Levi’s CEO Explains Why You Shouldn’t Wash Your Jeans

The CEO of Levi's has explained why you shouldn't wash your jeans.
Credit: CNBC & Alamy

The CEO of Levi’s is warning people to never wash their jeans. 

Everyone can agree that washing your clothes should absolutely be something you do after you’ve worn them a few times.

But when it comes to how often you should wash jeans, then that’s another discussion.

Well, fortunately, someone who is behind one of the biggest clothes brands has given an expert opinion.

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Charles ‘Chip’ Bergh is the president and chief executive officer of Levi Strauss & Co – a position he has held since 2011.

The clothing company is one of the biggest and most recognisable in the world and is worth an estimated $5.82 billion, as per Stock Analysis.

While the company sells T-shirts and jackets, Levi’s is best known for its jeans – so of course Bergh would know what’s best when it comes to taking care of your jeans.

Speaking to Fortune in 2014, the CEO explained that a good pair of denim doesn’t really need to be washed in a washing machine ‘except for very infrequently or rarely’.

When it comes to one of Bergh’s favourite pairs of jeans, he actually didn’t wash them for 10 years, as per The Evening Standard.

Charles Bergh believes that jeans should hardly need washing. Credit: Alamy

People did take his word literally, which meant he had to explain his remarks while talking to CNBC.

“I never said don’t wash your jeans,” he said. “True denim heads, people that really love their denim, will tell you to never put your denim into a washing machine. So that’s what I do.”

John Reid, managing director at clothing retailer Garment Quarter, told Yahoo that people who know the material will tell you that washing denim is a no-no, as washing your jeans can alter its appearance.

“The sheer amount of water that they are exposed to in a washing machine can be the culprit for affecting the look and colour of the denim by fading over time,” he explained.

“Cotton-based denim jeans with little stretch to them will become more comfortable over time.”

Not washing jeans will also make them last longer as it will prevent the denim’s fibres from wearing down – which could lead to holes or rips.

If Bergh does spill something on his pair of jeans, he prefers to spot-clean them or if the stain is that bad, he will wash them in the shower.

Sticking your jeans in the washing machine can alter the size and colour of them. Credit: Alamy

If you are wondering how to wash your jeans, Levi’s has fortunately uploaded a guide on its website on what is the correct way to clean them.

The manufacturer explains that denim is not particularly delicate – as it started as ‘workwear’ – and unlike other fabrics, it can get wet and not be damaged so dry cleaning is ‘pretty unnecessary’.

But if you were to run them through the washing machine, Levi’s says: “You’ll wanna turn your jeans inside out to protect the colour from fading through direct contact with detergent. Make sure the zipper is closed to help maintain the shape.

“You’ll wanna set the water temperature to cold. Cold water prevents the fabric from shrinking and the colour from fading.

“Choose gentle or delicate wash to make sure your jeans aren’t being put through any unnecessary stress. Pick a gentle detergent for darker colours if you have a dark blue or black wash.”

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When it comes to how often they should be washed, Levi’s also suggests that you should have long periods without washing to help maintain the ‘distinct lines and creases’ on your jeans.

The guide reads: “That unique look comes from wearing your jeans for long periods without washing. So in the spirit of helping you all achieve that aesthetic, we’ll help you understand how often to wash them. In terms of optimal washing frequency, we’d say less is more is the general guideline.

“The more specific guideline is to wash them once every 10 wears at most to keep them fitting correctly and make sure you minimize sagging.”

While they recommend 10 wears, Levi’s does say that you can go longer.

“What we *are* suggesting is that you use a damp cloth or old toothbrush with mild soap to remove small stains in between washes instead of opting for a full-on machine cycle,” the clothing company adds.

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Written by Rosario Monachino

Rosario is a content editor at IGV who specialises in film, TV and entertainment news. He has a degree in English and Film from the University of Salford and a masters in Journalism from Liverpool John Moores University.