Experts always suggest that we wait longer before washing our jeansto preserve the denim, but just how long can we go? According to an ABC News report, Canadian college student Josh Le put his jeans to the test in the name of science, wearing them for 15 months without washing them. He got the idea to try this experiment during an introductory to textiles class. “My professor mentioned that she researches on textiles and bacteria, so it piqued my curiosity there,”Le told ABC News. “I half jokingly said we should do a bacterial analysis on them [Le's jeans] and that’s where it sort of started.”
In September 2009, Le bought a $165 pair of Nudie jeans for his sophomore year at University of Alberta and wore them 330 times by December 2010, documenting his progress on Facebook and in a YouTube video. During this time, the denim lightened up and got a few holes, but they also started to form to his body and become the best pair of jeans ever. Le carried around paper towels to dab out stains, and if they smelled he put them in the freezer overnight or let them hang and air out for a few hours. “If you don’t wash your clothing, it raises questions. I was very careful with odor. I did the smell test in the morning,” Le said in the interview.
After 15 months and one week, Le went to his professor, Rachel McQueen, to test the jeans for bacteria. They swabbed the denim, and finally washed them. Then for comparison’s sake, Le wore the jeans for 13 days, which is about the average duration a person wears jeans before washing them, and swabbed them again. According to McQueen’s tests, “There did not appear to be differences in the bacterial carriage depending on whether the jeans had been worn for 15 months or only 13 days.”
While Le and McQueen admitted their research is just one test, the professor said the majority of the bacteria came mostly from Le’s skin and would do him no harm. “I personally think 15 months is a bit long,” McQueen said. “It’s better not to wash your jeans after each wear. It takes wear and tear on your jeans. By not washing frequently, you’re extending the life of the jeans.”
We’d have to agree. We wouldn’t have the guts or the desire to subject ourselves and the people around us to unwashed jeans for 15 months, but going a little bit longer between cleaning is good for the denim and for the environment. Another advantage: “wearing a pair of jeans every day takes away the stress of what to wear in the morning,” Le said.
So maybe you wouldn’t push your denim to the limit for 15 months, but how long have you worn your jeans without washing them?
Also, for those of you who can’t believe Josh Le really did this, check out his time-lapse video of the denim below.