In May 2014, Levi Strauss & Co. CEO Chip Bergh was at Fortune Brainstorm Green talking about ways to save water when he came clean about his own dirty jeans. “These jeans are maybe a year old and these have yet to see a washing machine. I know it sounds disgusting … but I have yet to get a skin disease,” he said. He added that jeans don’t need regular washings and that denim aficionados would say never wash your jeans. The social media wave that followed surprised everyone — especially Bergh.
To test Bergh’s statement, ABC News’ Becky Worley wore her pair of light-colored boyfriend jeans from LS&Co. for eight months without washing them and shared her experience on Good Morning America this morning.
Overall, the jeans weathered the eight months remarkably well. LS&Co. estimates that she saved 130 gallons of water by not washing her jeans. Over its entire lifetime a single pair of jeans is responsible for 919 gallons of water usage.
Half of that water is from the cotton-growing and manufacturing processes. The other comes when consumers regularly wash the jeans.
While the sustainability piece of not washing jeans appeals to many, Jonathan Cheung, Levi Strauss’s head of design, said real denim-heads love the look of unwashed jeans. When Becky came to visit us he showed her a pair of his own jeans washed weekly and a pair that had rarely been washed. The deep indigo of the unwashed jeans was much better looking than the flat color of the washed jeans.
To be clear, Levi Strauss isn’t saying you should NEVER wash your jeans. Rather, we want customers to break the habit of throwing jeans in the hamper and wash only when absolutely necessary. You can check out more tips to keep your jeans clean in between washes here. We want to see your dirty jeans – tweet us your photos using #dirtyjeans and tag @LeviStraussCo and @GMA.