There’s been a lot of discussion over how often you should wash your jeans.
Which one is correct? The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.
After just one wear, your jeans are covered in microbes including bacteria, skin cells, your natural oils, and traces of whatever was on that park bench you were sitting on. Most of these microbes are technically harmless.
So, not washing your jeans isn’t going to be hazardous to your health.
Good, but that was never the real issue. The real issue is smell. You don’t want your clothes to smell — that’s pretty gross.
Bergh and other denim heads recommend sticking jeans in the freezer, but that’s just not going to work. The freezer isn’t actually cold enough to kill the bacteria that collects on your jeans, and it will do nothing to get rid of the oils and dead skin cells hidden in the cracks and crevices. When they heat up to room temperature, they will just start to smell again.
When the pants get really dirty, Bergh says he hand washes his jeans. Unfortunately, that may not be quite enough to clean them. Denim is not a delicate fabric, and should not be treated as such. It should be worn into the ground, and then cleaned, and then pummelled again, until it’s so faded and hole-filled they need to be replaced. As Tech Insider says, there’s just no substitute for a good scrubbing.
By not washing your jeans, you’re actually subtly changing the weave of the denim fabric. As you wear them, the fibres and weave loosen. That’s why they start to stretch out, and jeans fit looser as you wear them more and more. This might make the fabric more prone to breakage. At the very least, they will fit pretty differently.
Bergh’s primary reason for not washing is jeans is conserving water. But most guys who don’t wash are looking to set fades into their raw denim jeans — jeans that haven’t been washed before wearing and will fade according to the creases they themselves have put into the jeans. Well-worn jeans with a stark contrasting fades is a kind of badge of honour in the denim head community.
So, after all of this, how often should you really wash your jeans?
Basically, when they smell — no sooner and no longer. Depending on how much you sweat, how often you wear them in a week, and how dirty the area you live in is, that could be once every 2-6 months.
Never is just way too long for any type of garment.
For more information on the subject, check out Tech Insider’s video below.