The Slobs Win: Levi’s CEO Says Never Wash Your Jeans

It’s happened to every jeans owner at least once. You pull the denim pants out of the dryer, try them on, and then cry and eat a whole cheesecake when you realize the jeans have shrunk and won’t fit across your thighs anymore.

Levi Strauss CEO Chip Bergh has a solution for the problem: Don’t wash your jeans. Ever. Jump to the 9:46 mark in the video to hear about Chip’s dirty jeans.

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Got that? Sponge down the really dirty spots on your jeans and leave the rest alone. Then sit there at work, or in class, or next to your germophobe aunt at Thanksgiving dinner, and think about the dead skin and bacteria in your pants. Maybe it’ll drive you mad like the secret in Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” but the jeans will still fit.

Previous to Bergh’s filthy confession in the video, he and Fortune Magazine’s Andy Serwer were discussion conservation and the steps Levi’s has taken to reduce the amount of water needed to make their clothing. Not washing your jeans was another way to conserve both water and the natural wear of the pants, according to Bergh.

As Business Insider notes, this isn’t the first time someone from Levi’s has asked you to stop washing your jeans. In 2013 Levi’s Vice President of Women’s Design Jill Guenza told Elle Magazine that freezing your jeans will keep them from smelling like you never wash your pants. The process kills most (not all) of the microbes and bacteria that cause the odor, according to Guenza.

And as with most pop cultural references to science, this one is wrong, too. In 2011 Professor Stephen Craig Cary told Smithsonian Magazine that the process will indeed chill the bacteria, but some will survive their night next to your Ben and Jerry’s and happily produce more bacteria once your warm them back up.

Smithsonian Mag sums it up nicely:

So, sorry Levi's, freezing our jeans sounded like a great idea, but it's probably not doing anything more than taking up space better left for ice cream.