Do You Like Your Knickers Manhandled Before You Wear Them?

The dubious advantage of buying your intimates from one of the large chain stores, is that they certainly have traveled through a long supply chain all over the world before they reach you. So your intimates are not quite so intimate anymore.

Some women may like that their underwear has circumnavigated the world. But most want to know that what they are wearing hasn't passed through more hands than a used one dollar bill. After all, if we all wanted our clothing to have jet lag, we'd all wear those germ-infested, acrylic blue blankets they give you on red-eye flights!

Thankfully, our skin is a good barrier, so that most germs cannot penetrate through normal skin but may harmlessly colonize it. In fact washing your hands regularly is probably the single most important hygiene tip for general health. And, immunologically speaking, you are best suited to protect yourself from germs that currently hitch a ride on your body already.

Yet that doesn't address the fact that new garments can be loaded with unfamiliar germs before you even get them close to your skin. One report indicated a hefty dose of skin and fecal bacteria and vaginal organisms on new clothing; yes, brand new clothing. So you should just wash new garments, right? Well, not really! Some bacteria and viruses are hardy enough to withstand washing. The trend towards delicate fabrics and Eco-friendliness demands cooler wash temperatures and mild detergents. These germs are only too thankful that we no longer boil our laundry or use carbolic soap. The modern washing cycle no longer sanitizes anything but has become a kind of roller disco for germs.

Regularly (possibly monthly) running your washing machine on empty at a high temperature, minimizing cross-contamination from heavily soiled garments to your intimates and ensuring that your clothes don't remain damp are good measures to hinder the exponential growth of germs.

Other useful strategies include high temperature drying and even the use of fabric softener (the good stuff that still contains cationic surfactants). And those of you fortunate enough to be able to line dry clothing are on to a good thing, the sun's amazing radiating power zaps germs into submission.

But what about preventive measures? We started the article talking about the many hands it takes to make, ship and display a garment. Too many cooks may spoil the broth in your kitchen, but too many cooties in your laundry broth may spoil your hygiene. There is another way, one that deviates from high volume, high touch manufacture. Artisanal trends in food have created an awareness that shortening the supply chain may actually make sense for other household needs, including knickers.

So, rather than wear garments (I almost typed "germents") that have circumnavigated the world in 80 days, consider the individualized personal approach and select hand-coutured lingerie that hasn't lingered in an airport hanger for breeding purposes.