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Our first child is now four and our second is due in a month or so. We stored the first baby's clothes so we could reuse them but due to damp in the UK and the clothes having been stored for so long (4 years), I am afraid of reusing them.

Are there any concerns or special washing that we should do or should we be buying new clothes for at least 1-month-old baby?

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    If those clothes had been for you, would you have worn then again without question or would have thrown them in the bin? Do the clothes still look and smell good or do they smell like something bad has gotten into them? – Bart van Ingen Schenau Jan 25 at 17:30
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    Damp conditions don’t breed viruses in fabrics. The only thing that may be an issue is mould and that’s usually easily recognizable by smell or stains/spots. So if the clothes look and smell fine (after a wash, of course), you’re good to go. – Stephie Jan 26 at 17:19
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    Discard any that are obviously unusable. Wash the remainder in a hot wash if appropriate and dry them well. I can't speak for the UK, but growing up in Ireland (similar climate) we always 'aired' our clothes in a 'hot press' after drying them outside on the line. The hot press was usually the closet that contained a water heater (the 'immersion', always a source of mystery to visitors). My clothes were recycled many times through my siblings, the youngest was 10 years my junior. – copper.hat Jan 26 at 22:34
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    I was raised on cloth diapers; I'm still alive. – Mazura Jan 26 at 23:54
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    We dressed our son in 2nd hand baby clothes because it was so much cheaper. Never a problem (despite one teenaged acquaintance who we mentioned this to, who said "If you can't afford a baby you shouldn't have had one") – Paul Johnson Jan 28 at 8:51
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There is absolutely no reason not to reuse the clothes if they are not stained or otherwise unusable. Check the smell. Wash them carefully with the soap you find best for babies as you would new clothes and check them again to be sure.

My babies have been wearing clothes I used to wear as a baby - my mother kept everything in the attic for nearly 30 years! We went through them carefully and put them in the wash. Most turned out okay. Some had obvious stains and we threw those out.

For example, sometimes yellow spots appear in stored clothes that don't go away in the wash. Those I preferred not to use. But mainly they were okay!

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Joe Jan 27 at 20:06
  • Also, some washers have a "sanitize" and/or "steam" option (mine has both). Unless the clothes' labels explicitly require low temperature washes, Give 'em a run or two through that. I'm pretty sure most daily-wear baby clothes don't have a problem with high temperatures though. – Doktor J Jan 28 at 13:28
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I am allergic to mold, so I've had to educate myself on the stuff. Hopefully the baby clothes are machine-washable? You'll want to use a sanitizer rather than just laundry soap if there is any mold since mold can sometimes survive washing.

I stayed with a cousin several summers ago, and she ushered me out very quickly (I was homeless because of mold in my home), saying she would send my still-wet face cloth, sweatshirt, and a few other items to my parent's home. Instead, she drove around in 100° heat, with these things in a sealed bag in her car for over a month. My shirt was actively growing mold when it finally got to me. I would have thrown it away, but my smart Mom soaked it in Oxi-clean (a peroxide sanitizer/detergent booster) for a few days, then a regular wash in the washing machine. It looked great, and I didn't sneeze or itch. That mold was dead! So I really like that product, and there are many bleach-free things you can use on non -white clothing.

I really wouldn't worry about it, but I know we want to make sure our babies are extra safe! My situation was very rare, but if we could save that shirt? You'll be fine after a good wash - I only mentioned it because you mentioned damp. Congratulations on the addition to your family! I agree with everyone who said "hand-me-down" clothes are such a great idea, especially because babies grow so quickly!!

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    Hi Sarah, welcome to the site! I've edited a bit for clarity, and removed the link (while links for supporting information are useful, product links aren't great - they're very quickly outdated, and they often attract spam-bots that see them and add spam answers as a result unfortunately). – Joe Jan 27 at 16:47
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    I'm so sorry the part about all natural, fragrance free cleaners had to be removed. I would never recommend "many bleach-free things". There are so many, I hoped to narrow down the search, as I have 30 years experience in this area. But the key is sanitizers, & a search engine can help. – Sarah Kelly Jan 27 at 17:11
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    Please feel free to edit further to be more specific- so long as you can avoid specific products :) Thanks! – Joe Jan 27 at 17:20
  • If mold is a concern, borax is probably the appropriate non-bleach laundry additive to get rid of it. – R.. GitHub STOP HELPING ICE Jan 28 at 19:05
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I am in the UK and stored everything in my attic which was rather damp and I didn't have a second thought about using my 4 year olds clothes for the new baby.

Everything was washed in Persil non-bio (a brand of washing detergent which doesn't contain cleaning enzymes, marketed as better for sensitive skin) at 60 degrees C and all checked for obvious mould spots or dirt that wouldn't come out - and thrown if they did.

My now 2 Year old had no ill effects from wearing second hand clothing and still continues to do so, even from charity shops and bought from random people. I very rarely buy anything new.

Mattresses are the main thing to worry about. It's advised definitely not to reuse them and I also replaced the Moses basket.

There is a link between mattress reuse and SIDS (cot death), so we are all advised in the UK it is best not to - although for a second baby in the same household, there seems to be debate on whether it is the same. (I cannot find evidence of that specifically but I remember from my own research previously there was a lot of discussion about it)

https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/safer-sleep-advice/

I could not be certain my moses basket was clean as it had been in the damp attic and it's not washable, so changed that. I am still using the cot.

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  • If you pack old clothes in plastic backs before putting them in the attic, it will greatly reduce the chance of mould. I have happily used baby clothes over and over for a 5 year period with storage in between. Remember to wash on 60 degrees before re-using – vikingsteve Jan 27 at 16:12
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    Mine were plastic bagged and boxed by size! – Bex Jan 27 at 16:13
  • Can you clarify what "Persil non bio" is? I assume that's a kind of soap/detergent? And can you explain why it's not advised to reuse mattresses and bassinets? Thanks! – Joe Jan 27 at 16:34
  • @Joe It's a UK Washing Powder. In the UK "Non-bio" is considered better for sensitive skin. - link added above about matresses – Bex Jan 27 at 16:36
  • @Bex Thanks! Added the parenthetical about Persil as well, if I didn't get that quite right please correct. – Joe Jan 27 at 16:45
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Echoing @Nimloth, there's tons of reasons to reuse the clothes. You just need to take the proper steps to clean them.

My aunt had six children and not as much income. She would take the baby clothes out, repair by hand any damage, and throughly clean and disinfect them using bleach (I remember the distinctive sodium hipochlorite smell) and laying them inside a plastic bag under the sun for a whole day. The next day she'd put the clothes in a regular wash, soften, and iron cycle. I am not advocating the use of the same materials she did though. There are friendlier ways to disinfect nowadays. Hipochlorite is rather aggressive.

If the clothes are clean and without mold or any contaminant, there's no reason to not use them.

Reusing the clothes is environmental friendly, economical, and character-building, I guess. She had a collection of pictures of all six cousins with the same clothes at the same relative age.

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