How to Know When It’s Time to Wash Your Jeans

Jeff gets home from work at his office job, and immediately heads to his laundry room, where he strips down and throws his shirt, socks, and underwear directly into the washer. Yet, curiously, he folds his jeans over his arm and carries them to his bedroom, where he tosses them on the dresser. For, you see, he intends to wear them again the next day. And the sickest part? He wore them yesterday too.

Why would Jeff—and so many millions of other people—wear a pair of blue jeans multiple days in a row without washing them? Jeans, after all, can get pretty grimy over the course of a day. For starters, they’re touching Jeff’s butt, which he’ll be the first to tell you isn’t widely regarded as being very sanitary. The cuffs often traipse along the ground, collecting dirt. And the leg area themselves? You’d be hard-pressed not to find a speck of food, blood, or mud there too. Yet, believe it or not, Jeff may be onto something by keeping the jeans out of the wash.

First of all, jeans are pretty expensive, so most people only have a few pairs. Whereas we may have enough shirts to last months without repeating, we probably only have 3-4 pairs of good jeans. It’s just not always possible to keep up with laundry.

Another thing? No one can tell the difference. Pants are traditionally an afterthought. Subconsciously we walk past someone and notice either a) yes, Jorge is wearing pants, or b) no, Jorge is not wearing pants! But ask anyone what color pants you had on the previous day, and almost no one knows. And even if someone did remember what pants you wore, there is no way to tell they are the exact same pair as the day before; you could simply have multiple jeans that are the same.

Additionally, jeans are a garment that tend to wear a little better several days out of the wash. Whereas a pair of Levi’s can feel tight and stiff right out of the dryer, by Day 3 they fit perfectly and feel nice. And none of this even touches on the environmental concerns of water waste.

The thing is, though, there does come a time when those Loose Fit 569’s need to be washed, and you can no longer get away with your pants being an afterthought. But how do you know when it’s time to launder? Let’s examine the very few telltale signs your pants are too disgusting to wear one more time.

  • They look dirty. Whether a coffee stain on the pant leg, splattered mud on the knee, or even that dreaded poopy mark on the butt from too much deep scratching when no one was looking, there comes a time, eventually, when your jeans flat-out look dirty.
  • They smell dirty. If you spent the night cooking with deep fryers, worked cattle on grandpa’s farm, or just sat in your own filthy office chair passing gas for a few days, you’ll know it’s time for the washer just by smelling the pants. If you notice a foul stench from afar, it’s definitely washer time. But go ahead and dig your nose right into the fabric; if they smell, don’t take the chance.
  • They feel dirty. Maybe you can’t detect it with eyes or nose, but once you put the jeans on there’s just a dirty feeling to it. Maybe a grittiness, possibly even an unusual smoothness like some lotion spilled down the inside of a leg.
  • They don’t fit right. Maybe they feel very loose and airy, like the fabric is about to give out. Time for a washin’.
  • You think they might be dirty. Maybe you can’t spot the stain or smell the mustiness, but there are reasons to believe they may still be dirty. Maybe you were standing near someone who was coughing up a lung, and you think your jeans may contain hazardous germs. Or maybe they sat in a basket of dirty clothes, and they could seem dirty by association.
  • They are damp. You got caught in the rain, or were rolling around in the snow and now your jeans are damp. While they could just be dried, perhaps a thorough washing is also in order.
  • You are a smoker, or were around smokers. You may be oblivious to it in the present, but the morning after being around cigarettes, your pants will have absorbed a ton of smoke and now reek.
  • You’ve been sick. If you yourself have been sick, you should probably disinfect a lot of things, most notably the clothing you’ve been wearing.
  • You’ve been gassy. You’ve examined your jeans for foul fart smell and coming up empty, but you know you’ve ripped a few. Guess what—you’re probably just unable to detect your own scent. Others will be able to, though, and when they do they’ll want to straight-up strangle you. Wash them.
  • They were near your lovemaking session, or you wore them to a strip club. We’ll leave this to the imagination, but a bodily fluid of some sort or another made contact… a long shot, okay. But something to think about on your own personal time.
  • The jeans could implicate you in a crime. Did you hack your neighbor’s parakeet with a machete and some of its blood may have spattered onto your pants? You can’t see it, but a crime lab surely will. Wash ’em!
  • You were at the beach. You guessed it. Your pockets are full of sand, and if not washed, it’s gonna drive you crazy.
  • They were associated with a bad or sad eventYour girlfriend broke up with you while you were wearing the jeans. Time to rinse yourself clean of that harsh memory and start anew.
  • Superstition. Do you have bad luck when you don’t wash your jeans once per week? Did your beloved LA Chargers lose when you wore the jeans to the game? Well, what are you waiting for, cowboy? To the laundromat with you.
  • It’s just been a while. Lastly, you may want to just wash them if it’s been a few days. None of the above qualify, but you’re sure you’ve worn these jeans without washing them seven of the last eight work days. It’s time. Let’s not be gross, here.

If you are the type of person to wash your jeans after every single wearing, you’re risking the lifespan, structure, and shape of the garment.

Jeans People Who Wear Jeans May Enjoy

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Wrangler Men’s Classic Regular-Fit Jean, Vintage Blue Flex Womens Ladies Stretch Faded Ripped Slim Fit Skinny Denim Jeans Levi’s Boys’ 505 Regular Fit Jeans
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My Hot Take:
I admit, I will wear a pair of jeans about three times on average. I only own three good pairs of jeans that actually fit my unusual 6’6″ frame. 38×36 jeans are astoundingly difficult to come by at a decent price. But I’ll give them a good look after each wearing and make sure they’re good to go for another round.

Wash your jeans after you notice they are dirty or smelly.


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