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Don’t machine wash your denim, says Levi’s CEO

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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Levi Strauss CEO Chip Bergh has some unusual style advice for 501 fans: Step away from the washing machine.

The denim honcho shared the words of wisdom this week at Fortune’s Brainstorm Green conference in Laguna Niguel, California.

“These jeans are maybe a year old and these have yet to see a washing machine,” he said of the pair he wore during a chat onstage. “I know that sounds totally disgusting.”

He recommended spot cleaning jeans with a sponge or toothbrush and a bit of detergent, then air drying. He says you should very seldom machine wash.

“If you treat them right, they’ll last a long, long time — probably longer than most people’s waistline.”

He added that less washing equals greater environmental sustainability.

It’s not new advice. Designer Tommy Hilfiger has made similar comments. And CNN’s Anderson Cooper told style expert Stacy London two years ago that he washes his jeans very rarely.

Jeans aficionados may be accustomed to hearing some unusual tips on keeping their denim products fresh. Advice ranges from spot cleaning jeans and never washing them to freezing them to kill any germs.

Jolie Kerr, who writes a column called “Ask a Clean Person,” says it depends on your lifestyle and hygiene preferences.

“Consider how you’re wearing your jeans and make laundering decisions accordingly,” said Kerr, who recently released the book “My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag … and Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha.”

“The way you’d care for a pair of jeans that you wear for yardwork versus ones you’d wear out dancing should be different — the function should dictate how you treat a pair of jeans.”


  • Nonsense.

    THey’re jeans. 39.99. All day everyday. I’ve machine washed mine for years. Minimal fade, minimal tearing. Time=money. Its ludicrous to imagine myself scrubbing my jeans for ~20 minutes with a toothbrush any time I kneeled on grass or dirt. These arent $300 ‘dope sneakers yo’…Theyre low end jean denim made in micronesia and turkey…PS this website redesign is sloppy.

    • MilkAndWookiees

      “NONSENSE” is a perfect name for you, because Levi’s for $39.99 is total nonsense. Perhaps you’ve been spot-cleaning and freezing your jeans, though, and haven’t had to buy a new pair since the 90’s.

  • Nuts

    Were you get your jeans from I guess I’ve paid to much 39.99 how abt 69.99 and to stay well off (saving money) it’s a good idea for adults not children that’s why the rich stay rich and poor stay poor because they do mostly the right thing to save the$$$$$$ dough

  • MilkAndWookiees

    People actually have different pairs of jeans for different purposes? I thought part of the awesomeness of jeans was that you could use them for just about anything.

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