COVID 19: Is it time to quarantine your jeans?

by | March 17, 2020 | Opinions, Life

wash your jeans

Or maybe just give your jeans a wash!

Welcome to the new normal, ammiright? Hand hygiene tutorials, social distancing, toilet paper scarcity, bars and gyms are closed…LOCKDOWN. Self-care and protection of our loved ones has become a top priority in homes across the world. These are actual common place things happening in our world right now thanks to COVID 19, and we probably feel a little powerless about it. Nevertheless, these are things we are having to think about daily, in between thoughts of bourbon. Too early to drink it, yup…but never too early to think about it. Guess the quote and I have a coke for you when we are allowed to be near other humans again.

This brings me to a touchy subject among our community, though. Oh lawd, THE DENIM! The fact that my wife hasn’t put the smack down on all of my denim/jeans is somehow a miracle. I mean, after nearly 12 years of marriage, she deserves an award for putting up with my refusal to wash my dry and selvedge denim until I’m ready. Or until it absolutely has to be washed, shit (literally) happens.

That’s not to say it hasn’t been without contention. There have definitely been some fights over it. However, after years of marriage, we have come to an agreement. “When the kids are sick, don’t wear anything you don’t want me to wash.” “When you take Sora to Children’s Hospital for his exams, don’t wear anything you don’t want me to wash.” “And for fuck’s sake, why are you wearing that jacket to a kids birthday party…” You get the drift. 

But right now, with the way the things are going with COVID 19, well things are different. As it turns out, this little bastard of a virus can remain on soft surfaces, like fabric, and even not soft surfaces, like the  SOSO 33’s, for up to 12 hours after exposure. 

So herein lies the problem; The raw denim scene is an unusual one, in which fades are treated like strokes from an artist’s brush. We revere holes and tears like badges of honor and grown-ass-men complement each other on their patching and sewing skills. I mean, this is a group which meticulously chronicles the number of wears and times the jeans have been washed on our pocket bags and the ultimate bragging rights go to those who can go the longest without washing their jeans. 

In fact, the culture of not washing your jeans is so ingrained in our culture that companies like Nudie, APC, and LEVI’s come with instructions which encourage us not wash our jeans for the first six months of wear in order to get sick fades. Fun fact, in 2014, LEVI’s CEO Chip Bergh bragged about a pair of 501’s he hadn’t washed for a year while promoting LEVI’s new waterless campaign. 

So, what should we as a group, as collectors, and fanboys of denim do? I guess wash your fucking jeans. Eww… wait… did I just write that…I did, I did just write that. I feel dirty just saying it in my head. Is there a second option, though? Just hear me out: DONT’ WASH YOUR JEANS! Quarantine your jeans. Socially distance your jeans

Ok, before anyone loses their minds and goes off on me, Im not suggesting that you don’t wash your jeans if you’ve been exposed to anyone with COVID19. What I AM suggesting is: That you simply hold off on wearing anything you’re not ready to wash yet. More importantly, if we are all doing what we are supposed to be, socially distancing ourselves, then maybe this whole denim washing nightmare can be avoided. There, I found a silver lining to adhering to social distancing practices. And for the love of LEVI’s, fact check anything that sounds like bullshit. Rely on the WHO and CDC COVID 19 information sites for reliable information.

jeans in the freezer
Freeze Jeans does not equal Clean Jeans

FREEZE, SOAK, WASH!

OK, while we are on the topic of cleaning your denim. DON’T FUCKING FREEZE YOUR JEANS!

There was a time when people, including myself, thought that putting your raw denim in the freezer was a great way to “clean them.” I first came across this idea back in 2011 when Heddels posted an article, Cleaning Via Freezing, with instructions of how to “clean” your denim by putting them in the freezer. The fact is, freezing, at best, might slow the growth of bacteria that aren’t temperature hardened and thereby reduce malodor due to anaerobic bacterial growth (knowledge bomb, BOOM). That said, it does not in any way kill most, if any, bacteria or viruses. All you get from freezing your denim is a cold reminder of what your jeans might have felt like brand new. You know, stiff AF and with surprisingly more ball room.

What about soaking? Well thats better than nothing, I guess. But to truly clean denim correctly, you need agitations and soapy water. As for detergent, well thats really a matter of choice. If have have to throw my jeans in the washing machine, the, my preference is Woolite Dark . Also, and I can’t stress this enough, DON’T USE FABRIC SOFTENER! That shit is horrible for your clothes and will break down the fibers over time, leaving you with a teddy bear soft pair of crap. 

If you want a great “how to,” here is a great video on how to wash you denim if you’re a newb.

Until next time, stay safe, stay socially distant and Stay Raw!

About the Author

Tristan Chamberlin

Tristan Chamberlin

My name is Tristan, Senior Author and Resident Expert at The arcuate. I'm a walking wiki of worthless knowledge and father of two who watches trash Anime, drinks bourbon, and has opinions about life the universe and who best Waifu’s are. Oh and I like denim...