Most of us are probably used to wearing the same clothes multiple days in a row after over a year of staying at home. But even before that, you probably wore your old faithful jeans a few extra times before chucking them in for a wash.
Opinions on how often you should definitively wash your jeans vary. Denim is different to other fabrics like cotton or wool, so it comes with its own set of rules.
Let’s break it down.
Why you shouldn’t wash your jeans too often
There are a couple of negatives when it comes to washing your jeans.
First off, like most clothing items, too many washes in the machine will cause the fabric to fade and wear.
For some people, the appearance of faded denim isn’t an issue, so in which case go wild, but if you want to retain the original colour and make your jeans last for longer, then fewer washes are better.
Second, washing our clothes too often is bad for the environment. Even if you have an energy-efficient washing machine, it still uses a lot of water per cycle.
Washing clothes also releases harmful microfibres into the wastewater system which eventually makes its way to the ocean has been known to cause harmful pollution. So, the less you can contribute to that the better.
How often do they need to be washed?
As mentioned, opinions on jean washing frequency vary.
The Clothes Doctor on Instagram suggests only washing your denim clothing once per month if you’re wearing them every day.
Some say don’t wash your jeans until they really need it – ie. when they smell or are visibly dirty.
If you’re worried about harmful bacteria building up on your clothes in between washes this video from HowStuffWorks explains why you shouldn’t.
As the video explains, a microbiology student in Alberta once ran a test by not washing their jeans for 15 months. The student compared the bacteria content on this pair with ones that had been washed two weeks earlier and found there was almost no difference.
Some people have claimed that putting your jeans in the freezer will kill any smells or germs on them and allow you to go longer without washing them. This is also false because, as Business Insider explains, household freezers aren’t cold enough to kill the kinds of bacteria that live in denim pants – which is mostly a byproduct of human skin.
The CEO of Levi’s once famously said you should never wash your jeans (in a machine at least). If Chip Bergh needs to wash his jeans he says he spot-washes them and even has a pair he’s been wearing for 10 years that have never been through a machine wash.
How to properly wash jeans
When it does inevitably come time to wash your jeans, what’s the correct way to do it?
If you’re not too worried about the perfect pristine condition of your jeans, then a machine wash on cold water would also work. You should put them in the wash inside out to help preserve the exterior fibres and maintain their colour. Skip the dryer if you can, too.
Advice for washing jeans varies depending on fabric so make sure you check the tag for proper recommendations.
So, in the absence of a hard and fast rule determining how often jeans must be washed, it really comes down to your better judgement. At the end of the day, you are the one who has to wear them, so you can also decide they need to be washed.