Save Water and Extend the Life of Your Jeans

Not only should you wash your jeans (way) less, but you should do it differently. Here’s the skinny.

Unless you follow the “less is more” mantra, you’re most likely wasting water and reducing the life of your jeans by washing them too often.

That’s the word from Levi Strauss & Co., the company that made the first pair of blue jeans in 1873. Levi CEO Chip Bergh made headlines last year when he said he’s worn his own jeans for more than a year without washing them. Bergh said keeping your jeans out of the washing machine is not only good for the pants, it saves a lot of water.

California’s multiyear drought and water restrictions have brought water conservation issues to the forefront. The drought is driving a discussion in the fashion industry on how jeans are manufactured and how they should be cleaned, MarketWatch reports.

Southern California is reportedly the world’s biggest supplier of premium denim – jeans that cost $100-plus per pair.

“Water is a key component in the various steps of the processing and repeated washing with stones, or bleaching and dyeing that create that ‘distressed’ vintage look,” MarketWatch said.

Some businesses, like Blue Creations of California, Inc., are finding new ways to create the distressed look people want in their jeans, without using as much water.

San Francisco-based Levi Strauss announced in March that the company has saved 1 billion liters of water since 2011 by using a new process that “reduces the water used in garment finishing by up to 96 percent.”

So, what can you do to save water and lengthen the life of your jeans?

If you’re like most American, you wash your jeans much more often than Bergh. According to a recent Mashable.com poll, 27 percent of people wear their jeans three times before tossing them in the wash. About 1 in 5 people said they wear their jeans five or more times before washing.

While you may not want to wait a year before washing your jeans, you can usually get more than a few wears out of them before you toss them in the hamper.

In fact, Levi is urging people to wear their jeans 10 times before washing them, and they don’t recommend a washing machine, just a spot clean. To keep jeans looking their best, check out Levi’s recommendations on “How to Clean Your Jeans.”

For years, I washed my jeans after a single wear. Now I toss them in the wash after I wear them three or four times (or sooner, if my kids wipe their hands and face on them).

How many times do you wear your jeans (or other clothes) before they hit the hamper? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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