Is Freezing Jeans Really Effective and Eco-Friendly?

This week, Chip Bergh, the CEO at Levis, advised that customers stop washing their jeans. He said that he gave up on putting his jeans in the washing machine over a year ago and instead stores them in the freezer overnight to keep his pants clean. He argued that the method not only helps to keep jeans in better condition, but also is more environmentally sound since it conserves energy and water by decreasing loads of laundry.

While it may sound good, denim-wearers may want to think twice before doing laundry in their refrigerators. Itís a rumor thatís cycled for a few years now and if not quite an urban myth, the effects of freezing jeans have at least been exaggerated. Cold temperatures will kill some bacteria, but plenty of the gross organisms that reside on your clothes will withstand the freezer just fine.

Besides, bacteria arenít jeansí only foe. Dead skin and dirt also cling to the pants, which attracts bacteria to the clothing anyway. Freezing will do nothing to eliminate skin and dirt, though a washing machine will do the trick.

In order to destroy germs, your best bet is to go hot rather than cold: at least 250 degrees Fahrenheit should do the trick. Of course, in order to get the heat high enough to kill bacteria, it would most likely use more energy than just washing them in the normal sense.

On the plus side, depending on what kind of activities youíve been involved in, jeans probably donít need to be washed after every wear anyway. Use them until theyíre dirty or smelly and youíll be able to conserve water and energy without the help of a freezer.

Although we donít advocate taking this particular suggestion from the Levis CEO for greening your blues, we do still support the idea of giving your laundry habits a swift eco-kick.† Care2 Green Living has some tips on how to make that happen:

  1. Upgrade to an energy-efficient front-loading washer: It cuts down on both energy and water without sacrificing the cleanliness of your clothes.
  2. Choose detergents wisely: Many laundry products include chemicals and scents that pollute waterways and donít biodegrade. This article contains a list of buzzwords to look for to know that your soap is natural and not harmful to the environment.
  3. Get clotheslines: Eliminate the need to run the dryer altogether by drying your clothing out in the sun instead. If the temperature or precipitation isnít sufficient for getting your clothes dry, a drying rack indoors can also do the trick.
  4. Use your hands: When you have just a few items that need to be cleaned, hand wash them rather than running an incomplete load.

Feeling inspired? Check out more environmentally conscious laundry suggestions here.

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Teresa W.
Teresa W.about a year ago

I suppose the Inuits don't have such dilemmas. ;-)

Teresa W.
Teresa W.about a year ago

Freezing jeans????

Alli Beltz
Alli Beltzabout a year ago

You know the boiling point if water is only 212 degrees, right? 250 degrees should do the trick to clean jeans? Mkay!

Ruhee B.
Ruhee B.1 years ago

Hmmm I don't think the freezer will work! Other tips are good though!

Nils Anders Lunde


Steven G.
Steven G.1 years ago

I might try placing my jeans in the freezer overnight... but not with me in them.

Anne Moran
Anne Moran1 years ago

Don't think I would enjoy putting a 'cold' pair of pants on...

It would probably take ages, for them to 'defrost'...

Can't throw them in the dryer, it would just ruin it...

Mark H.
Mark H.1 years ago


M Quann
M Quann1 years ago

Thank you.

inspector thirtyseven

I think the CEO of Levis has a really big freezer