skin rashes and allergic reactions after skin contact with formaldehyde.  Formaldehyde is water soluble and washing new garments or bedding before use will generally reduce the amount of the chemical present in the fabric. More information is available on the Product Safety Australia's Safety guidance on concentrations of particular chemicals in certain consumer goods page.

Azo dyes

Azo dyes are a class of chemicals used to colour a variety of consumer goods. The ACCC found only a small proportion of azo dyes can be hazardous to human health.  Most Australian manufacturers have systems in place to avoid these dyes being used in their products.  The ACCC regularly monitors and tests products for chemicals it believes could cause problems for consumers.  They will also recall products from the market if they need to. More information is available on the Product Safety Australia's Azo Dyes webpage.


DEHP (Diethylhexyl phthalate or Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate and Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate) is a chemical commonly used in plastics.  It has been banned in Australia for some products - mostly for products aimed at children who may suck or chew on them.  More information is available on the Product Safety Australia's DEHP webpage. 

Washing instructions
Washing instructions, by Consumer Protection

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