Want to save some laundry money and help out the environment? Stop washing your jeans, says Chip Bergh, the CEO of Levi Strauss & Co. It seems like strange advice, but there are other ways you can kill germs — and stop the smell — from rising off of your Levis.
For this and other life hacks, check out these tips for college students on homemade stain remover, alternate uses for your freezer and salad spinner, and hemming jeans while keeping the original hemline.
Don’t wash your jeans
At Fortune’s Brainstorm Green sustainability conference, Bergh told the audience that his jeans hadn’t seen the inside of the washing machine in a year — and he recommended that other wearers do the same. On The Frisky, Winona Dimeo-Ediger, reporting in “Levi’s CEO Wants You To Stop Washing Your Jeans — And He Has A Point!” on May 22, 2014, noted that 80% of an article of clothing’s environmental impact comes from washing and drying. You could use 2,600 gallons of water, and the more you wash and dry your clothing, the faster they wear out. “A well-made pair of jeans has the potential to last a lifetime,” she wrote, “but frequent washings ensure they never reach that potential.”
Bergh, who considered Levis sustainable apparel due to both how they’re made and how infrequently they require washing, recommended putting jeans in the freezer instead of the washing machine. The technique kills germs, gets rid of smells, and saves energy — and money, especially if your campus uses coin-operated (or student account charging) washers and dryers.
Of course, this doesn’t work if you’ve just gone mud sliding or have been in a paint ball war, but for general wear, you can probably skip a few washes, and the environment will thank you.
Other clothing life hacks
The freezer isn’t only for jeans. If you have a new, too-tight pair of shoes (particularly ladies with a new pair of heels), you can stretch them out by putting a bag of water, or wet paper towel in each and leaving them in the freezer overnight, according to Natalie Morin of BuzzFeed in her August 19, 2013, article “25 Ingenious Clothing Hacks Everyone Should Know.”
What else does Morin recommend?
- Dry hand-wash clothing in a salad spinner. This might not be one of those necessary in-dorm appliances, but if you have one handy, you can save room in the dryer and keep your delicate clothing (bras, ties, etc.) good for a few more wears.
- Put hairspray on your nylons or tights to prevent them from getting runs. If they do get runs, paint clear nail polish on the edges to stop them from getting larger.
- If you don’t have an iron in the dorm, you can get wrinkles out of clothing before a dress up event or job interview by running the shower while hanging your clothing over the shower rod (the steam will get rid of wrinkles), throwing them in the dryer for 15 to 20 minutes with a single wet sock (or ice cube) or sprinkling the clothing with water and using a hair dryer 1 to 2 inches away until the wrinkles are dried out.
She also offered some tips on homemade stain removers:
- Recent oil stains can be removed by leaving baby powder on the clothing overnight.
- White wine will remove red wine stains.
- Lemon juice sprayed on before washing will help remove sweat stains.
- Shaving cream will remove make up stains, particularly foundation.
Morin also noted that if you don’t have time — or talent — to hem your pants, you can use a glue gun.
Hemming your jeans
If you do have some skill with a needle and thread (and have access to a sewing machine), there’s a great trick for hemming your jeans without cutting (especially if you’re as short as I am and can never find jeans the right length). A contributor to Howcast offered detailed instructions in “How to Hem Your Jeans“:
- Cuff the pants to your desired length.
- Measure the length of the cuff and divide by 1/2.
- Pin the cuff at the new length and stitch it down — you’ll have a fold of denim inside your jeans.
- Make sure they’re the right length and turn them inside out.
- Tack the fold to down to the inside of your jeans, pointed up.
Voila! You’ve kept the original hemline of the jeans (which is hard to recreate) and better, you won’t trip over or drag your jeans. Even Bergh would have to admit that draggy jeans get too muddy for just the freezer treatment.
What clothing hacks do you recommend? Tell us in the comments.