The Unwashed

ImageIn the news this week the CEO of Levi’s announced, “Do not wash your Levi’s!” Yes, you read it right. Don’t wash them. This scrambles my brain!

I watched an interview with Anderson Cooper from CNN a few years ago where he said he never washed his jeans. He confessed he had jeans decades old that had never been washed. (Giggle! For sure he doesn’t go commando!) In my mind I rationalized that what he was really saying was that he had them dry cleaned, clean-cut guy that he is.

I’ve never dry cleaned an item in my life. I shy away from buying clothes with those labels. If I do buy a blouse that would fade badly or never look the same once washed, I choose to wear it only when I know I can keep it clean. You know – not around the little grandkids or out for a BBQ dinner. I’ve been pretty successful at it. But when it comes to jeans. Huh? My jeans would soon be able to stand in the corner by themselves if never washed. I tend to wipe my hands on my jeans when I cook. They get pretty crusty in just a day. There is no way I could never wash them.

One advantage of not washing a pair of jeans would be the fit. Have you ever taken a fresh pair of jeans out of the dryer to put on? They fit like new but not like “mine”. They are tighter than they were when last worn. Sometimes I have to wear them unzipped for a bit to stretch them out before I can zip them. It makes me wonder how teens get by these days with their skin-tight pants. My granddaughter might just as well paint them on. Do hers fit better or worse after washing? There must be a lot of spandex in them!

My husband likes his jeans dark denim. When they start to fade he is ready to move on to a new pair. I’ve shown him in the stores how light jeans are OK to wear. You can buy them that way. With holes in them already even! He shakes his head. Could he go without washing his jeans? Not at all. He is a working man. His jeans get dirty kneeling on the floor or working in a muddy construction zone. And… they need washing so they no longer drag in the butt and fit his tush nicely again. And… he has a cup of coffee in his hand nearly all the time. He swears it is his cups that dribble. Nope. His jeans must be washed.

I think back to my first pair of jeans. Our school did not allow girls to wear pants of any kind. We had to wear skirts or dresses. In the winter when I had to walk to school in snow and cold, I wore a pair of slacks under my skirt that had to be taken off in the restroom before class started. My husband encouraged me to buy a pair of jeans when we started dating in 1968. He took me to the men’s store and we bought a pair. They were dark, stiff denim. We took them to the laundromat after we both got off work that evening to give them a good washing, breaking them in a bit. I was so excited to have them! It was the first pair of I don’t know how many hundreds I’ve had in the 45 years since.

The only advantage to not washing jeans would be their longevity. I would imagine a pair would last forever. So isn’t it counter-intuitive for Levi’s to encourage us not to wash them?

UPDATE: This link to HLN carries this discussion a little further.


2 thoughts on “The Unwashed

  1. stephensmustang1

    I can’t believe anyone would wear anything for any length of time and not wash them–couldn’t do it myself…even though, like you, mine are tighter coming out of the dryer at least they are clean 😉 Crazy world we live in.

    1. Marcia Post author

      During the hippie movement of the 1960’s the establishment was so critical of the youth for being so unwashed. Times do change don’t they?


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