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Not washing jeans for 15 months OK, health-wise at least (Article)


Feb 8, 2008
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Good article to show you family members that are grossed out by not washing your RAW denim...


By Elise Stolte

EDMONTON "” Despite the yuck factor, wearing raw denim jeans for 15 months straight without washing them doesn't pose any health risks for healthy people, according to a student-professor team that tested a pair of those jeans at the University of Alberta.

Josh Le, 20, bought a pair of Nudie Jeans in September 2009. He wore them nearly every day and even slept in them for about a month to really let the sweat shape the creases. He spilled food on it, wiped it off with a paper towel, and kept on going. "I wanted to push it to the extreme," he said.

But when Le and assistant human ecology professor Rachel McQueen swabbed the inside of the jeans and tested them for bacteria in December 2010, they found levels pretty normal. And after Le washed the jeans, then wore them for 13 days before re-testing them, bacteria levels were nearly identical.

The pair showed off the results on campus Wednesday.

"I was pleasantly surprised," said McQueen. "What I found was just normal skin flora. The counts were really, really similar. The bacteria load from the swabbed areas were pretty much the same."

The bacteria counts were highest around the crotch, but McQueen found no E. coli or other kind of bacteria from fecal matter. "I did expect to find something but I was pleasantly surprised not to find something like that."

This means wearing raw denim for months without washing is likely safe for a normal, healthy person, said McQueen, adding the caution that this is just one unpublished study with one person's jeans.

She suggests that with normal wear, jeans need only be washed about once a month.

"I think wearing underwear is probably a pretty important thing here if you're not washing your jeans. I would say (wash) once a month, depending on how long you wear the jeans.

"Not everyone is as rigorous at trying to control odour as (Le) was."

Wearing raw denim is trendy among some groups of fashion-conscious men, and to some extent, women. It's common to buy the untreated jeans and wear them six months before washing them to get a personalized look to the wear patterns.

The jeans cost between $100 and $700 "”Le bought his Nudie Jeans online for $167.

He had no problems with smell, he said, until he brought them to California for a family vacation seven months into the adventure.

He left them folded in his suitcase for three days, then opened it and gagged. "There was this huge waft of smell," he said. "It smelled really bad. It was hot and humid, perfect bacteria-growing conditions."

After that, his mother wanted him to wash them. He considered swimming with them in the ocean, then rolling in the sand, as some raw denim enthusiasts like to do. But he wasn't ready. "There was still a lot of jean left to wear."

Instead, "the day I came home I triple-bagged them and put them in the freezer."

The next day, they smelled fine. So for the rest of the 15 months, he threw the jeans in the freezer every other week.

For Christmas, his brothers gave him a new $185 pair from the Canadian brand Naked and Famous. He's worn them 19 days, so far. "The challenge is one year, but I want to push it to a year and a half, maybe two.

"If it smells, I let them hang at home."

Postmedia News


Distinguished Member
Oct 7, 2010
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dude, I think we need another thread about this stupid article.

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