This one is not for the faint of heart or obsessive compulsive.
A while back the Today show performed a little shopping experiment:
The news team removed price tags and hygienic strips from panties, stained them with baby oil, and marked tags with two black dots for identification purposes.
Wouldn’t you love to be the intern assigned that job? Anyway, they then returned the panties to several retailers in the metro New York area and then went back to the store later to find that the untagged, soiled panties had been returned to the sales floor.
They went back for a post-exposé check and found that all the stores they had busted had changed their dirty undies – or at least stopped selling them. That’s the good news. The bad news is they caught new retailers selling soiled panties and swimsuits this time around.
The full story and list of stores is at the link, but the point is always wash before you wear when you buy swimwear or lingerie no matter what the corporate office says their policy is. There’s always the chance that some lazy employee didn’t correctly process used garments.
An example from my retail experience:
I worked for a popular mall store that sells prank gift items for a year in college. During one of my first shifts I learned that one of our assistant managers had been taking returns on “personal massagers” and returning them to the sales floor. Nauseated, I asked him if he did this a lot and wound up spending the rest of that shift going through the entire product shelf looking for open packages to drop in the damaged merchandise bin. (That was not my favorite job and I should state for the record that I’m pretty sure re-selling the used items in question was not the company norm.)
I also worked for a popular clothing retailer a few years ago, however, and we had a strict policy not to re-sell any clothing that had been worn by the customer. Swimwear, intimates, winter coats, it didn’t matter. If it was used, it got sent back to corporate. (That was a much better job.)
But like I said, all it takes is one lazy employee to give you some free bacteria with your purchase. Personally I tend not to buy intimates or swimwear without a tag or hygienic strip, but it’s always a good idea to wash those items before you wear them anyway. Even if the item isn’t used, you never know if you’re getting a formaldehyde bra like Victoria’s Secret was apparently selling a few years back.