Should you stop washing your jeans, really?

Many news agencies have picked up on the denim story of the decade- Levi Strauss`s CEO says ‘never machine wash your jeans’ and he practices what he preaches. I picked the CNN version of the story below and linked it-  for those who haven`t heard the revelation,  click on the picture.

CNN story Don't machine wash your denim, says Levi's CEO
CNN story Don’t machine wash your denim, says Levi’s CEO

However, this no wash or less wash jean theory is not new.  Tommy Hilfiger declared last year that he never, ever washed his jeans.

So, how serious and sensible are the millionaire ‘jeanistas’ and is it practical for the average Joe?

Chip Bergh, Levi`s CEO says he spot washes with a sponge or a toothbrush and hand washes after long periods (not sure if he does it himself).  But if he was completely true to Levi`s workman history he would be out wrangling cows in the dust and building up an all over sweat. Even for those of us who wear our jeans out dancing, this is not going to be enough.

If you are wrangling cattle or wearing your jeans in an unhygienic environment, you`d better wash them and live with the fact that they will fade and thin, and look vintage sooner. To reduce damage to the environment and the denim hand wash them in cold water inside-out with a natural wool wash such eucalyptus or lavender and hang them in shape to dry preferably out of direct sunlight.

For a white collar worker we can probably follow Bergh or even Hilfiger`s lead going many, many months without a machine wash or even hand wash.

As Chip Bergh points out to CNN and in other articles it is environmentally friendly too, using less detergent, electricity and with less dye running into waterways.

If you aren`t washing for months and they are visually clean but getting loose as cotton/denim does, or if you just want that straight-from-the-shop crispness the trick is to put them in a plastic bag in the freezer overnight (don`t expect to wear them the next morning).

It`s also important to note all of this advice is for 100% cotton denim. If you have a blend of cotton and synthetic stretch they will wash better and last longer after washing. The advantage of synthetic is also the disadvantage-  they last longer but put more chemical into the environment during the manufacturing and wearing life, and don`t biodegrade like 100% cotton denim so keep putting out chemicals in landfills.


2 thoughts on “Should you stop washing your jeans, really?”

  1. What is the main motivation to not wash one’s jeans? And would that mean that to not wash any clothes or cloth unnecessarily is also part of the ideal? As far as an eco-conscious ideal, when hemp becomes more available, as we may be seeing soon, not only is it much more eco-friendly to grow it, it also wears well and lasts longer than cotton fiber. This is wonderful for jeans because they are an item that has classic style, so it lasting longer is a good thing, and the way hemp gets softer as it is washed and worn is also a plus.

  2. I agree hemp is a good alternative and we should wear less cotton when there is a viable alternative- crop diversity is better for the planet and cotton does environmental damage in many regions of the world. This article (not to be taken too seriously) is really for existing denim enthusiasts or those not likely to give up their denim.
    1) the denim last longer, even a life time, so they are not being constantly replaced and their is less cotton needed
    2) they are washed less, sending less toxins in waterways and using less energy.

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