Why you shouldn't wash your jeans, ever
Here’s good news if you really hate doing laundry. The head of one of the world's biggest jeans company says you really aren't supposed to wash your jeans -- ever.
Levi's CEO Chip Bergh revealed this week that he hasn’t washed his jeans in more than a year and says no one really should if they want to keep their dungarees in tip top shape.
Bergh told Fortune's Brainstorm Green -- a conference in which business leaders discuss ways to be more environmentally sustainable – that he encourages jeans wearers not to wash them often. In fact, he said, the jeans he was wearing had yet to ever see a washing machine.
“I know it sounds totally disgusting. I know it does, but believe me, it can be done,” he told the crowd.
He went on to say that he just spot cleans his pants and air dries them, and added that “real denim aficionados” will always tell you not to wash your jeans.
While it might all seem crazy to some, it’s not far-fetched for denim lovers. Chantal Biro-Schad, who’s been selling jeans for 18 years at her Ottawa store, Schad Boutique, advises her customers to wash their jeans as little as possible.
"The more you wash your jeans, it breaks down the dye process so they'll fade quickly,” she says.
Instead, we should just spot clean our jeans when needed, she says. And when we do finally wash them for the first time, add a cup of vinegar to the wash to help preserve the dye.
So what do you do when your jeans start to smell? Believe it or not, Levi’s, The Gap and other jeans companies suggest putting them in the freezer overnight or longer to kill off the bacteria that are responsible for the strange odours.
Think that sounds gross? Well, a study conducted by textile scientists at the University of Alberta looked at how gross it really is in a 2011 study. They compared bacteria levels on a pair of jeans not washed for more than 15 months with a pair washed after almost two weeks of wear.
Rachel McQueen, a professor with the university’s department of Human Ecology found that while the jeans were covered in bacteria, most of it was harmless.
“Most bacterial organisms transferred into jeans come from the person wearing them, and providing there are no cuts or abrasions to the skin, the bacteria should not harm the wearer," McQueen said in a news release at the time.
Here's Bergh on Levi's environmental initiatives. Skip to 9:40 to get to his comments on washing jeans.
With a report from CTV Ottawa’s Eric Longley