How Often Should I Wash My Jeans?

t was just an ordinary conversation on an ordinary day in high school when my life changed forever. “I just washed these jeans and now they’re too tight from the dryer,” I told my lunch table, as I chowed down on a soft pretzel that wasn’t helping with the problem.

One of my friends then informed me that you’re not supposed to put your jeans in the dryer, and I was just about to deliver some sassy response when our other friend made a comment that shut us all up. “I’ve never washed a pair of jeans in my life,” she said. “I wash my other clothes, but jeans don’t count.”

I remember thinking that my friend’s approach to denim cleanliness seemed kind of awesome and badass, but I never seriously considered going that route with my own jeans. I soon forgot about that conversation, and since I don’t personally wear jeans in my adult life (praise be to jeggings), their maintenance isn’t something I think about a lot. I was a little bit shocked and a whole lot nostalgic to see that the CEO of Levi is making headlines today… for not washing his jeans.

During a recent appearance at Fortune’s Brainstorm Green conference, Chip Bergh gave this surprising quote:

These jeans are maybe a year old and they have yet to see a washing machine. I know that sounds totally disgusting. I know it does. But believe me, it can be done.

Hmm! He went on to recommend putting your jeans in the freezer once in a while to kill the bacteria (um, okay), as well as cleaning up spots of dirt, food, or what-have-you with a dab of laundry soap.

I don’t think Mr. Bergh is a doctor or a microbiologist or even a school nurse, so you might want to ask someone who understands germs a little better before you start freezing your stink away, but it’s interesting to hear this kind of advice from someone whose whole life is about jeans.

Maybe I’ll try this approach on the next pair I own… and maybe I should call up my friend from high school and tell her she might not be crazy after all.

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