Levi’s CEO Advises Against Machine Washing Jeans

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CEO of Levi Strauss & Co., Chip Bergh, recently shared on his opinion on washing denim jeans at Fortune’s Brainstorm Green conference in Laguna Niguel, California. According to Bergh, jeans should rarely see the inside of a washing machine. Before you turning your nose up, however, you should first hear the methodology behind his thinking.

Bergh Shares His Opinion on Machine Washing Jeans

These jeans are maybe a year old and these have yet to see a washing machine. I know that sounds totally disgusting. If you treat them right, they’ll last a long, long time — probably longer than most people’s waistline,” said Bergh during a press interview.

When questioned by moderator Andy Sewer on how often people should wash their jeans, Bergh responded, “Not very often. If you talk to real denim aficionados, they’ll tell you, don’t wash your blue jeans.”

Instead of machine washing, Bergh recommends spot cleaning blue jeans with a toothbrush and a small amount of detergent. The toothbrush is ran under warm water so the bristles are moist and more forgiving. Next, detergent is placed directly on the stained areas of the jeans and the toothbrush is used to scrub them out. Granted, this is a simple and effective way to remove small stains, but it’s not a viable solution for jeans that are covered in dirt.

Why Levi’s CEO Is Against Machine Washing Jeans

So, why is Bergh adamantly against machine washing his blue jeans? During the interview, he notes that machine washing reduces the lifespan of jeans, gradually wearing them down over time. If you treat a pair of jeans right, he said, they’ll last longer than most people’s waistline.

Bergh also points to the environmental impact of machine washing jeans, saying it uses a high amount of energy compared to other household appliances and electronics.

Should I Machine Wash My Jeans?

Failing to wash your jeans on a regular basis can lead to buildups of potentially harmful bacteria. Levi’s stance on “don’t wash your jeans” has been around for years, encouraging people to spot treat their jeans rather than machine wash. But spot treating fails to eliminate most the bacteria that grows on the fibers of jeans, leaving the wearer more susceptible to disease and illness.

If you’re worried about damaging or shortening the life of your jeans – but you also want them clean – try washing them with cold water and delicate setting. Also, line dry your jeans rather than placing them inside the clothes dryer. Following these tips will preserve your jeans so they last for years to come.