That’s right. Levi’s recommends that their customers spot-clean spills, then nestle that denim right up to the ice cream and frozen peas. A day later the jeans are, supposedly, as good as new.
I have what some consider to be low hygienic standards, but even I found this one ridiculous. Beyond a couple of days, I want to clean my jeans, and freezing them wouldn’t seem to solve any problems — frozen things thaw upon warming, they don’t disappear.
But I also hate doing laundry. If the freezer has magical cleaning properties, I want to know about it. So I put on a freshly washed pair of jeans and determined to wear them every day until they didn’t smell right.
Getting there took longer than I thought. I don’t know if that’s because I draped them over a chair at night to air out or because I got a cold and couldn’t smell anything for a few days, but even after frying bacon, eating Thanksgiving dinner and doing housework, 10 days later the jeans had no discernible odor. They just smelled like jeans.
It wasn’t until I dropped beef stroganoff on my lap that things went downhill. I spot-cleaned the drip, but the next day there was a distinct odor. I gave the jeans another couple of days though: One study I found said that unwashed jeans have the same bacterial count at 13 days as they do at 15 months and I was aiming for maximum grossness.
The thing about unwashed jeans is not just that they smell, which they do, it’s that they don’t feel right – and not just psychologically. They get shapeless, which is nice when you eat too much, but it isn’t exactly flattering. They also take on a somewhat shiny, soft look and feel like you’re wearing freshly greased kittens.
After 13 days of this nonsense, the jeans went into the freezer. A day later they came out and — here is the wild part — they smelled fine. So I put them back on. It was all empty promises, though. A few hours later, I could smell the jeans — or was it the stroganoff?
Here is the thing: Dirty jeans do not need to be frozen — they need to be washed.
But here is the other thing: My jeans don’t get dirty as quickly as I thought and they don’t need to be washed unless they have an odor-producing substance on them. Should jeans pick up an environmental odor — the smell of chicken Parmesan that your brother-in-law cooked in your presence, for example — a night in the freezer will freshen them right up.
And if you really must wear those dirty jeans another day? Based on my experience, you’re better off with a spin in the dryer, not a night in the freezer, provided you’re not concerned about setting stains. Whether it’s the heat, the circulating air or the tumbling, 20 minutes in the dryer will buy you time — just not very much time, and it certainly won’t earn you any friends.
Trust me, I should know.
To wash or not to wash:
Wash your jeans if …
You are not the CEO of Levi’s.
Your jeans are dirty.
You are a parent of small children.
You are a small child or young enough to go to recess.
Your work involves exposure to food, soil, bodily fluids or the like.
Freeze your jeans if …
Your jeans stink due to odors in your environment.
You don’t mind people casting skeptical looks at your pants.
You own a freezer, but not a washer.
You like to eat a lot and want your jeans to feel loose when you put them on.
You want to simplify your wardrobe.
You want fewer friends.
You’re not really into doing laundry.
You’re congested and can’t smell anything anyway.