Washing your jeans? It’s fine to wait weeks — even six months or more, experts say
It’s better for the environment, it keeps jeans looking good and less-faded for longer, and, most importantly, it reduces laundry.
In 2019, jeans come in all manner of stylesbut there’s a divide among jean-wearers as to how much to wash them.
If you’re washing your jeans after every wear or two, you’re likely washing too much.At least, that’s what multiple designers and experts from denim brands tell USA TODAY.
The fabric on denim is thicker than a T-shirt,and you’re (hopefully) wearing a layer of underwear beneath your jeans. Concerns about bacteria are likely unfounded: In 2017, astudent in the University of Alberta wore jeans for 15 months straight, and they contained the same bacteria levels as they did when he wore them for less than two weeks.
But the reasons are manifold: It’s better for the environment, it keeps jeans looking good and less-faded for longer, and, most importantly, it reduces laundry.
A report issued by Levi’s in 2015says thatwashing jeans every 10 wears”instead of every twotimes reduces energy use, climate change impact, and water intake by up to 80 percent”Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh even confessed to not putting his jeans in the washing machine for over a decade.
How often should you wash your jeans?
The one overarching rule: Go by the smell test.
Mary Pierson, head of denim design at J. Crew Group, which owns Madewell and J. Crew, advises at least three wears before a wash — but also advises for “washing jeans as little as possible.”
“The actual time between washes will vary greatly from person to person, based on how they’re used,” said Stephen Powell, co-founder of Berkeley, California-based clothing companyGustin. “Those who find themselves in cleaner situations can go as much as a year between washes, while someone really working in theirjeansmight need to wash them daily.”
If you live in a more humid climate, or wear your jeans for gardening or construction work, washing more regularly is recommended. But, asBahzad Trinos, a denim specialist at Canadian denim brandNaked & Famous Denim, told USA TODAY, “if you’re just doing normal stuff wearing a pair of jeans on the weekend, you could easily go six months to (a year)without washing.”
There are some people, Trinos said, who go years without washing their jeans on purpose. It’s a small but very devoted community of denim obsessives who buy their jeans raw — unwashed and untreated — so that the jeans can mold and distress uniquely to their body.
“The jeans obviously are pretty filthy, but they look pretty darn cool,” Trinos said.
Robert McMillan, the founder of Dearborn Denim, a jean company that manufactures its jeans in Chicago, recommends “washing as infrequently as you can while still enjoying putting them on.”
So if that means that they reek, or feel icky upon wearing, maybe put them through a wash. But until then, wear it. It’s better for you and the planet.
How should you clean your jeans?
There’s no one right way of cleaningjeans, but there are a few ways to doing itincorrectly.
Rarely, if ever, should jeans go in the dryer. “Make sure to air dry your jeans,” Kathleen Talbot, the vice president of operations and sustainability at sustainable womenswearbrandReformation, said.
And when they are being dried, it’s usually better to finish them off in the dryer on low heat rather than let them dry in the dryer, Pierson at J. Crew Group advises. That helps “to soften them up after they have dried.”Hanging them to dry, according to Levi’s, cuts climate impact by 67 percent.
Also, should there be a spill on your jeans that requires a cleaning, spot-cleaning is the way to go. Pierson suggests “mild soap” and a wet cloth to wash and blot dry.
“Spot cleaning will remove stains and odors while preventing your pants from losing elasticity and fading,” said Roian Atwood,senior director of global sustainable business for Kontoor Brands, which owns Lee and Wrangler.
Jeans, multiple experts advise, shouldbe washed in cold water with a mild detergent.McMillan at Dearborn Denim uses Woolite Dark detergent, which is designed to reduce fading on dark clothes, at home.
Some denim expertssuggest more extreme measures, such as freezing your jeans. Others, though, such as Naked and Famous’ Trinos, would advise otherwise.
“With regards to freezing your jeans, if your aim is to make your jeans cold then yes it’s a great way to do that,” he said.”But it won’t help remove the stink.”
Read more at usatoday.com.