(NEXSTAR) — You of course want to have clean clothes. While you likely have your own rhythm of washing them — separating lights and darks, turning your shirts inside out, hanging your clothes on the line to dry — there’s one article you’re probably caring for wrong. Your jeans.
A quick search for an answer will give you numerous options.
Wash denim inside out and by themselves on a delicate or gentle cycle, then let them air dry, Whirlpool encourages. Use cold water and detergent, Tide suggests. Pre-soak denim jeans in cold water with scented vinegar, Classic Maytag explains. Don’t wash them until they visibly need a clean, or have a certain smell, the vice president of design for Bonobos told the New York Times.
You may even find suggestions to never wash your jeans — that may have been caused by the CEO of Levi Strauss himself, Charles Bergh.
While speaking at a conference in 2014, Bergh said jeans don’t need to be washed, Mashable reports. But earlier this month, Bergh clarified that he didn’t mean you should never wash your jeans.
Instead, he explained to CNBC that he never puts true denim jeans in a washing machine.
“What true denim heads, people that really love their denim will tell you is to never put your denim in a washing machine,” Bergh told CNBC. Instead, he said he will spot-clean his jeans if he, for example, “[drops] some curry on my jeans.”
Still too dirty for you? You can always try Bergh’s other tip: showering with your jeans on.
“If they get really gross … I’ll wash them in the shower,” he explained.
You didn’t misread that.
As taboo (and maybe uncomfortable) as it sounds, Bergh said he will wear his gross jeans in the shower, “soap myself down and wash them.”
This hack made the rounds on TikTok early last year. In a viral video, user @bug318_ — identified as Lily Schoknecht — shared a tip she had learned from her grandmother. As Schoknecht explained, she bought a pair of jeans that were too small for her. Rather than returning or never wearing them again, Schoknecht said her grandmother recommended showering in them.
So she followed her advice: she showered in the jeans, patted them dry, wore them around a bit, and let them air dry. When she put them on the next morning, Schoknecht said they fit perfectly.
Paul O’Neill of Levi’s Vintage Clothing told GQ in 2015 a similar hack, saying he would wear a new pair of jeans for a few days before wearing them in a warm bath for 20 minutes. He then lets the jeans dry in the sun.
But, if you cringe at the thought of showering or soaking with your jeans on, there are other washing tips, including the aforementioned recommendations.
Levi’s also shares a guide on how to wash your denim. They say to turn your pants inside out (this helps prevent the color from fading) with the zipper closed, and wash them with a cold-water setting on a gentle or delicate cycle. Use a gentle detergent also, and, if possible, wash your jeans by themselves.
To keep them in shape, Levi’s recommends washing them once every 10 wears but says you can go even longer without a wash. If you want to opt for a spot-clean, use a damp cloth or an old toothbrush with mild soap.
Also, check the tags of your jeans. They’ll have some washing guides as well. This tag from a pair of Levi’s, for example, says to machine wash on cold, inside out with like colors, and tumble dry medium.
Regardless of how you choose to wash your denim, experts seem to agree — you can probably skip washing them for now.