Levi’s CEO Doesn’t Wash His Jeans and You Shouldn’t Either


It seems like no matter what, laundry will always be on your to do list.  Loads seem to build at exponential rates until you are smothered in a pile of dirty clothes. On top of that, doing laundry can be horribly tedious and boring.

However, according to the CEO of Levi Strauss & Co., there is one item of clothing that doesn’t belong in your pile of clothes to wash: jeans. In fact, Chip Bergh stands by the notion that you shouldn’t machine wash your denim ever.

Now it’s important to mention that Bergh does clean his jeans regularly. He will spot clean any stains and marks that his denim accumulates with a washcloth. And if his jeans really need a wash, he hand washes them and leaves the denim to air dry.

Many denim experts say you should wait at least 6 months before washing your jeans. The longer you wait to wash, the better your jeans will look. Bergh even goes as far to say that washing jeans repeatedly can damage the material.

While extending your jean’s life expectancy is one benefit of not washing them, most of Bergh’s argument surrounds the waste of water when washing. In 2007, Levi’s launched a lifecycle assessment of a single pair of jeans to better understand the carbon footprint of their product. It was discovered that the after two years of use, the average pair of jeans goes through 3,500 liters of water. Over 1,600 liters of that water is a consumer throwing jeans in a washing machine, the same amount at 6,700 glasses of water.

It’s easy to forget about sustainability when it comes to washing jeans. But the numbers above provide a compelling case for each of us to take the time to think about our own carbon footprint. So the next time you see your favorite jeans in your laundry pile, think twice about whether a machine wash is really the best option for the denim.


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