By now, you’ve probably heard that Chip Bergh, Levi’s CEO and president, has a thing about washing jeans. He famously spoke to a crowd in 2014 wearing a pair of jeans that had never been washed after more than a year of being worn.
Bergh urges people to reduce how often they wash their jeans for environmental reasons, but do we even fully understand what those environmental reasons are? And are there other reasons we should stop washing our jeans so often?
We’re here to break it down. Behold, six reasons it’s really OK to cut back on washing your jeans.
1. Because washing destroys them faster.
We’re all about a good pair of distressed denim, but washing them too often can turn those dreamy duds into a nightmare ― fast. A downright devastating Vogue article perfectly describes the perils of messing up a pair of perfect jeans with a washing machine.
“I turned the washing machine dial to cold, walked away for an indeterminate amount of time, and when I returned, my beloved jeans lay mangled at the bottom of this so-called cleaning device,” explains author Marjon Carlos. “I was devastated. The soft, smooth texture was hardened by the thrash of the spin cycle and deluge of water; they were paler than last I remembered; the shape was askew.”
2. Because, come on, they fit better when they’re a little stretched out.
When’s the last time you were able to really get down in a pair of freshly washed denim? Probably never.
3. Because jeans take a long time to dry.
And, according to some experts, taking a shortcut is a big no-no. Robert Schaeffer, the owner and founder of high-end denim shop Schaeffer’s Garment Hotel in Los Angeles, once told Yahoo News “the most horrible thing for jeans is putting them in the dryer.” Not to mention, if you wash your jeans in the dryer you’re driving up your electric bill.
4. Because it’s really not that gross to have dirty jeans.
A test done by the University of Alberta in 2009 showed the amount of bacteria on a pair of jeans was “pretty normal” after 15 months of wear without washing. And jeans contained just about the same amount of bacteria after washing and wearing them for 13 days.
5. Because washing machines waste a lot of water.
It may seem like a quick load of laundry to you, but the amount of water necessary to wash jeans with a machine is jarring. Bergh spelled it out in a blog post:
“An average pair of jeans consumes roughly 3,500 liters of water – and that is after only two years of use, washing the jeans once a week. Nearly half of the total water consumption, or 1,600 liters, is the consumer throwing the jeans in the washing machine. That’s equivalent to 6,700 glasses of drinking water,” he said. He doesn’t explain where the other half of that water goes. However, to get an even bigger picture of how much water every pair of jeans uses, National Geographic says it takes 2,900 gallons of water simply to produce one pair.
6. Because dirty jeans prevent unwanted human interaction.
Want everyone to just leave you the hell alone for a little while? Slap on a pair of your dirtiest jeans. That should do the trick.