Planet-Friendly Tips to Clean Your Jeans

Levi Strauss & Co.
May 21, 2014

When our CEO Chip Bergh shared how often he doesn’t wash his jeans the world took notice. Now, everyone seems to be talking about their washing habits – or lack thereof. Seeing as we have some experience in the matter — after all, we’ve been making jeans for 141 years — we’re here to tell you that you can still keep your jeans clean without washing them after every wear.

Here are some tips from our head designer, Jonathan Cheung:

  1. Sun and Air: Hang them outside for a few hours. This will freshen them up.
  2. Spot Clean: If you’ve just got a drop of mud or ketchup on your jeans, then there’s no need to throw them in the machine. With mustard or ketchup, get it quick before it soaks it. A swift wipe with a napkin, spoon or knife will remove most of it. Otherwise, I recommend dabbing the spot with a damp cloth, that’s been dipped in a little soapy water will deal with most of the dirt. Work from the inside out if possible and put a clean cloth under the stain whilst you’re dabbing away.
  3. Soak them: This is a good one for the dirt and dust from a summer’s hike or sweaty from dancing the night away, or a beer spill. Or all three. Throw them in a bath tub of water with a little bit of soap. (I use a simple liquid soap.) Agitate the water, and grab a coffee while they soak. Depending on how dirty they are, repeat, and then hang them out to dry.
  4. Machine washing: If your jeans are getting too stinky then it’s time they go into the machine. Turn them inside out and add a little detergent; the cooler the water, the more energy you’ll save. And there’s no need to wash them separately, just throw them in with the rest of your dark colored clothing.
  5. Don’t Tumble Dry: Not unless you have to. The movement and heat will add wear and tear, and will shorten the life of your jean…instead…
  6. Line Dry: Let nature do the work.
  7. Stretch Refresh: When the knees and bum in your super skinnies start to sag a little, here’s a little tip I got from our denim guru, Bart Sights. Turn them inside out and stick them in the tumble dryer on warm for 10-20 minutes. The shape should come right back.

In the end, jeans are durable; they’re tough. There’s a reason they were originally made for miners to wear. They can take a little dirt.

And if you’re looking to make a sustainable fashion statement, check out Levi’s® Water<Less™ jeans. Our denim finishing experts pioneered new techniques that reduce water consumption while still achieving the same great style and look that you expect. In some cases, the Levi’s® Water<Less™ techniques reduce the amount of water used for finishing by up to 96 percent.

In fewer than four years, our Levi’s® Water<Less™ collection has saved more than 770 million liters of water. To give you an idea of how much that is, we estimate it’s enough to provide drinking water for the entire city of New York City or London for more than a month — or to fill 308 Olympic-sized swimming pools (check out our infographic below)!

So next time you throw those jeans in your laundry basket, think twice. Sometimes airing your dirty laundry isn’t such a bad thing.